Memory: How I learned about defragmentation
(Just a random memory snippet)
I was about 9 years old, in Wollongong with my parents, visiting extended family. My mother was heading over to the house of a friend of hers to cook him dinner. ‘Slim’ everyone called him, and he was not.
Somehow I gathered he was once sweet on my mother way back in the day, and also intuited that I was dragged along as some kind of chaperone to satisfy the more traditional and conservative elements in our family.
Slim was good with building and setting up computers, which he did often for his friends. I’d shown an interest in computers by coding our C64, so Slim called me over to show me what he was doing.
"I’m defragmenting (defragging) the hard drive. It takes all the things stored on the drive, and squashes them all into one part of the disk. This makes the disk tidy, and you can fit more on there. Can you see how it’s doing that?" He pointed at the screen. "This monitor’s a bit broken, but you can still see it."
I looked, not understanding the ‘broken’ reference, seeing a grid of white and black rectangles and the flicker of a worker square when it moved data. The gridlines were all squashed and warped toward one corner of the screen, so the grid squares were smaller there. This squished area was where the worker process was dumping data.
"Oh yes!" I said, peering at the screen. "You can see it. It’s really squashing it up!"
A very, very long while later, our family got its first PC and I performed my first defrag. It was then I realised the squished part of the Slim’s grid was not, in fact, the defragging being visualised, but a bad ‘broken’ CRT with a warped display towards one corner.
(Surprisingly, I also remember what we had for dinner that day, and the review I gave my mother on the meal. That was over 20 years ago.)