Will Morrow (courtesy)

Will Morrow (courtesy)


As it turns out, I still use a whole lot of “obsolete” things

I recently learned that the laptop computer I still use regularly has been added to the manufacturer’s “obsolete” list.

Not even “vintage,” just “obsolete.”

I’m not sure how I feel about that.

For one thing, it’s not the same computer that came out of the box. I’ve upgraded the memory and hard drive over the years, mostly to accommodate all the photos stored on it — we got this computer before everything was stored in “the cloud.”

I also learned that it was the last model they made with an “optical drive.” I had to look up what an “optical drive” is; I learned it’s a CD/DVD drive. In my mind, that makes the computer even less obsolete, because I have a whole stack of CDs and DVDs on which we backed up all those photos that didn’t go to the cloud.

I would like to point out that the definition of obsolete is “no longer useful.” I don’t think we’re using that word correctly, because as it turns out, I still use a whole lot of “obsolete” things.

Yes, I know the computer manufacturer has a different definition of obsolete — a product they don’t make anymore, and for which they no longer provide updates.

I understand the concept. In fact, shortly after our kids were born, we got a minivan with all the latest technology — remote control doors, DVD player, and a GPS system. However, the GPS was obsolete before we even drove the car off the lot — it was 2003, and the company didn’t have any map updates or support for Alaska.

So, when we replaced the minivan in 2010 with what is still my current ride, a pickup truck (better for towing the camper), avoiding the “obsolete” tech was at the top of my list of features I was looking for. I had no desire to pay for features I would never use.

I feel like that philosophy has served me well — how many different generations of media players and GPS units have come and gone in the last 14 years? The same company that made my “obsolete” computer also makes a smart phone that can take the place of every single one, without having to buy a new truck.

Lately though, I’ve been getting hints that maybe it’s time for a new truck. We’ve had to replace some parts over the past few years, which is to be expected from a vehicle with 170,000 miles on Alaska roads, and some of those repairs have been pricey. The latest came during the recent cold snap, when the starter died. There was a discussion about the truck “breaking down,” to which I replied that it didn’t break down — it just didn’t start.

Looking at new vehicles has been intimidating. First, there just the emotional connection between a guy and his truck. It might sound like a country song, but there’s a bond between us. I take care of it, and it takes care of me.

But if I thought the technology on the minivan in 2003 was more than was necessary, the stuff available in new vehicles is downright intrusive. My wife’s car, for example, is like a crazy ex-girlfriend — it keeps trying to connect with my phone, even when I tell my phone to forget it.

In fact, if I’m listening to something on my phone when my wife pulls into the driveway, it will transfer to her car speakers. Talk about not being useful!

On a recent vacation, we had a rental car that told us when the car ahead of us at a stoplight had moved, and reminded us to look in the back seat when we got out. Also not useful — it seems backwards having the car telling us what to do.

There are few things on the truck we could upgrade. A back-up camera might be useful. Backing up the car for you? Not so much. A big touchscreen and media system? My dog keeps turning on my hazard lights, and that’s just one button. I’d hate to think what she’d do to a touchscreen.

Besides, my truck still has an “optical drive,” and I’ve got a pile of CDs to go with it.

Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at willmorrow2015@gmail.com.

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