As long as it works, keep using it

Maybe it’s a joke and maybe it’s not, but I occasionally get notes from people reminding me that 1996 is over, and it’s time to toss most of the computers I own into the rubbish bin.

And of course, I ignore them, mostly because the people who write them are obviously juveniles (their inability to type in words longer than two or three letters is usually a clue), or just hoping for an equally acid response. But I’ve worked with enough trolls to know not to feed them, so those notes usually go straight to the electronic graveyard.

The last one, just within this past day, included a link to this rather snotty article on msn.com, reminding the world that things like fax machines and CB radios — along with any sort of disk drive, which is probably why it was sent to me — are not only obsolete, but very uncool.

At the outset, I have to warn you that I am impervious to the slur “uncool.” I wear boring, uninteresting clothes to work each day that I got from boring, uninteresting sales in boring, uninteresting shops, and I did that on purpose because I have my own philosophies on cool … and they go beyond the computers I work with.

Additionally, I expect a flimsy, pretend “news” site like msn.com to resound with advice on what new junk you should be buying, and reminding you how antiquated your year-old dual core machine is. Microsoft needs to shout that at you repeatedly, because if it can’t convince you to buy a new machine every six months, it won’t make any money. Horrors.

But all obvious shortcomings aside — and also acknowledging that I don’t know Dan Tynan from Adam — I don’t see that it matters how “old” any particular technology is, so long as you are satisfied using it to do the job. Mr. Tynan’s snide comments about typewriters or turntables are completely meaningless to the people who prefer those devices, and no amount of heckling will convince them otherwise.

(And as a piece of advice, the next time you want to heckle someone for using a typewriter, it might be better not to single out someone as successful as Cormac McCarthy. It doesn’t do much for your argument.)

The bottom line is this: Mr. Tynan — or any modern tech pop writer, for that matter — can giggle all he wants about Western Union telegrams or instant cameras, but chances are the people who use those things don’t really care what Mr. Tynan or his friends think. They use them because they do the job, and because they’re happy with them.

And that’s the way the world should work, really. I say so long as the technology works, and you’re comfortable using it, then go forth and pursue happiness and freedom in any way possible. Ride a bicycle to work. Write a letter with a pen. Talk face to face with your neighbor — all those things are quite obsolete too, I should think.

The fact is, if you stop worrying about the technology you use for the job, you can spend more time focusing on the job. And if the job is anything at all that you remotely enjoy, then it won’t matter to you what technology you use. And the same goes for floppy disks, which I still have lots and lots of … and use with surprising frequency. :twisted:

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23 Responses to “As long as it works, keep using it”


  1. 1 Benj1 2010/07/11 at 9:07 PM

    lol, i really hope this guy wasn’t paid to write this.

    landline phones- first theres probably large sections of the developed world that can’t get a decent mobile signal, second (here in the uk at least) landline generally come bundled for free with broadband, or should we all use wireless broadband as well, because as we all know how perfect that is.

    fax machines / cash registers – so every company big or small has to have cutting edge technology, there are hundreds of thousands of small companies around the world that have no need for a computer, why do they need to complicate what theyre doing for no gain. i also love how they suggest replacing fax with internet fax. fax machines are cheap, simple and low power, why go out and buy a pc just to send faxes ???

    turntables – yes every one who buys records is stuck in the past, its not like they sound better or anything.

    maybe windows should be added to the list ;)
    to plagarise the author “These obsolete technologies didn’t get the memo — maybe because someone wrote it on a Outlook and got a BSOD before they could email it.”

  2. 2 damaged justice 2010/07/11 at 9:53 PM

    Some people have nothing better to do than criticize the choices of others.

  3. 4 gullars 2010/07/11 at 10:07 PM

    Well, let them be ignorant, I will keep using my old systems until they break, that way I have more time (and money) to use on things that really matters, as family and friends ;)

    • 5 ajlec2000 2010/07/11 at 10:30 PM

      I’m with you on that. When(if?) mine breaks I’ll have already scooped up the old tech Mr. Multicore no longer wants.

  4. 6 ajlec2000 2010/07/11 at 10:27 PM

    That article also missed out on a big reason for tech luddism. That is the satisfaction of having something that truly is yours(try that with an ithingee) and works well because you know how to use and maintain it. When my six year old lappy runs faster with an OS I set up then the latest multi-core running MacWin something or other …well I just can’t help smiling.

    And don’t the stastics on people still buying those old techs belay the article’s message somewhat.

  5. 7 Zoev 2010/07/11 at 10:34 PM

    hear hear!

  6. 8 Zoev 2010/07/11 at 10:35 PM

    Total agreement!
    The world is far to prissy already.

  7. 9 Prinzzchavo 2010/07/11 at 11:37 PM

    What I love the most from the article at msn.com is the ad I get (upper-right corner, when geo-loc does not interfere), about Xbox 360, with the uncool slogan:

    “Here today, Ready for tomorrow”

    …now, unless “Ready” is the name of a tech-cemetery, I just can’t stop laughing at both the article and the ad(and their symbiosis).

  8. 10 okraits 2010/07/12 at 4:00 AM

    Nice reply to that article, i totally agree with you :-)

  9. 11 steve 2010/07/12 at 8:42 AM

    ‘Mr’ Tynan is an ignorant cretin, like most people who bat for Microsoft. People give me stick for my antiquated hardware too, but really who cares? These are usually people that can barely surf the web let alone turn a computer on. Would Michel Schumacher care if you mocked him for driving a car based on 19th century technology? I doubt it.

    The cash register example is laughable at best, I prefer the anonymity of cash, since I don’t like having my every move tracked, which is why I turn cookies, flash, javascript and have a large hosts file installed on every machine I own.

  10. 12 imgx64 2010/07/12 at 11:22 AM

    Uncool? That’s just ridiculous. These computers you have are one of the coolest things on the internet, and the fact that you use them for your everyday computing just amazes me (in a good way.)

    For some of the things mentioned in the article, it’s a matter of network effect. If you’re the only one who has a fax in the world, there is little point in keeping it. But if the people you deal with also use faxes, why throw it away? My mother sends business orders using fax occasionally because her suppliers don’t take online orders. A fax is more accurate and faster than making a call to order something.

    One more thing, did he just say disc drives like CDs and DVDs should go away? Last I checked, you need one to install Windows. While almost every Linux distribution can easily be installed from a USB drive. ;)

  11. 13 Peter 2010/07/12 at 4:57 PM

    Since when are typewriters and turntables uncool? :O Yes they are obsolete, but some obsolete technology just can’t be replaced. Fountain pens are obsolete, but primary school teachers won’t allow students to write with anything else. It’s because fountain is smoother than any modern kind of pen, thus it improves hand writing. I would like to replace my old printer, but a new one would use cartridges which are several times smaller, but cost the same. Sometimes old technology doesn’t just works better.

    • 14 poss 2010/07/12 at 5:41 PM

      Tech pop boffins…:/, ha! surely there are thousands of bits of useless crap that rate a mention before the things he listed off and my bet is he promotes useless crap for a job.

      • 15 gullars 2010/07/12 at 9:36 PM

        I think you hit the nail on the head there, he works with promoting new stuff, probably get it all for free, well in addition to him not knowing what he talks about, I mean, it would be more appropriate if he would diss something that actually have no merit like screen savers or all the functions in the word processors,,,

    • 16 poss 2010/07/12 at 6:01 PM

      typewriters are way cool – mechanical marvels! turntables are neither uncool or obsolete if anything they are so “hip” to by a new one or even a needle for one can be an expensive proposition. and god forbid anything such as ones personal taste. well what if i had a lovely upright piano and some boffin told me i ought to replace it with an organ??…but hang on there probably obsolete ok a midi keyboard? well i’d keep the piano personally…

  12. 17 mrreality 2010/07/12 at 7:02 PM

    the thing for me is ,as an example of re purposing is my name came from my old cb handle.This place is what inspired me to find a older p1 lappy and use it to save some $$ and learn more about linux.I have an aunt who still uses a old reel to reel tape player for her classical music( for you youngsters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reel-to-reel_audio_tape_recording )Hell I still fire up the old turntable from time to time

  13. 18 Calvin 2010/07/13 at 5:08 AM

    I wanna see some of the hilarous “ur PCs are obzoleet” posts. :)

  14. 19 Litho 2010/07/13 at 9:17 AM

    I actually agree that 2 or 3 of those mentioned in that msn article are pretty useless, but the author should be shot (multiple times) for dissing turntables >:-(

  15. 20 Timmy Macdonald 2010/07/14 at 5:09 AM

    I just got a job programming for a small startup. They had mentioned providing a company laptop, and a few weeks later when I reminded them about it, they said I could use it if I wanted, but that it was an old Thinkpad T40 and was not very good.

    Nonsense–it’s the sixth laptop I’ve used extensively, has the second-best specs, and is by far the most reliable, well-designed, and downright enjoyable to use. As my uncle always said when raiding the community dump, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.”

  16. 21 linuxishbell 2010/07/23 at 6:24 PM

    well, agree with you. in fact if you are using linux as OS and not a gamer, the vintage machine still is powerful toy. All you need is ssh, file server other other basic functions.


  1. 1 McRat’s Z-80 and 486, hard at work « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/07/12 at 7:26 AM
  2. 2 8.04 might be your best bet « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/07/16 at 11:22 AM

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