Who’s your Luddite

Director Mitch had an interesting take on his personal consumption of technology. We have similar degrees and tenures in high tech and a similar adoption rate of technology. I’m usually in the Late Majority or Laggard cycle:

  • Personal Computer – This is probably the closest I’ll ever be Early Adopting. My first computer was an Odyssey 2 video game by Magnavox. It had a keyboard and there was a special cartridge you could buy to program it. It was totally lame, but somehow piqued my interest. Shortly thereafter, my high school had some Apple ][s available for the computer math class. My final project was a crudely drawn Pac-Man figure that ambled halfway across the screen to a revolver. When the user “hit any key to continue,” socially dysfunctional things happened …with sound. We eventually got a Commodore 64 for home with the coveted floppy disk drive as an alternative to the cassette tape.
  • PDAVery Laggard. My spouse had a PDA back in 1996 and used it constantly. I bought an uber-PDA in 2002, but it broke when I dropped it. Except for the Astraware games like Bejewelled and Runes, I haven’t missed it.
  • Cell Phone — I was very Laggard on this, in part from some bad experiences carrying a pager. In 2000 I was at a dot.bomb who provided one because it was cheaper than a corporate phone system but less expensive than those Herman Miller chairs! After that company folded, I kept the phone for four years. I finally got a new phone when I switched providers, but am not particularly wowed by using the dinky web browser over the glacially slow, intermittent connection and shitty user interface.
  • DVR – Mid-Majority. I picked mine up in late 2003 when ReplayTV was practically giving them away to my employer. It’s a paradigm changing device.
  • Digital Camera – Mid-Majority. I bought a very nice one back in 1999, driven mostly by wanting to provide kid photos to the extended family. I blew a lot of money and time getting photos developed, scanning them in and touching up in Photoshop. I dropped the while trying to photograph road signs along I-90. I finally bought my wife a replacement for Christmas.
  • Digital answering machine — Late Majority. The tape-based one worked fine for the few messages I receive. When it stopped working, the DAMs had displaced them in the stores. What I’d really like is a DAM with a remote phone and caller ID built into both the remote and the base station. One power cable shall rule them all.
  • DVD Player — Laggard. I bought a DVD player in 2002 after convincing myself NetFlix wasn’t going to be another Home Grocer — great concept, wonderful service, dead in two years. The only good thing about buying electronics at Costco is their liberal return policy. The device broke three months later. When I returned it, I got a much better model for the same price.
  • Wireless internet — Late Majority. I got a good deal on some wireless A/B/G equipment from an industry contact. Unfortunately, wireless A is totally useless in a home — I won’t bore you with the technical reasons. I sold that stuff (at a small profit) and have super-G. I have no intention of doing the It basically lets me roam in the house and near front/back yard. Speed’s fine, too.
  • Broadband — Early Majority. I had employer-paid ISDN in Austin, a spiff for having to carry a pager, and was already addicted to the fast connection. It was too expensive here, though. Short story: Qwest dicked around with DSL for several years until King County granted Comcast/ATT BI/@Home/TCI its franchise (monopoly).

    Because there’s still no competition, it’s expensive. I’d love for a WiMax-alternative to become available, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  • VOIP — Laggard. I still don’t have it. Maybe this is the anal-retentive pilot showing, but I’m concerned about the reliability and lack redundancy. With a land-based phone system, there’s an entirely separate set of wires and power. Cell phone might alleviate some of these concerns once they get past the spotty reception. Or, I could get ultra pissed at my phone monopoly.
  • Flat screen TV — Laggard. Too damned expensive. My current TV, a 20″ RCA purchased in 1990, works fine for my needs. Flat Screen TVs look like a great idea, but they’re too damned expensive. As Mitch said, the last thing I need in my entertainment center is another box requiring power. When they have built-in HDTV decoders and there’s adequate programming and I don’t have to pay extra for it on my cable bill and my current TV dies, then I might look at it further.

While I was writing this, I was noticing my appliances are generally much older than the average quoted in Consumer Reports.

Washer and Dryer 12 years Bought when we moved into our first house
Refrigerator 13 years Bought when we moved into our first house
TV 15 years Purchased after our apartment was burglarized
VCR 14 years Purchased after our apartment was burglarized; we waited for a while on this one.
KitchenAid mixer 14 years We didn’t eat out much in graduate school…
Stereo system 18 years A Christmas gift when I was in college.
CD player 14 years We bought one when we were convinced CDs weren’t going to be a fad.
Lawnmower 5 years I hated having to buy a new one, but I couldn’t get parts for the old one.

8 thoughts on “Who’s your Luddite”

  1. Hey, good move on adding the stuff I didn’t think about, especially broadband and wireless.

    As for VOIP, note that I have kept my land lines – the VOIP phone is just the “long distance” phone. With family from both sides all over the country, this actually makes economic sense.

  2. By “flat screen TV” I assume you mean a plasma TV (or similar)?
    I was horrified to discover the working life
    of said devices is about 5 years, and crossed one off my
    wish-list 🙁

    Of course, for the same amount of money you can get a nice
    roof-mounted data projector… although you then need to
    find a wall to mount the screen against 🙂

  3. Mr. Early Adapter

    5 years life for a plasma is bad? Wow, I can’t think of much that lasts 5 years in my house (that plugs into a wall, that is).

    Of course, I’ve also spent the morning pricing NAS devices for my home network…

  4. Jim Luddite

    I agree with Steve that five years for such an expensive device makes it unappealing; though I will concede the double-standard with computers. 🙂

    NAS devices are still a little too expensive for my tastes; I did roll my own USB/Firewire portable storage. While I was formatting the 300Gb disk, I kept thinking about the cabinet-sized 300Mb Fujitsu disk we used to run the entire CS department on… (just my spam these days would fill that up…)

  5. Jim Luddite

    Does this assume your router has a USB port on it? The boxen I saw with just a ethernet connection were usually higher. (I really don’t want to have to buy another router for this sorta thing.)

  6. I’ve been looking at the VOIP, but kind of lost interest when I considered that my ISP going down would cut out my phone line. Also, even though my family is scattered, it is small, and really, I try to avoid the phone after being on it all day for work. 🙂

    I still don’t have wireless, but then my two machines are not really all too portable.

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