Power Downloader's fishy solution for system sluggishness

When Kitty Kilobyte e-mails our hero for a program to view system processes at a glance, Power Downloader finds a simple and entertaining solution.

Power Downloader

When Power Downloader returned to the Powerlair after finishing up a case, he knew he would have plenty of e-mails to go through before he could have any downtime. Powering up his computer, Power waited while his computer went through its normal startup routine and then proceeded to open his e-mail client to see how many new messages he had. To his delight, several of the e-mails were easily deleted and only simple confirmations or answers were required of his usual global contacts.

Close to the end of his list of new e-mail, Power Downloader found a message from Kitty Kilobyte who had returned to school after the holidays. She wanted to know if there was an easier way to monitor system usage. In the past, when her system started to slow down, the first thing she would do would be to open the Task Manager to check for memory-intensive processes. Though this is an effective method of diagnosing some problems, she wondered if there was a way to see system information at a glance without sifting through a confusing diagnostic app. She had tried a few other programs, but the programs she tried were all more complicated than she actually needed. She wondered if there was a quick way to see why her computer might be getting sluggish.

Rubber Ducky
The higher the water, the more RAM you're using (Credit: CNET Networks)

Happy to help out his niece, Power Downloader immediately got to work on her unique request. After some searching at Download.com he found a few good system diagnostic apps, but they all seemed to follow a similar list-like layout. Thats when Power found Rubber Ducky. With this little utility installed on her hard drive, Kitty would be able to glance at a tiny aquarium in the lower right part of her screen to find out what was slowing down her computer. The little animated tank displayed a rubber ducky, waving plants, little blue fish, and rising bubbles, all signifying a specific system process. Blue fish going from right to left indicated inbound network traffic. Waving plants meant programs were writing to disk. An increase in rising bubbles meant a program is using too much of the CPU. Though Rubber Ducky did little to fix any of the problems, Kitty would be able to zero in on issues with only a glance using a fun and unobtrusive little app.

Though Power Downloader was tired from traveling and ready for some much needed rest, he always had time to help out his niece. Hopefully the next time Kitty's computer seemed a little sluggish, she would glance at the tiny aquarium and think of her software super hero uncle.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.