I am about to tell you a secret. I could be struck off the I.T. Circle for this, so keep it quiet.
If your favourite IT geek has ever looked at your PC and made some profound comment about it still processing, or stated categorically that it has crashed, he is not The One. He cannot see into the PC and see it like the Matrix. He is looking at the hard drive light.
Most PCs have at least two lights on the front. One is the power light, the other is the hard drive light. It lights up any time the hard drive is being accessed. So when your first turn it on, you should see the hard drive light go nuts. It's also likely to happen when you open a program, particularly large games. It will also happen if you're not running much memory, as we have discussed previously.
So although your PC may seem to take just a minute to boot up and make the desktop available, it may not be ready to start processing straight away. Look at the hard drive light and you may notice it stays on almost solidly for several minutes after the desktop has appeared. It won't be ready to proficiently process data until the light has almost stopped, or is at least only flickering occasionally. If your waiting for a program to open or process some data and it appears to be taking its time, it may be worth checking the status of the hard drive light. If it's solidly on, it may well be processing a significantly large amount of data. However, if it is permanently on for several minutes it may have crashed. There is no substitute for experience in this area, hence us geeks are still valuable. Phew!
So now you know. I now have to change my name and address for safety reasons.