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Hooked On Disposable Computers

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I upgraded my computer today. It is one of those bittersweet moments that I should learn to get accustomed to. It’s an exciting experience, accompanied by an underlying guilt, similar to driving that brand new car off the lot, complete with a fresh set of payments. It’s a pleasure forced upon me, not by my own will, but rather by the design of the powers that be.

Of course, we can’t expect a company, which can stretch the boundaries of science beyond those of our collective imagination, to put forth a product that will last longer than it takes to save up for an “upgrade.” It’s the same model that has kept the automotive industry afloat for a century, a product of scientific genius controlled by steadfast capitalists and made available to the public, for a fee. Why give away what you could sell?

As I said, this is really nothing new to us. Technological advancement always comes with a price, and not a one-time fee, but a lifetime of payments. Whether it’s scheduled maintenance, a necessary repair, or the lure of an upgrade, we’ve been dipping into our bank accounts in order to preserve our way of life forever. It’s not unlike a chemical dependence. We are drug addicts, hooked on convenience, and, as we enter the new millennium, the “dealers” are licking their chops.

Cars are a great analogy. The manufacturers know how vital these machines have become to most of us. Sure, there is public transportation, just as there are libraries with computer access, but a large part of society relies heavily on a vehicle to get through the day. It’s fairly evident that we‘ll eventually scrape up the cash necessary to stay so conveniently mobile or, using the drug comparison, to stay “high.” Now, if you consider that we are willing to spend a small fortune to satisfy our need to move from one place to another, you can only imagine what we would pay to keep our Internet connection, and all the life-changing services it brings, intact. Actually, when you think of the pressures the web has relieved by slicing through our gob of red tape with only the slightest finger movement, the price of a new computer seems rather generous.

I certainly felt symptoms of withdrawal while I was disconnected. What began as some light swearing soon grew to a violent frenzy, not unlike a dope fiend tearing the room apart for a fix. Finally, after dismantling two busted and quite antiquated computers (meaning over four years old), which I comically attempted to repair using a soldering iron, I knew there was only one choice, regardless of my budget.

By the time I reached Best Buy, an outdated, pre-Internet hassle I was forced into by my problem, all financial obligations were out the window. I needed it to live! Within minutes, I was swept away by specs (specifications for a computer which basically measures its capacity to perform and store memory… guy stuff) and became another victim. I raced home with the vigor of a true addict who just scored! Thankfully, they’ve made it quite simple to kick your old machine to the curb and move on. It’s amazing what they can come up with when they try. Just swipe your card, then “plug and play.” (Sounds like "sign and drive," doesn’t it?) They’re good.

Surely, the stuffed shirts across the globe would be delighted to know that they have another piece of my pie. I could post a great article on computer maintenance and list ways to maximize your system’s performance because there are many preventative measures that you could and should take. Ultimately, however, if you plan on joining us in this Golden Age of Laziness, you should be prepared to take some unexpected hits. The exact statistics vary because all of this is still relatively new. I like to imagine the country freaking out about a hundred years ago when they began to realize the Model Ts were, well, Fords, and began the famous acronym, “Fix Or Repair Daily.” 

Now, if you are in the upper class and have no concern for things like money, then I applaud and envy you, and I thank you for reading this far. With that said, I have enjoyed typing this piece on my new Acer Aspire R1600. It’s very compact and extremely affordable. It comes without a CD drive, but an external drive is not expensive at all, and, because of the very nature we just touched on, cutting edge models are constantly made. So, anything you buy is probably an upgrade. (Maybe it’s good that they don’t hand us too much power in one serving?) You could keep up with flow of the computer industry right at Amazon.

Thanks for reading and remind me, I need an oil change.

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About ProfPlume

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    I guess I’m just in amazement with your gripe. Granted PCs can be compared to automobiles but, at least, with PCs as the technology progressed the price came down significantly unlike automobiles. On top of that, there is a ton of support on the web to purchase parts and build your own. I don’t believe I’ve seen that for cars.

    Honestly, I think people need to start taking responsibility to learn more about the things they rely so heavily on. PCs are no longer the nerdy hobby that it was back in the 80s(for me). I really don’t blame lame companies like Best Buy for taking advantage of the uninformed / uneducated. If you’re leaving the decision making to the one selling you the product then you are truly mistaken.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/profplume/ ProfPlume

    Excuse me for obviously misleading you. As the title indicates, this was a sarcastic piece, written directly after purchasing a computer for the reasons stated.

    I happen to be above average when it comes to computers and there isn’t one fool in best buy that can further my knowledge.

    However, when a soldered component comes off of the circuitboard, a problem all too common on acer computers which will not even be addressed by a repair shop. I draw the line. that is, after I tried and failed.

    Also, to compare a build-your-own computer to a car company selling you a chasis and an engine block, is, well….inconsistant. lol

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/profplume/ ProfPlume

    what do you make of this comment:

    “Actually, when you think of the pressures the web has relieved by slicing through our gob of red tape with only the slightest finger movement, the price of a new computer seems rather generous.”

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Well, I was unaware of the sarcasm then…my bad(?).

    In regards to the comparison between cars & computers, it’s obvious you’ve never heard of “Kit Cars” wherein it is very similar in nature to building you’re own computer. So, in fact, your reference/analogy is the inconsistent one here, not to mention fairly inaccurate as well.

    So, if you’re truly above average when it comes to computers then why didn’t you just replace the motherboard(maybe along with the processor)instead of running out and buying a whole new PC? Honestly, what computer guy brings a Mobo to a repair shop??

  • prof plum

    Wow, you really took offense…
    Look, now matter how much computer knowledge I have, a decision between a $300 motherboard, that I have to replace and the same price for a brand new system with double the specs is a no-brainer.
    Unless someone is seriously into rebuilding cars, It is highly unlikely they ould mount a new engine before looking into a new one.

    Lighten up, this is not a medical thesis to be disputed. It’s a simple piece written by a layperson who upgraded his computer because the old one took a dump.

    Analogy: cars are built to breakdown, so are computers. simple. relax.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    No offense taken here… Just uncovering how much you really don’t know about computers(and possibly some other things),for example:

    “…a decision between a $300 motherboard,that I have to replace and the same price for a brand new system with double the specs is a no-brainer.”

    Really? I seriously doubt that. I mean I could probably prove that you’re wrong in like 5 minutes on TigerDirect or NewEgg. But, without the 5 minutes of research and without the $200 limit, I can just say from experience that I spent $322 on my PC build and that included: PC Case,Fan,Mobo & CPU w/fan(not a combo), 1Gb HD Video Card and 4gb RAM. It’s all the same sh!t that Acer, Dell, HP and so many other companies charge through the rear for. AND, I don’t have to worry about the overheating that might happen with that little thing(remember the Shuttle PC) or having to send it out to get repairs done.

    So, I’m almost positive that I could have upgraded your PC for probably $160+ bucks(and with free shipping) and still get better performance…

    Another example:
    “Unless someone is seriously into rebuilding cars, It is highly unlikely they would mount a new engine before looking into a new one.”

    So, what you’re saying is that a regular joe schmoe couldn’t purchase a rebuilt engine for mostly any car and even spend the extra money to have a mechanic drop it in and still save a boatload in comparison to purchasing a new car?? Wrong again buddy. Try Here

    But, my point was that it is not as easy / inexpensive as building or upgrading a PC which is what your analogy doesn’t point out.

    Yup, with your knowledge, I’m glad were not discussing a medical thesis.

  • prof plum

    Well since my integrity is now challenged, I guess we must continue this frivolous discussion.

    The model which was replaced was an acer aspire 5600 laptop I bought for $200 used from a friend. It had 512MB ram and a 120G hard drive.

    True to the point of the article, which was that computers are built to not last, an implication made regarding the auto industry forever and only logical in a capitalist society, a component on the motherboard came loose.

    Being “above average” in computers, a statement I stick to, considering one end of the spectrum are those who are afraid to even use the things and the other are seasoned programmers, and such, and learning basic electronics as part of my audio engineering certificate, I decided to fix it via this method.

    Regarding this method, by the way, my neighborhood computer repairman wanted no part of it, insisting I needed to replace the motherboard. Still, I tried and failed, hopefully not to the point of damaging the laptop, which is a danger of such things.

    I then priced motherboards. Acer 5600 were priced at around $250.

    Exploring my options, I landed at Best Buy out of haste and found that I could purchase the model I showed above for $199 cut down to $169 for taking the floor model.

    (For what it’s worth and realizing that a best buy employee is hardly the final word but does see enough models pass under his nose, I was assured that my problem was common and that their techs would also deny such a repair.)

    I now had two options which I presented to the “average” person in my article, one who would probably never consider taking a soldering iron to their pc’s motherboard:

    1. Repair my aging PC with 512mb ram and 1.4g processor (120g hd), for $250

    2. Purchase a new acer(as shown above) with 1g ram, 1.6 ghz p, and 160 g hd for $169

    The average person, and most others would choose #2.

    Let’s address some precise statements:

    1.””Unless someone is seriously into rebuilding cars, It is highly unlikely they would mount a new engine before looking into a new one.”

    That statement is 100% true

    2.”So, what you’re saying is that a regular joe schmoe couldn’t purchase a rebuilt engine for mostly any car and even spend the extra money to have a mechanic drop it in and still save a boatload in comparison to purchasing a new car??”–

    read my statement again. Sure it’s possible but “highly unlikely”, I mean, based on my circle of acquaintances, there are no reports of such activity.

    3.”So, I’m almost positive that I could have upgraded your PC for probably $160+ bucks(and with free shipping) and still get better performance…”

    I don’t see how that’s possible based on the facts, unless, of course, you have an ‘inside track’ to which I would only say that I wish you were around at the time. Of course that would be classified as an exception to the rule.

    Here’s where I erred and it’s the reason why I appreciate the open debate. I always strive to improve:

    1. I said double the specs, well, only ram was actually “doubled”.

    2.An option that I missed was that of buying a stand alone charger for the ONE battery I had for around 80 bucks. I may still do it, but it doesn’t change the spirit of the article at all. It could’ve been any soldered component and LIKE CARS, the average person, for whom we try to reach, doesn’t consider alternative options when multiple mechanics tell them what is needed.

    In conclusion, I will remember your expertise when this new computer goes down, as scheduled by the manufacturer.

    Also, I DO appreciate your opposition and I take no offense. It is my understanding that when a person resorts to personal attacks, it is a sign of defeat.

    Thanks

  • prof plum

    I apologize for the copy and paste links.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yea…mentioning that you had a laptop is a big difference than just saying a PC. Actually, you should have mentioned all of those details you just gave me in your article. That would clarify quite a bit for those of us who will “resort to personal attacks” when we are clearly defeated by such brilliant remarks and a satirically witty & in-depth article.

    Good day to you Sir!

  • Anonymous

    Why must nerds always engage in penis measuring contests over the internet?

  • profplume

    I don’t know. Why must they?