After Hours optimize

10 obsolete technologies that are still useful

Before you retire that camcorder and cancel your landline service, see why Brien Posey thinks some vintage tech is worth hanging onto.

Earlier this year, I read a blog post that bothered me a little bit. It was basically a list of technologies that no self-respecting geek should ever be caught dead with because those technologies are so last week. I won't name the author or link to the post because I have a lot of respect for the person who wrote it and I don't want to trash the article. Even so, I thought that it might be fun to write a rebuttal of sorts. My goal in doing so is to talk about products and technologies that could be considered obsolete in some ways, but for which there are still legitimate uses.

1: Wristwatches

The argument against wristwatches is that everybody has a cellphone, and every cellphone has a clock, so there is no need for a wristwatch. While I agree with this idea in some ways, there is also the convenience factor to consider. It can be a pain to have to take a cellphone out of its holster every time that you want to see what time it is. It's so much easier to just glance at your wrist.

2: Dedicated GPS

Another technology that some have called obsolete is the dedicated GPS device. The idea is that most smartphones have built-in GPS functionality (although some are better than others), so you really don't need a dedicated GPS.

Personally, I like having a dedicated GPS for two reasons. First, an in-dash GPS or even a portable GPS is easier to use than a smartphone when you are driving. Have you ever tried to balance a smartphone on the dash? Besides, what happens if you get a call when your turn is coming up?

The other reason why I like using a dedicated GPS is that the manufacturers tend to publish updates to the maps. As much as I like my smartphone, my cell provider has never once provided me with updated maps.

3: Digital cameras

A few months ago, I saw an article predicting the demise of the digital camera, citing the idea that virtually every cellphone has a camera built in and that there is no need to purchase a digital camera when you already have one with you all the time.

The five-megapixel digital camera that's built into my Windows phone will work in a pinch, but for pictures that matter, I really prefer my Nikon. The picture quality is far better -- and let's not forget about the all-important optical zoom. The fact is, a good quality digital camera can do things a cellphone camera simply can't.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Jarp

4: Camcorders

For the most part, I agree with the idea that camcorders are obsolete. Most smartphones can double as camcorders, and most of the newer digital cameras can also shoot HD video. But I still use a dedicated camcorder in situations in which I don't want to put my smartphone or my digital camera at risk.

I have an HD camcorder that is specifically designed for extreme sports. I take this camera scuba diving and occasionally mount it on my Cigarette boat to capture some high-speed action. I have even mounted the camera on the belly of an RC helicopter and flown across the lake with it. Any of these situations could potentially destroy a normal camera, so I would rather use a dedicated special-purpose camcorder to capture the action than to put my smartphone or my "good camera" at risk.

5: Local storage

I have recently been hearing people say that you should store all your files in the cloud rather than on premise. That way, they are accessible from anywhere and the cloud provider keeps the files backed up.

These are very compelling reasons for using cloud storage, and I do replicate my data to the cloud. Even so, I like having a copy of my data on local storage. I live in the sticks, and my Internet connection drops practically every time the wind blows. Without an Internet connection, cloud storage is inaccessible. Therefore, I like to have a local copy of my data just so that I can get to it when I need it.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/skodonnell

6: Laptop computers

Ever since the Consumer Electronics Show in January, countless articles have stated that laptop computers are a thing of the past because they (and possibly desktops) are being replaced by tablets. Tablets are great, and there is no denying that they can do some amazing things. The problem (at least for me) is that there is at least one thing that tablets are really bad for -- word processing. As someone who makes a living writing books, articles, and whitepapers, I simply can't imagine having to give up a hardware keyboard for an onscreen keyboard. I have tried composing short pieces using an onscreen keyboard and my productivity went way down. There is just something about having the tactile feel of pressing physical keys.

7: Portable media players

Portable media players could also be considered obsolete. After all, My Windows Phone 7 device has a built-in Zune, so what do I need my Zune HD for?

Actually, there are a few advantages to having a dedicated media player. One advantage is capacity. My Zune HD can hold 64 GB of media files, but my phone has only a 16 GB capacity. Another advantage to the Zune HD is that the media dock allows it to be connected to a TV (which is great when you are staying in a hotel). Windows Phone 7 devices do not have this capability (although some of the other smartphones do).

Perhaps the most compelling reason for using a dedicated media player is battery consumption. Last week, for example, I had to travel to Redmond. Since I live on the east coast, it takes the better part of the day to get to Redmond. I watched three movies while flying and waiting in airports. When I finally got where I was going, my Zune was just about dead. Had I watched those movies on my phone, the dead battery would have prevented me from calling my wife or checking my email upon my arrival.

8: Blu-ray discs

For many people, Blu-ray discs could justifiably be considered obsolete. Why mess with physical media when you can just stream movies from Netflix?

In my case, though, I like having movies on Blu-ray. As I mentioned earlier, my Internet connection is less than reliable. There is nothing more frustrating than being halfway through a movie and not being able to finish it because the Internet connection either dropped or slowed to a crawl.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ermingut

9: Non-smartphones

Smartphones are great, so why in the world would anyone want a basic cellphone without any of the smartphone capabilities? Well, even though I personally wouldn't have a use for such a phone (and I'm guessing that you wouldn't, either), I am glad that such phones are still available.

I have elderly family members who would never be able to figure out how to use a smartphone, but who have no trouble using a regular cellphone. Knowing that those members of my family have a phone they know how to use in the event of an emergency helps me sleep at night.

10: Landlines

For most people in the U.S., landlines probably are obsolete. After all, most people have a cellphone, and now that plans with unlimited minutes are available, what's the point of having a landline?

In some cases, however, landlines are still necessary. Where I live, I can't even get a cell signal most of the time. Even in more heavily populated areas, there are some places, such as basement apartments, where it's difficult to get a cell signal.

More on obsolete tech

Yes or no?

Do you agree that these items are still useful in some way or is it time to retire them in favor of newer technologies? Are there other items you would you add to this list?

About

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP. He has written thousands of articles and written or contributed to dozens of books on a variety of IT subjects.

272 comments
HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

Are we now clairvoyant and able to see into the future? Local storage is still quite needed. Especially for graphic design; using compressed JPGs lower gamut, add in visual artifacting, and other quality issues. There are many other industries, especially those that put privacy as a definition of "value", that will not trust cloud providers and what might be very lazy practices on their part... especially if a provider goes down, data retrieval will be very interesting if nobody has local storage to copy it onto... *sigh* More clickbait articles...

lap
lap

Look everyone make the move to high tech, use a mechanical pencil and replaceable lead.

myangeldust
myangeldust

Srsly? A top 10 list! Don't the major search engines have bots that create articles like yours? Aside from the hipsters in the lower Manhattan area I don't know who else is questioning these items or making the "smart"phone the electro-king. The mobile is a "Jack of all trades, master..." finish this sentence in your head. The Cloud with its monthly charge can never replace a heavy-duty external HDD. Only folks with cigarette boats can afford that waste. As for blu-ray you're on your own. I'll jump from DVDs to flash or mini-DVDs or whatever. BD -now- is overrated when you consider upscaling hardware can do a decent job of improving the pic with fewer Gb of video.

nikthiemann
nikthiemann

I like tech gadgets, since I have read this but I have an antique a la carte charge once a year phone=100$/yr for my utility "in case of emergency" phone. I do not text while driving or walking the hood to see if my friends are on somewhere. I already have a 2 cent land line for international calls. I know where I live and get road maps to where I am going. There are a lots of app for: airport delays, traffic, where's the best bagel or dog. I go buy my nose; it's a lot more fun. Of course if you can pay the premium price for the best phone there is=it does not matter. Smarpone are very handy but in the end not approchable to all.

mbmusgrove
mbmusgrove

This is a nice list of the exceptions to the major trends. That doesn't mean they won't soon be irrelevant in their intended capacities.

alvalongo
alvalongo

Maybe obsolete in U.S.A.! But Not in other countries where technology is expensive and people use "old" devices more time than people in USA. [Tal vez obsoleto en E.U.A., pero en otros pa??ses donde es costosa la tecnolog??a la gente usa los apartaots m??s tiempo que la gente en USA)

raineyb
raineyb

Landlines, as long as they remain available, are the best possible way to summon help in an emergency. In most locations, E911 is available. What that means is that a database of your specific information is maintained there, inlcuding a history of previous calls, where children may be located and other information pertinent to emergency first responders. And, that 911 call will always arrive at the appropriate dispatch center saving valuable time. Some dispatch agencies are able to locate a cell phone caller but not all. Those that cannot must triangulate the phone making the call which create response delay. Then, often the location does not give as precise a location as needed for the responders. Often, when you dial 911 as you travel and you are in an overlap area between response boundaries, your call will arrive at the wrong dispatch center requiing you to be transferred to the adjacent center which may not be able to answer quickly and seconds may count. Finally, in a large scale emergency, cell phones are likely the first means of communication to disappear. They also depend greatly on commercial power and batteries to stay afloat. But, try picking up a lanline when the regional powere is out and cell phone towers are hit and miss. You will most likely get dial tone and be able to call anywhere your service allows you to call, even cell phones out of the affected area. Bare basic landline service is now pretty inexpensive for adding another level of insurance when you really need it.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

Our neighbor has only a cell phone. When she mislaid it, she had to come to us for help since we have a land line. Enough said. As for laptops, my grandson has just started college where he will major in biomedical engineering. He insisted on a laptop rather than a tablet because only the laptop facilitates the kind of calculations needed for his work. For desktops and laptoms, what we are seeing is a return to the 1980s when these devices were primarily used as word processors and calculations. Back then, a colleague of mine insisted on calling all computers "word processors" . For communicating information, mobile media, and reading books and magazines, the computer is undoubtely obsolete. But the computer is still a superior word processor and number cruncher. As for media, the home theater is centered around a computer. The computer is handier for large-scale data storage and reference. Finally, the computer is in most instances a one-time expense; no monthly charges or service fees. It will continue to be an indispensable appliance for both home and business.

tony
tony

I have the same problem with cellphone signals, so I have a picocell (Vodafone UK now call this suresignal) which provides me a local signal using my broadband. This is so much easier than trying to get the smartphone to use wifi. The problem with multifunction devices is that they do lots of things, but rarely do any one of them as well as a dedicated device.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Two-stage tube amplifiers produced the guitar sound that initially allowed rock & roll to become its own beast (and, of course, go on to destroy Western Civilization, just like they warned us). When you crank the volume on the pre-amp (low voltage) stage, the signal soaks the mains (the power tubes---'valves' to you Brits), and produces a sine-wave harmonic distortion of the input signal (typically a guitar), rich in overtones and sustain. The volume on the mains sets the actual volume, but the preamp volume ('gain') dials in the 'growl' that is R&R's voice. Before there was tube-amp distortion (part of the charm of which is to sound loud at ANY volume) our moms were not saying, "Turn that sh*t down before I come up there!". In pop music, R&R had been as innocuous as the doo-wop, 'beach music', crooners, and girl-groups with which it shared mid 50's jukeboxes, but not any more. Tube amp distortion's discovery/initial use seems to be blues guys in bars with the small, 'primitive' amps of the day: turned up all the way (in hopes of not being drowned out by the drums), the distortion had the effects of both making two notes (an 'interval') sound like an orchestral chord due to all the audible overtones, and of allowing plucked notes to sustain indefinitely (formerly the province of bowed instruments or circular breathers). This latter effect, tube amp sustain, gave guitar players 'long notes'; up until then guitars, like mandolins and banjos, only produced notes that petered out pretty quickly (think of Django, Segovia, flamenco guys....). Guitars in a lot of postwar Chicago blues bands, as a result, quickly replaced saxophones as the melody instrument. The 'overtone polyphony', meanwhile, let 3-note guitar chords substitute for the horns/rhythm section. Because of what overdriven tube amps did to guitars, 'rockin' teenage combo' 2.0 (guitar/guitar/bass/drums) was born, a lot of horn players had to go get a job, and 'fuzz-tone' (transistor distortion unit on the front end) was on the horizon. When amp manufacturers moved in near-lockstep to FET (solid state) amps in the 70s, they pitched their new 'improved tech' as sounding 'more like a classic tube amp than our competitors' models'. At issue was that solid state distortion has a 'square wave' signature and character that is less a musical growl than an industrial grind.This is the result of its emphasizing the even-ordered (as opposed to tube amps' odd-ordered) harmonics. During this time, it became harder and harder to find replacement tubes in the US when tubes burned or became microphonic(!), since everything else from TV/radio to defense avionics had gone to PC boards as well. When I finally tracked down 6L6 and 12AX7s for my old Super Reverb, they read: Made in Czechoslovokia. Before the recent renaissance of matched tube sets and 'boutique tube amps', the Iron Curtain countries (who'd found out what EMP in the tactical and strategic theater does to solid state devices) were the world leader and supplier of vacuum tubes.... Linear, solid state amps with minimal THD will always be the best PA/sound reinforcment amps, but for instruments, tube amps are clean and glassy up to about 7, and between 7 and 10 the dragon starts singing. That's still as useful as ever!

guywayne
guywayne

All these things that smartphones could replace! But the phones need replaced every couple of years, while those other things don't. Plus, when your whole life is on your phone, and you drop it in the sink, what then?

cd003284
cd003284

There's an enormous difference between technological obsolescence and functional obsolescence, but rarely does anyone on Tech Republic even mention this, even though our recession/depression has made the distinction more important than ever. On Tech Republic, one would think that everyone everywhere is a compulsive early-adopter with unlimited discretionary funds. Denial, selective perception, and rationalization aren't arguments for or against anything.

LeMike
LeMike

Hi Brien, These are my comments on your choices: 1. Wristwatches - haven't worn one for ten years. I always keep a clock onscreen somewhere 2. GPS - never used one! Maps are lots more interesting and GPS are for boring people! 3. Digital Cameras - Take my Canon T2i and you'll suffer a fate worse then death! Mind you, even with 18 MPx it doesn't get the resolution of film! 4. Camcorder - you should record direct from the video feed - it's better quality! 5. Local Storage - always available = always better 6. Laptop Computer - I program databases: when will I be able to handle 60 million row tables on a tablet? 7. Portable Media Player - never really saw the attraction of one since the original Walkman, and they don't make those any more. They're not big enough for my music collection (unless Apple has come out with a 160 GB one), and are a great way of introducing a single-point-of-failure (i.e. a way to lose all your music in one go!) 8. Blu-Ray Disc - becoming essential for email backups! 9. Non-SmartPhones - Motorola's RAZR is the best phone - text is for emails 10. Landlines - are for electrical supply!

kherzog
kherzog

We have a landline at the house because the kids are old enough to stay alone for short periods of time (being 13 and 14), but still don't always remember where their phone is nor do they always keep it charged. Until that time, a landline is a great backup.

christine.lawrie
christine.lawrie

The other great thing about landlines is you can't leave them in your office or bag where they can't be heard. I was desperately trying to contact someone at home on the weekend who only has a mobile (cell phone). He'd left it in his bag and didn't hear it. With my landline, even if I've buried the cordless handset somewhere, the base plate still rings so I know someone is trying to contact me. The other problem with mobiles is when you get hit with heavy storms. A few years ago, the city where I live got hit with a massive storm that took out power to 3/4 of the city and also knocked out over half the mobile towers. Those who used mobiles for communication were helpless. Those of us who still had the old wall mounted landlines (ie no power required) were still able to communicate.

parksdevcorp
parksdevcorp

And another fact is that older people using HeartLine have to have a physical landline. They currently don't support cell phones.

snypez
snypez

While I don't disagree with the author that tablets will not replace desktops/laptops I do disagree with the reasoning behind this for one reason. Most tablets have bluetooth and can utilize a bluetooth keyboard, which when coupled with something like google docs and a stand makes for a pretty decent word processing platform. I think its the traditionally more resource intensive tasks (video rendering, image editing, music production, etc) which will cement the need for desktop and laptop form factors.

VampireRat
VampireRat

Not everyone wants or needs one, but a security alarm requires a POTS land line for all of the stability reasons that have already been noted for land lines. They're not just for break-in alarms, but for fire and they usually have a button to call for an ambulance, as well.

royjohns
royjohns

The fact is I don't have a CD / DVD player in my home other than the DVD drive on my PC. I make do with a media player and a USB HDD.

Tom.Graves
Tom.Graves

This article is way too premature. Any device that is mentioned to replace the ones above are still not reliable enough to not have an alternative. For instance streaming video off Netflix has always been such a pain and frustrating that I went with only DVD service when they tried to make everyone do their streaming. I still have an old non-smart phone because I don't like the tiny screen of a smart phone and trying to type with my medium size fingers wastes half my time as the wrong key seems to get pressed so often.

Lionfan1991
Lionfan1991

Some comments... #1. I can't bring my smartphone into my secure office, but I can wear my watch. #5. We operate on internal (classified) non-cloud connected networks, so "local" storage is the only way to go. #8. I can't stream video in my van to keep my kids occupied on trips. #10. Landlines, with an old non-powered phone, work when the power is out for a long time, like after a hurricane rolls thru your area.

AppSupSpec
AppSupSpec

Other reasons for: Non-smartphone - Some companies what to give their on-call employees company phones, but not add an extra $30+ for data for each account. They rather give their employees non-smartphones. Landlines - The only reason why homes have landlines is if they have a house alarm. Tose OLD things still use landlines to contact the alarm company. More alarm companies do offer a digital/cellular way to connect to them, but that hads more charges to your (monthly) bill.

essigs
essigs

STICK WITH THE OLD When it is necessary or safer. In the quest for new tecnology some forget the convenience of the old. The fact that the newer won't do several things at once is reason enough for me. It is preference vs. convenience or practicality vs distraction. ((ie) while driving......

WanderMouse
WanderMouse

Part of the problem I see with putting everything on or through the Internet is that, if you lose your connection, or the Internet crashes, you lose EVERYTHING! I prefer having my data on my laptop for access everywhere and anytime, and not having to trust an insecure and/or tenuous Internet connection. A tablet doesn't cut it when most of your work is with Quicken, spreadsheets, and word processor functions. Cloud may be a backup alternative to an external HD, especially if you're on the road a lot. However. I still prefer an external HD backup. If I get a HD crash on the road or at home, I can get an new HD overnighted to me in 1 day, and reloading OS, apps, and data is far faster from the EHD than over the Internet. I carry a "dumb" cell phone because it's SMALL! I can put it in my pants pocket and it doesn't cause a problem bulge, nor do I need to wear a belt holster. If I get more involved in stock and options trading, I may want a smartphone, then, for the market-tracking apps and the larger screen, with screen size increase for readability and functionality then of greater worth than compact size. Small is also good for me in that I dont text, Facebook, etc. I give out my cell number only to family, close friends, and business contacts that would need to get in touch with me quickly. When I'm off work, I don't want people horning in to my leisure activities. It may be a generational thing- freedom from work and unwanted phone calls is my big thing, whereas millenials can't seem to stand being out of contact at any time. My outlook can be illustrated in that, even before cell phones, I've always hated it when I was with a clerk in a store or with a business contact, the person I was working with got a phone call, and they ignored me for the person not physically there, instead of telling the phone caller that they were busy and would call back in a few minutes. I also maintain a landline for three reasons. First, it's easier to hold for long calls, signal doesn't weaken or drop as I go to certain areas within the home, and I have an unlimited call plan 24/7, not just after 7 PM and on weekends. Second, I can't send or receive faxes on a cell phone. Third, in hurricane-prone FL, the signal remains long after cell phones drop out. For me, without a smartphone, a separate GPS is a necessity, if I want GPS. If I had a smartphone, I might go to its GPS for travel, as I travel less now than before I was retired, as it's one less gadget to pay for and carry. When I WAS traveling for work, however, the GPS fit easily into my rolling computer/electronics case, was easy to set up & use in a rental car, and allowed me to use my cell phone without breaking my GPS input. 50/50 on this one. I also like having my favorite movies on DVD or Blu-Ray. I can watch them where I want to, when I want to. One reason my laptop will have a DVD (now) or Blu-Ray (next one) player, even if it makes the laptop a bit thicker and a few ounces heavier. When I want a camera for a special event, I prefer the picture quality, ease of use, and functionality of a dedicated instrument. Cell phone cameras are good for the unexpected things that come up when you don't carry your camera- documenting an auto accident would be a biggie- so I'm glad I have one, but I wouldn't want to use it exclusively. I'm not nearly as big on music as I was when I was in my youth & middle years. I don't even listen much to my old favorites on CD. We rarely listen except to Christmas music at Christmas time, preferring to listen to news programs, so portable media players are a non-issue for me. If I want music, I can switch from news or financial channels to satellite radio on my car or on rentals. And that should pretty well address the content of the original post, from my viewpoint. Others will obviously have different needs.

grifs71
grifs71

The future will be Virtual apps running on cloud based services and/or in house app services. Plus the fact, VMware Hypervisor server OS can fit on a ssd drive and it is less than 100M. I find it amusing that people think they need Exchange that requires a hardware firewall, plus anti-virus, plus $$$ in licenses when you can do everything with a Linux based solution with the same functionality and achieve 99.9999% uptime. Anyways, the future is tech will require fewer skilled individuals with all of the automation, v-apps and so on. With cost driving IT now, utilizing more software without HUGE MS price tags is going to become the norm.

bigjude
bigjude

1. Wrist watches. Haven't worn one for years. I think I use the sun. Watches will probably stay for ever as a fashion accessory just as I often wear a gold half hunter on a chain around my neck. 2.Dedicated GPS. One of the greatest inventions ever for anyone who goes off the beaten track or takes to the sea. Also, on the road it talks to me which is much,much better than having Google Maps on a mobile. I LOVE IT.. 3. Digital cameras. Of course they're not obsolete, particularly if you want high quality reproduction for magazine use. As for the differences in effect between film and digital photography, there isn't one that you can get with film that I can't do better with Photoshop, so film cameras are already obsolete except for enthuisiasts. 4. Camcorders. Personally I like havingdedicated still and movie cameras and go for quality so .no, they're far from obsolete. 5.Local storage. Is anyone really silly enough to trust everything to the cloud? A few terrorists with neutron bombs could knock out civilisation. Sensible people use both. 6.Laptop computers. For nearly 10 years I've used a laptop for everything including using Adobe Creative Suite to produce high quality magazines. I use it lying on my back in bed, on airplanes, while camping in the bush and also in the office. Anything that other people do on a desktop, I do on a laptop. There's no way I could do this work on a tablet. I did buy one but have found that it's really just a toy for people who don't do serious work. I do use a Kindle though for nearly all my reading and am beginning to value my huge print library for its novelty rather than its use to future generations. 7.Portable media players and (8) Blueray discs. Not my thing and I don't really know. 9. Non-smart phones. Years of use left for those who want simple communication and low price which includes every one of the millions hit by the present depression. 10. Landlines. For those of us who live and work in the sticks, particularly amongst hills, landlines will remain until a really low cost satellite service becomes available ... which won't be soon in the southern hemisphere. I need to drive five kilometers to get a mobile signal of any sort. Australia does better than most, offering a government satellite subsidy to those who can't get landline based broadband but in NZ the cheapest acceptable satellite broadband/VOIP package is twice the cost of a landline service offering four times the data. I doubt that South America does any better. CONCLUSION: There's more to life than having the latest gadget and smartphones are better to talk about than they are to work on.

ananthap
ananthap

Wristwatch. Agreed. Particularly when you are driving a two wheeler as I do sometimes. Also "hands free" is downright dangerous when you are driving. Digital cameras. Agreed. Particularly I can carry spare juice (batteries) with me. Laptop computers. Preferred since I develop programs. Feature phones (why do you call it "non smart phones" when they were were pretty smart for their time). I have this old aunt .. OK

miescher
miescher

for me the most compelling reason to hold on to my digital camera (albeit it has fewer pixels than my phone): I can use it in plain sunlight and still see where I am pointing at. john m.

BasBak
BasBak

Referring to the 10th point of discussion here, the one related to landlines: what if someone has to take a long phone call - let's say about 15 minutes? Landlines do not have microwave emissions, but cellphones do. Microwaves are harmful to man's health. Researchers recommend that a cellular call is no longer than a minute or two, maximum, otherwise, the proximity of cell phones near our heads damages the brains.

ete94
ete94

You may also speak about books, sheets of paper, pencil, eraser... They remains the most efficient tools for storing information on a safe and always available media: just try to read a 5"1/4 now... and compare with the first book... Complementarity is the keyword.

steve
steve

I still have my notepad in my top pocket, its made from paper. An I still take my script to the chemist to get my tablets.

plandok
plandok

In the 1970s, my survival gear included a telephone in a suitcase which could be plugged into the lighter socket of a car and an aerial on the roof. The "phone" was actually a two-way radio which connected you to a mobile operator who then connected you through the switchboard to the required POTS number. But it was nice to know the operator was there if you got stuck in the wilderness on an oil exploration road or highway in Northern Alberta. Later, I was given a beeper 'cause I wasn't of high enough rank for a cellphone (only the boss who never travelled had one). When the beeper went off I had to find a payphone and call the number sent to me. So, where do you find a payphone when you are far away from the nearest town? Or the line is busy when you do call. Ironically, the beeper service was more expensive than a cellphone. Two more obsolete technologies and good riddance.

plandok
plandok

The first man-in-space NASA launch program was "programmed" using tasks written or typed on file cards pinned up on moveable bulletin boards. The electronics was saved for the on-board 16 kb attitude "computer". The astronauts actually "flew" their own bird and the "computer" was used only for backkup information. Glad we don't have to do that today. Floor space is very expensive. Another obsolete technology.

plandok
plandok

Fun but totally limited by today's standards. Good for games played on ASCII montiors. And the best use of the Adam was flashing a bunch of Christmas lights.

plandok
plandok

Bills used to come with a punchcard which you returned with your payment, usually a cheque. No folding or spindling allowed. I'll take bar or scan-codes anyday. And punching and repunching your own cards in COBOL or Fortran was a formidable task. And sometimes you had to do 52 pickup when the card-reader had a snit and sent them flying all over the place. Or you dropped the box. Unreadable paper tapes which tore when the operator fed them through the readers. I know this is not really "home" stuff but it sure was office stuff. Two more obsolete technologies.

Suresh Mukhi
Suresh Mukhi

You go "buy" your nose? How much did you "buy" it for? ;)

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

...our pencils, wristwatches, analog tone processors, dino-phones, et al will never be 'irrelevant in their intended capacities'. Did incandescent lamps render candles, oil lanterns, or deck prisms 'irrelevant'? Of course not; few of us are immune to power outages. By the same token, if firearms made military cutlery 'irrelevant' (not on the list above [yet]), explain the invention of the 'bayonet'....Did the cordless drill make the screwdriver irrelevant? If you think about it a bit, most of these listed items are not 'exceptions to the major trends', but how things were done before 'electricity came to Arkansas' (and how we still do things when---not if---the power goes out or we run out of bullets). Most people who are shipwrecked, lost in the woods, or survive a remote plane crash (any of those possibilities going away soon?) will likely find that making a spear, sling, or bow of some kind is quite relevant at the time. I leave you with this: escalators (which CAN still be manually traversed in a power failure) haven't made stairs 'irrelevant in their intended capacities'. P.S. I made both a catapult and a cannon once for a school science fair (your thesis suggests that the latter must've made the former irrelevant); I tactically preferred my 'rendered-irrelevant' catapult as a mobile, silencer-equipped cannon. ;)

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

in Europe and Japan, where radio regulation is less obtrusive, and rates are limited by governments.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Place the phone inside a plastic bag with the foam. Wait a week. If it doesn't work then, go ahead and throw it away without replacing it. Your intervention is complete, you have already quit, cold turkey!

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

has the added security of always being connected. If the line is cut, the monitoring agency knows immediately. It's often treated as an actual alarm condition.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I've captured a couple of nice cameraphone images, but far prefer my dSLR for serious shooting.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

For one thing, the designation "microwave" is a matter of terminology. If you look it up, you'll find the general designation to be those radio frequencies between 300 mHz to 3 gHz. This covers much of the two-way radio spectrum, all of the television channels (analogue) as well as some radar systems, radio relay links, satellite up/downlinks, and many other systems. These all used hundreds, even thousands of times higher power levels. Wifi systems use these frequencies, too, and are on pretty much continuously, although at power levels considerably less than the typical cellphone. With this much incidental exposure to UHF/SHF radiation, why would cellphone use be that much worse?

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

...used to think a 5-1/4 disk was a "floppy disk" and a 3-1/2 was a "hard disk".

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

It had a row of crystal oscillators that took up as much space as some complete mobile radios of the time. It was mounted in the trunk with a cable the size of your thumb going to the control head mounted under the dash with a rotary dial and a full-sized handset. it drew about 20 amps in transmit. Calls went through the "mobile operator". Oh, yeah - it was simplex.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

The 14" multidisk systems that shook a room when they spin up, And if they slowed down much you could guarantee a majorly expensive head crash...Heads and media destroyed. All too common before UPS's came into service.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

and the inverse-square law. The hemisphere on the side you hold a cell-phone looks like a black-light poster in CT scan when you use it. That can't be good....

JamesRL
JamesRL

You know those systems had feet that you could adjust so that they didn't shake. Just like a washing machine. I know because I learned to do backups because of some catastrophic failures, and we adjusted one of those drives to not vibrate like a washer on the spin cycle. Of course that was a long time ago.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

A highway Patrol officer came down with testicular cancer. Unfunny. He sued the agency he worked for, claiming his radar gun had caused it. Seems he had a habit of keeping the thing (a Kustom K-200) in his lap, powered on, and pointing directly at the affected area. After years of doing this, he began to have, well, "trouble". This was the first I had heard of any low-power microwave causing cancer. Of course, consider the exposure time here. I don't know what happened with his lawsuit, but I hear that Kustom Electronics was made a correspondent.