Tuesday, January 1, 2013


        I've never been a big fan of the "holiday" of New Year's Eve. I suppose it stems in part from my distaste for being around large groups of very-likely-inebriated people, but it's more that I don't really see the point. I mean, you're basically celebrating the fact that one day has ended and the following one begun. And except for perhaps some tax issues, and I suppose remembering to write the correct year when you have to, there is not a heck of a lot of difference between December 31 and January 1. Why not celebrate the end of, say, June and the beginning of July? 

So rather than throw together a few cliches about hoping you have a happy new year*, I thought I would muse -- or possibly rant -- about something else regarding time.

Emily got a new Mac laptop for Christmas, and I offered to help her set it up. I've done this "migration" thing a number of times before, using Apple's "Migration Assistant" utility software to copy everything from an older Mac to a newer Mac. It's a good idea to use that program, because unlike just "drag and drop" copying everything on one Mac over to the other Mac, using "Migration Assistant" ensures that everything will be in its proper place -- all those little files which make your favorite programs function as they should.

Typically, the way it's worked is that I would connect the two computers with a Firewire cable, and the transfer would take perhaps a couple of hours. However, the last time I did it was with Jeannine's MacBook Air, which has no Firewire port, and thus the transfer had to be done wirelessly, using our home network. It took quite a while -- more than a day, I think -- and during that time baffled me with a phenomenon which I'd forgotten about until I started to do the transfer for Emily on Thursday evening.

Briefly stated, the phenomenon in question relates to the display on the two Macs' screens of the process of the transfer. You might expect that there would be a steady, linear progression of the transfer of data from the old Mac to the new Mac, at whatever speed is possible for that setup.

Instead, the transfer time varies wildly over the course of the time it takes (and in this case, it took almost two whole days!), sometimes even seeming to go BACKWARDS. I was irked by this enough to write down, every so often, the time of day and what the display was saying as far as hours and minutes left to go. Here is what I wrote down -- the time of day on the left, and the remaining time on the right, in hours and minutes.


8:12PM         30 hours/30 minutes
8:40PM         31 hours/22 minutes
9:00PM         30 hours/33 minutes
9:25PM         39 hours/32 minutes
9:53PM         39 hours/26 minutes
9:57PM         36 hours/49 minutes
11:18PM 32 hours/24 minutes


9:40AM         24 hours/24 minutes
9:44AM         25 hours/37 minutes
10:17AM 24 hours/41 minutes
11:43AM 23 hours/02 minutes
12:00PM 22 hours/22 minutes
12:14PM 31 hours/04 minutes
1:40PM         16 hours/53 minutes
5:05PM         14 hours/02 minutes
6:17PM         13 hours/42 minutes

As you can see, to use one example, between 9PM and 9:25PM on the first day, the amount of time remaining actually INCREASED by about nine hours.

I don't get it.

I mean, these are computers, after all -- number crunchers par excellence. How difficult can it be to (a) calculate how many bytes of data there are to be transferred, and then (b) figure out how long that will take?

I suppose there might be some fluctuation due to the fact that the transfer was dependent upon the speed of the wireless network… but… NINE HOURS???

Seems a little wacky to me. 

Fortunately, the process did reach completion on Saturday morning… in time for Em's flight back to California. 

Whew! -- PL

P.S. The image I used at the top of this entry is a quick photo I shot through the windshield of our car as we drove back home from the airport.  The drive down and back was pretty awful, with the combination of heavy, blowing snow and darkness being one of my least favorite for car travel. There were moments on Interstate 91 when we could see no headlights behind us nor taillights ahead of us -- just seemingly endless curving lines of snowflakes rushing towards our windshield, and an empty void beyond.

We did see one cool thing -- well, cool visually, anyway -- as we drove alongside two large snowplow trucks on the highway. Their metal blades were intermittently scraping against bare roadway, throwing up huge showers of briefly glowing sparks, quickly extinguished in the wet, cold darkness. If (a) I had not been driving, and (b) I had brought my Nikon with me, I would have tried to capture that image.

*Just to be clear, I DO hope you have a great new year, now and for as long as you encounter new years.


mikeandraph87 said...

I wish you the best in 2013! Hope to see something with your name as the writer no matter what it is. Hope Jeanine and Emily are doing well and have a great 2013 too!

Andrew NDB said...

Side subject... I would be fascinated to read your honest thoughts on the George Lucas sale of Star Wars/Lucasfilm en masse to Disney in a future blog entry.

PL said...

"I would be fascinated to read your honest thoughts on the George Lucas sale of Star Wars/Lucasfilm"

Hmm... I have to say I am a bit put off by your "honest" qualifier here, Andrew. Why not just "your thoughts"? Is there some reason to think that if I did write something about the sale, I would not be honest in what I was saying? Why would you think that? -- PL

Mark H said...

I know this is off topic. That picture reminds me of when I was a boy I would sit in my parents moving car and pretend the snow was really the car traveling at hyperspace. It gave me a chuckle when the first thing I thought of when I saw the image was traveling at hyperspace.
Thanks for sharing.