Thursday, January 22, 2009

No tiny computer programs?

I'm using a timer for my daily half-hour writing exercise. I find that when I'm writing fast, I lose track of time; ten minutes can seem like an hour, or an hour will seem like just a few minutes. So, to keep me from either looking at the clock all the time, or spending too much time with writing exercises and not enough with actual writing, I start Cool Timer, set it for half an hour, and click the big GO button before I start typing. Cool Timer is ideal; it's got a simple interface and is very bare-bones. The only fancy option is that you can select your own audio file to play when your time expires.

What I can't figure out is, why is Cool Timer a 2.4 mb download? It's an extremely simple, single-function program. I remember playing Gunship! for the Commodore 64; it was a complete combat flight sim, very state-of-the-art for 1988, and it loaded completely in 64K of RAM. And, it had a mission timer. So why does my PC-based stand-alone timer use more than 37 times more memory than Gunship? Or, better -- why does the timer on my Palm Pilot fit in 7k, but you can't find a PC timer that's smaller than a 500k download?

I know there's a reason, but I can't imagine what it would be. I could see where a PC timer would take two or three times more memory than a PalmOS timer. But, really -- factor of 37? Come on!


Luke said...

It's probably written in C# or somesuch, and if they were using functionality from the .NET framework they might have bundled it all together so that someone without .NET installed could use it. Since the whole .NET framework is over 200 Mb, I could imagine miscellaneous stuff accounting for 2+ Mb. It's probably something like that--even if I have the particulars off.

I know I wrote something simple for my wife recently--less than 100k total compiled size, but she couldn't run it without the .NET framework installed on her laptop.... Such a pain...

NerfSmuggler said...

I concur about the size of the timer program being included standard libraries.

It lets the guy access sound files in different format and pop-up windows without having to actually knowing how to do it from scratch.

It's like using a radial arm saw to cut one stick of molding instead of a plastic miter box and a hand saw.

Jeff Mountjoy said...

Ahh, so they're big because they come with built-in back-end tools -- that makes sense.