My attempt to move from Southern California and create a happy and sustainable urban homestead in North Dakota, with some musings on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Planned Obsolescence Equals Unplanned Annoyance

Is anything built to last these days?  I hate to turn this into a tirade against the pervasive march forward of technology or a "back in my day" rant but it seems unavoidable at this point.  Our official Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes digital camera stopped working over the weekend and we're troubleshooting (aka doing some online research) to try to figure out if we can get it working again.  At this point it doesn't look good, something to do with the memory card.  My primitive mode of linear thinking leads me to believe that it would be easy enough to go out and get a new memory card for the camera, but alas they don't make new memory cards for ancient cameras like ours (it's a four year old Canon). Dagnabit!!

Faced with the prospect of having to shell out money for another digital camera after only having this one for a few years, I had to contemplate the question - Are electronics deliberately made to have a three year lifespan?  Is it assumed that there will be so much more processing speed/features/apps/whatever in three years that everyone will simply buy a new one?  Is our society so disposable that goods that once were assumed to last a lifetime, like cameras, are now deliberately built with a planned obsolescence after three or four years? 

I've owned a cell phone now for about 15 years, and in those 15 years I'm now on my third phone.  Most people my age or younger are saying "only three phones in 15 years?  OMG, what a freak!!"  Most people older than me are probably saying "that seems about right".  The only reason I've ever gotten a new phone is because the previous one stopped working or I was given a free phone.  My first phone lasted about four years and by today's standards it's a complete joke, large and clunky, non-foldable, no internet access, not even able to be carried in a pocket.  I had that phone until I visited a buddy of mine (who had recently traded in his phone) who told me that my old phone was an embarrassment, a visual testament to my archaic mindset and technophobic worldview and that such a phone would definitely not help me impress chicks (please note this was many years ago when I was in my "impress chicks" life stage).  I tried to explain that I'm not a technophobe, but I'm just not like a most folks who are like a kitten with a piece of shiny ribbon around new technology.  And this was in 2001, I think the problem has only gotten 7,000% worse since then. 

So my buddy gave me his old phone (which by that point was already a few years old and indeed by current technology standards OLD), I took it in a had it switched over to my phone number and it became my phone for seven or eight years.  And it worked just fine.  Sure people made fun of me for having such an old cell phone, and people whose opinions I didn't value made sure to express their opinions on the antique-ness of my cell phone, but I cared not.  And all was fine and dandy in the world, and I would have been happy to use that phone for the next two decades.  Then one day it stopped working.  And I mean stopped working, completely. It wouldn't turn on or anything, it was dead.

So I hauled my dead phone into the (Insert Phone Store name here) store.  The first thing the kid working there says is "Holy smokes, a Startac 8600!!, I haven't seen one of these in years!!"  I tried to explain that yes indeed I had owned this phone for quite some time, but I really wanted to try to transfer my information from this old phone onto a fancy new one.  The kid handled the phone almost reverentially, like it was a museum artifact, and took it to the back room where after repeated attempts to revive it, it was declared officially dead.  It would go Davey Jones Cell Phone Locker with its secrets (all my contacts) still resting on its fried little memory chip.  My new cell phone is now starting to exhibit some end-of-life signs, sluggish performance, buttons not responding, etc. and it's probably only a matter of time 'til it needs to be replaced as well.  Was it only made to last three or four years?  It sure seems that way.

Thanks for bearing with me through this prolonged rant.  Anyways, the bottom line is we're stuck with no pictures for a little while here on Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes, until we can get this camera up and running or bite the bullet and go out and buy a new one.  I'm sure the new one will last three to four years before it starts to break down, and then the cycle can repeat itself.  Caveat emptor.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Oh, I hear you. We were out on a little drive yesterday with our 'new to us' 2005 car when it decided to clunk into every gear which is definitely not a good sign in a new-fangled automatic transmission.

Carl has had the same little cellphone forever (it still has an antenna) and he doesn't want a new one either. My son had me buy one that can go underwater since I have a bad habit of dunking my phones in ponds and wringer washing machines. (BTW, my Maytag is 55 years old and still going strong...no planned obsolescence there!)

The digital camera thing is also annoying, ours has major issues, too; everything is apparently disposable except my income.

With or without pictures, your blog is always a pleasure, John. Happy New Year!