Random rant expressing hatred of my technology this cloudy Monday morning…..
There was saying among reporters in the tech press in the 1980s that “The PC you want always costs $5000.”
I heard this often enough from enough people who knew the business that I had to agree — the PC you could afford was about $1,000, but the one you wanted, the really, really good one that could play Flight Simulator, was $5,000. Upgrading to a new PC was a point of professional pride for a tech reporter. PC Week gave reporters the original IBM 8088 PC, the one Charlie Chaplin introduced that started it all, an ugly grey monster with a cast-iron keyboard that was the best I’ve ever used. If you were cool you got the IBM PC one with a 10 megabyte hard disk, the IBM PC AT. I remember when the 386 chip came out and the Editor in Chief had the first one from Compaq. Definitely a $5000 machine at the time. Forbes was lost in the stone ages and it took mutinies and expense account fraud to get a PC that would actually work (and I was the senior tech editor).
Now me and the rest of the world is lugging around tablets and smartphones and notebooks and bluetooth speakers and god knows what else and no one other than a few paste-eaters give a damn what “megabyte” size it is or what magic chip makes it go faster. When the iPad arrived I took one look at the rectangle of glass and said “So much for design. Not much you can do with a rectangle.”
I think I was right. Other than the size of the rectangle — be it a phone in your hand, or a tablet in your lap — the only thing that makes one different from another is the software it runs. It’s all about the cult of the backend store these days — are you a Windows person or an Apple cultist? A follower of the Google or you’ve bought into Amazon Prime? I really don’t care if my rectangle comes from Apple or Lenovo or Samsung or Dell.
Now, as my phone contract is up for renewal and my Google Nexus 7 is running a little slower, I realize I could care less about shelling out a few hundred for the next great rectangles. Other than the fact I despise Sprint and my Samsung Galaxy S3 is infected with a mysteriously cheery ring tone that just goes off at random moments because of some ghost app I can’t be bothered to hunt down …..and the New York Times takes too long to load stories on the tablet …. I honestly have reached a complete state of device anhedonia where I could go on with the same crappy stuff for another two years, scratching it up and cracking the cases and in general not giving a damn about being seen in public with the latest drool-inducing toy. And who wants to buy new accessories for the damn things?
I think my next device is going to be a hearing aid.
3 thoughts on “Stepping off the upgrade treadmill – I hate my devices”
Nice screed. I love a passionate rant. Please define anhedonia.
Inability to derive pleasure from formerly pleasurable experiences.
David, I have never agreed more with your opinion. I hate my cellphone. To my wife’s displeasure it spends most of its time in the center console of my car. She will call me on the landline and ask “Did you get my latest message?” To which I respond “Let me go out to the car and check.”
In a conversation years ago in the 70s with an office mate who had spent some time as a manufacturers rep where he was always accompanied by a pager, he said “There is something to be said about not being able to be reached.” Man, he had no idea who prophetic that would turn out to be.