Vista and flash

Vista, then.

I’ve been playing with it at home since the Beta was publicly released, and on a computer with a powerful graphics card it’s quite pretty and reasonably responsive. I do like the new interface philosophy, the idea of the user interface allowing the user to perform tasks they want to, rather than the interface closely resembling whatever data structures and processes the programmer has set up to perform those tasks. So far so OS X.

So anyway, I plugged in my digital camera to offload a few photos and it popped up with the usual wizard (you appear to be copying some files..” and one of the entries in the autoplay menu was something to do with Windows ReadyBoost. Hmm, what’s this, thinks I?

Clicked the link and it wanted to use all the available free space on the memory card for this mysterious purpose. After a bit of reading it turns out that Vista uses this as a volatile, encrypted, hard drive cache. An interesting idea, but doesn’t flash memory have a finite number of write cycles? And does my CPU have anything better to do than encrypting and decrypting a potentially large random access cache?

Where this would be cool would be if you had a reasonably large, permanently attached, flash device that you could hibernate to. It would only gain you a couple of seconds extra over hibernating to hard disk, but that level of responsiveness would lend itself to a much more dynamic approach to power saving decision making.

You could probably even reduce windows’ shutdown menu to two buttons and a couple of background timers:

“swap users”
“I’m done with my PC for now”

I’m reminded of a recently well-linked article about the amount of time and effort that the Vista Shutdown menu took..