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Technology Science

Ten Technologies That Refuse to Die 1381

Posted by timothy
from the toilets-shouldn't-have-visible-electrical-wires dept.
kudyadi writes "Technology Review has an interesting article on, as the title suggests, ten technologies that we continue using despite advances made in the same. The best example is that of analog watches, "Compared to today's digital timepieces, old-fashioned, sweep-hand watches are pathetic one-trick ponies. Digital-watch wearers can check temperature, altitude, and the time in Tokyo, play tunes and games, and send messages. Can wristwatch videoconferencing, Web surfing, and tarot readings be far off? But what digital watches can't do, according to sweep-hand proponents, is display the time and context as elegantly and intuitively as an analog model."" Interesting counterpoint to this post from a few years back about technologies that didn't manage to hang on. And Bruce Sterling has a short list of ones he'd like to see go away, too ;)
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Ten Technologies That Refuse to Die

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182961)
    An outdated piece of crap, yet this technology refuses to die!
  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182964) Journal
    *BSD
  • by flewp (458359) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:16PM (#8183002)
    Cars with wheels.

    Buildings that need ground to support them.

    So, where are the flying cars and cities on clouds damnit?!
  • by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:17PM (#8183005)
    SMTP and identd
  • quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by trickycamel (696375) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:17PM (#8183009)
    My favorite quote from the article:

    "And you needn't worry about your system going obsolete if it already is."

    How true...
  • foxpro (Score:3, Funny)

    by inf0c0m (83209) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183019) Homepage
    the company i work for uses foxpro. might as well be writing code in sanskrit
  • by FunkSoulBrother (140893) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183020)
    And when was the last time YOU saw a pimp who dressed like a straight man?
  • One word (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kizzle (555439) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183021)
    Clippy
  • by Mateito (746185) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183024) Homepage

    "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

    Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

    This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

    And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches."

  • by commodoresloat (172735) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#8183030)
    Analog watches will stay around for exactly the reason mentioned -- they are elegant and intuitive. Sure digital watches can do a lot more, but nobody cares because they look like ass. Wearing a digital watch with teleconferencing and web browsing is one of the surest ways to not get laid that I've heard of in a long time.
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#8183063) Journal
    Bidets are a 19th century innovation, and here we are (in America at least) cleaning our nether regions with paper. How barbaric!
  • Re:Snob (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#8183090)
    [Insert inevitable slashdot thread about diamonds, africa, DeBeers and Blood Money here]
  • Re:quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by swordboy (472941) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:26PM (#8183139) Journal
    Yeah... here's an example:

    I'm required to carry my pager for work. I get pages maybe between once and three times a year. I've offered to give up the pager and take calls on my personal cell phone because of this. The pager is freaking old so it eats one AA battery per month. Because I got sick of throwing batteries away (*), I just decided to change the message on my pager.

    If you would like to page me, please call me on my cell phone and let me know so that I can install a new battery in my pager. Thank you.

    (*) I tried to create a battery recycling deal at work but people kept taking the box, thinking that these were good batteries (apparently, people don't know what "recycling" means). I'll probably try again with a better, more idiot-proof wording.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:30PM (#8183207)
    "Of course, I can't surf slashdot from a typewriter."

    So you're saying it makes you more productive as well.

  • by theMerovingian (722983) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:34PM (#8183268) Journal

    Bidets? How old school is that? A real technophile uses the three seashells! [amazon.com]

  • by nicky_d (92174) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#8183351) Homepage
    Ha, yeah. I work in a library, and I used to add and replace the spine labels on books. This was done on a large, heavy Olympia typewriter that I came to name 'Oily Pam' (through anagramese). Time came when we invested in a computerised labeller, though we kept Oily Pam on hand for clothbound books, which the computer-created labels weren't great for. Every time a labeller tape ran out, the last few inches of the reel had a striped silver warning design that was still adhesive, and I gradually covered Pam in this half-mirror pattern. But eventually she fell by the wayside entirely, and one day I had to intervene to stop her being thrown in the garbage; now she lives under my desk and my God, I've just noticed this whole story is sounding pretty perverse.

    Anyway, the computer-created labels look dreadfully sterile compared to Pam's output, and I found creating them to be a pretty joyless task - tap tap, click, print, as opposed to the handle-cranking, knob-turning, bell-ringing joy of using Pam. Good lord, that's almost obscene, isn't it? I think I might have a problem here.
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#8183360) Journal
    Why do linux zealots interpret everything as an anal sex machine?

    "Hey Leroy whats that you got?"

    "An iPod!"

    "What do ya do with it?"

    "I can fuck myself in the ass with it!"
  • by Golias (176380) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:42PM (#8183390)
    That may be what your watch is for, but I have not worn a dedicated timepiece of any sort for more than 10 years. I realized it's silly to carry a clock around on your wrist in an age when we are surrounded by clocks everywhere we go. Even as a type this, a clock ticks away on the corner of my laptop screen, and another is in eyeshot just a few inches away from it. When I get in my car, there are two on the dashboard, and several are visible during my commute.

    These days, I have usually two devices on my person, a cell phone and an MP3 player, which have built-on clocks. Even on the rare occasion when I'm in a place where there are no clocks (such as a casino or shopping mall), and have none with me by pure accident of fate, I'm surrounded by people not only carry clocks around on their wrists, but actually derive pleasure from the brief moment of human contact they experience when I say "excuse me, but do you have the time?"

    Strapping something to my wrist which only tells time would be a waste of five seconds each morning. I'm happier without one more item to worry about breaking or losing.

    I look forward to the day when my phone, MP3 player, watch, GPS, daily planner, and sunglasses are all one small, light, rugged device.

    Besides, it's a myth that timekeeping is what analog watches are for. They are worn as jewelry for men. It's a vain, metrosexual affectation to wear a gold watch. There's your real reason.

  • by crush (19364) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:42PM (#8183397)
    Most digital watches have a "chronograph" or "countdown" feature that would allow her to select 60 seconds, press start and then take her finger off the button, grab the wrist....oh...
  • by niko9 (315647) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:43PM (#8183410)
    If I eat enough fiber, I generally don't need to use toilet paper.

    Maybe one square for a spot check, that's about it. Decreases you chances of diverticular disease too.

    A smooth poop is a good poop.

    --
  • Re:ana-log (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trillan (597339) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:44PM (#8183412) Homepage Journal

    I totally agree. You can have my "old fashioned, dead technology" watch when you can pry it off my cold, dead arm.

    I'm somewhat dismayed that my current watch shows me the date. Why would I need a watch to tell me that?

    It's says 4 right now. But it's obvious that it's November 4th! How could someone be even one day off and think it was the 5th?

  • by tntguy (516721) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:44PM (#8183415)
    Never bought a house, have you?
  • by sevensharpnine (231974) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:54PM (#8183542)
    Quiet you! You'll run it for all of us! Getting around without a watch only works when the rest of the timepiece slaves willingly chain themselves and give us the time when asked to do so!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:56PM (#8183574)
    Doors on hinges will never disappear. They are extremely simple and does exactly what they are supposed to do and has a MTBF of a gazillion years. Simple, Elegant, Energy efficient and cheap.

    Yet ever SF movie I have ever seen has an automatic, sliding door of some kind. Something mechanical with low MTBF and always in places where you can not afford the failure. IT always breaks down due to some computer Malfunctions and the protagonists always get temporarely stuck.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:03PM (#8183642) Homepage Journal
    Most of the rest of the world doesn't eat a Triple Decker Bacon Burrito with Cheese (and a Diet Coke) for lunch every day. Any bidet capable of cleaning up the aftermath of the average American diet would be more powerful than I'd want close to my rear. Heck, I imagine we'd buy Charmin With Oxy-Clean if it were available.
  • by JavaLord (680960) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:04PM (#8183667) Journal
    Oh yeah, it's based on UNIX! Unix just came out A FEW YEARS AGO!
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:05PM (#8183679)
    > If you're wearing an analog watch and someone asks you what time it is, you say: a quarter to 10.
    >
    > If you're wearing a digital watch: it's 9:43 and 17 seconds!!! Urk!!!

    Funny, that's why I wear a digital watch.

    Sometimes I want to know how much time has elapsed between two events to within 500ms. And I don't want to do base-60 arithmetic in my head, because unlike the ancient Babylonians, I was raised in a base-10 world.

  • by Jardine (398197) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:15PM (#8183791) Homepage
    I find that LED clocks [thinkgeek.com] are more intuitive. People who say they can't read them must just be stupid and unable to read the most intuitive clock in existence.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:26PM (#8183912) Homepage Journal

    it's amazing the Mac has lasted this long after being pronounced dead several times.

    Damn, it's like it's a religion or something!

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:34PM (#8184031)
    You know your a 'dirty old man' the first time that you make love to a woman who doesn't know what a typewriter is.
  • Woohoo!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.cTWAINom minus author> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:36PM (#8184055) Journal
    C My baby made the list
    C It's so nice
    implicit none
    integer nodes
    parameter(nodes=1440)
    C
    C Talk about the language that won't die!
    C
    nodes = 0
    do while(nodes .lt. 1440)
    write(*,*) 'Hi! I'm FORTRAN, the undead of programming languages!'
    C
    write(*,*) 'I have no idea what a pointer is!'
    C
    write(*,*) 'Or a class, for that matter!'
    C
    nodes = nodes + 1
    C
    end do
    C
    write(*,*) 'And it's impossible to tell when one line ends and the next begins!'
    C
    write(*,*) 'And I put a LF at the end of every write statement. How convenient!'
    C
    write(*,*) 'Well that's all for now. I guess I'll return to the operating system without a return code!'
    C
    end
  • Re:ana-log (Score:3, Funny)

    by bugnuts (94678) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:54PM (#8184268) Journal
    Call me amazingly primitive, but I think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
  • B-Ark (Score:5, Funny)

    by Latent Heat (558884) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:05PM (#8184386)
    I thought mankind was descended from the B-Ark colonists -- you know, the hair dressers and telephone sanitizer salesmen. Where do apes come in to the picture?
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:12PM (#8184481)
    > They make the "Baby Wipes" in "Adult" packaging now, so you don't ahve a big, smiling cartoon baby grinning at you when cleaning up.

    I always wondered why the fuck there are pictures of babies on toilet paper. Or names likeAngel Soft [nobodys-perfect.com].

    "Hi! Our toilet paper is soft! In fact, it's so soft that we've named it Angel Soft! Because every time you take a dump, we want you feel like you've just ripped a wing off the back of one of God's celestial servants, so that you could smear your shit all over it!"

    If we ever need more evidence that marketing executives deserve to go to Hell, that seals it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:23PM (#8184617)
    I live on the equator you insensitive claud!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:29PM (#8184674)
    problem solved.
  • Re:Snob (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:34PM (#8184731)
    You know all those clothes you're wearing? You could just blah blah blah...

    I'm not wearing any clothes. I always slashdot in the nude.

    Sheesh. The assumptions some people make.
  • by Aelfy (727873) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:37PM (#8184751)
    Besides, it's a myth that timekeeping is what analog watches are for. They are worn as jewelry for men. It's a vain, metrosexual affectation to wear a gold watch. There's your real reason.

    No it isn't, we wear them because our wives have bought them as presents for us, and its cold sleeping on the couch.
  • by ameoba (173803) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:44PM (#8184811)
    It's not polite to ask the details of somebody's sex life in public.
  • Joe Average (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:00PM (#8184966)
    Why in the world would you ever want to date a woman who chooses people based on the fucking watch they wear?

    Because I'm choosing her on the basis the size of her tits.
  • Re:ana-log (Score:2, Funny)

    by eddie can read (631836) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:21PM (#8185131)
    I feel naked without a cell phone

    I went in to work today without my cell phone. Nobody seemed to notice. I'm encouraged. Tomorrow I'll leave my clothes at home.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:33PM (#8185212)
    Oh, brilliant, brillant troll! I don't even need to scroll down to see how long this thread is going to be. I salute you, sir!
  • by Superfarstucker (621775) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:40PM (#8185279)
    Seek psychiatric help if you think chicks "dig" the watch. I will give you that digital watches look terrible, but analog watches are by no means an attractive or flattering piece of jewelry for a wrist :)

  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:44PM (#8185330) Homepage Journal
    Talk to me again in 20-30 years when your C program are as optimised and proved bug free ...

    This does remind me of a study some people did quite a few years ago when I was a grad student at a big university (whose identity isn't important here). They instrumented the Fortran compiler on the big central mainframe in the CS dept so that it silently checked for a number of common problems such as integer overflows, and recorded the results. They then used this for all submitted Fortran jobs (which was more than half the machine's load), and studied the results.

    The main result was summarized as: More than half of the Fortran runs had at least one output value that was incorrect because of integer overflow. This actually resulted in several retractions of published papers.

    One of the problems in the number crunching biz is that on most hardware, detecting integer overflow takes an extra instruction. Part of this study was a survey of users. One of the questions asked whether they would use overflow checking if it slowed the program down. Around 90% of the Fortran users answered "No." So they didn't care about correct results; they only wanted fast code.

    One wag summarized this with a pair of definitions: A "good" compiler generates the fastest code that correctly implements the meaning of the source code. An "optimizing" compiler produces even faster code than that.

    Anyway, it's a good idea to be very wary of anyone who puts "optimized" before "bug free". This implies that they consider speed more important than correct results. This attitude is rampant in the Fortran user community.

    Not that they're the only ones.

  • by yourlord (473099) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @09:26PM (#8185728) Homepage
    "In the early 1980s, at the dawn of the PC age, high-volume electronic storage and transmission--360-kilobyte floppy disks! 14-kilobit-per-second modems!"

    I've been robbed.. Why is it I stumbled through the 80's with 300bps, 1200bps, and 2400bps(end of the decade) modems when they had 14Kbps modems available in the early 80's.. My 1200 baud modem was a $700 modem in 1988!!

  • by kormoc (122955) <<moc.comrok> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:27PM (#8186225) Homepage
    1 per second?

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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