Thursday, June 30, 2011

Computers computers and more computers

I have to admit I was one of the first to get one of those new fangled pocket calculators when they first came out. Math not being my strong point left an easy choice as part of a job back in that era involving crunching numbers. No, I was no bean counter but I did have to submit reports with figures and percentages and all that. Strange thing was that after using the thing for just a short while I began to memorize many of the answers. I believe that's called rote memory or something like that (another story). The calculators caught on and soon what was once something the size of a brick slowly evolved into something the size of a credit card. These were, buy the way, the first computers. And soon everyone had one. The computer that went to the moon on the very first trip was said to have as much computing power as a pocket calculator 128K. And it was probably the first to crash on national TV although no one realized it.
I can't exactly recall where or when computers started making their way into the rest of our daily products. Maybe it was cars, but like cockroaches they started showing up everywhere. In dishwashers in ranges and refrigerators were the latest must have (hey it was high tech it must be better right?). But no it didn't really make these products any better only more costly and gave the appliance one more thing to break down. And if you've ever delved into how things really work you'd realize how simple things used to be made. Sorry but my refrigerator has no need to dial the internet and rack up my phone bill. It's probably going to surf the web for images of those new slim line freezers anyway.
I can't think of anything that they haven't tried to squeeze a computer into. But so many of the things we use in our daily lives don't need a computer and worked just as well without one.

That's my two cents for the day. And you?


jadedj said...

Amen. I was thinking this very thing a few weeks ago when my car's check engine light went on. Basically, after paying to find out what the problem was, I had to tighten my gas cap. The car was running fine and the cap would have gotten tightened on the next gas up. The guy with the machine profited from it. I did not. What the?

Randal Graves said...

Excuse me, but if it's new, it's better. Now, go buy buy buy, programmable consumer!

S.W. Anderson said...

There is some overuse of chips, like refrigerators that go on the Internets(?) but many of the uses make sense and can save money.

Mechanical timers/controllers on washing machines and dryers are more prone to breakdowns, to wearing out, can be difficult to replace and cost more than the chips that have replaced them.

You can buy a $100 camera today that can evaluate and correctly solve tricky exposure problems that challenged the most highly skilled pro photographers of a generation ago. And if it happens your computer-with-lens gets it wrong, you can see its failure instantly, delete the bad image and keep trying until you get it right.

I'm a camera nut from way back, and I long resisted buying and using automated ones. I'm pretty good at evaluating light and coming up with proper exposures. Today's computerized cameras have earned my respect in every way but ruggedness. They're nearly as delicate as butterflies and too many are being ridiculously miniaturized. Still, they've made it possible for virtually anyone to get good pictures almost anywhere there's light. That's remarkable.

fourdinners said...

That picture is an overdose for us technologically inept....

arrrrrgh!...I just died...

Demeur said...

Ah yes J no more cheap tune ups either. What used to take me an hour (doing it myself) and cost about $24 now takes a trained mechanic nearly three hours and cost $350.

Buy? That coming from a guy who loans out books for no charge. What are you a Commie?

SW I can change a mechanical timer in a washer in 30 minutes. I can't change the chip without diagnostic tools. The timer on my washer lasted over 25 years. A chip will be lucky to last 10.

As for cameras I used to be a photographer. You can have all the bells and whistles, I'll stick to simple f/stops and shutter speeds thank you very much. And try overriding that auto feature.

Welcome back Dinners we thought you were in the witness protection program.

S.W. Anderson said...

Demeur, I envy your appliance-repair prowess.

You can still do f/stops and shutter speeds on cameras that include PASM on the mode dial. You can also do programed auto, aperture priority and shutter priority. Even cameras without PASM usually let you override Auto by one or two f/stops (in 1/3rd-stop increments) over or under what the camera thinks is right. How handy a camera's full manual is to use depends on the design of the particular camera. Some definitely make it easier than others.