Thursday, June 29

Keeping up with the Joneses

1997. After using my sisters computer for a couple of years, a Pentium 100 with a 500 MegaByte hard drive, which is the computer equivalent of the Ford Model T, i bought my own PC at the Reseda Best Buy. I spent over $1300 on a Compaq Presario 7800. It had the latest Pentium III processor at a blazing 700 Mhz and a monstrous 20 Gig hard drive with all the bells and whistles a computer could possibly come with. The 20 Gig drive then was the biggest available in the market and so i had the baddest system on the planet. I browsed the internet with a flourish and sent emails with a flare... Well at least until two weeks later when they came out with a 40 Gig hard drive. It was like i was a slapped in the face with a keyboard.

I found out fairly quickly that PC Technology is worse than the California cost of living inflation. At least rent inflation is measured in years, PC Technology is measured in nano seconds it seems. PC's aren't like cars either. Cars are beautiful and reciprocal in nature. Oil changes in proper increments, rotate tires every 5K miles and all the regular maintenance and the vehicle in return will exceed its lifespan. PC's on the other hand, however new, are always susceptible to virus attacks and or PC Technolgy inflation making them obsolete faster than a bullet.

And so weary of the proprietary factory built PC's, I dumped my Compaq Presario and joined the league of the geeky PC builders. The ardouos process of building your own PC is very gratifying. It feels like an artisans labor of love. Very Vincent Van Gogh-esque so to speak. Okay maybe i am getting carried away here but its great seeing your work come to life at first bootup (although my first one took many failed bootups due to bad wiring).

The downside to sculpting your own PC however is in the constant pursuit to creating the baddest PC in the universe. You want nothing but the best components and with the best comes a premium price. I bought the most expensive Graphics card, the best DVD drive, the fastest processor, the largest hard drive etc... In introspect i've never even watched a DVD on my PC ever. Nor i have a reason to, i mean there are 5 TV's in the house. I understand the need for a DVD drive in a mobile computer like a lap top but one in a home PC seems superfluous. And why i purchased a NVidia GeForce 4 graphics card which was, 5 years ago, over $400 i will never know because i do not own any PC games nor i planned to play any... Eventually i realized i was only trying to keep up with the PC Joneses and so i dropped the constant upkeep and software/hardware updates like a bad habbit. After all it was mostly a waste of money.

Since then i haven't purchased anything PC related unless absolutely necessary. In fact i've applied my shopping for clothing philosophy on anything gadget related. Meaning i do not make a purchase unless the item is on sale or has some kind of an instant rebate. The slim Sony Cybershot T1 for instance that i so coveted at a cool $500 had me waiting a full 2 years before going on sale and that's only because a new version was being released. I've got another 3 years maybe before upgrading my digital cam avarice (my first one lasted a full 4 years).

Speaking of being an avarice, one thing i've always coveted is a nice lap top. However beside the cool factor i've never been able to justify the would be purchase and the need for it. I might as well be a portable DVD player. The other item is a nice flat panel monitor for my PC. Have you ever tried window shopping for these things? It's like a whole cosmic experience with the myriad of infinite stuff to learn about. There's display response time, contrast ratio, cd/m2 brightness, horizontal and vertical scanning frequency, pixel pitch etc etc... What the heck is all that shiet? Whatever happened to the just choosing the size? And did you know Hyundai now makes PC Monitors? Interestingly enough my first car was a Hyundai Excel.

Anyway, every so often when visitng the heavenly Best Buy stores i would venture into the evasive flat panel section hoping for a fire so i can snag one on my way out amidst the chaos of the screaming alarm. Not that i can't afford one. I can actually, i just don't like the idea of spending more on a computer monitor than my share of the Mortgage. But thanks to some poker winnings i was able to purchase one, painfree if you will. There is no better feeling by the way than walking into Best Buy with the knowledge that you are walking out with something nice... The LCD monitor selection was expansive and with a $500 budget i felt powerful. I scrutinized all on display. Sony's, Hyundai's, Samsungs, HP's , LG's but after reading all the descriptions and the comparos which actually didn't help any except for giving me a headache, i based my decision on the coolest looking one. Do you ever do that? Discuss the differences between available products with a sales guy, who probably doesn't have any of them on display anyway, only to ignore conventions and buy the coolest looking one... It's the BMW syndrome. Nevermind that you get more bang for the buck with the IS 300 or more power with Acura TL, the Beemer is fucking cooler...


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