Monday, March 17, 2008

As the Computer World Turns

What never ceases to challenge each week is the inescapable gulf between the dynamic world of computer technology and the steady flow of calls and e-mails from the distant past.

I live in a world where computer technology resides in a conceptual landscape of rapid disposability. This is one field where practicing Buddhist non-attachment bodes well with the realities.

I spend good money on expensive computer hardware and software, knowing that soon it will be dropped in the trash. It's junk, or soon destined to be such.

Calls and e-mails come in each week with questions directed toward, "Can you fix my broken nine-year-old Mac?" The answer is, "I probably can, but why would you want me to do so?"

Every week I turn away potential clients quite happy and willing to otherwise pay me to fix computers that belong in the trash bin. Really.

Why spend any money putting RAM and a new hard drive and a new operating system into an eight-year-old G4, that will still be a turkey when it's "upgraded?" I invariably leave some callers stunned. I can hear their jaw drop silently on the phone in the context of a massive conceptual disjunct. Really---It is my opinion that your ten-year-old iMac....... "Uuuummm,....are you sure you want me to work on it?" I beg them not to hire me. "Better you go buy lottery tickets, okay?"

I turn away potential clients every week. I can't bring myself to do work, for which i charge billable time, to fix a '56 Ford.

Computers are disposable technology, reduced to the trash heap in five years, and not worth a dime in investments after about two years.

Many computer users have it turned around backwards. They buy a new computer, then don't spend a dime on upgrading the RAM (see previous posts), then when the Mac is eight years old, they suddenly want to throw a handful of money after it---buying RAM, a new hard drive, and purchasing a new operating system. Backwards.

Spend the money---up front---on your computer system now. There is no tomorrow. I bought a brand, spanking-new MacBook Pro about a year and a half ago of which I'm already beginning to think about when I will dump it off to someone else. It is certain I will replace it within this calendar year.

The rate of technology change is astounding. I can barely remember when I invested a lot of money in a Zip Drive and a stack of Zip disks. I spent hundreds of dollars on this data storage system---which I summarily dumped in the trash some years ago.

Love your Mac, but practice the art of letting go within two years.

The differences between a G4 Mac made in 2001, and a MacBook made in March 2008 are real, not imagined. Imagining that I can upgrade your G4 from 2001 to a satisfactorily usable condition in March 2008 is an illusion. Yes, it's true; the shades of gray span out between the years two and five, depending on the purposes to which you apply your Mac. Checking email but once a day? Keep that G4, but don't put a dime into it. Just leave it be. Running a full-time home office or small office? Dump it!

Wine and good friends, may age well, but computers do not.


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