Avoiding Computer Obsolescence
You know the old saying: "If cars had progressed as fast as computers, we would be driving at 500 MPH in a $25 car that gets 2 million miles per gallon and seats the population of China." Technology is racing ahead at an obscene speed these days, and even the people who invent it cannot keep up. The engineers would walk into the lab and find that another lab's experiment had made their work old news before it was even news at all. And the other lab would be eclipsed by the first lab's new efforts, until the whole industry was like a giant seesaw, with at least five children scrambling for position, and at the same time being balanced on a greased pipe by a half-blind cerebral palsy victim. But at last help is here: a simple method for keeping yourself right on the cutting edge!
IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If you decide to try this yourself, we are not responsible for the consequences. We could say "This procedure is only recommend under certain circumstances," except the only circumstances under which it actually is recommended are when you have just won the lottery or you are Bill Gates. On the other hand, Microsoft's current market share means that payday for Bill is kind of like a lottery itself.
Before you can begin your personal attempt to enter computer Nirvana, you must complete the following checklist:
- First, you should select a location. The best place for this operation is the largest and most well-stocked computer store you can think of. In New York City, a good bet is J&R Computer World , somewhere in the vicinity of the World Trade Center. Since most stores of this size are segregated by platform, choose one and set up your headquarters in its geometric center. Your headquarters should include all the ads for that store that you can get your hands on, a huge pile of credit cards, and a semi truck. Fitting a semi truck into a computer store is no easy trick, but if you prefer one computer platform feel free to demolish the store department selling the other one .
- Ground rules: in each section, there are some basic guidelines that should usually (see step 6) be followed. Do these things before following any special instructions:
- Buy the item with the largest physical dimensions.
- Buy the most expensive item.
- Buy the item with the largest numbers written on it.
- Begin by purchasing an actual computer. Buy the computer with the largest number written on its label (aside from the serial number!) Also, be sure to buy the CPU with the most little slots and gizmos on the front and back. Another good strategy is to buy the computer with the largest number as part of its name (e.g. Power Mac 9500/150). If there is any confusion about this, find as many numerical stats as you can about each system, total them up for each computer, and pick the highest.
- A computer is useless with out something to look at, so buy a monitor next. Once again, buy the monitor with the largest number as part of its name. Also, be on the lookout for custom technologies with sci-fi names. A label reading MultiSync, ViewMatch, or CyberScreen [sic] is a sure sign of innovation. The final purchase should be the monitor with the most other thingies built, or plugged, in. Look at the Apple AudioVision (nice name, see previous) series: aside from a screen, they sport built in speakers and a microphone, with places to plug in more speakers, another microphone, your mouse and keyboard, and a digital camera!
- Before you purchase an input device, you must decide what kind of input device you want. This may seem an irrelevant choice because all input devices are the same: you move your hand, and the computer responds. But what you buy is important if you will use the computer specifically for one task. For games, buy a joystick (or if you can find one, a Weapons Control System ). For graphic work, you need a tablet, which is a large flat thing you draw on with an electronic pencil. The rest of this is pretty much covered by the ground rules. Buy the device with the most buttons on it, and the keyboard with the most separate "key areas" (alphanumerics, number pad, function keys, etc). If your hand hurts, buy the keyboard that splits into the most pieces. Assuming that it is designed to, of course. Avoid buying a keyboard that your semi truck has crushed, or one smashed by the manager after seeing what the truck has done to his store.
You can also diversify, into other odd areas of input. Speech recognition is a long-awaited and really expensive (not a disadvantage, see disclaimer) technology, which works surprisingly well anyway. One company claims to sell a device that allows you to control the computer with your mind. However, the reviewer reports that the device worked equally well with his finger, a grape, and a wadded-up paper towel. This is a true stry I read in the New York Times.
- Storage Devices: this is the one exception to Ground Rule C, Access time. Hard drives get better as this decreases, so find the smallest access time possible. Hard drives also obey the strange Law of Inverse Name Relevancy, which states, "The speed of a hard drive mechanism is inversely proportional to the coolness and relation-to-essence-of-hard-driveness of its name." In other words: buy the hard drive with the stupidest name. Perhaps hard drive makers are simply running out of words to use; I mean, how else to you explain names such as Fireball, Barracuda, Raven, Tsunami, and Caviar? Strangely, the drive named after a bunch of dead baby fish is the best.
- To do this part right you will need a list of all the programs you have at home. Buy any program with the same name as one of yours but a higher version. Buy any program with the words "Pro", "Enhanced", or any synonym, assuming you don't have them already. If you are looking for computer games, also check for the words II and Return, and the phrases "Cutting-Edge Technology", or "Innovative Graphics Engine". Also buy any game that:
- contains the name of another game (HeXen: Beyond Heretic).
- has a quote on the box favorably comparing the contents to another game.
But don't buy a game that mentions that it uses a certain "engine", unless that engine name has never been used before, i.e. Duke Nukem 3D's "Build 3D" engine is new, but Corridor 7's "Advanced Wolfenstein 3D" engine has gotten old.
The final step: repeat this procedure every six months. You may wish to have the management leave the hole in the side of the store to make it easier to get the truck in next time, or even install a permanent garage door. Watch magazines and catalogs, especially those little graphs in the review section. If your personal system isn't at the top, RED ALERT! And you'd better win the lottery again or wait for your Microsoft paycheck, because these things don't start out cheap.
Of course there are alternatives to buying your way to the top. You could hold up the store with an assault rifle, and demand their best merchandise. Pro: you don't need to win the lottery. Con: you can only do it once. A more realistic solution would be to slow down technology. Although attempting this singlehandedly is akin to stopping an avalanche with a tennis racket, it could be done by killing various designers and product managers. If you destroy the team who invented Fast SCSI, the disk and storage industry will drop nicely. Assassinate Bill Gates and you will be a hero.
There you have it: the simple way to stay on top of the dog-delete-dog world of computers. Too bad we can't all do this.
|||J&R has branches in several other cities, but I don't know which ones. A good rule of thumb here is to find the store with the maximum square footage of tables occupied by merchandise.|
|||If they complain, hey, you can compensate them. You won the lottery!|
|||This monster resembles two or three mutated joysticks cemented together, and looks really weird even just sitting there.|