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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Friday, June 3, 2011

Planned Obsolescence

Obsolescence---getting too old to cut the mustard!

When I was a young woman my Dad used to say that cars had planned obsolescence but I never noticed that particularly and kind of rolled my eyes, thinking--yeah, well, then there is just old and crotchety. Well, as is often the case, I, like so many before me and like many to come--can you say daughter?--, have become my parent!

In my kitchen is a Westinghouse toaster,NOT a White-Westinhouse, though it is white with these lovely multi-sized bubble like circles in silver and black scattered about its shiny sides. It was given to me 45 years ago last month--around Memorial Day in --what year (oh, math!)1966. It is a jazzy little thing--you put the bread in the slots and it automatically goes down with a lovely mechanical sound and when it is toasted it pops up joyfully with an even louder sound. It still works marvelously--although a couple of years ago it went through a spell where the lifter bar on one needed to be manually pulled up with an instrument with a wooden handle before it would automatically drop new bread down. It has since stopped its temper tantrum or sabbatical or whatever it was going through and once more works hummingly.

Why you ask am I extolling the virtues of this wonderful appliance, made in America by an American company that I think is now defunct or else masquerading as the same outfit but really located in the jungles of Asia somewhere a la the makers of Revereware--another wonderful company whose products I also own--same vintage as Ms Westinghouse although sorely tarnished on their lovely copper bottoms. How's that for a run-on sentence but perhaps this breathless tirade may give you some idea of the state of my mind at present.

I spent this entire morning in online chat with a lovely techie whose accent I could not hear, which at least kept my blood pressure at a reasonable level. One needs to give a bit of background here I think. When my daughter went off to college in 2004, being a good and with it Mom, I asked what computer she would like and whether she wanted a laptop or desktop model. She opted for a laptop but wanted the high end Applebook which I just wasn't going to pay for ( after all, we were shelling out for college !). Needless to say she wasn't willing to lay out that much moolah either. So off she went, computerless. I, in the meantime, decided I liked the look of the Dell Inspiron and bought one for myself. They were having a special on a gigantic printer-fax-copier so I got that as well, though I loved my Epson printer that had been attached to the grape iMac but it wouldn't work with the Dell. Never gave a thought to PO--just figured different platforms!( Of course the reason I was in the market for a new computer is because the old iMac no longer could access many sites such as Snapfish, which had updated their security!) Are you impressed with my knowledgeable use of techie terms? Daughter came home at Christmas, fell in love with the Inspiron, daughter left in January for Montana with the laptop under her arm. Mom called Dell and got a new laptop--same model--already improved. Still no thought about OP.

Flash forward to 2010--one day the Inspiron screen goes dark. The computer works but the display is shot! Not worth fixing--will cost as much as a new computer. Files not backed up!!!! Call Dell--they tell me that the computer lasted beyond its expected lifespan---6 years!!!!!!!! So I ask, okay--what have you got that is the same memory, capability etc as this dead fish with all my important favorites and pictures and documents/This wonderful machine that has traveled cross country with me three times, paying bills, blogging my trip to friends and sending them pictures.Almost another child--dead and unresponsive at the tender age of 6---kindergarten age for Pete's sake. They tell me and Best Buy is having a special. So I go see my local Geek Squad and for more shekels to retrieve my info and buy an external hard drive I purchase a new Inspiron 15.

I get the baby home and hook it up to that ginormous printer and it won't work. I manually upload the drivers from the disc that came with the printer and it won't work! So I call Dell---no that printer which I love--it prints beautifully and loads paper sensibly is not compatible with Windows 7 and there is no driver that will make it work. So now I have to buy a new printer. I decide this time I'll go wireless and they just happen to be having a special. I place an ad for my beloved printer and within a day a neighbor who is an author comes by and talks me down to $40 from $50--but, I rationalize, that makes the new one cost me $40 also and I'm getting a new printer, he's getting used--but loved!

So by December I have a new printer and it is hooked up and working--sort of. It loads from the back and so paper jams are common and a pain when you are a floor above the printer. Then after only about 47 printed pages--not all at the same time-- the ink isn't flowing properly so I do a head cleaning and get it going again. I think, boy the other printer's ink didn't dry up between printings. But, I thought, I'll have to make sure I use it more often. Then off we went for a seven week tour of the country with the new computer which did fine. Came back and sure enough had to get the ink flowing but it seemed to do okay. ( The old printer sat just as long in prior years while we traveled with no problem!) At this point I'm beginning to hate this printer.

Then on May 26 a new message appeared --there is a problem with the printhead. I removed it --I cleaned it as the manual showed--I reseated it--I changed the ink cartridges but could not do any other actions because I could not override the message. So began my first Dell chat session. After an hour and a half the tech had me finagle with buttons and plugs and when I did all I was directed to do the connection with the chat was dropped. I gave up.

Today I tried again--three and a half hours later they are sending me a new printer--the touchpad on my computer works again and I may buy some kind of Government level software for the computer. Here's hoping the new printer will be compatible with it--after all it is about six months old. Naturally, the techies and salespeople call the changes that are made in each model PROGRESS--I call it Planned Obsolescence. If these computer guys and gals are so bright they can make older models of printers and computers compatible with the new models. The thing is they are savvy and much brighter than the consumer so throw out the old and buy new.

Do you wonder why I don't have a cell phone, an iPod --if that is even the new thing, there is some larger gadget my brother in law has like a slate board, I haven't a clue what its name is--or a Nook or Kindle? I know how to dial a phone and turn book pages. Fortunately digital cameras aren't that different than film cameras so I can deal fine with them. But the rest of this technology? It will give me a stroke or heart attack due to high blood pressure long before obesity or cholesterol.

Now I'm going to go have a nice Thomas' English muffin toasted in Ms Westinghouse, brew a nice cup of tea and read a good book--I've done enough for one day!

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