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2008.12.22

No Blinkelichten, Please

A computer's flashing lights used to fascinate me. They showed me it was alive and offered me a glimpse on its innards. They also epitomized the hacker culture of the famous "Blinkenlichten" sign.


ACHTUNG!
ALLES TURISTEN UND NONTEKNISCHEN LOOKENPEEPERS! DAS KOMPUTERMASCHINE IST NICHT FUR DER GEFINGERPOKEN UND MITTENGRABEN! ODERWISE IST EASY TO SCHNAPPEN DER SPRINGENWERK, BLOWENFUSEN UND POPPENCORKEN MIT SPITZENSPARKSEN. IST NICHT FUR GEWERKEN BEI DUMMKOPFEN. DER RUBBERNECKEN SIGHTSEEREN KEEPEN DAS COTTONPICKEN HANDER IN DAS POCKETS MUSS.
ZO RELAXEN UND WATSCHEN DER BLINKENLICHTEN.

Old-style blinking lights used to monitor a computer's bus. They would flash in beautiful and intriguing patterns; a trained eye could discern a program loop, unusual activity, or a crash. Modern computers operate so fast that this type of display is useless.

Nowadays, I find blinking lights annoying. First, working on a laptop means that blinking lights are typically within my field of vision. In addition, super-bright LEDs making blinking lights a lot more intrusive. Furthermore, because there are now computers around us even in areas where we want to relax, and some computers keep their LEDs on even when they are suspended, the LEDs often interfere with an environment's serenity and harmony. Finally, the many buffers and caches existing between programs and the hard disk, and the large number of programs running in the background, mean that even the hard disk's activity LED most of the time simply makes me wonder what my computer is doing behind my back, rather than offer me any useful insight.

I'm currently writing this blog entry after I had to balance a small piece of plastic on top of an irritatingly flashing USB stick that was plugged on my laptop. On my Mac-mini I've used Blu-Tack to permanently hide its extra-bright pulsating-like-a-lighthouse LED that used to keep me awake at night. So please, no more Blinkelichten!

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Unless otherwise expressly stated, all original material on this page created by Diomidis Spinellis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License.