Thursday, March 01, 2012

Downgrading is the new Upgrading

Computers are in this weird phase right now that I don't think you see many products go through during their lifecycles.

I'm going to start by saying that when I first started to get into computers I was in highschool and had a really crappy thing that I bought off of someone advertising in the newspaper (the original Craigslist mofo's).  It came with a really bad CRT monitor that could kinda sorta render color if you considered green to be a color.  I think it also had minor reds and maybe a blue, but it was mostly green, grey, black and shades of the tween.  The actual computer itself rested in this largish box and came complete with a 5 1/2" floppy drive (I was not upgraded enough ot have the 3" drive at that point, and there was no chance it would support a CD-Drive) and the hard drive was 212 megs if I am remembering correctly.  And, honestly, 212 might be a bit higher than it really was.

Over the course of the summer before I went to school a buddy and myself programmed a simple choose your own adventure text based game that was about the invasion of the earth and the potential destruction of all mankind.
In this game you made choices and after so much time your choices would lead to you launching nukes at our invaders.   Depending on the choices that you made up to that point would determine how accurate your "hits" were and also the enemies retaliation and their accuracy as well.  Once all the choices had been made for a section the game would cut to a "cut scene" in the ugliest sense of the word where you would watch your nukes and the enemies nukes be launched and area's of each battle field destroyed.

You would then get a synopsis of what happened, what was destroyed and what was still available and thrust back into making decisions, rince and repeat.  The video portion played out much like a really crappy version of Missile Command.

We even got to the point where we were able to progam blips and bleeps for the background "music" during these scenes and during the ending credits.  It was pretty horrible and we spent an entire summer programming this ugly game. Tweaking it and adding things and changing endings and whatnot only to find out that we spend hundreds of hours programming like a 15 minute game.  Oh, I vowed never to waste my time in such a manner again, but dammit I was hooked on computers.

College I had my first real computer with a 24k modem (later upgraded to a 48.8k or whatever) jacking my phone lines and making sure no one could call me.  It came complete with a 3" floppy drive, a CD-Rom and a whopping 2 gig hard drive that I feared I would never fill.  I eventually pimped it out by way overspending and getting a scuzzi (SCSI) external CD-R drive while buying recordable CD's at like 2 bucks a pop.  Oh, I was the envy of the dorm area and made some of that money back burning CD's for some of the local wildlife that lived around us.

Fast forward to today and I have my 2nd laptop that comes built in with a better monitor than I ever had on my desktops - it has a dedicated 60 gig hard drive just for the OS and then a 500 gig for all the porn, music, movies and games that I want to put on it. I have a 1 TB external HD attached to it and I have USB thumb drives larger than the old HDD's that I used to put into the computers I built.  My phone is capable of doing more than most of the computers I have owned, has more memory and a better screen as well.
Technology has blown up over the last couple of decades and now, at least to me, things are starting to go backwards a bit.

The first thing I want to point out is that we are now coming out with better hard drives, but because of pricing and whatnot we are forced to go with smaller ones.  Solid Slate HD's can run you well over $100 just for a 60 gig drive - whereas I could, isntead, go with a regular 7200 RPM (or 5400 if I didn't need my data accessed as quickly) 500 GB - 1 TB drive for the same price point. 

Then we look at these new things called Tablets - NON upgradable computers with horribly small amounts of space and less customizable than a normal desktop or laptop computer.
You can't just download and put stuff on there that you want all willy nilly - Everything is controlled through an "app store" that tells you what can and cannot be done on the device.  And we are paying MORE money for these than we are if we just went with a computer instead.
So, technology has blown up and the new craze is smaller devices with less memory and a more controlled "app" instead of download and install whatever we happen to find and like.

I can spend $599 on a 32 (or is it 64 now?) gig iPad or I can spend $599 on a lap top that gives me 500 gigs of space to do with as I please.
Not only that, but I have the choice between wifi or 3g - and if you go 3g you now have to have a separate data plan for this new fangled computer type device of yours.

Data Plans are taking over the world and ruining it.  Seriously, I hate them and have to make sure every device I buy is WiFi only so that I don't have to get stuck paying for some crappy data plan that I might not even ever use.

By the end of the year this could be me, or anyone of you.
You have your cell phone which is smart and you pay your normal fee's plus data plan for the smart features.
You have your Playstation Vita 3g which requires a data plan (through AT&T only).
You have a 3g iPad and it's speparate data plan.
You have Terminator Glasses made by Google (and yes, these bad boys are supposed to come out by the end of the year) which require a data plan.

That's 4 data plans right there at a min of $29.99 each month for EACH of them taking all of the money out of your wallet just so you can stay connected and feel good about yourself.
Not only that, but unless you're one of the lucky few - Data plans have a capped amount of data you can use before you start getting charged extra.
Most places have gone away (or will be shortly) from unlmiited data because they realize they can gouge the customer with set limits.  If you go over you'll have to upgrade to the next tier to avoid overage charges.

Man, right now I feel like I should unplug myself and become a fucking luddite.

I can't, I'd miss you all too much. No net, no texts, no video games, no blog, no er, no no no.
I'm addicted.


  1. If you are feeling nostalgic but want a good time suck (I know...), check out Minecraft. I swear best ugly game ever.


    1. I have heard this from a lot of people.
      It's been on my "too get mindlessly addicted to" list for a few months now.
      I think 1.2 is about to come out soon - and they have been working on an Xbox version (which I've been kind of waiting for since most of my gaming is done on a console and not on computer).

  2. Ha ha -- my cell phone is so old and simple that most people would be embarrassed to carry it. Works for me, though.

    Hard drive prices went through the roof because of last year's flooding in Thailand. Just bought a replacement internal 1.5 TB for my son's desktop. Sheesh.

    1. Yes, they did go up a lot but have come down considerably since then.
      I was looking at a 1 TB for my PS3 and when I started looking it was like 90 bucks - then the floods happened and it tripled in price. After multiple months and waiting and waiting the lowest I ever saw it get back to was $129 - and I still only have a 60gig in my PS3 lol.

  3. My first PC (they weren't even called that back then) was a TRS-80 in 1983. No hard drive and no 3" floppies (only 5 1/4), but hey, it was a computer. I was taking computer classes from North Carolina State University and could use it to phone in and do my homework programs instead of standing in line at the computer lab. There were games on it and a simple word processor. Operating system was TRS-DOS (pronounced trysdos). Good times.

  4. Your mentioning of a scuzzi drives reminds me of one of the many catch phrases that my pal "Norm" (of my blog comments) and I have. Years ago we were at Fry's and Norm was thinking of getting some kind of scuzzi hard drive for his system, back when scuzzi was considered somehow better than IDE or whatever was the standard back then.

    We were looking at drives and he picked up one to look at and some other customer was standing next to us and saw Norm pick up the drive and he said, totally unsolicited, "Whatever you do, don't go making that scuzzi mistake."

    We looked up and before whe could ask the guy what the hell he meant or why it would be a mistake to go with scuzzi, he had already turned around and started walking away. We never got a chance to ask him for an explanation. Norm and I both cracked up and to this day you can still get either one of us laughing just by saying, "Don't go making that scuzzi mistake."

    Norm eventually got the scuzzi drive and never thought it was a mistake, getting many years of fine service out it. And we never saw that (un)masked stranger again.