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Do you get satisfaction out of upgrading your technology?
Yes, definitely. I live to upgrade! 25%
I upgrade when necessary. 50%
I would prefer not to upgrade. 0%
I hate upgrading, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!!! 16%
wahts a upgade??//? 8%

Votes: 12

 Useless Technology

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Sep 07, 2002
We are living in an age of technological development previously unseen by the world. It's all moving so fast, but why? Why must we always upgrade and augment and accessorize everything we own? Is it really necessary? The companies behind all these products have created this expectation of all of us to upgrade to the latest version and equipment level as soon as possible, or we'll be "left behind"! It's not about consumer satisfaction, nor is it helping society to any large degree. It's all about MONEY. It simply serves to confuse, complicate and stress our lives more than ever before.
The introduction of the cell phone. Before we had this wonderful new piece of technology, any time we were out of the office there was no way of being contacted. It was "us" time. Now, with pagers and cell phones, it never stops. Customers call demanding immediate service because their technology has broken down again. Because this technology has broken down, they'll have to upgrade their hardware to cope with the new software they'll need. Then, when they do actually install this new software, there are "live" updates that "must" be downloaded for the software to improve its "effectiveness" and "functionality".

It's a vicious circle, my friends. Don't let it consume you! Be "left behind", you'll be happier for it! Fight the power! It's in your hands, consumers.


Don't want to be contacted outside work? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
by T Reginald Gibbons on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 12:52:37 AM PST
Apply the "off" button. I bet they won't even fire you.

Crapitalism (none / 0) (#2)
by The Mad Scientist on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 09:38:05 AM PST
The technology isn't what it used to be.

The beancounters took over. Craftmen with reputation were replaced by cheap, unqualified, and replaceable workforce, real metal was replaced by inferior plastic, and the money saved this way were thrown to glitzy colorful shining noisy advertisements, touting how happy and loved we will be when we will buy Yet Another Piece Of Crap.

We have computers in many orders of magnitude more powerful than the ones that got men to the Moon. Yet we have to replace them each 2-4 years because they get too slow for sending email. We have users abusing HTML mails, often sending documents with background pictures in .bmp format, where there is half-kilobyte of text and 150 kB of background image. Email clients too often ship with HTML enabled by default. We have "user-friendly" software, allowing anyone with any stupid idea to spawn its inferior implementations over the unsuspecting world. We have document formats that are incompatible even between different versions of the same software, despite of simple and fast compatibility techniques. We have programming environments that produce half-megabyte of slow code if you only need to open a window.

And don't let me start about what utter crap is the consumer electronics these days. I remember the times when the circuits were done on real fiberglass circuitboards, the material used today is reminding rather pressed and dried copper-layered cow dunk, both by color, texture, and the smell when it is soldered, and we are lucky they hadn't came with some cheap excrementy replacement for copper yet. I remember the times when the corporations were actually testing what they were going to put on the market; now they roll out a beta, label it as 1.0, and then they sell firmware upgrades. I remember the times when a failed device was still repairable - a general-purpose chip or a transistor or another easy-to-find part was identified and then replaced; now we are stuck with undocumented blob of epoxy resin that spells doom for the whole device if it decides to die.

The manufacturers should be legally compelled to provide construction documentation free of charge for everything they want to sell. This is the only way how to allow tech-savvy end users to legally figure out the truth about the devices, that often go to serve in mission-critical infrastructure points. Don't talk about exposing trade secrets - they are protected with patents, and they are reverse-engineerable anyway for other corporations that can afford plasma strippers and microprobe stations and other sexy stuff. Or at least we should be allowed to look inside any device before we decide to purchase it, to check the materials and construction methods used.

In the last decade, the electronics industry took a quality plunge. I am afraid to extrapolate what the next decade will unveil to us - maybe heaps and heaps of throwaway electronics that you can throw away because it's unusable...?

The money, dude. (5.00 / 2) (#3)
by tkatchev on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 12:33:41 PM PST
You're right, of course. But do you remember the prices of the age when consumer electornics were quality-made?

Personally, I don't wish to go back. I'd rather pay an order of magnitude less, even if I get lower quality in return. Onwards to disposable electronics, I say.

Peace and much love...

All I ask (none / 0) (#4)
by dmg on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 01:02:09 PM PST
Is that the hardware and software I use be good enough to get the job done.

Obviously this means I don't use BSD, Slackhat or any of the other Linux "distros".

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

Hmm. (none / 0) (#7)
by because it isnt on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 05:36:59 PM PST
I thought you liked the BSDs. By the way, I love the link - mostly because the guy calls himself Chief Scientist. I can't think of anyone called "Chief Scientist" without thinking of Prof. Daly. What a great job title! And the ultra postmodern text is incredibly pseudish. I'm going to have to pass this around work on Monday. -- because it isn't

You have a JOB ? (none / 0) (#12)
by dmg on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 06:14:51 AM PST
Jesus christ, nobody told me the working classes were reading adequacy. I would have had to seriously rethink my approach to this venture.

Did you like the way the chief scientist used the word "adequate" three times in a row ? I did.

time to give a Newtonian demonstration - of a bullet, its mass and its acceleration.
-- MC Hawking

I certainly did. (none / 0) (#13)
by because it isnt on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 06:22:44 AM PST
I also like the way people keep saying "because it isn't", although admittedly they're not actually referring to me, I just picked a common English expression for a pseudoname. -- because it isn't

Fuck the money! (none / 0) (#5)
by The Mad Scientist on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 01:04:05 PM PST
You're right, of course. But do you remember the prices of the age when consumer electornics were quality-made?

Yes, I remember well. The prices were higher, but some devices bought back then are still up and running.

Personally, I don't wish to go back. I'd rather pay an order of magnitude less, even if I get lower quality in return.

Order of magnitude? 1.5-3 times as much, if my memory serves well. For better materials, better craftmanship, and often even available documentation including schematics, when you had the right friends.

I have an old Russian multimeter, model C4340 - documentation included internal schematics, it had no single malfunction in last 15 years, it spent 8 years in a car exposed to vibrations, heat, and cold, has a solid metal case you can step on, and survived more abuse than any other more recent instrument. *THIS* is how electronic devices should be built.

Besides, most of my electronics tends to get some custom enhancements sooner or later, and it sucks to have to reverse-engineer "better and newer" devices each few years or even months when the modern shit breaks, to reimplement what I want. The hardware should be open-sourced, if necessary by brute force.

Onwards to disposable electronics, I say.


Agreed (none / 0) (#6)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Sep 7th, 2002 at 01:20:42 PM PST
How I miss the old days when computers used acoustic waves in mercury tubes for memory. When something went wrong, you just needed to pop over to the hardware store for a new tube and splash or two of the shiny grey from the mercury hose.

And we beat Hitler with those computers, let me tell you! Nowdays we have all this DDR foolishness. Useless junk doesn't even make a good beer coaster.

What would make me happy... (none / 0) (#8)
by The Mad Scientist on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 04:27:25 AM PST
...would be modern technology manufactured without el-cheapo shortcuts and attempts to save each cent. Do things the way they were meant to be done.

The problem with too large-scale manufacture is that then saving of $0.02 per piece turns to overly appealing profits. Planned obsolescence can bring even more profits over long time, together with limited lifetime of the devices[1]. Incompatibilities by design can lock in the customers with the manufacturer, increasing the cost of switching over.

[1] I have some kitchen appliances that are close to 100 years old and they are still in perfect condition. I have other ones that are 5 years old that are falling apart.


I agree. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by because it isnt on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 04:52:36 AM PST
How could we beat Hitler today with Dance Dance Revolution machines? Well, perhaps we could have a dance-off and we could kick out some awesome freestyling. -- because it isn't

Alternately (none / 0) (#10)
by William Franklin Rothman on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 05:15:58 AM PST
Couldn't some linuxists install their operating systems on it? Would that beat Hitler?

Doubtful. (none / 0) (#11)
by because it isnt on Sun Sep 8th, 2002 at 05:35:46 AM PST
They'd be better off installing the operating systems on Hitler. -- because it isn't


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