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Transitional Tech

Sunday,  02/05/23  09:50 AM

This morning I was poking around on my blog and reread this post from April 2003, about my [then] new Sharp DVD Recorder.  I liked it.

Of course, recording DVDs and indeed DVDs in general were transitional technology.  I don't know if I knew it at the time - probably, I would have guessed, yes - but looking back we can see there was this window of time in which DVDs were a thing, and a smaller sub-window which featured recordable DVDs.  I haven't had this device for many years, and indeed, haven't had a way to play DVDs for many years.  (Well, I *might* have a portable DVD drive somewhere which I can hook to a computer, and *might* be able to play video DVDs on it.  Might.)

Thinking about all this makes me a little sad.  First there was all the hard work put into creating and playing DVDs.  I mean, there were lasers involved, "burning" optical discs, and everything.  Hard to do, super hard to do reliably, and extremely hard to get the cost down to where ordinary people could buy one.  Many people worked hard to figure it all out.  Then there was my hard work in figuring out what to buy, buying it, hooking it up, using it, accumulating a library of DVDs (yes, I had hundreds both pre-recorded and me-recorded), and all of this.  And now it's all ... gone.  Useless.  On the scrap heap of old tech, a big heap.

I still have many of those movies - ripped the DVDs with Handbrake into MP4s and stored them on a server - of course, do not still have the old Lakers vs Kings game that seemed so important at the time.  Actually this library of MP4s is also obsolete; just about any movie in there can be rented and streamed for a small amount, so why keep them all.  But I do have them.  Maybe storage on hard disks and the MP4 format are technologies which will last a bit longer?  Will I be able to play those movies in 20 years?

It's interesting to look around and think about all the tech which surrounds us, and try to figure out what is the lifetime.  My phone ... huh, don't know, maybe 10 years?  What could I do with it in 10 years?  Probably cell tech will have moved on, and it could no longer connect to networks, but will it connect to WiFi?  Probably.  Could it surf the Internet?  Pick up email?  And my computer ... probably even a bit less than my phone, but similar.  It will be able to run new versions of Windows up to a point.  Likely could connect to WiFi.  Likely could surf the Internet, and with new versions of Chrome or Firefox pick up content.

I have a friend in Santa Barbara who has an old wooden sailboat, over 100 years old.  He's faithfully restored and maintained it, and competes in races against my boat which is 8 years old.  It's not quite as fast, but you know what not uncompetitive either.  There's some old technology which lasted!

As I look around my house - the furniture, art, clocks, stuff like that will last a long time.  Indeed much of it is already old, some of it older than me.  Appliances, somewhat more dated, but still useable, many after 20+ years.  Cars, could likely be driven for many years, even the electric one - assuming the Tesla charge port is supported somewhere!  The house itself will last a long time.  And my beautiful oak tree has been around for hundreds of years.

It's the consumer electronics which will not last.  TVs, game machines, computers, tablets, phones.  And yet those are the things that take up all of my time!