Uh oh. My feeble attempt at composing blues lyrics (yeah, I know it was a crap effort) has got the anti-luddites ganging up on me 🙂 Time to drag out the trusty soapbox.
Buying a new computer, cheap as they are these days, is still the expensive option – not just monetarily.
Hardware upgrades, painful as they are, are a) easier on the pocket and b) MUCH better for the environment. Six TONS
of stuff has to be dug out of the ground to make a single PC (in order to extract the required rare metals) – and the average PC just goes back into the ground, as landfill, after a handful of years, there to sit leaching out toxins into the groundwater. Lovely.
If the keyboard, mouse, monitor, case, power supply are fine, why junk ’em?
OK, get the violins out: my first PC cost me over £2000, in 1992. It was a state-of-the-art 486DX33 with 100 Mb HDD. The ’33’ in there means 33 Mhz. Yep, 33. And, yep, that’s 100 MEGAbytes, not gigabytes. I remember agonising over whether to get an 80Mb or a 100Mb, and needn’t have bothered agonising, since I filled it up in no time flat. That machine might even have had some RAM, 32Mb possibly, I can’t recall now.
That’s the only PC I’ve ever bought. I’ve upgraded this kit several times over the years, replacing power supplies and things as they die, or need upgrading, separately. Video Graphics cards are the devices I’ve changed out most frequently, because as a gamer I’m obliged to, in order to be able to run the newest crop of games. Quite a few games in recent years seem to me to have lost the plot a bit, going overboard on graphics and losing sight of the ‘fun’ element. But, that’s a separate rant 🙂
For non-gamers, I suspect that what’s probably driving the upgrade urge is currently, or soon will be, the ability to use the PC as a videophone. Let’s face it: even my original 486 MHz machine – IF it had appropriate (non-bloatware) software – could probably handle most tasks the typical home user wants a computer for (accounts, writing letters, email). OK, maybe a 486 is pushing it, because most users want Internet access too, and most ‘Net content is bloated beyond the capabilities of such a machine – although, again, with appropriate design, it need not be. But then I’ve always suspected that the software and hardware manufacturers are in bed with each other: bloated software requires more hardware, which can run still more bloated software… and so on. I think back to playing the game ‘Lords of Midnight’ on the Spectrum (a computer that ran at, if I recall correctly, 8 Mhz and had just 32 kilobytes memory, total) and it still amazes me how they crammed such a huge game into such a miniscule space. These days you need over a gig of memory expansion just to get started.
Oops, how did I get back onto the games rant? Sorry 🙂
My most recent upgrade is to an Athlon 3200+ with 1.5Gb RAM. By upgrading rather than buying new, I still have all my old data (because I’ve kept the same hard disks). I added another Hard Disk Drive to give me more much-needed space, but the other two that were in there are still going strong.
The parts for the upgrade cost me a measly £125. OK, it also cost me some hair, because at first it refused to start up, which of course was driving me a little nuts 🙂
AND I still have the motherboard I took out, with its Athlon 1800 CPU and 1Gb RAM, which I may (perhaps) be able to get a few bob for on eBay 🙂
I couldn’t have done it alone. OK, maybe I could have, but it would have taken me roughly five times as long. Ken, my guru, has the magic touch where it comes to computers. Whereas me, I tear out hair, I scream, I jump up and down and feel like taking a hammer to the damn things when they don’t do what I tell them, Ken, he doesn’t do any of that. He just tells it off – usually over the phone. Sometimes he’ll waggle a finger or two at it. I’ve been to see him at his home on several occasions and when he’s out in the kitchen brewing up a cuppa I’ve had a quick look around for his arcane magic tomes but I’ve never found any. But I know it’s magic he uses, I know it’s not technology. I suppose a few hundred years ago he would have been called a ‘warlock’, and probably hounded out of town, or burnt at the stake.
Until a few short years ago, Ken used to help a lot of people (not just me) rebuild their PCs. Nowadays of course, the dang things are so cheap to buy new it’s simply not worth his time. A pity. In my opinion, people like Ken should receive government subsidies to provide a PC-rebuild service, to help protect the environment. And my hair.