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Knowing when to wait

Mark mentioned in his blog entry a few weeks ago that waiting sucks.  I think we can all agree with that sentiment.  However, an experience I had while in Taipei for Computex made me reevaluate that thinking a bit.  

I went jogging one morning in a park near my hotel.  It was a relatively small park, just a quarter mile around the pond that took up most of the park.  I was one of only a couple people jogging, but the park was full of people.  Some were walking around the pond.  There also were groups of people doing some form of Tai Chi in various clearings around the pond.  The path I was on was narrow.  At times, there was no way of getting around the people walking without running into the ones doing Tai Chi.  That in turn meant running in place at times.  Or, put another way, waiting.  

Everyone was polite at the encounters, but the contrast between me jogging and the folks doing Tai Chi was stark.  I wanted to run my miles as quickly as possible.  Those doing Tai Chi were decidedly not in a rush.  They were doing their exercises together with others.  The goal was to do them at the proper pace in the proper way.  

That got me to thinking about waiting on my computer.  (Hey, time to think is one of the main reasons I exercise!)  There are times when waiting for a computer infuriates me.  Other times, however, the computer is fast enough.  Or even too fast, like when I’m trying to scroll down to the right cell in Excel and it jumps down to a whole screen full of empty cells.  This phenomenon, of course, relates to benchmarks.  Benchmarks should measure those operations that are slow enough to hurt productivity or are downright annoying.  There is less value in measuring operations that users don’t have to wait on. 

Have you had any thoughts about what makes a good benchmark?  Even if you weren’t exercising when you had the thought, please share it with the community. 


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