Via Patrick Rhone, Internet celebrity, I found the link to Walt Mossberg’s opinion piece on re/code titled “You Don’t Have to Ride the Tech Upgrade Treadmill”. In 2015, I whole heartedly agree with the author. Purchasing new hardware just because it’s a bit faster or has a few bells or whistles that don’t actually fulfill a need is a needless detriment to your bank account and, depending on where the old stuff goes, an equally needless stain on the environment.
In the 1990s, Intel and AMD were releasing newer and faster CPUs every month. At that time, one could, in fact, argue that someone would have to upgrade their computer every 6 months to 2 years, depending on the use of the machine. Software kept pace with the hardware increases giving us a legitimate, non-trivial cycle. Software increased it’s hardware demands, increased hardware running old software just wasn’t to be done.
I have a smart phone that has passed it’s second birthday, and I’ve already bumped into a few things from it’s app store that will not run on it’s hardware. My main computer is a three and a half year old portable, and it still runs like a champ. However, if either of these items went belly up and required repairs that wandered too far into the triple digits, I’d buy new. But upgrading for the sake of upgrading? No thank you.
Working for a computer company, specifically my time in sales, I recall several occasions when I was asked by a customer, “Should I upgrade?” and I responded with, “If this one does everything you need it to do- no.” One of those situations resulted in the customer telling me I wasn’t that great of a salesman. I think that he had overlooked the obvious that I had sold him, again, on something he had already purchased.
However, as I end my addition to the soapbox preaching of appreciating what tech you have, there is one substantial asterisk that I’ll append. In the many years of work that I’ve done with computers, particularly helping other people out with upgrading, there is a scenario which can be very difficult to overcome. That situation is the one where someone has not willingly resisted the urge to upgrade, but has gone so far that they have failed to upgrade. Within the past year, there was a lady that had asked me how to retrieve some important documents from an Iomega Zip disk. I was without any help at all. Eventually, I had started to help her find old Zip drives on eBay with the warning that some of them use parallel ports, which her current computer doesn’t have, SCSI, which her current computer doesn’t have, or ATAPI, which her current computer doesn’t have. She’d have to find one that is USB, buy this used, antique hardware, and pray to whatever god answers these sort of prayers that her new computer would know what to do with it.
This was only one of many situations that I can recall. Usually it’s file formats from either very old versions of current software or completely obsolete software that is now trying to be used with a modern software. My warning to you is: if you have important data, save it in a format that you’ll know how to evacuate to new software if need be. Plain text documents on your 2015 computer will open up on a 1997 computer and there is no reason to believe it won’t open on a 2040 computer. Jpeg and MP3 are format that have been around for quite awhile and probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Consider these things.