Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Computers are disposable or News from wastelandia

Also during the hurricane the video card in our desktop computer went up. It is unfortunately an integrated system (meaning, built into the motherboard) rather than constructed Lego-style. We just replaced this tower a year-and-a-half ago around the time of the blizzard. Robb hauled it over to Best Buy to have the geeks take a look. The diagnostic alone costs $70 and takes several days. The geek he spoke to suggested it might be the power supply which would be another $40 to fix. If it is indeed the video card that is fried they could plug in a separate video card if they are able to track down that part. The geek didn't think they would find one, in which case they would have to replace the whole motherboard. Or $400. That's $100 more than we spent on the tower to begin with.

Robb asked him how is it possible that an 18 month old computer is already so obsolete that replacement parts are unavailable? Apparently the technology was "on it way out" when we purchased it. The geek wouldn't recommend plugging in a separate video card--if one could be found--anyway because in these integrated systems, once one part dies the others pieces tend to start dropping like flies in a terrible rapid cascade. "So what you're telling me is that computers are disposable now too?" "Exactly," replied the geek.

Now I know what you're thinking. "Who wants a desktop anyway?" Well, me. I do. I really hate laptops. I'm pecking away on Robb's laptop right now, and I'm not happy about it. This poor thing has such a puny processor that I can't plug my camera into it without causing an event not unlike Chernobyl. And it's only maybe four years old. If our desktop was "obsolete" this thing is practically prehistoric. Welcome to the land of waste where you have to replace your computers twice a year to keep up, and on the first of every month a new smarter phone is waiting for you.

There is something deeply wrong with our tech culture. I wasn't raised like that, and I don't want Maureen to develop a permanent case of the I-want-gimme-gimme's. We have a cabinet of VHS tapes and two large binders of DVDs. These dusty stacks represent hundreds of dollars invested in obsolete media. Video tapes were around for about 20 years and DVDs for maybe 10. How long do you really think the Blu-Ray fad will last? It is already a flash in the home theater pan. I urge to save your money and ignore Blu-Ray entirely. Anything you want to watch can be streaming to your tv or computer instantly.

Streaming media worries me. It's not so much that I miss having my large cassette collection prominently displayed in my home. It's 1984. It's the worry that without media artifacts--books, sheet music, handwritten letters--that our history can be edited, skewed, and deleted. Already music and books you have downloaded can magically disappear from your electronic library when the service provider has a dispute with a publisher. But an executive from Amazon will never walk into my home and physically remove a book from the shelf in my living room.

Anywho. We're not sure what we're going to do about the computer yet. We did not leave it for the $70 diagnostic. And Robb is going to have a friend move all the files to our backup drive this week. If it wasn't full of toxic metals and stuff, I would really like to bury the tower in the back yard. Have a little funeral for the old gal. Only the good die young, eh?


Tmomma said...

Get a Mac. I know they cost more but we've had it for maybe 4 or 5 years now and I've never been happier with a computer. Ours is a laptop but I enjoy being able to multi-task while I watch dumb shows on TV. I can upload my photos, edit them, post on the blog,etc. Plus, I don't have that anti-virus nonsense popping up all the time like I did on a Windows based system. I know they'll eventually get to the Macs with viruses, as it's starting to happen, but I have really enjoyed this computer. My brother got the Mac Mini and really likes it, I think it's what my mom is going to get next, leaving my Dad as the sole Windows operator in the family!

It's such a interesting thing with techonology and kids. I don't want my kids glued to computers or video games but at the same time I want them to be able to use them as their generation is learning how to use them in preschool!

The one thing I like about buying Bluray is that it usually also comes with a regular DVD I can use in the van for our extended trips.

bbmowery said...

We're going to replace it with something comparable. Replacing the computer at all was not in our budget, so buying a Mac is definitely not in the cards right now. (Mom just got a MacBook, and it was like $1300. So she thinks that our tower was a glorified Speak And Spell.)

But now I have questions: were you at all conflicted about having a DVD player in your van? What made you decide to get one?

Tmomma said...

Never ever conflicted about the DVD player in the vehicle. Roo was the worlds worst rider for years. Even as a newborn I would have to pull over to quiet him. At 3 months we actually moved him to the rear facing convertible car seat just to see if it gave him some relief. I can't even begin to tell you how distracting it was to have a child screaming for the entire ride wherever we went. Part was reflux part was he was just the worst rider ever, it didn't matter if we sat with him in the back, sang to him, talked to him, whatever, it was terrible. We got a DVD player and played him, gasp, Baby Einstein videos and it helped a bit. And never looked back. When we went to upstate NY for my cousin Mike's wedding when he was just about a year old, it was actually a mostly successful car ride, between videos, toys and snacks we had finally gotten into a groove. But still, the boys really enjoy watching movies while in the van and I'm ok with it. Nate doesn't have one in his car and we have no plans to get one for his. So no mommy guilt there :)

WRT the Mac. I think the Mac Mini is a desktop and starts at $599. Any chance you can get Best Buy to purchase your old desktop to help defray the cost? I hate that so many appliances and electronics are disposable these days, we recently replaced our only 2 or 3 year old dishwasher because it would cost about the same to get a less expensive new one. Go figure. Hopefully this one holds up better.

old dog said...

It is worse than buying a new car and having the value plummet as soon as you drive it out of the show room. Computers are a necessary evil and it really helps to be married to a geek that can prolong their lives to enjoy old age a little.Then again, it's the geek who always NEEDS the new machine. Angie's is 5 years old and getting buggie. She is looking/saving for a new one. Have you looked into Refurb's?
One of the old computer shells is going to be our "new" mailbox case. How fitting for a geek.

bbmowery said...

The one that's having problems was a refurb. I think we're going to take it in to Best Buy for the diagnostic when Vitad gives us back the hard drive. At least then we have a bill and an estimate to submit to the insurance company. What a pain this is!