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Why can't your computer wake up as quickly as your BlackBerry?

3 min read

The computer inside a BlackBerry or iPhone boots up in seconds, so why can’t your laptop?

Some of Microsoft Windows’ start-up time is inevitable, says computer architect Peter Glaskowsky, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group, in Seaford, N.Y. “There’s too much to do—initialize all of memory, start up the hard disk, assign virtual memory, and more.” He says even embedded systems like an iPhone or cable modem, which don’t have to look for keyboards and printers, still take 10 to 30 seconds to do these things.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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