If youre like most people, youre probably in a whirlwind of confusion about the extraordinary pace of technology. You might even be afraid to buy a computer because you know that, if you wait a few months, you could get a lot more power for a lot less money.
Back in about 1975, when hand-held calculators were really coming into their own, I badly wanted to buy a really sophisticated one. But I was afraid because it seemed like, each week, new breakthroughs were being made in features and capability. Wouldnt I feel like a schmuck if I bought this weeks Cadillac only to be left holding next months Edsel?
Finally, I couldnt stand it anymore. I bit the bullet and bought a Hewlett-Packard HP25, a marvelous bit of technology, for the then-enormous price of $120. It was programmable, and I spent days fiddling with the thing. Most amazingly, I even got a lot of practical use out of it, even though it couldnt store programs permanently you had to re-enter them every time you turned on the machine.
But heres the important part: twenty years later, its still being used. My wife has a program that automatically calculates her minutes-per-mile pace, and some other stuff she finds useful, when she enters the distance and time (its not as straightforward a calculation as you think, since its tricky to compute directly in hours:minutes:seconds format. The HP25 does it easily). She keeps it in the bedstand right next to her race log so she doesnt have to go to another room, turn on her computer, wait for it to warm up, etc., etc. On the HP25, it all gets done in seconds.
Every few years the rechargeable battery pack wears out and will no longer retain enough charge, so I call HP up in Oregon and order a new one. It usually takes a little while, because the people on the phone, some of whom werent even born when this thing was built, keep making me repeat the part number to make sure I havent made a mistake. Eventually I convince them Im not kidding, we have a good laugh, and they send the new battery.
The point is this: It doesnt have to be the latest, the greatest, the most powerful or the glitziest. It only has to do the job you need to get done. A good machine from a reliable company will remain useful long after it has been replaced by more advanced models.
So dont be afraid to commit to the current technology if it will adequately fill your needs.
By the way, heres the best answer to the oft-asked, "What computer should I buy my kid?"
Buy them whatever their school is using.
from: A Practical Guide for
Everyday Living, by Lee Gruenfeld
* © Copyright 1996, 1997 by Steeplechase Run, Inc. - All Rights Reserved
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