Monday, January 19, 2015

The Death of My PC Is Not Greatly Exaggerated

July 28, 2014
Why PC Sales Have Stalled

The third group covers ages 40-65, and this group's primary device is still a desktop PC or laptop. Yes, many have smartphones or even tablets, but the phones and tablets augment their digital life while the PC and laptop still sits at the center of their digital activities. Interestingly, in consumers, this is this age group that are buying the most PCs and laptops to replace their older models. This group started buying PCs when they were in their early 20s, and until recently these were the only digital tools they had. For them, it is the most efficient and comfortable way to get things done.

You might think this is the end of the story. Not exactly.

There was a power outage at our house yesterday due to a fairly severe wind storm (just before the Seahawks game, but fortunately power was restored in time). I hobbled along on a 10+ year old obsolete desktop computer but that ended with the smell of smoldering electrical wiring. Stick a fork in that computer. It's done. The storm was too much for it.

Although I am in the favorable age group  (for PC purchases mentioned in the link above), I do not intend to replace my computer. Let me explain why. Here is the list of reasons I owned it.

1. Programming. I was a lead software engineer for quite a few years and I enjoyed writing code. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing it. The desktop is well suited for this task but it is a task I no longer do.

2. Finances. I tracked every expense on that computer (to the penny). I stopped in April of last year. That was when I got Shingles. I decided that life is too short to spend so much time on something that didn't really improve my quality of life. I'm a very frugal person. Tracking expenses doesn't really change my behavior. Should I wish to track my expenses in the future, the phone should actually make it easier. No more saving receipts only to reenter them at home. It was useful data to me, but the story isn't changing. I've pretty much seen all I need to see.

3. Bill paying. I expect the phone to work just as well. Time will tell.

4. Health. There was a time when I would track how much exercise I would do and how much I weighed. The personal computer is not ideal for this task. My new phone does a much better job. Heck, the iPhone even has an app that can easily check my pulse. It uses the camera lens and the flashlight to look at changes in my index finger. It also shows me a history of all my readings. I'm currently using it in conjunction with my 2015 goal of climbing 60 miles on the stair stepper. I check my pulse at the 30 minute mark during exercise (at 30 feet vertical per minute). What the trend will be over the full year? Down would be nice.

5. Email. The phone does a better job. The personal computer is obsolete for this task. As some of you may know, I could go more than a week between checking email on my PC. I check my phone at least once a day though (since it is almost always near me).

6. Surfing the web. The phone does a fine job and all from the comfort of wherever I happen to be at the time.

7. Music. I'd transfer data from my CD collection to my mp3 player. I'm currently using Spotify on my phone. I love it. I think of a song, any song, and chances are I can add it to my playlist. There are notable exceptions of course (AC/DC missing!). The phone is my music player now and the personal computer is no longer needed.

8. Gaming. This is a big one. I haven't played a game on a personal computer since the Playstation 3 came out, maybe even since the Playstation 2 came out. I find it much more comfortable to play games from the couch. Maybe that's just me.

And last but not least...

9. Blogging. I enjoy it but there are many things I enjoy. The other things just moved up the list, since most of them are free. Go figure.

So what does this mean? #9 was the only thing left from the original list. This could signal the death of my blog. Charting is what I enjoy most. My tools just died with my old computer. We'll see where it goes from here. Don't hold your breath though. I'm not really motivated to continue. The key here is motivation. I'm definitely lacking it.

One sign that the death of the PC is not greatly exaggerated is how little I have lost when mine died. I do not have much of a personal horror story to tell you. Most of what I've done on my computer still exists right here on this blog (and in the grand scheme of things, the universe would definitely not care if my blog died too). All I'm missing is some personal contact information (phone numbers and addresses) and some upcoming bill payment reminders. That's just about it. Go figure.

In some ways, the death of my PC is rather liberating. It should have died a long time ago. I was still running Windows 2000! I had the means to upgrade but the stubbornness to refuse. As one example of many, the thought of replacing Excel did not appeal to me at all. The old Excel was working fine for my needs. As an added bonus, I can laugh just a little harder every time I see some cheesy "fix my computer" and/or "computer running slow" advertisement on TV. As an even bigger bonus, one of my first thoughts was about this year's hiking season. The desktop anchor is now gone! Hurray!

Sorry Microsoft. It appears that I'm done buying your products (as of about 10 years ago or more). It's been an adventure though. I'll give you that. The blue screen of death adventure was the best of all. I realize that it's been a long time since I've seen one, but the post traumatic stress is with me to this day. ;)

I always liked Apple products better than Microsoft products, if for no other reason than I found them generally less buggy and cleaner (from a programmer perspective). I did far more programming on Apple computers than their Windows equivalents. There was a time at my company when I was forced to justify developing on Macs and simultaneously porting to Windows (vs. the other way around). To the best of my knowledge, we were the only team which did it that way. Upper management really didn't like that idea since most of our sales were not to Apple customers. It wasn't a very difficult fight though. Our team's tech support costs were at or near the lowest in the company. We never shipped with known bugs on either platform (so we must have been doing something right). They therefore let us continue developing as we had been.

In any event, they were wise to not press their point. I probably would have quit out of frustration. At the very least, our productivity would have dropped like a rock as we spent needless energy rewriting much of what we had done. That would have gone very poorly for us, me in particular. It would have been the equivalent of management asking the Captain of the Titanic to speed up just a bit, because they know best. I'm trying to picture what my performance review would have looked like and how many hours of overtime it would have taken to become unsatisfactory. Yeah, quitting would have been a good preemptive move I think. Nothing good would have come from staying. It's ironic though, because I did eventually quit and in hindsight, it was a good plan. Not much is left of that company now. As I left, I truly felt like a rat leaving a sinking ship (survived many rounds of layoffs, writing on the wall).

That said, it does bother me a bit, from a cost perspective, that I'm seemingly permanently trapped in the Apple ecosystem. Once in, it becomes difficult to escape. The cloud is here to stay. I've thought for years that my personal computer should simply be a dumb terminal, if for no other reason than what happened to it this weekend. It died and everything on it died with it. I have backups for much of it, but what good is it to have a backup if one does not plan to get another computer? Not much. No big deal though.

In summary, I cannot speak for others but my personal computer is dead. No amount of life support or heavily discounted sales will bring it back to life. I have no desire at all to replace it (at any price). I've been liberated by a mobile phone and there's no going back. If my phone can't do the task from here on out, then the task won't get done. That's all there is to it.

The irony here is that I'm typing this from my girlfriend's laptop (blogger doesn't fully support my iPhone's browser). I'm hunched over in the dining room. It's not all that enjoyable. This posture is hard on my back (my own fault). I'm making all kinds of typing mistakes since this keyboard has a different feel. This may very well be the last gasp of a dying blog! Those looking for ongoing trend failure charts will be sorely disappointed. Hopefully this economy has given you a lifetime's worth though, lol. Sigh.

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive. I couldn't have asked for better commenters! And for the record, it's not a dead blog. It's just dying. This is probably not my last post. I'm fairly sure I have at least a few more sarcasm reports left in me. Mainstream financial news tends to offer an endless stream of candidates. :)

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will send you a cpu if you would like. Its not new but it works fine. Runs XP

dearieme said...

What about when you want to type and print something? Or copy, paste and print?

Anyway, sob!, carry on a bit more. Your running joke about exponential and parabolic failures was excellent - funny in the way that truth often is.

Mr Slippery said...

FYI, you can run the chrome browser on the iphone. It should support blogger better than safari. It won't help with the typing or graphing.

I am sad to see the blog mortally wounded, but nothing lasts forever except death, taxes, and the war on poverty, drugs, terror, and school lunches.

Although I have an embarrassment of tools, the PC is still my main device. I am still employed as a programmer, so there's that, but I also like PC games better than console (my kids own the couch). I also like charting, creating videos, editing music, editing photos, and having 12 windows open at once. All stuff I can't do on a phone.

You might consider a chromebook as a desktop replacement. They are cheap, fast, microsoft free, and can do about 85% of what a PC can do. I carry my i3 chromebook when I'm away from home.

Ugh, I can already feel my RDA of sarcasm running low. Thanks for putting out one of best financial blogs on the Internet and keeping it entertaining. Peace.

Stephen Clarke-Willson said...

I recently purchased an Acer 720 Chromebook and it most likely will do everything you need (except Excel) for blogging. When I bought the Chrombook it was $150 at Amazon. What an amazing device.

Rob Dawg said...

> There was a power outage at our house yesterday due to a fairly severe wind storm (just before the Seahawks game, but fortunately power was restored in time). I hobbled along on a 10+ year old obsolete desktop computer but that ended with the smell of smoldering electrical wiring. Stick a fork in that computer. It's done. The storm was too much for it.

Sure it isn't just a $30 power supply?

Rob Dawg said...

The Patriots will not lead at the start of the game.
The Patriots will lead for most of the game.
Bet the under.

Jazzbumpa said...

Those looking for ongoing trend failure charts will be sorely disappointed.

I haz a sad.

[sigh]
JzB

fudge_hend said...

Selfishly I'd like to say, 'nooooooooooooooooooooo' and convince you to keep blogging as I have enjoyed what you put up over the years.

Personally, I disconnected my personal computer about 3 years ago when I needed to move it, I still haven't plugged it back in and don't expect I ever will. I'm still chained to a PC at work, but I use my phone much as you do for everything else.

Good luck and I hope you can replace all your blogging time with hiking and other adventures. Go hawks!!!!! (still hoarse from the game)

Stagflationary Mark said...

anonymous,

Your offer is too kind but I shall pass. :)

Stagflationary Mark said...

dearieme,

My girlfriend assures me thst I'll be able to print just fine from my phone to her printer. That's what she does with her phone. I definitely nerd to print my online tax information for my tax preparer. We'll see how that goes.

As for copy and paste, the phone does that too.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Mr Slippery,

Thanks for the tip on chrome browser. I'll look into that.

As for rrplacement computers in general, I think I'm just done. Burned out on the whole idea. No desire to buy all new software to go with it, nor do I even have the desire to lesrn new software for that matter. I'd like to end that chapter of my life.

Maybe I just have too many memories of a hellish desk job. I truly feel liberated to be free of it, in theory.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Stephen Clarke-Willson,

Hey! I just successfully used copy and paste on your name! Thsnks for the info, but I'm going to stick with the phone for now. It isn't even about price at this point.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

I suspect it is the power supply. I opened it up and everything looks fine. That said, The computer is beyond obsolete. The operating system hasn't been supported for years. The browser is constantly complaining about it. I resort to the laptop to pay bills. It's just junk at this point.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Jazzbumpa,

Just think of this as the ultimate trend failure! ;)

Stagflationary Mark said...

fudge_hend,

Personally, I disconnected my personal computer about 3 years ago when I needed to move it, I still haven't plugged it back in and don't expect I ever will.

You understand!:)

P.S. My girlfriend is a recent football convert. In the 4th quarter I told her it wouldn't take a miracle. There was still time. She did not believe me. Then, the squealing began. Scared out dogs due to the intensity, lol.

Go hawks! :)

Stagflationary Mark said...

The blog isn't completely dead. I might post charts every now and then from the laptop. Just don't expect the future to be like the past.

I really appreciate how much support I've gotten as a blogger! Thank you all!!

Stagflationary Mark said...

For years, I'd refer to my girlfriend's iPhone as her crackberry. What goes around, comes around, lol.

You should see her light up every time I suggest that mine is addicting! ;)

fudge_hend said...

I used to have a chain of old hardware in the event I needed to ever convert my 5.25's/3.5's/Zip's etc...,

you know in the event I want to try and go back and check that .txt file, .bmp, or useless old code or emails that I don't really need. Digital hoarding is much easier. I threw it all away and now I delete old files if I don't know what they are without having to open them (Unfortunately in the work environment digital hoarding is a necessity). Keeps me disciplined to make sure I am organized and don't keep useless crap. I'm all about simplification. I find my enjoyment seems to be inversely related to how much junk I have around that I have to deal with.

p.s. My wife is a longtime football convert, but hasn't converted to my simplification ideals (yet). So every vacuum I create by simplifying she seems to fill.

Stagflationary Mark said...

fudge_hend,

I reslly dislike clutter. My idea of an awesome coffee table has nothing on it at all. Not even coffee, lol.

My girlfriend embraces the clutter, and mot even because I think she enjoys it. She's just indifferent to it. If you asked her what's in her purse I suspect she'd only be able to think of half of it, and at least 10% would be a complete surprise. More stuff goes in than comes out, until either a breaking point is reached or a larger purse appears, lol.

Her keychain is enormous. I think it's got every key she's ever used on it. Keys can be hard to throw out, but I don't wish to carry all of them around with me. If I can't remember what a key does, then it it doesn't belong in my pocket.

KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid

Yes!

Stagflationary Mark said...

Mr Slippery,

Tried the Chrome browser. Blogger warns that it too is unsupported. Had the same difficult time editing html text in a test post.

Safari works fairly well in the comments so I'm sticking with it for now. It was a good try though! Thanks for the idea!

Youngmoney said...

and in the grand scheme of things, the universe would definitely not care if my blog died too

I can't speak for the universe, but I would definitely care if Illusion of Prosperity died! I'm sorry about your computer, and I'm sorry to that you've lost the motivation to write regularly. It's a sad irony that the site that brought exponential trend failures to the world's attention is about to experience one itself. I can sympathize with the loss of motivation, though -- I've often gone days and even weeks without logging into blogger, so I know the feeling.

Even if you don't write very frequently, I hope you'll stick around to do a victory lap after the various exponential trend failures play out.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Youngmoney,

I don't think there's anything more humbling tham looking up at the stars late at night and realizing that we're just a few people on a planet in what could be an infinitely large universe.

It's not a bad thing. I think it does offer some perspective though.

Despair.com: Blogging

Thst's definitely one of my favorites. The best humor needs at least some truth in it, lol.

That said, I will never stop looling for trend failures. Each one fascinates me. Fortunately, I can browse FRED (database) on my phone and continue to do so. :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to here the blog is slipping away.
Lots of thought provoking data.
i myself have an 8 -or 9 year old iMac that works great
although I rarely use it now. I basically just
use my iphone or iPad now and when the iPad
goes , I'll just upgrade to the largest iphone and
use it as a stand alone device.
Sporkfed

Remy said...

Illusions of prosperity was my crack berry.
Thanks so much for the amazing blogs.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Sporkfed,

We aren't doing much to stimulate the PC economy. As for the mobile phone economy, I've got to be near the last person to adopt. might be getting kind of saturated. Good thing phones aren't on a 10 year upgrade cycle... yet!!

Stagflationary Mark said...

Remy,

I'm your huckleberry. - Doc Holiday, Tombstone ;)

Anonymous said...

Please "post charts every now and then from the laptop" as you teased above.

You're a Daisy if you do - Doc Holiday, Tombstone ;)

Your charts have been some great eye candy.

-psychodave

Stagflationary Mark said...

psychodave,

A picture's worth a thousand words but a heavily annotated trend failure chart might be worth double that? I knew it!! Hshsha!

Eye poppin' eye candy, that's what I'm talking about. :)

Joseph Constable said...

You are just getting old.

Stagflationary Mark said...

I'm only as old as I feel!

Note to self: Get new bifocals, this tiny font is hard on my aging eyes, lol. Sigh.

Mike Griffith said...

Super sad! This is one of my favorite daily reads! Take a break and reconsider please, chromebooks are terrific.

Thanks for all the great posts.

Joseph Constable said...

Ok. Older.

I'm 69 and a half. I really really need my big monitor PC to harass young bloggers.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Mike Griffith,

In theory, I can do some charts on my girlfriend's laptop computer. It's got Excel.

In practice, it's painful. I just tried it. That said, perhaps charts will get done occasionally.

Troy said...

My 15" MBP died in December so I pressed a 2006 Mac Pro I had in a box back into frontline service.

Popped in a new SSD (500GB, $200 at Amazon) since I didn't trust the aging fixed disks, what an improvement!

I've got a 2008-era PC I keep around as a hobby piece, the Windows 10 preview (+ $80 240GB SSD courtesy a NewEgg sale) on it is certainly Good Enough for this Mac chauvinist.

ChromeBooks are a fabulous value proposition for you, assuming you can get the blogging thing sorted out. There's also ChromeBoxes if you don't need portability

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2105768/asus-chromebox-m004u-review-web-based-life-in-desktop-form-just-add-peripherals.html

$170 at NewEgg.

And if you felt willing to throw ~$800 at a new build you could . . .

http://i.imgur.com/lyZHCv3.png

is a pretty plush DIY PC. I love DIY since it's the only area (other than bicycles) that we consumers can easily put together our own goods from their constituent components.

Or perhaps you could throw $500 at a 16GB iPad Air 2. I totally love mine and I expect it to run great this entire decade (my 2010 iPad is still mint but pretty clunky compared to the Air 2)

Stagflationary Mark said...

Joseph Constable,

Hahaha! Your big monitor can easily kick my tiny iPhone's screen! I don't stand a chance! :)

Troy said...

PCs are (sadly?) such a core part of my life that I never skimp on purchases. I try to wait for technology to progress to an interesting state (some evolutions are more interesting than others) and get the best I can and then ride it into the ground.

Intel's Skylake coming later this year allegedly looks to be a very good entry point. My DIY build above has a pretty spendy PCIe 2.0 4X SSD (the same component Apple uses in their high-end x86 designs) and Skylake with its 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes will have a bit better integration, and this 4X SSD will also have a bit more maturation, with NVMe taking over from AHCI as the transport protocol (Samsung's successor to the XP941 will be NVMe)

Troy said...


oops, hadn't read that article yet!

"But now the bad news: the drive does not support NVMe"

oh well, it's always something

Stagflationary Mark said...

Troy,

Thanks for the input but I'm not going to be spending any money on a replacement. There's a reason it made it to 10+ years old without any sort of upgrade. I've been using it less and less.

I ran it until it died, much like I treat exercise equipment. Shame to let it go to waste, but once it's dead I tend to move on.

The timing is nearly perfect. It died just after I got a smart phone. I wish to have the phone be its replacement. So far, so good.

Being free of a desk is liberating and I don't intend to go back. This is not a depressing thing to me, especially if it translates into more outdoor time. :)

fudge_hend said...

Come on guys you are skipping the first two steps and going straight to the bargaining. Denial isn't any fun but what kind of comment board is this that skips the anger step.

You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5R_pS0h5Qk

Troy said...

yeah if I didn't still code the iPad would be perfectly fine -- though TBH I still think the ChromeBook is a better overall platform if you want to actually do more online than tapping on links)

Then again 99% of the keypresses I make are just a total waste of time opinionating on crap, so there's that.

My present dream is making the iPad (Air 2) a perfectly cromulent coding environment.

This is theoretically possible but the person who pulls it off will be a visionary genius on the order of Tim Berners-Lee.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spreadsheet_2000

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnage_Heart

Stagflationary Mark said...

fudge_hend,

Hahaha! OMG!! Soylent green is people!! ;)

You are forgetting one important fsct though. There can be no anger as long as the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl again!

Just don't mention Sonics or you will jinx the mood! D'oh!

Stagflationary Mark said...

Troy,

Then again 99% of the keypresses I make are just a total waste of time opinionating on crap, so there's that.

I hear you. I've pretty much gone cold turkey when it comes to commenting at many sites. It took me quite a few years to realize that it wasn't improving my quality of life to engage in opinion wars. Fact wars are even worse of course.

My personal "favorite" recurring fact war involves those who believe the CPI doesn't include food and energy. That myth is like a wildfire that continues to spread. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...

This thread is improving my iPhone typing speed and accuracy by leaps and bounds.

It's not nearly as fast as I could type on a resl keyboard but it is approaching acceptable. Woohoo! :)

Stagflationary Mark said...

The dreaded "resl" keyboard shows I still have room for improvement, lol.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

No worries. I enjoy your blog specifically the analysis, parabolic failures, musical links, and of course a healthy dose of sarcasm.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Anonymous,

Latest research confirms that even unhealthy doses of sarcasm won't kill us, much like gamma radiation didn't kill the Hulk! ;)

Rebecca Zegstroo said...

Nooooooo, don't let the blog die. Your charts make the trends I feel make sense. The Archdruid cites history and takes mostly a long view, the MSM massage the data to give a rosy picture. But your charts put it in perspective. It's useful, if depressing like cold wind on the neck.

I'd bring you a computer that's only 5 years old running XP, but how unkind to want to anchor you down. Fly you high. We'll tease out the facts for ourselves.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rebecca Zegstroo,

It's useful, if depressing like cold wind on the neck.

Nice! That's kind of how I picture this economy once the unemployment rate stops falling. Contrary to popular MSM opinions, our temporary "strong and resilient" growth is being fueled unsustainably.

The blog isn't dead... yet. I think it would take Mr. Fusion to kill it permanently. I, for one, would not complain! :)