I don't have much of a thing for progress bars. I usually walk away and get coffee when one of those pops up. (And thank you f0dder and all those other coders who add "wait" loops to their apps. Some of us
appreciate your doing that.
I'm more of the blinkin-lights
school when zoning out in front of a computer.
Probably has a lot to do with seeing my first mainframe when I was in high school. It was a Honeywell (remember them?) and it had the most amazing operator console I had ever seen. Something like the bridge on the Starship Enterprise - except this looked like it really was
Most of those old behemoths had those huge blinking-light arrays.
Supposedly, they were for the use of the operator - that god-like figure who sat next to it and actually flew the thing. But mostly, consoles were put there for marketing purposes. Because let's face it kiddies - blinking lights are cool! Very
cool. Wasn't a geeky kid anywhere that didn't want to sit in the chair and boss that big noisy room full of "heavy iron" around.
Later on, when I finally made it into a position of niggling authority in my university's computer center (and was allowed into that holy of holies commonly referred to as: The Cold Room
) I finally got my chance to examine the "console" close up...and was extremely
It was strictly La Tourista
. Something to impress the "unchurched." It was otherwise useless for anything except (maybe) diagnosing the occasional hardware problem. And even then, the techs that serviced the beast had been issued their own smaller and vastly more informative test rig. They kept it in their field kit - along with a spare necktie
. (Note: Back then, IBM required their service personnel to wear a necktie at all
times. Even when servicing printers and card readers. They actually taught them how to drape it out of the way over their shoulder - and secure it to the collar with a clip - so they wouldn't accidentally get sucked into the machinery! Anything rather than allow them to take their ties off like everybody else did.)
However, once I did get over my disappointment about the console (and learn a valuable lesson about how this world really works) I discovered something almost as good: status monitors
As it turned out, the thing that did
show the real action
was a bank of unassuming green-screen CRTs which displayed job queues and other system logs. These
, and a clunky electric typewriter keyboard, were what the operator really
used to do his (there was no 'her' back then) job.
I think that's when I first acquired my fascination with system logs. For some reason, I find them...relaxing.
I still enjoy screens full of graphics (or even green or amber colored text) reporting on "stuff." Real time firewall status, message header queues on busy e-mail servers, tracers, performance monitors - even scrolling news feeds and stock tickers. As long as it represents real data, and it's in realtime, I'm happy.
If you've got a blinkin-light jones
, something fun (and potentially useful) to download is Quest Software's freebie Spotlight on Windows
Spotlight on Windows
For a busy IT professional, it is nearly impossible to diagnose, troubleshoot, and resolve every component affecting Windows Operating System (OS) performance using manual methods. Without a clear view of I/O and system activity, you learn of performance issues only after problems erupt.
With its unique graphical view of the Windows OS internals, Quest® Spotlight® on Windows empowers you to quickly identify and eliminate bottlenecks in the Windows environment. Displaying the real-time flow of data within your Windows OS, Spotlight enables you to quickly identify and resolve performance problems.
Please Note: Spotlight on Windows is unsupported freeware. The license key is provided in the download package and expires one year after installation. To renew, please revisit this website. An activation key will be made available prior to the expiration date of your current key.
Spotlight offers a pile of useful graphs and logs (click to enlarge
But that's not what's important
here. What you want it for is this
This is the main console page. It shows a lot of information about the system it's running on. Most of the info falls into the "So what?" category.
But it's animated!
Things go up and down
Things change color
So alive with motion and color...a static screenshot just can't do it justice.
If you like blinking lights, grab a copy pronto.
Note: I like to throw a copy of SoW on servers. It's actually not a bad little system monitor. And it looks very impressive when you want to have something on the screen for senior management to look at. Very handy when they hit you with those "probing" and "piercing" managerial-type comments such as: "Are you sure it's running?" or "Doesn't look like it does very much for something that costs five grand, does it?"
Give em candy!