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On becomming obsolete

March 23, 2014

Sometimes as I sit here and look out through my cabin window watching winter transform into spring, it does indeed seem like the world is passing me by. I think that no matter where I am….be it a supermarket or an airport the ‘young’, (anyone under 50), of today are in a hurry and oblivious to everything but what is in front of them. At the supermarket the may be waiting in the checkout line but they are intensely focused on the latest text message on their phone and at the airport with their heads bowed, as if in supplication, as they ‘bow’ down to their computer screens. Whenever they do look up their faces a blank stair with their minds stuck in a far different reality.

Whenever I talk about how things were when I was young and they do look up at me I get a look that says, quit living in the past. I have no doubt to them become: out of date, no longer of use….’obsolete’. We are now living in a new age where obsolescence is built into not only humans but all the material things we purchase. So is it any wonder that those of us who long for the ‘good old days’ are also categorized as obsolete?

We now see that everything we purchase have a short shelf life. They are manufactured to breakdown and be replaced within a short span of time. The purpose of course is that the company manufacturing them can increase their profit by selling a replacement. This obsolescence is a direct result of the fact that we consumers demand bargain basement prices on anything we purchase. The manufactures in order to supply these products at the lowest price naturally turn to the cheapest labor and material they can find. This in turn gives us a product that is indeed low in price but also one that will have to be replaced in a short span of time.

Computer manufactures, and the reason for this posting, have found another way to make us give them more money…. upgrades and compatibility. They have unilaterally decided to constantly change compatibility between the computer it’s peripherals and software. There is never consideration given to the few of us who are totally satisfied with the system we have. The manufactures continuously find ways to improve or update their systems and then no longer support outdated systems.

As in my case when my ‘beloved’ printer died, what was I to do? To have it repaired would cost more than replacing it so I was forced to seek out a new printer. For those who have not been on this quest recently you will find that almost all new printers are WiFi printers, needing no hard line to connect to their computer. When I eventually found one that fit my needs I brought it out to the cabin and set it up only to see when the instillation disc was booted those dreaded words….”This software not supported by this operating system”. Apparently I have had my computer too many years and the operating system can no longer communicate with many newer programs.

Moral of the story… we the people are screwed. We demand the lowest prices and for the most part are getting what we asked for. However that lower cost comes with the burden of inferior short lived products. Or else we get a solid product, like cell phones, that once a year is rendered impotent by the next generation of “better” cell phones that we must have.

Maybe we should start demanding a product that
does what we want it to do
and doesn’t need to be replaced or upgraded every year.

Did I mention that I have a set of Craftsman power tools that I bought in the 60’s
and still works like the day I bought them?  

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2014 9:33 am

    Hey Pete – Yep, my generation was the first to really embrace that whole ‘throw away’ philosophy and we have paid dearly for being so anxious to embrace such a concept. The spiraling divorce rate is just one manifestation of this philosophy; earlier generations would have looked to make a relationship work even if it took time, effort, pain and didn’t have a guaranteed outcome. Nowadays if you find you have an issue with your mate you just thrown him or her away and get a new one! Problem solved…or is it? As you mentioned we now live in a culture that sees nothing wrong with throwing away perfectly good items just because something newer – we’ve been bilked into believing ‘newer’ is always synonymous with ‘better’ – appears. I played this game in the 90’s with computers as each time Intel popped a new CPU I had to have it and, of course, it would never just plug into the existing motherboard! In college in the 70’s I did something similar with stereo equipment. At least now I’ve finally reached an age at which I don’t care about what’s ‘new and exciting’; if what I have works I’m satisfied. The latest incarnation of this insanity involves the younger generation and their damn cell phones…oh, excuse me, I meant ‘smart phones’… I did upgrade my smart phone in 2013 because Samsung put out a model with a 5″ diagonal screen and I could actually read something on it! Unless they put out a slightly larger phone with a bigger yet screen I’ll be sticking with my existing model. Its really sad almost everything has now become a ‘commodity’ and as such is expected to last only a short time and once its past its expected life its to be traded in (thrown away..?) for the latest reincarnation. I can tell you that any true gains in CPU performance in the last decade has come only from incorporating multiple cores into the main CPU; this, in turn, really only benefits serious gamers and such people probably do not make up 15% of those who use computers nowadays. Yet if we own a system that’s two years old its considered ‘obsolete’. This whole ‘throw away’ mentality has cost us dearly and will destroy us unless we really do develop efficient recycling systems soon. As a society we’ve already paid a heavy price in terms of our relationships…


  2. Terry permalink
    March 24, 2014 8:27 pm

    I just put my 38 year old sofa out the door, on it’s way to the tip. It is older than my daughter – I’ve had that sofa over half of my life!!! The new one replacing it will never last 38 years…………..


  3. March 25, 2014 6:06 am

    I’m sorry but this blog post is not rendering properly in my Google Glass. Can you reformat it for my holographic text projection device so that I can read it while showering?


    • tricia permalink
      March 26, 2014 7:48 am

      IEBA….. don’t worry new in the google store today!! is an update for your google glasses … no more rendering needed for blog posts on wordpress…


    • March 26, 2014 6:54 pm

      Son I have my glasses on and still do not understand most new things. Can you imagine glasses with moving text and photos in the corner of the would kill me!


  4. Jon permalink
    March 25, 2014 5:48 pm

    Pete, I still have a flip phone. I refuse to text or email or watch the news or anything else you can do with these things now. The only reason I would “upgrade” to a smart phone or I-phone is for the camera. You’re right, these people I pick up in my bus can’t wait to sit down to start paying attention to their damn phones.And they have that blank stare when you engage them in something soon to be obsolete as a face to face conversation.

    My stereo speakers are approaching 40 years old & still look like new with their wooden cabinets. Yes, I still have the original boxes they came in!

    These new car dashes are dizzying to look at with their 7″ screens, & more damn buttons & levers than an airplane. No thanks. I wouldn’t buy one if I won the lottery just to piss off the new car dealers who will no doubt pester me into a new one. Simple is good.

    Just remember Einstein’s quote: “Technology will turn us into a nation of idiots.” Looks like he was onto something.


    • Bill permalink
      May 23, 2014 5:52 pm

      Flip phone here. And the 1989 Jeep Comanche that I drove from Arkansas to Fairbanks and back in 1993. Two weeks ago I went to a college baseball game (and a good game at that) and five of the six folks to my right and both on my left were playing with their phones during an excellent inning. I do wish I could win one of those nice HF rigs though.


  5. March 27, 2014 6:11 pm

    My favorite disposable is food. I get it, fix it, eat it, then flush it and go for more. Works for me. :-)


  6. March 28, 2014 8:12 am

    I hope you can enjoy watching winter turn into spring, and waiting for the light to increase each day! That must be extraordinary. Keep warm!


  7. April 17, 2014 1:50 pm

    Right you are; the “death panels” (Sarah Palin was correct) of Obamacare are tasked to reduce costly care for the older and so unproductive. We note a euthanasia campaign wafting up to accompany that … increasing reminders to “plan your final arrangements” etc.

    Having now dispensed with old fashioned religions, we’ve become disposable to the State that is replacing the churches. Imagine the energy savings and planetary greening that will follow when we start eating Soylent Green …(I hear it’s especially good with ketchup)


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