I tossed Windows into the snow bank several years ago. Elegant on the outside, but ugly on the inside. The world of Blue Screens of Death, malware and viruses were really beginning to tick me off. I sought salvation in Linux. Over time I have flirted with several species of Linux. And like many people Ubuntu has become my weapon of choice.  I gave up ‘geekery’ a while ago, I just want tools that I can use. Simple tools, a glorified IBM Selectric typewriter, email, and a Web Browser, and pretty much I am a happy guy.

About a week ago I began to notice a real issue with the pile of scrap iron that I call my computer. It was spiraling downhill faster than Lindsy Lohan. Sure it is obsolete,  but who needs a $50 million box to write a letter to Santa?

The box I use is so bad that no self respecting burglar would take it. The case is custom built from Plastic Canvas, and inside it has some 2.2  gig processor, 512 meg of ram, and when it breaks, I’ll just fix it from my junk pile.

So, as I said, everything started to go downhill about a week ago. The PC PC (Plastic Canvas Personal Computer) was becoming a real pain in the butt.


The Xmas version of the PCPC.

Suddenly it had become as responsive and useful as a three day old donut on Propothol (or whatever it was that Dr Conrad Murray recommends as a sleep aid).

It was too cold to sit out and read. So instead I decided to tinker with the box from hell.

A couple of minutes of investigation and 20 minutes of waiting for it launch, a story began to emerge. The 2.2 (computer) Liter engine was running at top speed! But why?

I was doing my usual thing, half a dozen Open Office documents that I was working on, a couple of PDF’s of book galleys, and the half dozen web sites I keep open.

As an experiment I rebooted, started the CPU monitor, and tinkered while watching the System Monitor. At rest, the computer was showing a 15%-20% busy. That is just fine.

Next I brought Open Office into the game. I opened up the same 6 documents that are hot on my ‘to do’ list. Sure there was a spike while everything got loaded, but Open Office added about 2% to the ‘idle load’

Launching the PDF viewer had the same effect.

It would seem that my problem involved the web. A launch of Firefox certainly had an effect, but left alone, it really only added a minuscule load to the cpu.

The problem must be on the sites that I tend to use.  Opening Blogger News had zero effect. Gmail had a small but insignificant effect. Blips on the monitor looked like heartbeats every 20 or so seconds.

The problem child is Google Analytics. In its basic mode it is fine, it is just a few more percent of CPU load. But play in the new Real Time (Beta) ouch, watch the CPU usage climb, From 30% to 100% load in just the click of a mouse.

Sure it is a self inflicted pain, but it is eye opening.

Simon Barrett

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