I have a technology problem.
None of it seems to be able to keep up with my regular use.
I don't know if this is because of my abuse of said technology or just that things aren't engineered tough enough… This has gone on as long as I can remember with various electronic gizmos of my earliest memories, to my most recent PCs and cell phones. Nothing seems to last. This is especially worrisome when coupled with the fact that the "disposable income" that it takes to replace the gadgets these days is anything but trivial…. But now I am getting ahead of myself….
Since I can remember, I have been obsessed with tinkering. I don't know if it was the large collection of lego that I amassed at an early age or what, but to this day, I love to build things and take things apart. So, as soon as my parents decided that it was time to give me toys that required batteries, well, they were going to be disassembled. Unfortunately for me (and more so for the toys), I didn't quite have the necessary tools nor soldering skills to put the things back together. Somehow, this morphed into the habit of collecting as many things as I could to try and put different parts together… How I never electrocuted or otherwise seriously injured myself is a minor miracle.
This habit continued with varying success as I was handed down an ever increasing amount of technotoys as I got older. If anyone in the family was getting rid of stereo, an old walkman, camera, etc… it invariably came to me. I think that at some place at my parents' house I still have boxes of power adapters and assorted well… electronic junk. I didn't want to get rid of anything in case I needed a spare part for something else… alright, this is dragging out…
So fast forward a few years and now I am buying my own toys and realize that I shouldn't be taking them apart just for the hell of it… you would think that they might last a little longer with this mindset, but you would be wrong. Let's go over a couple of stats just from the past 2 ½ years conveniently broken into 4 categories for the sake of time.
8 Cell Phones
4 Digital Cameras
2 Desktops (although probably enough total parts for at least 4)
Now, I won't try and say that I baby my little gizmos. In fact I would say that I get the most out of them. With the exception of the desktop PCs and one of the laptops, you might even say that I use them aggressively. My cellphone (of the minute) and digital camera pretty much live in my pocket anytime I am out of the house. I don't have any protective cases or anything, but I would like to think that I am not just throwing them around to get a rise out of them (well, there might be one exception to that rule, but that is an entirely different story)… Quite the opposite, I use them to keep in contact and to capture those moments when you don't want to have to dig around for a camera.... I mean, that is what all the people do in the commercials, right?
Breaking it down even further:
3 of 8 cell phones stopped working for no reason. They just turned off one day and never came back from the ether. 3 of them were dropped and consequently died (one of them was dropped by a homeless person while getting off the bus to return my phone to me after I had lost it, but that's a different story). 2 of them decided that they wanted to drown their sorrows and were fried shortly thereafter. 1 of them was lost (again whole different story)
This one isn't too exciting. 3 gave up the ghost for no apparent reason one I lost at a bar. Definitely my bad on the last one, whoops.
This one pisses me off to no end. Knowing ahead of time my propensity to either break or otherwise have things fail, I go for the extended super duper warranty that basically says I can take a pee on the machines if it comes down to it and they will fix or replace them. Now this sounds great, I mean, this is what I live for (not peeing on laptops, but not having to worry about them breaking). I can do whatever I want and basically the only consequences are that I will have to send the computers in and wait for them to get fixed…. Oh… if only it were actually the case. To shorten it up a little… both laptops went in multiple times for the same problem to only be sent back out with refurbished parts that didn't hold up more than a couple of months… end result, shitty half working laptops.
Here, I have no explanation. While I know that "mean time between failures" is no guarantee that something will last nearly as long as it says on the packaging, I would expect something that "should" last 1,000,000 hours to make it more than 4 months. Yeah, that was the story of a couple of hard drives. I have also gone through 2 motherboards, 3 video cards, 2 power supplies, and a handful of other random parts that seem to want to fail for no particular reason other than they belong to me.
Alright, where am I going with this? I am not entirely sure. I don't know if I am getting karmic retribution for the "tinkering" I did when I was younger. While I can chalk up a couple of these to drunken accidents *cough* cell phone, cell phone, camera *cough*, I don't think the constant need to replace yet another $300-500 gadget all the time is ideal. So what can I do about it… I will tell you….
I am hereby offering up my services as a technological gadget endurance tester. I obviously got off to a slow start in my younger years, but I feel like I have really picked up the pace in the last few. I am confident, should you choose me to "beta test" your upcoming product, I will give it the old college try to really run it through its paces. I mean, it is to the point where some of my gadgets just give up and nuke themselves rather than have to put up with my rigorous methods. I am actually completely serious about this, especially if you are a manufacturer of cell phones, cameras, personal media players, and up to ultra portable laptops. Send me your product and I will test it for anywhere from 2-6 months (that is the most anything lasts) and let you know whether or not you have yourself a flimsy toy or solid piece of equipment built for the urban jungle. All I ask in return is that you don't hold me responsible when the thing kills itself...