The Time Constant Of Computing Science

Moore’s Law be damned, my upgrade/compile/download times remain more or less constant.

I was musing about that while upgrading my 2 main computers to 10.11 and my 2 main iOS devices to version 9 (9.0.1 soon followed): my Retina Macbook Pro may be faster than all my old computers rolled into one, it still takes me roughly a day to upgrade to a new major release. Between the system itself, the apps to update, the various libraries to check etc, it is a huge time sink.

And the same goes for compilation times. It used to take me 2-5 minutes to compile my biggest project on my old clamshell iBook (time enough to fix myself a cup of coffee), and it’s still the same in 2015.

We always tend to use our devices to capacity. Drives are full (who’s ever going to need more than a gigabyte?), networks are “too slow”, projects are complex enough to take forever to build,…

I taught Android development for a week recently and the need for instantaneous results is omnipresent, even though mobile development is kind of a reset in that way : small capacities, shoddy connectivity, lack of space in general. We are so used to manipulating 40MB gifs and 1GB video files that we forget these things were science-fiction only 10 years ago. And don’t get me started on Swift compile times…


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