Friday, June 20, 2008

when bad things happen to good ipods

Imagine my dismay ------ when I
pulled from the drawer ------- my (older, 20GB)iPod ------turned it on ----
and nothing ----- happened.

No friendly Apple icon.
No soft whirring purr.
No booting up and readying to offer up my fave tunes.
Instead, there was a blank screen.

I pushed at various areas of the controls.
I plugged it in for a re-charge.
No indication of a successful electrical connection.
Or of any connection.

I stared at the blank screen for awhile.
Then set it aside to deal with on another day. Or another week.

There are days when I simply cannot handle trouble-shooting (yet another) technic which goes into operation failure: my newish iHome task lamp appears to be kaput, Panasonic stereo shelf system has a funky skippy CD player, older boom box has developed CD play issues as well.

It baffles, troubles and frustrates me to pay 'good money' on electronic gizmos that soon malfunction, even with gentle use.
Like most folks, I'm willing to make an investment and feel assured that my handy dandy new communication-entertainment devices will be utilized for a good long time.

Apparently my expectations are too high.
I find that the fancy new gizmos soon stop working and/or break and/or OMG - all too soon - become OUTDATED.
Rarely is a break an easy fix; and replacing the not-so-old with the so-much-newer can empty the coffers pretty darn quick.

So I stubbornly hold on to the semi-working, busted or outmoded devices until until until...well, too long.

Why aren't they sturdier? Why aren't they better designed? Why don't they LAST?

Then it dawned on me: the techno delights we use for work and this day and age....largely....disposables.
As in Use and Discard.
When it's time for a new one, you're SUPPOSED to dump the old. Then run out with another wad o' cash in hand and immediately replace the dang thing.
In a high-consumer society, to do so is to maintain the status quo.
We do our part in keep the land-fills filled, eh?

I am admittedly 'old school' in my thinking that high priced purchase items like televisions, stereo systems, appliances and the like should be purchased and happily used without incident for at least a decade, if not two. I mean, didn't it used to be that way?
[Read: the good ol' days...]

But today?

'They don't make 'em like they used to' is an understatement.
You can't just replace a burnt out tube or do a bit of DIY soldering of loose wire connections.

Consider my old 6-transistor radio (circa 1960's). As a pre-teen, I had one that lasted many years longer than most of today's Mp3 devices. My cheapy old hand held portable radio took a lot of abuse in usage, and all it ever needed to keep going was a new 9-volt battery now and then...

Because manufacturers want 'in' on sales when the market is hot for a product, electronic doodads are often sold before operational kinks are sorted out.
Quality control? Pssssseeeesh!

We end up buying stuff that isn't up to snuff (perhaps the standards have actually lowered?). Flimsy inner workings and chintzy outer housing seem part and parcel of construction. Consumer reviews reveal this sad truth.
Don't blame it solely on China. Pride in crafting sound products does exist there. Or did. Factor in: greed and bottom line profit margin of both parent company as well as of the manufacturers.
Hello capitalism - alive and well.

Cost to build is low, but prices to consumers remains high.
Isn't it true that we've all got the disposable income? A couple hundred or a few thousand or a few thousand more to toss in the garbage now and again.

Advertising (and peer pressure?) entices us to buy more stuff. We get on that happy consumer high, and our newest acquisitions operate satisfactorily and keep us smiling for a little while before it becomes necessary to buy again. The same thing: albeit new, improved, and in cooler colors. Perhaps with a few more bells and whistles. For a few more buck$.

What's wrong with this picture?
(Oh I almost forgot. It's blank.)

P.S. After doing a bit of online research of 'blank screen on iPod' - aforementioned iPod is currently back in operation. That is to this writing, the battery.... is.... charging. However, that does not necessarily mean that it will play even after fully-charged...the screen may very well go blank again... ah tiny step at a time. No big whoop, nevertheless I'm thrilled. Best to keep my expectations low...


Conn said...

well.. you know mercury was in retrograde until this past thursday. that always seems to make the electronics screwy. but it's most likely not the reason it busted.
john and i were just talking today about the fact we spent $400 in a digital camera , what 5 years ago? and the fact that it went kaput last year... in fact in the past 8 years we have been through 3 digital cameras and i still have my Fujica-STX1 from what... 1982 that still works brilliantly and takes stunning pics... granted it is a 3mm and then you have all that film processing to pay for. and don't even get me started with the cheap ass piece of crap ipods that you have to sell your right and left you know what for.... why are they in the hundreds of dollars? ok ok ok ... don't get me started.

justducky said...

I only dropped my cell phone 5 or 6 times...on the concrete sidewalk, asphalt driveway, kitchen floor, dogs' water bowl, rain filled curb before it died.

Peeking inside, the ATT cell guy asks, "did you drop it in water? Cuz this little dot turns red if it gets wet."

Oh, yeah. Phooey.

New phone has so too many options.
I just want to get my one message a week & why can't I get my old knock, knock ringtone back?

The digital camera only seems to work on the "auto" heart icon, at least for me.

Even my savy tech husband guy is getting jittery.

k said...

sure seems like electronics are built knowing they will be quickly outdated. in other words, the technology will progress so fast, why build a sturdy _____ (fill in the blank), when a new, faster, sleeker, more memory, lighter, prettier model will be released the day after you've bought your _____ (fill in the blank)?!?!? i definitely have a love/hate relationship with technology! mostly, it just drives me crazy...

baffle said...

Conn - I know what you mean about the oldie cameras that last and last. I bought a (previously used) 35 mm Pentax SLR from my bro in 1971 - it STILL works - no problemo - save for the fact that it drains the little battery like nobody's business.

Joelle - you and I may be 'old school' when it comes to these technics - but I don't think it's ever recommended for them to dropped into water! ;-)

k - I do believe I can 'fill in the blank' with each of my current high-tech items, and your statement would ring true true and more true.
I haven't yet succumbed to a flat screen HDTV plasma (or whatever) TV - am dreading making the necessary decisions on that dreading forking out the big buck$$$ too.