Planned obsolescence

I have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with cutting-edge technology; in theory I am in favour of keeping bang up to date, but in practice I find myself hanging on to old gadgets long after they should have been consigned to the recycling bin.

It’s only fairly recently that I got an LCD TV, after spending years squinting at a vintage 14-inch Sony Trinitron, latterly augmented with a digital tuning box (and an RF-modulator, since it didn’t have a SCART socket) when they turned off the analogue signal. I would still have it today, but it stopped working, and I couldn’t find anyone willing to even look at it, never mind fix it, though it was probably a simple enough job.

This state of affairs is mostly due to a combination of laziness and stinginess – I’m driving around right now in a car with two broken mirrors and a busted heater, because I resent paying the inflated fee the mechanic would charge me for swapping a couple of parts, but I can’t be bothered going down to the scrapyard to get the bits myself – along with a high tolerance for imperfection; if something isn’t actually going to kill me I can usually put up with it. That’s not the whole story though; despite being avowedly anti-conservative there is a large part of me that is resistant to change. Jobs, cities, relationships; I’ve stayed in them all long after it would have been sensible to leave. This is probably down to a subconscious fear of death or something; I should perhaps try to work through it in therapy, but I guess it has saved me a lot of money over the years.

All this is a roundabout way of explaining why there hasn’t been much in the way of Second Life content in this blog recently. When I last downloaded an updated version of the viewer (which was a while ago, so it’s not even the latest one), it had the not entirely unpredictable effect of slowing my venerable desktop box to a crawl, making my SL experience even more tiresome than usual. I suppose that I should try using some nimble third-party viewer, but the task of identifying one that is both reliable and linux-friendly seems like too much of a drag right now, and anyway the Lindens seem to be freezing out the TPV developers, so it would probably only be a temporary fix.

Thus I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that my trusty 12 year-old 1.6 GHz P4 has reached the end of the line, and that I need a new computer. The simplest solution would be to buy a ready-built machine, but I want to reuse as many components as possible, and the case, keyboard, mouse, monitor, hard drives and optical drive are all perfectly serviceable, so I think I’ll go down the DIY route.

I’ll need a new motherboard, processor, RAM, and a graphics card (I’d keep my not-too-ancient nVidia Ge Force 7-series, but it’s got an AGP plug). I’d really like an Intel I-7, but they are rather expensive, so I’ll probably settle for an I-5, which should do me for a few years; processor/motherboard/memory bundles can be had for between £200 and £300. Add in a GeForce 500 card at about a ton, and that’s a fairly nifty system for under £400.

On the other hand, who uses a desktop computer these days? I could take the money and buy a new iPad, which would do for 90% of my computing needs, pretty much everything except Second Life in fact. I do like to have a big hard drive to keep my data on, since I’m far too paranoid to trust the cloud, but I don’t need a fancy new processor or graphics card for that.

Still, I guess my inertia will keep me from wholeheartedly embracing the new paradigm of mobile computing, and I probably will end up trying to rejuvenate my old desktop. I doubt I’ll get round to it much before the summer though, so this blog will remain misleadingly named until then at least.

 

Boring Tuesday

Back in the spring of 2008 I was closely following the Obama/Clinton contest, and to a lesser extent the Republican nomination process, because it seemed like something important was at stake, that the future of the world hung on the decision of the voters. That the Obama administration has turned out to be a major disappointment is at least in part due to all the excitement generated by the debate in the primaries.

This time round though I’m struggling to maintain my interest, since the only thing in question in the GOP race is which objectionable conservative white guy will earn the right to become a footnote in history by failing to prevent Obama from winning a second term.

Davy Jones R.I.P.

I’m too young to have experienced The Monkees first time around, but the show was a staple of after-school TV when I was growing up in the 70s, and their movie Head became one of our late-night favourites in my student days, so I was sad to hear that Davy Jones had passed away. Another sign that time is moving on I guess.