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Why Apple Mac downloads are faster | Cypress Semiconductor

Why Apple Mac downloads are faster

Think your computer is faster or slower than your neighbors? Or does it seem some programs or computers do things faster? You are right, it just SEEMS like they do, and this appearance is subtle, subliminal and very important to us humans.

Check out this 49 second video (sorry for the quick ad at the start, but even it's interesting).

It seems it isn't too hard to fool us humans into perceiving one thing while experiencing quite another. There is actually a ton of research going on in this area, and the findings are amazing. I am currently reading "A Mind Of its Own" by Dr. Cordelia Fine in which she trots out research findings (based on 20 pages of attributions in super-small font at the end of the book) that show many ways our perception and behavior are seriously affected by simple things (for instance, if you get a free nail clipper before being surveyed about your car, your views will be more positive).

The video above looks only at progress bars on a computer, and if you haven't used a Mac lately, Apple employs as a standard the pulsating, left-traveling scheme which that video claims will make us believe a download is 11% faster. Want to get your next task down 11% faster? Figure out how to add the equivalent of left-moving ripples in your status reporting.

As described, it seems ridiculously ludicrous that simply how you report something changes its perception. But think back to a painfully late project and remember the pain you had each time you had to report yet another delay. It is my experience that the later or more challenging a project the more I wished we could forgo the reports and instead put our energies into the work rather than trying to report on it. But experience also shows that as projects take longer the desire for progress reports increases and the demanded frequency increases.

Is there a way to apply the rippling download bar to a project's status report? I think so, and the way I see it is that each ripple can be viewed as a major task or milestone that is accomplished. Each task completion or milestone success that's reported and past becomes a left flowing ripple. Can you keep the "ripples" flowing left by reporting successes? And as the end approaches (and perhaps the end date is getting missed) can you increase the "ripples" by reporting on more tasks (and hopefully more often) by making the tasks more granular? The question is, does this really help?

If you look at this one way, the question is "Can I deceive the world that everything is fine by providing an illusion of progress?" I think this is unfair, but in the hands of a manipulator that is exactly what it could become. More importantly, though, think of this technique as getting the status or download bar more accurate. Have you ever seen a progress bar reach the end and then start over? I remember this happening frequently in one web browser I used in the past. How does it make you feel when the bar suddenly starts over? You lose confidence it in. What if the bar showed progress on downloading say 10Mbytes and then halfway through the bar slowed while the number of bytes (the goal) increased? You lose confidence again.

So for your next or current project keep in mind the study in the video. Perception of (better/faster) progress is really based upon how the status is presented. Also consider your own feelings when a status bar begins to deceive you on true progress. Then create a plan to collect and report your status so you can maintain the most positive perception (progress) while protecting the fidelity of the goal, the end of the progress bar. You just might avoid getting untimely "help" from management and instead get extra support for what your project truly needs - focus to accomplish the important goals. 

Comments

niw's picture

Great post Jon.

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