It is said that once we reach adulthood that our opinions and basic personality has formed and rarely changes. I never paid much attention to that theory until I realized that I’d picked up some interesting opinions and habits myself from what I suspect was a rather young age.
Since that discovery about myself, I have began to question everything.
Those who have followed me over the years have doubtless noticed my disdain for cell phones. I refused to own one for years because I considered them a luxury, only acquiring one because my kids felt that they were a necessity.
I’ve noticed this disdain in others as well. Browse the Internet very much, and you stumble upon memes mocking the youth for the cellphones they carry.
The other day, some coworkers and myself could not remember a setting to use on a piece of equipment. Rather than guess, I pulled out my cellphone, did a quick search, and located the information.
That search made me realize a truth I had denied since smartphones were invented: This isn’t just a phone; it’s a computer.
We literally carry miniaturized computers complete with Internet access in our pockets, yet when we want to do any serious work we reach for a bulky laptop each time. While a small number of us have transitioned to using tablets with keyboards attached for some work, the majority of us still insist upon using a standard computer for our tasks.
That includes me. When I think of writing, I think of sitting down at a computer to do my work, or at least curling up with pen and paper to complete the task. The thought of anything else never occurred to me.
I haven’t had any desire to sit down in front of a computer for months. I haven’t had any desire to seriously fiddle with a computer for over a year, despite my efforts to rekindle that passion.
While my computer use has waned, I have found myself using this phone more and more. It is my alarm clock, my calendar, my camera. It is the notebook I pull out when I need to remember something. It is my stereo both at home and while on the move, and it is the GPS that guides me when I travel to an unfamiliar place.
I use this phone for almost everything that I used to rely upon a computer for, yet I refused to consider using it for my writing and certain other tasks.
I felt a bit sheepish after having that revelation. I’ve always been the one who embraced new technology, yet it seems that I have become a bit set in my ways.
As a result of that revelation I am attempting an experiment. I am going to look at this device as the computer that it is. When I have a task to accomplish involving computers, I’m going to attempt the task on this phone first.
More importantly, I am going to make it a point to do a bit of writing on this device. I not only want to explore the functionality of using this phone to write with, I want to see if the added mobility inspires me to write again.
If you are seeing this post, then this experiment is at least a partial success. I downloaded the app that allows me to maintain my website, and have been tinkering on this post for several days. I write during my breaks at work and while I’m waiting for my car to warm up in the mornings.
While it feels odd to sit here and type out a blog post with my thumbs, it feels good to know that at least I’m writing. I was beginning to wonder if I ever would write again, since I lacked the time and the desire to sit down and actually write.
Maybe this is the solution I needed.
Have you ever realized that you’d been looking at something with a closed mind? Please share your stories in the comments below.
If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media? Thanks!
“Here you go, Mom!” Katie dropped a stack of tee shirts on the kitchen table. “Cut these up so we will have them ready. I don’t know when we’ll be able to get more towels or toilet paper at the store so we may have to switch over soon.”
“Okay,” I replied as I picked my jaw up from where it had fallen on the table. The older she had gotten, the more she had grown to prefer using disposable paper products. We had been debating their use intermittently over the years. I wanted to go with cloth to reduce expense and our environmental footprint. Katie wanted the convenience of disposability. To see my modern child actively encouraging me to switch to cloth after arguing against it for so many years speaks volumes for the times we currently live in.
And I have a confession to make. I’ve never in my life experienced a time when we could not buy things like paper towels and bathroom tissue. Aside from my switch to family cloth before my move here, the only time I’d ever had to experiment with alternate sources of paper towels and bathroom tissue was when visiting the homes of friends in the mountains. Back then, quite a few people lacked access to indoor plumbing. While almost everyone had running water, outhouses were common, and within the outhouses of older folk you would see corn cobs, stacks of newspapers, and the occasional catalog (typically a Sears catalog) in lieu of the bathroom tissue that is ubiquitous today.
People thought I was insane when I switched to family cloths and menstrual pads. Even I thought I was going a bit overboard when I did that but I wanted to experiment so I did. Now I’m beginning to wonder if we all might have to switch.
That frightens me. The thought that our world has changed so much that things I’ve grown up with, things I’ve taken for granted may no longer be available scares me in a way I cannot explain.
To prevent myself from going insane (I’ve got people who used to make fun of me pestering me for advice now!), I’ve had to start reframing how I look at our current situation. If we look at this a bit differently, look at this from another angle instead of thinking about the fact that we are doing these things out of necessity, I believe it will remove at least some of the feelings of deprivation and make this entire situation a creative challenge.
But how do you reframe the fact that the shelves are growing rather empty at the stores? How do you reframe the fact that things you took for granted are disappearing?
I thought long and hard about that during our last shopping trip the other day. I stocked up even more than I’d planned, spending $200 on canned goods and other shelf-stable items as I felt the fear mount at the sight of the empty shelves. The kid must have been feeling the same emotion because our cart was overflowing by the time we dragged it home. Our freezer is stuffed and the canned goods have overflowed my pantry. I’ve placed the overflow on my living room shelf to compensate for lack of storage. I’ve not attempted to garden in the back yard, so based upon my failures in the front yard I am concerned. Will I be able to grow enough back there to supplement? What will we do if I can’t?
Reframe, Annie. Reframe this. This is just another challenge. You can handle a challenge. You are one of the foremost frugal living experts in the United States. This is your time to shine. You can do this. You can not only figure out a way through this, you are going to do whatever it takes to show others how to get through this time as well. So stop whining, reframe this situation into the puzzle that it is, and get back to work.
If I was concerned at our dependence upon Big Business before, I definitely am now. Based upon how this plays out (Trump’s “absolute power” and “LIBERATE” tweets are NOT HELPING!), our current situation may become the new norm. So how do we get through this?
It dawned on me that the more we can reduce our reliance upon the major corporations – the more we can reduce our reliance upon mass manufacturing, period, the better off we will be. But how do we do that?
Our primary needs at the moment are food and shelter. Most of us have enough clothes to get by for a while (you haven’t thinned out your wardrobes, have you? Please tell me you’ve not thinned down your wardrobes), so as long as we can pay the rent (or mortgage) and keep food on the table, we’re in good shape. So what about the rest of the stuff that we take for granted – like bathroom tissue and paper towels?
I don’t believe my grandparents ever bought paper towels. As far back as I can recall, they would use recycled cloth for towels that they would wash and re-use until those towels fell apart. My grandmother would sew repurposed fabric into potholders and thicker towels to handle larger messes. I just grabbed a handful of repurposed fabric to use before the kid persuaded me to switch back to paper.
When you think about it, using repurposed clothing as hand towels, cleaning rags, and family clothes is actually better on the environment. The damage is already done with those; they were made, they were sold, and they were used for their intended purpose until they reached the point where they either wore out or went out of style. If we cut those items up, converting them into rags or family cloths, we can not only reduce the burden on our landfills, we can reduce our dependence upon the corporations. If we reduce our dependence upon the corporations, it won’t affect us if they go under near as much as it would otherwise.
Even better, by reusing the things that we already own instead of buying disposable stuff, we can significantly reduce the amount of money we need to live on. I don’t know about you, but cutting costs is high on my priority list at the moment. “Da Corona” (as people jokingly refer to it here) caught me a bit flat-footed financially. I’d planned to go back to work come spring and had budgeted accordingly since I quit my job last October. Because of that I don’t qualify for unemployment like so many others are fortunate enough to do. While I do make a few dollars each month from my book sales, it’s not enough to make me feel secure. Since this old bat is in the age range where this stuff becomes seriously deadly, I’m pinching my pennies as tightly as I can in order to wait this out. I like living too much to risk it.
“Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without.”
That is the mantra I am chanting as I go through my days. That was the mantra I chanted when I realized that I am spending more of my writing time plopped upon my bed instead of at the kitchen table. I needed something to place my laptop on to allow it to breathe since overheating can kill a laptop. My first instinct was to order something online, which I immediately rejected. The less money I can spend, the better.
As I pondered the issue, I noticed the boxes that our latest pet supply order had arrived in. The cardboard was rather sturdy; all I needed was something flat and firm to rest my laptop on. I grabbed a roll of tape from my bin and got to work.
A bit of cutting and a few strips of tape later and I had my solution: a “board” made out of layered cardboard that was large enough to work as a lap table. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever created but it works.
I could dress it up with some paint or fabric but I decided against that for now. I want it to look rough; that way people will know as soon as they see it that I did not purchase a solution to my problem.
I want the world to know that I made it myself in order to encourage others to get creative as well. The less we buy and the more we make, the better off we will be. The more we repair and the less we replace, the more money we will have in our pockets moving forward. I am embracing that whole-heartedly.
For instance, not only is the laptop stand handmade from recycled cardboard, the laptop is a handmedown. It was gifted to Katie several years ago (thank you again!) and she eventually passed it on to me when she upgraded. This laptop is close to seven years old, which means that it is a dinosaur in our consumerist society. I installed an SSD in it that I found on clearance, added a lightweight version of Linux (Linux Lite, for the curious), topped it off with a keyboard protector to extend the life of the keyboard (that came with a matching cover for the trackpad), and placed it into service. With a bit of love, this machine will last for years, especially since the operating system I selected uses a fraction of the resources that Microsoft Windows does.
Big Business will not like my solution. They want me to buy their stuff rather than make something using stuff I already have but you know what?
We don’t need to buy their solutions. Purchasing their solutions may allow their employees to make a few pennies, but it also allows the CEOs and investors to quarantine in their mansions. I may not be able to do much about income inequality, but I can fight back with my personal choices.
This old woman is choosing to use what she has instead of buying new. I hope that you will do the same where you can.
It takes but a bit of effort to cut old clothes into rags and use them instead of paper towels and bathroom tissue. It takes but a bit of creativity to repurpose cardboard into a lap desk. Bits of cloth scraps can be pieced together to create larger pieces of fabric even. I’m currently using tiny squares of cloth scraps from my mask making to create a quilt even:
You don’t need as much as you think you need, my friends. You don’t always need to buy a solution when you encounter a problem. If you learn anything from me moving forward, I hope you learn that.
As for me, I need to conclude this post and get back to work. I want to make sure that the kid has enough masks to get through the week without getting bored. I also want to craft a few extra for another friend, who generously gave one of the masks I made away to an elderly lady that had crafted a mask from a paper towel. She is my hero, so I want to make sure she not only receives a replacement mask to stay safe, but that she has a couple of extras to give away if she discovers anyone else in need.
I may not have much but I intend to help my fellow man where I can. As for the corporations who believe money is more important than human lives, fuck them. I will avoid giving them my money out of spite. I don’t care how much money the government gives them, they will still collapse if we stop buying their stuff in protest. Even better, we will weather the economic fallout of this pandemic far better than those who continue to support them.
I think I’m going to enjoy the challenge of growing a garden this year. I believe that I will enjoy removing my financial support from a food supply system that doesn’t care whether their workers live or die. With every spade of dirt that I shift, I am going to remind myself of that. I will remind myself of the lives being lost to feed the machine.
I hope that you will join me.
If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media? Thanks!
I was born in an age where many people could not afford a telephone. An age where the Middle Class splurged for a Party Line (a single phone line shared between multiple households). One was considered wealthy if they could afford a phone at all, and only the “truly rich” could afford a private line or a long-distance phone call.
Such was the era that I grew up in that I didn’t even realize that computers were real until I started middle school. The only time I ever saw them was on television, so I dismissed them as fantasy.
Perhaps this is why I continue to be so fascinated by the machines today. I am astounded by the fact that a device as small as the palm of my hand can be used to connect with what seems to be a limitless amount of knowledge and information. I doubt that this is something that I will ever take for granted.
I have watched computers grow from keyboard-shaped devices that you connected to a television to becoming devices that are part of the television. They are even an integral part of automobiles, microwaves, air conditioners, thermostats, and innumerable other devices scattered around the average home. More and more of these computing devices have now gained the ability to connect to the Internet. They have even coined a new term for the phenomena, the “Internet of Things (IoT).”
While I am amazed at how far computers have come, I wonder about the long-term repercussions of having an entire home filled with devices that can “phone home” for updates and transmit “usage statistics.” Have we finally entered the age prophesied by George Orwell in his famous book 1984 or am I so old that I am just becoming paranoid?
My questioning began after my daughter and I discussed some items we would like to buy. Shortly after we had that conversation, I went online to do something and noticed that the ads were eerily related to that conversation.
I had never, not once, ever searched for the items in question.
How could a random website on the internet–multiple websites, actually (since the ads were repeated in various places) know that my daughter and I had been discussing this topic, a topic that had never occurred to me to be interested in prior to my daughter mentioning it to me?
No one else was in the room. My computer has neither microphone nor camera installed. The television is an older hand-me-down from my daughter, so it’s incapable of connecting to the Internet. My iPad was on the table as we had that discussion, however. And my iPad uses WiFi to connect to the Internet.
My daughter and I conducted an experiment after that event. She had noticed the same thing happening to her when she talked about things around her smartphone and was curious as well. We turned up some music, placed our gadgets by the speaker, and huddled in the bathroom to formulate our plan.
Sure enough, the topic we chose to discuss appeared in ads on both of our devices in the days after that. My daughter was so astounded that she began discussing the suspected eavesdropping in front of the devices in question.
After that, the ads stopped.
Was something or someone listening in to our conversations? Did they realize that we were suspicious of them after my kid mentioned the fact, or was it all a big coincidence that advertising related to our private conversations stopped appearing when the kid talked about it in front of the devices?
I don’t know, but it has made me more than concerned.
It is common knowledge that Google earns money through advertising. Microsoft began to follow that trend by forcing users to watch ads if they wanted to play their games without a subscription. Even Ubuntu Linux offered Amazon advertising based upon your searches in the Unity Dash for a time. In an era of devices set up to respond on “Hey Siri,” “OK Google,” and “Alexa, order this for me,” is it a stretch of the imagination to wonder if these devices are listening in more than they claim?
When you add the NSA to the picture things become even darker. Edward Snowden fled to Russia after he revealed that our government was collecting frightening amounts of information. Microsoft and other major companies actively aided the US government through a thing called Prism. While Apple was one of the holdouts when Steve Jobs was still alive, they now admit to the fact that they analyze the photos you upload to the Cloud. They claim that it is to help stop child abuse. In light of my recent experience with their devices, I am beginning to wonder if images are all they are scanning.
Businesses exist for the sole purpose of making money. They make this money by encouraging us to buy the things they want to sell. To encourage us to buy, they promote their products and services through advertising.
What would stop Microsoft from profiting from this? What would stop any company from profiting from this? Who would know if Microsoft sold our private information to advertisers? We can’t exactly go through the source code of Windows to find out if they’re harvesting it. What would stop Apple from doing the same now that Steve Jobs is gone? We already know that Google and Amazon do this with their devices. That is what they were designed for, after all. Watch the ads they display of people using their devices to order stuff online and that fact becomes obvious.
And what if all of this goes deeper than simple marketing? Is there a chance that the police will show up at our doors if one of our devices overhears us discussing something considered illegal? A woman has already been investigated by police after she searched for a pressure cooker online. Is that going to become our reality?
Should we be worried, even if we feel that we have nothing to hide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Another question occurred to me after I published this post. If the government is collecting information on us, could it be that they are secretly repaying their information sources in the form of tax breaks? Inquiring minds would like to know.
It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.
I took the
opportunity to visit the computing section of a major store
yesterday. Reader John had posted on Facebook about how laptops have
gotten to the point where not even the keyboards are easily
replaceable so I wanted to confirm his complaint. To my dismay, every
single laptop offered for sale was designed in a way to make
replacing the keyboards on modern laptops difficult to impossible.
The entire machine would have to be dismantled just to get to that
one failure-prone component. Thank you for bringing that to my
In the past, laptops were designed so that someone skilled in
computer hardware could replace a number of components. Keyboards,
hard drives, RAM, and other components could be swapped out–not
necessarily with ease, but it could be done. That is no longer the
case today; computer manufacturers don’t want us to hold on to our
machines so they’ve designed them to be almost impossible to repair.
Given the prices I noted during my visit to the store yesterday, it
wouldn’t even pay to have a tech replace the components.
Software has reached a similar point in evolution. If you want the
“latest and greatest” version of Microsoft Office, you have
to pay a monthly fee for the priviledge. The same goes for Adobe and
a number of other programs. You can’t even enjoy a simple game of
Solitaire without either paying for a subscription or being barraged
One of the saddest aspects of this reality is that it has gotten to the point where those who possess an older computer have an advantage. With the exception of the Front-side Bus (FSB) and a few other areas, older systems are actually faster and more powerful than the new ones being pushed upon us. The software that came bundled with those older computers didn’t require the payment of a monthly fee just to have access to the programs, either. Even better, you didn’t have to deal with hateful advertising whenever you wanted to relax and play the simplest game.
Software companies realized this. That is why they’ve eliminated
the ability for these older computers to go online. It is nigh on
impossible to get Windows XP to even go online these days; the last
time I reinstalled XP I had to fight just to get it to activate. One
of the last safe-havens in Microsoft, Windows 7, will soon face that
fate as well.
I refuse to participate in this nonsense. Forcing people to view
ads or pay for subscriptions only serves to line the coffers of
multi-million dollar corporations. Forcing people to discard
computers because they have been designed to be irreparable
contributes to the destruction of our environment and only serves to
rob the average person of money that they could better use elsewhere.
I started my personal rebellion by deciding to keep my ancient Windows XP laptop in service. It was the only operating system that could support the expensive multi-meter software I purchased for my computer repair business, as well as being the only operating system that could play some very old games I liked to play from the days of Windows 95/98. I’d also invested in an old copy of Microsoft Office and some other programs that I didn’t want to have to purchase again so instead of discarding that old laptop I kept it around. The speakers are shot on it now but I just connect an external speaker when I need sound.
I will use that laptop until it dies. If I have to I will dig up
an older XP desktop so that I can avoid having to spend $$$$ on
replacing that software because no damn tech company is going to
force me to buy their damned subscriptions.
When I decided to purchase a desktop computer, I purchased a
refurbished business machine. For under $400 I bought a desktop that
blows away the specs on modern desktop computers. It came with
Windows 10, which allows me to go online in relative safety when the
need arises. I’ve already went through a couple of keyboards since I
purchased it so the decision to go with a desktop was obviously a
Thanks to Reader John, I will aim for older refurbished systems
should I ever decide to purchase another laptop. I want to be able to
repair my systems at least to a degree. I refuse to contribute to the
madness by making the tech companies richer than I have to. Even
better, it will keep those older systems out of a landfill for a few
If you find yourself in the market for a new system I urge you to
consider the purchase of a refurbished business-class desktop or
laptop. Those systems are designed to be somewhat repairable. You can
locate videos online if you want to do it yourself. If you happen to
have an older system already (and have no need for the software it
currently contains) you may want to consider installing Linux in it
instead of purchasing new. Linux has grown to the point where they
even offer it on new laptops these days (the OS in Chromebooks is
Linux), so it is easy to install and use now.
Whatever you do, do not
encourage the hardware and software companies to continue this
madness. Don’t let them bully you into paying for a subscription or
buying a new computer. If enough of us boycott them, hopefully they
will end this madness. If not, at least we will be hitting them where
it hurts–right in their wallets.
Last night as I sorted through my files to prepare them for long-term archival, I stumbled upon some journal entries I had written between 10 and 20 years ago. I had tossed them into a random folder at some point when trying to recover data from a dying system and had forgotten about them.
Unable to resist, I took a walk down Memory Lane as I perused those old files. Some of them were from the very first Windows computer I had ever owned, stored in plain text because I didn’t own a word processing program at the time.
I realized something important as I read those ancient entries. While I have been journaling from the moment I learned how to write as a child, those are the oldest journals I still possess. All of the other notebooks and other formats I have used over the course of my life have long been lost or discarded.
What is the point in keeping a journal if you don’t hold onto the entries? How can you discover the changes you have made if you can’t hold on to the records?
I realized that I wasted countless hours of my life creating journal entries that were eventually discarded. The only exception to this sad reality are the scattered text files I used to create quick journal entries over the years as I sat at the computer.
Computer journaling may not be perfect but for me it seems to be the only method that survives the test of time. I don’t like to keep physical things long-term if I don’t use them and sometimes paranoia has inspired me to burn my old paper journals. I store my deepest, darkest secrets in my journal entries so I have always been more than a bit paranoid about someone discovering them. No one touches my personal computer files, however, and a zipped archive protected with a password has worked wonders for my comfort level.
This discovery has made me realize that the best way for me to preserve my journal entries is to save them on the computer. As much as I love the feel of placing pen to paper, that method is far too transient for my needs.
I intend to take advantage of that discovery with the upcoming decade. From that point forward, all of my journaling endeavors will be written in plain text and filed away. In the event that I feel the urge to use paper and pencil I will scan those documents, convert them to PDF files, and destroy the originals.
Do you journal? If you prefer to hand-write your journal entries, how do you store them? Are you ever worried that someone will discover them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
It sat front and center of every living room. Residents and visitors alike would stare at the glowing screen, chatting during commercial break.
Then came the video games. Names like Atari and Commodore. Devices attached to our precious televisions gave us something to do while we were glued to our televisions. We could direct glowy bits against glowy bits to earn points on a screen.
Now it’s the cellphone; a computer, video game machine, and television rolled up in a device so small it fits in your pocket.
I’d never really thought about any of the devices much; I’d grown up with a television so I wrote it off as the changing trends of time.
As I sat in my break room at work I watched my coworkers all glued to their devices.
I went out to eat with my friends, not to talk, but to watch them stare at their screens as they ignored me. I looked around to discover that I was the only adult aside from the servers not staring at a screen–until I saw a server sneak a peek at her phone between rounds.
“Do you have a charger?” a recent guest to my home asked as soon as she entered.
She sat at the power outlet, mumbling at me as she swiped at whatever she was doing.
At first I was annoyed by the trend. Why bother hanging out with someone if all you’re going to do is ignore them? What’s the point in having real-world friends if you spend your time staring at a screen during visits?
There comes a time when even the biggest cheapskate decides that it is time to bite the bullet and spend some money. I needed a new writing computer whether I liked it or not.
It isn’t easy to wait for something you need while you save up money for the purchase. Every time you see a sale pass you by it burns. I am not immune to that.
I’ve learned to cope by developing a ritual for the process. Every single payday when I set some money aside for my goal I write it down and take a moment to give myself a mental pat on the back. I remind myself that I’m a bit closer than I was the previous week.
When it seems like I’ll never make it I look at the money I have already saved along with a picture of the item in question. I close my eyes and imagine how wonderful it will be to see the item in my home and to use it for the very first time. I look back at the photos of previous purchases to remind myself that I felt the exact same way as I saved up for them as well. While it always feels like I’ll never make it, those photos are proof that I have in the past and will do it again.
When the moment arrives where I have saved up enough money I take a few moments to savor the sensation. Sometimes I will deliberately delay the purchase even longer to enjoy the fact that I actually have the money to purchase the item in question. By the time I sit down to place the order I feel truly rich.
Then I sit down at the computer, look at the item one last time, and ask myself the following questions:
* Do I really want to buy this?
* Will this item meet my needs?
* Have I shopped around enough to get the best deal that I can?
If the answers are yes then I complete the purchase. I schedule the delivery to arrive when someone will be home to sign for it when it comes. When that is done, I prepare a place in my tiny home for it while I wait. I make sure the area is spotless as I mentally plan the unboxing and initial setup.
I deliberately psyche myself up to a feverish pitch before every major purchase. I know that I won’t buy anything large for quite a while so I make the most of the experience. After it arrives I take a moment to just admire it in its packaging. I snap a few photos, take a deep breath, and slowly begin to upwrap it.
This is what I purchased this time: a refurbished desktop computer running Windows 10 with a set of specs that will more than meet my needs. Even better, the system can be upgraded at a reasonable price so that I can keep it in service even longer.
My total price was $325, including shipping. Not bad for a quad-core computer that has 16 GB of RAM. It even has a 2 TB hard drive.
How do you deal with delayed gratification? Please share your stories in the comments below.
I have a confession to make. I really, really love computers. In my heyday when money was flush it was common for me to purchase at least one new system a year. One year I would purchase a new desktop, the next I would buy a new laptop. If a new version of Windows came out or a computer with an operating system that I wanted to try entered the market I would buy even more.
These past few years of being financially strapped put a stop to that. The last new computer I purchased was around 2015 when I sold my van and even that computer is long gone due to finances. At first I was upset about it but then I realized something:
Computers haven’t really changed much over the past decade.
The other day I found myself at Wal-Mart with some time to kill while my ride did their thing. I wandered into the computer section to check out the latest specs and drool. To my surprise, there was nothing to drool over. The computers being offered didn’t have any better specs than the ancient machines I already had at home. The only difference was the operating system.
In fact, the computer I use the most these days is an 11-year old Toshiba laptop that runs Windows XP. I don’t even take it online. I use it to play music, read the occasional book, and write. I connected an adapter to it in order to have sound (the speakers on it are shot), an external keyboard to type (since the keyboard is shot as well), and a nice large monitor that I traded for years ago and kept for troubleshooting purposes. It is an ancient piece of shit but it still works and does what I need.
While I do have another computer that I use to access the Internet (2011 laptop running Ubuntu Linux), I have realized that I no longer need to purchase new computers. In fact, the refurbished business computers available these days are actually more powerful than the newer systems and they cost a lot less. As an example of this, here is a link to the refurbished desktop I have on my private wish list. It runs Windows XP, which is what I want, but if for some reason my other laptop decided to die I would invest in one of these and install Linux on it to have a nice, powerful system minus the constant nagging from Microsoft to buy this or update that.
If you have any older computers in your home instead of buying a new one I urge you to consider using the ones you currently own. If it was manufactured during the last decade, chances are that it is more than enough to meet your needs. If the operating system is out of date (and you need to take it online) install one of the many wonderful versions of Linux out there or get a friend to do it for you. You might want to upgrade the RAM (commonly called memory) on your system, but that’s a lot cheaper than buying a new system.
If you have an older laptop with a busted screen or a failing keyboard, connect external devices to it and convert it into a desktop system. That’s what I’ve done with this ancient Toshiba and it serves my needs perfectly well.
In other words, stop buying crap you don’t need when something you have works perfectly well. Stop giving the corporations your money when you don’t absolutely have to. They’re not out to improve your life…they just want to improve their bottom line. They could care less about you.
What one thing do you have now that you could continue using that you’ve been thinking of replacing? Please share your stories in the comments below. And if this post has made you think, please share it with others. Thank you.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I was dedicating my old XP to writing, so today I figured that I would talk about my setup.
My computer is really old. In the 11 years that I’ve had it the battery has died and the speakers have started failing. It is currently on its third keyboard, and even that is starting to fail. At one point I even had to replace the processor fan when it died. Even with all of that the poor thing is still ticking, though I’ve created a few workarounds.
I hooked up an external keyboard to solve the typing glitches, added an external mouse because the buttons on my touchpad tend to act up, and then tossed in an old monitor that I’ve had for years. As a result I’ve created a dual monitor desktop system out of this ancient laptop. That allows me to have two files on full screen, which makes working a lot easier.
Here is a picture of my setup:
Even better; I worked this up using stuff I already had. It literally didn’t cost me a penny! I set up an old folding table in my kitchen (my favorite room for writing) so now I even have a dedicated writing spot. I’m hoping that this new setup makes me more productive.
On another note, now that I’ve got my issues fixed I’ve been making steady progress when it comes to formatting the new Shoestring Girl for ebook format. Hopefully it will be finished soon so that I can move on to my next project.