Monday, August 20, 2012

1.62 man-years donated to computers

I estimate I purchased my first computer about November 1st, 1986.  And it was probably about the same time I began using computers on a daily basis for my work.  It occurred to me that I possibly spend a good deal of my life waiting on computers to get ready for me to use them.   Waiting for them to boot and shut down.  Waiting for them to recover  from a blue screen of death, trying to rebuild hard drives or desperately recover lost data on floppies and hard drives.  Waiting on software updates.  Waiting on internet connections.  Waiting... waiting... waiting.

So I thought I would run some numbers.

First, I calculated the number of net work days between 11/1/86 and  today.  Net work days are the number of work days between two dates, discounting weekends and holidays.   My calculation gave me a total 6,481 days.  That's calculating weekdays for just short of 25 years; minus 10 days for each of those 25 years for holidays.

Next, I estimated the number of minutes lost each day that I potentially used a computer.  Say 15 minutes?  That would be a total of  97,215 minutes lost or 1,620 hours lost.  Anyone who does accounting will tell you a person working for the company gives you about 2,000 man hours per year or one man-year.  Figuring for man-years, I lost 0.81 of them in my computer-literate career.

Of course, this assumes an average of about 15 minutes lost every day I use one.  My gut feel is this number should be higher...  What if it were 30 minutes a day?

Using the same method for 30 minutes per day, I would have lost 1.62 man-years to computers.  And for 60 minutes lost per day, I would have lost a whopping 3.24 years.

Now, I don't think I lost an average of 60 minutes a day, but I think I lost more than 15 minutes just for computer operations.  So, a "good guess" might be my 1.62 man-years estimate.


Of course, on the bright side, I was using that time to think through some of the thorny problems I have faced in my career.  Not so depressing after all.

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