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Monday, September 7, 2009

Planned Obsolescence

The other day I needed a new cell phone battery. Okay, fair enough. These things eventually die, and I'd had the same battery for two years. I happen to have two cell phones (don't ask) and the screen for the other of them died at the same time. (Neither battery was compatible. So I was going to replace the one phone, and buy a battery for the other. [The dead phone was one I'd been meaning to replace to a slimmer, more compact model anyway.]

So to replace the "dead one" I got the Virgin Mobile USA phone - "the Marbl" - inexpensive, cheap, reasonably servicable. I don't need "fancy" - just something simple. Price? 15 bucks. Then I needed to replace the battery for the other. (At least now the batteries will be interchangeable between the two phones.)

So, I priced them. Batteries plus wanted $37.99. And Arnie and the city would have wanted another 8 percent something tax. I thought "are they ****ing serious?" Other places wanted $19.95 retail. On line I found a few for 6-8 bucks. But for some things I can't STAND mail order. This sort of thing would be one. But, WTH, I can get a new battery, AND another charger (in case I lose the one) and ANOTHER phone as backup in case one of them dies, or gets eaten by bear, whatever. Might as well get the whole shebang for 15 bucks.

What's wrong with this picture?

[No wonder the few times I've been in "Batteries Plus" the store is always empty. The only people who buy stuff from there must be morons, or really desparate people with a lot of money who need something "NOW!!!!"]


Stephen said...

Right there with you. My mobile battery is dying; to replace the battery would be about £20, but Tesco Mobile will give me, online, a voucher for £10 off a new phone, and their cheapest phone, which is all I need, is £17.95, which includes the battery and the charger. Part of me thinks it's wrong to throw a working phone away, but I suspect I'll be buying a new phone before the end of the week.

gemoftheocean said...

Exactly. Thank goodness I saw that the one phone's screen would be DEAD, and I was able to make sure I had all my "contact numbers" -- so I put those on the computer so I have at least one backup.

Oh, and the other day Target had some sales on stuff. I was able to get a 4GB flash drive for only 10 bucks.

I really do need to put a bigger and better hard drive in this computer. I "only" has a 100GB, and I've got about 30 left.

I marvel at the word "only." I can remember when the Kaypro 10 came out. At 2000 bucks it was considered a bargain. It had a 10 megabyte harddrive and came with " a lot" of software besides." Green 9" screen. And at 20 some pounds it was "transportable."

That was only 25 years ago.

gemoftheocean said...

(Ack!!! almost 18 pounds? What was the VAT on that thing?)

Stephen said...

The VAT would be 15% - but of course you don't notice it, because it's included in the price tag.

The next level of phone - with a rudimentary camera - is about £25; with the voucher, that's still less than a new battery.

My current (new) laptop has a 250G hard drive, and I also have a 250G external drive for backup; the laptop that died just before Christmas only had 30G, but that seemed unimaginably huge when I bought it in 2002. My 8G iPod is full; when I got it, I thought I'd never be able to fill it, but now I'm thinking I'll upgrade as soon as I have some spare cash, maybe to an iPod Touch.

And, of course, the first computer I ever had was a Vic 20, and *every single* Word document on my hard drive takes up more memory than that computer had.

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, my. The Vic 20. That must have been a Christmas present when you were but an urchin! [Do you remember when the Commodore 64 came out? I was working for a small Personal Computer firm then, even just before the phrase "PC" was first used by IBM admen. They never had two motherboards that looked the same. IIRC the Vics used to overheat. We used to open them up and smear a little compound on the CPUs to dissipate the heat before we sold them. It was the first job I got after getting my degree in computer science, to gain experience. A year after that I worked for Kaypro, and a year after that for General Dynamics.]

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, and not forgetting that "cassette" thing that was the R/W memory!"

Stephen said...

Yes, the VIC 20 was a Christmas present - a joint present for my brother and I. In real terms, if you run the price of it through an inflation calculator, it (and the proprietory tape player which you had to buy to go with it) cost nearly £200 more than the not-bottom-of-the-range laptop I'm using now (an Acer 2920). I was 11, my brother was 10. I got a Commodore 64 a few years later; my next computer, when I was in university, was a written-down Amstrad that my Dad's department threw away.

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, geez. Memory lane.

My computers were:

'82 Kaypro 4 - 2grand (well, it WAS a Kaypro II, but I "upgraded it" myself to have two DOuBLE sided DOUBLE density drives.)
'85 "loaded" PC - $2600
'91 PC - kept the old monitor, some brand of Windows 3.whatever
'97 PC - XP
early '06 - HP Laptop (geez, have I had this thing that long?)

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