Thursday, December 13, 2012

[Tech, Cars] Machine Rebellion

Machine Rebellion: They're turning on me. The Rise of the Machines has begun. My laptop -- my sole computer -- now into what must be it's six or seventh year has started making angry grinding noise (the fan) and what's worse, it's eensy 128 gig drive is closing in on 70% full.

My camera decided to stop working. After years of trusty, if not particularly convenient, service, my Nikon D70s developed a nasty problem with the shutter. I was out in Sedona at the time, hoping to take some shots of the astounding scenery, and found myself stuck with naught but my camera phone (and a notoriously weak camera phone it is - HTC Trophy). Interestingly there was a camera shop right across from where I was staying. I was pretty sure it was toast, but I took it to the fellow there in the hopes that it might be one of those known problems that had a simple, magical fix. Nope. His answer: "You going to have to send it to Nikon for repair." Probably not worth it for 6 megapixels and no automatic image stabilization. Still, with a little attention and a light hand, it took some amazing pictures. See my galleries.

Lastly, my car started burning oil. This may be partially my fault. I tend to run up about 5000 miles before I change the oil. Last time I took it in for a change, I was way down. Most of the oil had burned off. The check engine light had come on, but it comes on for all sorts of reasons and I tend to just ignore it, so if it was trying to warn me about the oil, well, that's what you get for crying wolf. This has triggered in my mind the question of whether it's time to buy a new car. Buying a new car rarely makes economic sense -- it is almost always cheaper to get your current ride repaired. Look at it this way: Worst case is that you have $5000 in repairs every couple of years to keep the thing going. That's going to be less than your payments and increased insurance over that same time period on a new car. Reliability and durability-wise things would have to get awfully bad for it to be cheaper to get a new car. Every extra year you can eek out of your ride is money in your pocket. Buying a new car is a matter of convenience and, frankly, self-image.

Aside: It makes me wonder how many more cars I will own in my life. My current car, along with the previous two, were purchased new and owned for 9+ years each. (For the record: '84 Celica, '93 Camry, '02 Camry.) If I were to get a '13 model, extrapolation tells me the one after that would be around 2023. If I spend a decade with a '23 model, that would make me 73 years old when I was ready to get the next one. A possibility if I stay healthy. Of course, I was really hoping for a flying car by that time, but oh well. After that -- that takes me to my mid-eighties at which point I probably shouldn't be driving, or better yet, rich enough to have a chauffeur. Of course, if you factor in that cars get ever more durable and that there is an inverse correlation between annual driving mileage and age, I am probably looking at 2 more cars purchased for the rest of my life. If I buy, it may as well be something special.

But the point is that I am being betrayed by technology. All at once. I should look at these things as an opportunity. Get a new camera -- smaller, cheaper, and better in every way. A new laptop -- or better yet, step into the 21st century and get an ultrabook and a tablet, or maybe one of those nifty Microsoft Surface dealies. And as much as I think most new car technology is unnecessary and counterproductive complication there are things that would be nice. Voice interface and social networking are crap, but I've rented cars with backup cameras and found them very useful, and the latest music and mapping technology would probably be nice.

I should be pleased about all this shouldn't I? As long as I have new tech to buy, I'm still in the game and still keeping up on things. Living long and prospering. If I didn't need new tech, then either the world has stagnated or I have.