Built-in obsolescence, also known a planned obsolescence, is not
a conspiracy theory. It's a fact. We know this, because companies
have been caught
intentionally designing built-in obsolescence into their products.
In fact, not only do we know that companies do this, we know who first
came up with the idea. It was an American economist, Bernard London,
who wrote a paper in 1932 called Ending the Depression through
The vast majority of the world's population is technologically
illiterate, and this has had a profoundly negative effect on
people everywhere. Though this applies to every area of our
lives in every country in the world, from the homes we live in,
to the ways we transport ourselves, to the jobs we have, to the
ways we think, I'll limit my comments to the computers we have
in first-world countries and the ways we use them...
Over nearly 40 years, I've spent a lot of time with computers.
Sometimes I've been amazed by what they can do. Other times I've
wanted to rip them apart and light them on fire. It's difficult to
say whether my changing feelings about computers have had more to do
with some passive/aggressive streak in me or with something similar
to Stockholm syndrome. Here's my story...
Throughout history the rich and powerful have always managed to pigeon
hole the masses into the boxes they wanted them in. With the internet,
we had a brief window of opportunity to change that, but now the window
After creating the BabbleWeb website visitor comment PHP script,
I realized that it could easily be extended into a website forum
script. A week later, the result is bwfForm. The stucture of
bwfForum software is so conceptually simple that anyone with
a rudamentary knowledge of Linux and HTML should be able to
install it in less than 15 minutes. If you would like to see it
in action, you can see it running on cheapskatesguide.org...
I created a PHP script that enables visitors to a webpage to make
comments. Then, I decided to give away the beta version of the script
for free. Here's the story behind both of those decisions, and a
I haven't posted any articles in a few weeks, because I've been
engaged in a project that has been taking up all of my time. I've
been going through the exercise of setting up a website from my
home on a Raspberry Pi 3. Despite the fact that this is not a
project that I expect to appeal to the average person who is likely
to peruse this website, I decided to post an article about the
experience I went through. Hopefully this will benefit a few
people who happen to stumble across it on the internet...
The message of this article is not to suggest that everyone
should rush out and buy the same computer that I own. Different
needs and desires call for different computers. Some people see
computers as status symbols. Some see them in terms of raw
computational capability. Some see them as doorways to
information. Some as a way of communicating with family and
friends. Some feel about them something akin to the feeling they
get when settling down in a comfy chair with a favorite book on a
rainy afternoon. Some, perhaps many, hate their little electronic
guts and wish they were dead. Some like to cover them with pink
heart stickers. Some fear them. Some couldn't care less about
them. I think I understand these feelings, because, at one time
or another, I've experienced them all. With this article, I hope
to encourage you to contemplate developing an attitude about
computers that could possibly help you increase your happiness
with the next computer you buy...
The file transfer rates of a specific computer can affect
its performance just as profoundly as its CPU speed. Just
exactly what determines the file transfer rates of computers
are not well understood by most consumers, and the advertising
on the packaging of most computers, hard drives, SSD's, and
flash drives only perpetuates this misunderstanding. For example,
many consumers think that if they buy a USB 3.0 flash drive
they will get the USB 3.0 transfer speed of the 625 MB/s
advertised on the package. This couldn't be further from the
One of the issues surrounding computers and the internet that
people seem to have the hardest time with is passwords. How
long do they need to be? How do I a choose good passwords? How
to I remember them? Can I write them down? Is it true what
people are saying, that passwords are obsolete? While a password
mistake can be very expensive in terms of time and money, people
have turned passwords into a much bigger deal than they need
to be. Here's all you need to know about passwords...
Since I've been using my own laptop for my work since early 2015,
no one has forced me to switch to Windows 10. I can't tell you
how nice it's been to work on a computer that I own. The fact
is that I have no plans of ever switching to Windows 10.
I learned early in my career as an engineer the importance of
making regular backups of everything I did. That was back in the
days of floppy disks and 20 MB hard drives, when I would spend
eight hours working on a document in Microsoft Office, close it at
the end of the day, and find the next morning that I couldn't open
it, because it had been corrupted. Apparently, for no reason at
all. Nearly a day wasted...
Many people can't help but notice that their one or two-year-old
computer is running much slower than it was when they bought
it--especially if it's a Windows computer. They start to wonder if
maybe it may be time to buy a new one. Chances are good it's not.
My mother and I have this on-going argument. She's been retired for
a while now, so she's had plenty of time to learn how to use a
But she just hasn't. And it doesn't seem like she has any plans of
ever doing so. This means that she's always asking her children
to help her with anything she has to do with a computer. She can't
even do a google search on the internet. I've repeatedly explained
to her that she needs to know how to use a computer, and she's
repeatedly made excuses for not being willing to learn...
A few years ago, I let the general enthusiasm for tablet computers
get the better of me. I bought a seven-inch Winbook W700 tablet
for $60 that runs Windows 8.1. I almost never use it...
If you haven't been paying attention over the last five years or
so, commercial software vendors are transitioning from allowing
you to buy their software (which is now known as "perpetual
licensing") to renting by the year or month (known as "subscription").
Businesses are much more affected by the licensing model than
consumers, because business software is so much more
expensive than consumer software. This website is consumer-oriented,
so in this article I'll be addressing consumers. For the moment,
we still have a limited choice about how we pay for software, but
with most software the perpetual license is no longer an option...
I was in college back in the '80's when Apple first began offering
discounts to students. Even though Apple would have given me a 50%
discount on an new computer, I didn't bite the Apple lure. Here's
There are only a few things that you need to remember to do
to keep your computer alive as long as possible.
They are simple and easy. If you do them, you
may extend the life of your computer by years. Here they
are, roughly in order of importance...
In 1965 Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, wrote a
paper giving his observation that the number of components
on integrated circuits was doubling due to economic considerations
roughly every year and that he expected that trend to continue for
the foreseeable future. That's the same thing as saying that CPU
performance is doubling every year. Sometimes we use the
figure of 18 months, instead of one year, but the idea is the same.
The thing that annoys me, is that people are still saying this,
even though it hasn't been true for a long time...
I've been thinking a lot about cryptocurrencies lately. The first time
I heard about bitcoins was when one of my coworkers
announced in casual conversation one day that he was mining
bitcoins. "What are bitcoins?" we asked. He gave us a two or
three sentence answer. "How much are they worth?" I asked. "About
two cents each," he responded. "So, what's the point of that?"
A little flustered, he said that they may not be worth much
at that moment, but they could become more valuable later. Then his
mining efforts would pay off. If he's kept the bitcoins he mined
at two cents a piece, he's a multi-millionaire now. But I still
find myself asking, "What's the point of cryptocurrencies? ... "
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