extinction of the dinosaur


I realize now that I have been gradually turned into a Luddite, albeit not an active one, but by default. There was a day when I had one of the early word processors (a dual tape affair with a big Selectric typewriter) and one of the first fax machines (it was the size of a small refrigerator). I had one of the first IBM personal computers when the screens had electronic green letters. I kept updating regularly and had finally graduated to a succession of Macs.  I was an innovator, or an early adopter, at the very least.

But the move to this desert changed all that. Through a series of electrical burn-outs, my technological edge was eroded. I ended up with a laptop that quickly turned into a dinosaur that easily consumed at least an hour’s wait time each day as it struggled to process even the simplest of tasks. Alex took one look and, at less than 1 GB of RAM, immediately diagnosed the problem: the computer was working beyond its capacity.

Alex counseled me that now was the time to replace the dinosaur, and for less than $200 we bought a new Dell tower, and I am now preparing this post on a new machine that is not always notifying me that it is hung up on one script or another or that a program is nonresponsive as the computer’s overtaxed processors are laboring to complete their tasks.

I now understand three things. One is a computer consultant’s amazement that my old laptop was still in use. Second is a contributor’s willingness to buy me a new computer—I had no idea the damned things could be had so cheaply. Third is Moore’s Law, which says that over the history of computing hardware, the processing power of a given investment doubles every two years. Given the age of my old laptop, it should have died years ago.

Oh, and there is a fourth thing: I am a damned fool for having put up with so much aggravation for so long to save less than $200. Thank god that Alex has shown up and told me what anyone under the age of 30 knows as second nature.


Groove of the Day

 Listen to “The Dinosaurs Song”


2 Responses to “extinction of the dinosaur”

  1. 1 BobH
    September 21, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I worked in computing for over 20 years (until I was fired on Friday in fact). We joke that we need our son to come home three times a year to fix or answer all the technology questions that we cannot get around to answering for ourselves. An acceptable surrogate is neighbor teenagers.

    One factor that gives youngsters the edge is the willingness to experiment fearlessly. It is the same fearlessness that gets kids in trouble with the law. My son never read any manuals or setup instructions. He was confident that if he did not get it right, the technology would self-protect. If his PC became too slow because of all the junky stuff he had loaded, he would settle to a one hour complete rebuild. And the first time he did it, he said it was worth the effort because the PC went so much faster. But he was not worried about losing anything. He built a web site nearly 20 years ago when he was 12 and started putting reviews of PC games on it, and managed to talk game creators to send him games to review. He syndicated the work out to his friends – “you can have this beta version of the new game if you give me a review to public” But after developing it into music and concert reviews, getting a lot of freebies, he lost interest and never made a backup, so his work is lost (except for “swayback”. As a proud dad, that makes me a bit sad. But his thought pattern, by now 16, was that it was in the past and he didn’t care.

    I am an advocate for one 13 year old boy who is computer dedicated. In the two years I have supported him, he has gone from shoot-em-up games to building games like Minecraft. He is now almost exclusively into programming with heavyweight tools like Visual Studio Professional which he got from a college-level promotion. His skill is not high, but he is fearless. It’s also difficult because lots of his ideas are wrong, and he’s difficult to shift, but he can bamboozle any adults he talks with (except professional programmers). So, where do I think he is going – most likely sales!

    I got my first laptop about 18 years ago to support a sales team offsite. It had 5MB memory and 60MB hard drive. And it could do spreadsheets, email, presentations and word processing. My latest laptop has more than a thousand times that capacity – and I can still do word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email.

  2. 2 Steve Booth
    September 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Yes I rely so much on the young people in my life to help sort out this stuff. I got so sick of learning new versions of systems that I really dug in my heals and now really regret that things I used to be able to sort out I can’t but the kids love to smirk and smile and solve it for me. Enjoy.

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