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February 27, 2009

Out of memory

GLOBAL – Four times in the last 10 days, things that I deal with on a daily (hourly, sometimes continuous) basis have run out of memory. There was the server that hosts this very site (sorry!), my laptop (so small at its launch it was pulled out of a manila envelope) and my phone. With our computers, we sometimes expect it. Over ambitious in our use of applications on our computers (I discovered that I had, hidden in the dock, some 30+ websites open, amongst pretty much every useful app I have on the machine) we tend to occasionally ask more than they’re capable of delivering. For our poor server it was some bad settings, some rogue scripts and the sudden excitement of our readership that combined to take us out. For my phone, similar to my laptop I was simply trying to do too much at once.

My E71 does more than I’d ever expected it to, but I know I’ll continue to demand more of it. I’m super excited at the launch of the Ovi Store and the prospect of it being even easier to discover and download new apps. But equally I fear that it could be my continuing downfall as I fail to quit or close the ones I’m not using and instead walk myself down the memory corridor that has no doors.

And that’s okay, because I’m one of those users who will always push what I have further than it’s meant to go, understanding that as I do sometimes things will happen that I might not like. Call it bad usage, overwhelming ambition or plain stupidity, but it happens now regardless and I’m sure will continue to do so. And you know, I don’t mind. I really don’t. Because I expect it.

But what of those who don’t? We’re moving rapidly into a world where non-tech people seek to push their technology further than they’d ever imagined. What happens when they run out of memory. Will they be so accepting? I’m not so sure. But at the same time we want them to explore the new abilities the devices they have are capable of delivering. Making it easier for people to get more from their devices is brilliant. I love it and I applaud it. But at the same time I think it needs to be easy for people to manage those applications and extensions, particularly the ones that force themselves to stay always-on. Will a regular (non-tech) user know or understand what it means to be out of memory, or how to resolve it?

Or can we create a world where such messages don’t exist. Where the device solves the problem before it even appears. A world where the user is none the wiser and as such, utterly blameless. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

PS: The fourth thing is my own memory. It might be age, or workload, but I seem to be forgetting more than I used to. What’s worse, I don’t have any empty DIMM slots for an upgrade. Pah.

Photo by _Fabio