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Technology Science

Ten Technologies That Refuse to Die 1381

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 callipygian-showsyst ( 631222 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182962) Homepage
    You have to admit, no matter what side you're's amazing the Mac has lasted this long after being pronounced dead several times.
  • ana-log (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pinchhazard ( 728983 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:15PM (#8182974) Homepage
    Guess what? I just want a watch that tells time. I don't want that's tacky, but most digital watches come with this ungainly feature.
  • the 11th (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:17PM (#8183012)
    floppy drive
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:17PM (#8183014) Homepage Journal
    His list has one point I'd argue: typewriters. They'll die with the current crop of older adults that still use them. (I'm 42 and haven't touched one in probably 17 years.) Offices used to keep them around, even after entering "the computer age", but if you walk into any small business now, you'll find the token typewriter stuffed in a closet, no longer even usable.

    Yes, there are some people who use them, but there are fewer and fewer forms to fill out these days that aren't automated.

  • Snob (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183017)
    Watches are jewelry, you techno-elitist snob. That's why people don't "upgrade".

    What next. I should get my wife cubic zirconium because it looks the same as a diamond but is much cheaper because it was made with "technology". I'm just soooo old fashioned.
  • by nil5 ( 538942 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183025) Homepage
    Some of us forget that "new" is not necessarily "better".
  • by Dethboy ( 136650 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#8183031) Homepage
    It is just like over complicated phones. All I need it to do is keep time. Why does every device have to do 11,274 different things?

    I've had countless digital watches, most are in the garbage. I also have one or two 'analog' watches that I simply wind up and they work. No batteries, no looking for the manual to figure out how to set the time in Tokyo, no calibrating altitude and temp.

  • Perl? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#8183036) Homepage Journal
    Look at all of the newer technologies today that are:

    1. Easier to read
    2. Easier to code
    3. Object-oriented
    4. Facilitate MVC-type architecture

    With Python, PHP, J2EE, and so forth, why is Perl still around?
  • by schoolsucks ( 570755 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#8183048)
    I agree. At work we use a dot matrix printer to print shipping forms that have to be signed. It just prints on one, and using carbon paper, it makes 2 other copies. The benefit of this comes when you sign the top copy and all 3 have the signature on them. With laser printer and making seperate copies, we had to sign 3 papers. So signing 100 copies would become signing 300 copies.
  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdot@jg[ ]rg ['c.o' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#8183060) Homepage Journal
    As Douglas Adams pointed out:
    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.

    The reason watches with moving hands are so successful is that same reason that even in modern glass cockpit aircraft the "old style" mechanical displays are rendered on screen: they are extremely fast and easy to read. The actual guts of the watch are irrelevant (purely mechanical all the way to purely electronic), but the display is the thing you are going to interact with every day.

    And an important aspect of moving hands is that they convey information in their movement: in a cockpit the altimeter can be "read" very quickly to show whether the aircraft is ascending or descending. On a watch I can get an approximate time (it's almost 4:30pm) in a glance. Yet another example is a digital vs. analog scuba diving pressure gauge: the position of the mechanical arm can be understood very fast without worrying about the exact number of PSI left.


  • Digital Watch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by savagedome ( 742194 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:21PM (#8183073)
    The article makes it sound like analog watch is a bad thing. However, when I look at my watch (analog, of course) I am not really putting any effort to read time. I sort of know that its like 4:20 as I am writing this. It makes it easier too for e.g when I am driving as it doesn't really take my concentration away from the most important thing at that time which is driving.

    However, I've owned a digital watch and it takes *some* effort to *read* the actual time. And even after doing that, I form a mental image of what time it is in terms of analog look.

    Digital watch? No, thanks. I'ma keep my analog. IMHO

  • Re:Snob (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:24PM (#8183106)
    I concur. The fact that analog watches "won't die" is just ignorant of the article's author.

    A good Citizen is ~$1100. Buy it, it will appreciate over time. Thus you own something that you keep for the rest of your life and hand down to your kids. If it breaks, it can be repaired. You can get it appraised and get an insurance policy on it, etc. Many benefits.

    GPS, cell, PDA, and other fancy electronic watches are gadgets more than anything. The quality of materials they are made with make them throw-away items in a few years. Thus, the reason I will not own one. I've got pockets for such devices.

    Geeks, keep this in mind: Women are more likely to notice your watch and your shoes. If you are saying cheap or nerd with these items, it will not matter if you have $500 glasses and a nice jacket. :)
  • by sik0fewl ( 561285 ) <.xxdigitalhellxx. .at.> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#8183130) Homepage

    Yeah, SMTP is the first thing that came to my mind, too. I wish we could just get rid of it (and replace it).

    As for identd.. people still use that?

  • Mainframes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CaVp ( 746780 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:25PM (#8183132)
    Those big old machines keep the world running (I mean, if we agree that money moves this fscking world... :P)... I cannot imagine a bank trusting all its data to a cheap PC running XP or whatever... not even a Sun SPARC could handle that volume of data processing....
  • Re:ana-log (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:26PM (#8183138) Homepage
    I think this applies to almost all of the technologies on that list. I think it boils down to one thing that people think, "I like this technology, it works for me, so i'll keep using it."

  • by leifm ( 641850 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:26PM (#8183143)
    I'd agree if you are referring to = OS9 (the 'minority' 60% Mac market). OS X and the current crop of Apple machines are hardly dated technology.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:27PM (#8183157)'s Mac bears no similarity to the original 9-inch box. It's been pronounced dead by pundits who think success is measured by knocking off Microsoft, not by turning a profit.
  • by zeux ( 129034 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:27PM (#8183169)
    Dot matrix printers can print half a page, stop and print the second half the next day. And you can read the result between the 2 jobs.

    You can use it as an ouput terminal.

    Try to do that with a laser printer. Won't die anytime soon.
  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:28PM (#8183170)

    This is a general trend of adding garbage to an otherwise simple device. Digitals watches, cell phones, etc.

    If you're going to have a multipurpose machine, like a computer, then call it that. Otherwise you end up with a watch that takes the temperature, tells time, takes pictures, has an address book, and makes calls.

    Then your cell phone makes calls, tells time, takes the temperature, takes pictures and has an address book.

    Your handheld address book tells time, takes the temperature, takes pictures, makes phone calls.

    Your digital camera takes pictures, tells time...

    I had to laugh when I read the story on slashdot. How can OLD watches still hang around that just tell time?

  • Re:Snob (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sabu mark ( 205793 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:29PM (#8183188)
    What next. I should get my wife cubic zirconium because it looks the same as a diamond but is much cheaper because it was made with "technology".

    No, you should get your wife another kind of gem, one whose price and supply aren't controlled by the same international monopoly that has brainwashed her into desiring a diamond an order of magnitude over other stones that you can buy without being gouged as much.
  • Re:the 11th (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183208)
    well the 8" and the 5.25" are pretty much dead...

    the 3.5" endures because there's no other cheap format to store small files.

    granted, CDRs are starting to be pretty cheap now... but the fact that there's so much space on them makes users feel like they're wasting it if they only store less than 1.45mb of files on them.

    maybe CDRs would replace 3.5" floppies if companies sold mini-CDRs in bulk spindles like regular sized CDRs, and at a cheaper price? All the miniCDR packages I've seen at the store are two to ten times as expensive as a package of the same number of regular size CDRs with jewel cases.

  • Re:Analog Watches (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s00p41337h4x0r ( 696697 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183212)
    they are elegant and intuitive.

    Intuitive, eh? I guess nobody remembers that segment in second grade where you had to learn to read an analog display. The mental map between "Big hand on 2 and little hand on 6" to 2:30 is non-trivial... I mean, did you catch that that time is actually ten minutes after six? It's the reason why kids start out with digital watches.

    What analog watches do display intuitively is the amount of time between two events, at least for differences less than an hour (or half hour). It would be interesting to make a linear clock, where you could see tiny slivers of five minutes versus chunks of half hours, and ask kids how easy it is to use versus standard round analog or digital displays.

  • by deadlinegrunt ( 520160 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183216) Homepage Journal
    from the eyes of a non-techie:

    Could you please explain counter-clockwise to me again?
  • by biz0r ( 656300 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:32PM (#8183229) Homepage
    I definitely agree with the main point of the parent poster. Older technology sometimes just downright works better.

    Case in point: New cell phones vs Old cell phones.

    New cell phones have mostly all had software problems of sorts, with laggy displays, crashing software (damnit I have to reboot my phone AGAIN), etc, etc. Older cell phones weren't so reliant on the 'cruft' that makes up new cell phone software, and generally worked a LOT smoother, and FAR less buggily.

    Example: I have a Motorolla T720 color screen phone, which IMHO, really bites ass. The thing drops calls, I get a black screen of death pretty much every few days (which requires me to completely remove the battery to drain the power), the display is soooo laggy its not even funny, plus many other small software bugs I am sure I can't recall of the top of my head.

    I would LOVE to get my old StarTac that thing was rock solid! I even accidentally ran it through a FULL wash cycle in the washer and all I had to do was replace the battery. It also has/had none of the drawbacks I listed for the T720. Operation was as smooth as it could be IMO.

    Here's a vote for old technology when it works well.
  • by karnal ( 22275 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:32PM (#8183238)
    Well, on the multi-part forms I've used, there's usually spaces for a customer to sign (think - car repair forms at most major dealerships.) Using the same impact during signing (pressure), you get multiple copies, one for the dealership, one for records, and one for the customer, all with the same signature.

    I'd hate to have to sign for work multiple times...
  • by phoenix.bam! ( 642635 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183262)
    This list is of devices that work perfectly. They do what they need to without any obnoxious interference. My analog watch tells me the time when I look at it. I never see the latest sports scores or the temperature. I get what I want. The author seems to have left off the broom. Why didn't the broom die when the vacuum was invented? Because the broom served its purpose quickly and efficiently. The broom has been used for at least 5,000 years and will probably continue to be used until humanity is destroyed. Thank goodness for places like [] . Newer isn't always better.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183264) Homepage Journal
    For many processes, the multipart form is preferred because at certain steps along the way, one sheet is ripped off while the rest proceed along. If you printed multiple copies on a laserjet instead, you'd have to collate and staple (or do something else) to keep the appropriate copies together - hardly an efficient alternative...
  • by jmpoast ( 736629 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:35PM (#8183285)
    I agree with some of your examples of displays, but I fail to see how the hands of a watch tell time faster than reading the numbers. I can, with a digital display, tell that 4:27 is almost 4:30 just as fast (if not faster) than a display utilizing 'hands'.

    I do prefer the look of the watches with 'hands' however, they just seem fancier and more professional.
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:36PM (#8183295) Homepage Journal

    If you have numbered multipart forms then this ensures that the sheets of paper you sign/ship/mail are part of the original multipart form and not a reprint.

    Many places want original paperwork, you can't guarantee it with a laser. Dot matrix is still a darn useful technology.
  • vacuum tubes?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:36PM (#8183298)
    ok, i thought analog watches was a bad inclusion, but vacuum tubes?! Why not throw this round thing called "The Wheel" in there, too? It's old and freaking won't die!

    I love my Crate tube amp. It's so nice sounding.

    This article... it's credibility is wavering at the moment. The author must have spent a whole 5 minutes looking for inspiration before giving up and writting this lousy article.
  • by DeadVulcan ( 182139 ) <dead.vulcan@pobo[ ]om ['x.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:42PM (#8183396)

    The reason watches with moving hands are so successful is that [...] they are extremely fast and easy to read. [...] On a watch I can get an approximate time (it's almost 4:30pm) in a glance.

    I think we agree, but I would put it this way: the act of reading an analog display degrades gracefully. If you want accuracy, you can take your time and examine the tick marks closely. If you glance at it, you get a general idea.

    With a digital watch, if you glance at it and you only manage to catch the last two digits, you're not much the wiser.

  • by saddino ( 183491 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:43PM (#8183401)
    Isn't it "Apple" (not "Macintosh") that's been pronouced dead so many times?

    If Apple had gone out of business, you can bet someone would have bought the Macintosh IP and kept right on selling them (maybe even as Macintosh branded PCs) -- the brand is worth way too much to just "die".
  • the floppy disk. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyrax777 ( 633996 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:43PM (#8183406) Homepage
    with the advant of cheap CD-rw burners and dirt cheap flash media its amazing the floppy disk is still around
  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B'Trey ( 111263 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#8183430)
    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

    How on earth can you describe an analog watch as more intuitive than a digital watch? More elegant, certainly. But intuitive? A digital watch shows the numbers. If you can read them, you can tell the time. An analog watch uses one set of numbers (or positions, as many don't even have actual numerals on the face) for two different things. You have to learn what each hand means, and what each position means in the context of each hand. Once you learn it, it becomes straightforward and easy, but it's definitely the opposite of intuitive.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#8183433)
    Compared to today's digital timepieces, old-fashioned, sweep-hand watches are pathetic one-trick ponies.

    Not really. They're two-trick ponies; they tell me the time and the date. Last time I checked, "timepiece" meant "something that tells time".

    Digital-watch wearers can check temperature, altitude, and the time in Tokyo, play tunes and games, and send messages.

    None of which matters. I don't give a crap about the temperature, because it's moot; if I'm too cold or too hot, my body will tell me, and I'm usually smart enough to, based on time of day, season, location etc...figure out what I'm gonna need to wear(I may even, gasp, open the door and stick my head outside to see for myself). I don't give a crap about altitude, because honestly, that doesn't really mean anything to me, unless it comes on the news that anything under 1000 ft ASL is going to flood within the hour because the whole antarctic shelf just collapsed. I certainly don't give a crap about the time in Tokyo, because if I needed to know that sort of thing on a regular basis, I'd know what the differential is, and be able to do the rather easy math(anyone that can't do addition/subtraction for number under 30 needs serious help). In the meantime, I'll guess that they're approximately 12 hours behind EST since they're on the opposite side of the world.

    In fact, the only reason I need a timepiece- since I(and most other people) can tell roughly what time of day it because we need to be at certainly places at certain very specific times, where guessing isn't appropriate. The date function is small because we only need to look at it once a day, maybe twice, to remind ourselves. Form, meet function. So pardon me while I buy the nice, simple analog timepiece that looks nice(and will look nice for at least another 100 years) while you buy your stupid little toy that will break in 5 years(it'll be out of style in 6 months, if you're lucky). Were electric analog timepieces an improvement? Not really. Manual wind, I can sync to my computer, or even a radio program. But my electric analog watch needs battery replacement every year or so, and since it only comes out on special occasions, it's nearly always dead.

    I have the same objection to cameraphones. I want my phone to do 3 things. a)let me find a number for someone I know b)let me know when someone is calling c)let me make calls.

    Notice nowhere in there was "annoy coworkers with polyphonic ringtones." Or "take pictures"(I use my camera to take pictures, and they look 1000x better than anything any cameraphone will ever produce). Or "tell me the weather". I haven't even bothered to use the AIM functions, or SMS. I use my phone for one thing- telephone calls.

    I once mentored for the middle school science olympiad. Mind you, these kids are supposed to be the brightest of the bunch- the kids who enjoy science and thinking on their feet. "Okay, you guys have until 3pm to finish this practice". (loooong pause) "Um, we don't have any watches on." "There's a clock right there on the wall." (blank stares.) "Um...we don't know how to read those kinds of clocks". How pathetic is that?

  • Re:ana-log (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#8183434)
    Also, digital watches all seem to use ugly-ass seven-segment numerals for no reason. Obviously even cheap LCDs can go way beyond that nowadays (like phone displays), and it bothers me to feel like a good technology is deliberately dumbed down just to look familiar. I want to look at my watch and see numbers that looks like they were designed by a literate person, not those weird blank-jointed stick-digits.
  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:45PM (#8183439)
    Plus, Disk drives have a mean time to failure of what???...18 months or so? We can now remaster analog tapes from the 50s with no problem. Try to get the original tracks for a linkin park session in 50 or 60 years..good luck.

    We can only hope that it's impossible to get the original tracks from a linkin park session in 50 or 60 years. Hell, I'm hoping they're gone already.


  • by sevensharpnine ( 231974 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:49PM (#8183484)
    From the article: "Vacuum tubes Audiophiles have sustained another technology that's even older than magnetic tape. In the 1970s, compact, energy-efficient transistors boded to replace vacuum tubes entirely. But transistors couldn't satisfy some guitar players and hi-fi cognoscenti."

    As a guitar player, I'm insulted that this article lumps me in with the conspicuously-consuming audiophiles that drop hundreds of dollars on cleverly marketed cables. Tubes aren't an imaginary sound modifier in guitar amps, they are universally agreed to distort (clip) in much nicer ways when sent an overpowered signal compared to transistors. Only now in the 21st century are we beginning to see digital amps that can compete with this "ancient" technology. The article is correct that the consumer-level tube market is helped along by musicians, but the reasons have nothing to do with Audiophile-type superstition that seems to be implied. The tube vs. solid state harmonic patterns are quantitively different, and empirically better. I would no go so far as to label us as the cognoscenti, but rather people who aren't obviously deaf (and anyone here who has heard a clipping solid state amp will agree).
  • So, don't count. Pick a start time and an end time, neither of which have happened yet (which could be one minute apart as the example goes). Start couting when the start time appears on the digital watch face and count every beat until the end time appears on the watch face. Multiply by an appropriate amount as needed. When I'm taking my own pulse (either using analog or digital devices), I end up doing the exact same thing. I always find the digital method easier to do as many less-expensive analog watches/clocks have a jittery second hand (which second is that pointing at now?).

    Besides, I've never met a nurse that takes 60-second pulse readings anymore, it seems the ones I run into always take 10 or 15 second readings and multiply by 6 or 4 respectively.

  • Pen/Ink/Paper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iCharles ( 242580 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:50PM (#8183499) Homepage
    I think handwriting technology (pens, inks, paper) will be another one. I admit that I have never hidden my love of fountain pens, but even the average Bic has a role. Jotting down a small bit of information while on the phone or standing somewhere is just simpler and quicker with pen and paper.

    PDAs have their role, but they can be slow. Plus, I can't jot something down and tape it do a doorway or under a windshield wiper with an LCD screen.
  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:52PM (#8183515) Homepage Journal
    An analogue watch shows the time graphically, a digital watch shows six digits. This is why an analogue watch is considered by many, myself included, to be more intuitive.
  • I'm wearing, as we speak, a watch my Grandfather wore 57 years ago that was given to him when he retired from the railroad. It's engraved on the back with the year 1947.

    It's and Elgin and it keeps great time. All I have to do is wind it every morning.

    No batteries, no weird functions and it's VERY easy to set. It just tells me the time, which is all I need on my wrist.

    It will probably be handed down to my son, along with my Martin guitar...another analog thing in this world of Les Paul guitars with ethernet ports.

    57 years from now, if my son takes care of them, they'll still be good. I treasure things that I can just pick up and go with. I just pick up my watch, wind it and bam...I'm off. Same with my Martin. I pick up my guitar and play...just like yesterday...then I get on my knees and....whoa, sorry, was channeling Pete there.

    But you get my point. Perhaps some of these technologies refuse to die because they just plain work.
  • by TheTomcat ( 53158 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:00PM (#8183617) Homepage
    there is no widespread replacement for SMTP, which makes the protocol extremely difficult (read: impossible) to deprecate.

  • by frodoze ( 443304 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:03PM (#8183640)
    a watch with hands shows present, past and future time in once glance, if you have to meet someone in 25mins one look at the dial and you can see where the minute hand needs to be in that time, and as you get closer to the meeting time you know without having to think about how much time you have left, with a digital watch it only show the "now" time so you need to add that 25 minutes to what ever time is being shown on the display.

    a few years ago a well know car maker brought out a digital only speedo in some of their models, the following year they went back to a pointer indication or a combination moving scale with digital display, why? because people didn't like the digital only display, when people look at a number, it takes a moment for that number to register in the brain and figure out what it means, with hands it takes less effort to work out the time

    an analogue display is always faster in a glance in this respect
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:03PM (#8183644)
    "Macs are the best alternative in exactly the same way a $1,000 MontBlanc pen is the best alternative to a $0.10 Bic."

    No a better comparison would be...

    Macs are the best alternative in exactly the same way a $35,000 Cadillac, Audi or BMW is the best alternative to a $16,000 Kia, Ford or Chevy
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:04PM (#8183666) Homepage Journal
    Quick, some MBA step in here and explain 'Market Segmentation'.
    MACs have always represented a luxury/SUV computer.
    In addition to the publishing/art markets, there have always been people who just aren't dealing with the BSoDomy of Microsoft, and have the budget to choose otherwise.
    Balls, if I had the loot, I'd be sporting that groovy new system with a flat monitor half the size o' Monica Lewinsky, too.
  • Re:FAX! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:06PM (#8183692) Homepage Journal
    Fax isn't entirely useless ... it's kind of nice to be able to send things like signed contracts and whatnot in one fell swoop instead of...
    • Wait for scanner to warm up
    • Scan document
    • Start email program
    • Attach scanned document
    • Send email

    Just makes dialing 11 numbers seem that much better.
  • Re:Snob (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:10PM (#8183726)
    No, you should get your wife another kind of gem, one whose price and supply aren't controlled by the same international monopoly that has brainwashed her into desiring a diamond an order of magnitude over other stones that you can buy without being gouged as much.
    Why bother getting any kind of gem if you think price is the only concern. If you subscribe to "ring buying" idea then it's all about bragging rights anyways. If your wife cares about these things then cubic zirconium ain't gonna cut it. If she doesn't you might as well skip the whole ring fiasco and save the money for something else with some actual utility (e.g. a house)...
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:11PM (#8183735)
    "Like it's more intuitive"

    Not true. You have to learn how to convert the numbers 1 through 12 into fractions of 60. Digital is written almost as simply as it is stated in common dialog.

    "you can for example more easily tell how much time you have until some other time."

    I'll grant you that one. Diver's watches come to mind. It's easy to tell underwater how much air you have left with a properly equipped watch.

    "And it's faster to read, with digital watch you need to read four numbers, while with analog watch you just need to see the position of the two arms."

    Wrong. With a digital watch, you read in 4 numbers and instantly know the time. With an analog watch, you have to do mental arithmetic to figure out exactly what time it is. Even somebody who's really gotten used to an analog watch has to glance at one longer than he or she would with a digital watch.

    "And especially in dark, you can make analog watch to be self-illuminating, while doing it with digital watch eats up power."

    Analog watches require power to luminate as well. Unless you mean glow in the dark, which has to be 'charged' by light in the first place.

    If you're talking about battery efficiency, digital watches last for years before needing a battery replacement. Even if an analog watch lasts longer than that, with years involved, you're reaching a point of diminishing returns. I have a watch taped to my TV right now (band broke) that's on it's original batteries from 1999.

    "As a every day device to read time from, analog display is IMHO better than digital, even if only slightly."

    That's a tough sell for me. Though I agree that recognizing symbols (i.e. reading watch hands) can yield to faster interpretation, I didn't come to that conclusion between analog and digital watches. For the record, though, I don't think analog is stupid or should die. My preferences are just that, my own. I'm not disagreeing with your points to say "analog should die", simply I just don't agree with those particular details. :)
  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wankledot ( 712148 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:12PM (#8183742)
    Come on now... I agree it's more intuitive for illiterate or dyslexic people, but that's a pretty small minority.

    Wit someone down with an analog clock who has never seen one before, and tell me how intuitive it is. How did you learn which hand was the hours? Did you know that the first time you saw one? How did you know how the hands moved? How did you know that they moved at all?

    Your logic that it's graphical, therefor intuitive is flawed. I can make lots of graphic representations of time... but I doubt you'll understand them without me explaining them.

  • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:12PM (#8183744) Homepage Journal
    In a world where Ford has lived to be a hundred years old, I think the lesson here is that if you don't mess up your finances, make a halfway decent product, devote equal time to listening to your customers, engineers and marketeers, you can survive even if you don't rule the market.

    It's companies that consider success being number one, and anything less failure, that don't survive.
  • Re:Snob (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radish ( 98371 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:13PM (#8183761) Homepage
    You know all those clothes you're wearing? You could just glue together old shopping bags - that way you'll save money, and be waterproof too! So they may tear, but don't worry, just go back to the supermarket and get more bags. Why do people mod their PC cases? All that neon doesn't make it work any better. Why do people put up posters in their apartments? Or paint the walls nice colours? Aesthetics.

    Really - people buy things like watches because they're nice to have. Practicality doesn't have to be the most important factor in a purchase decision, and for the most expensive items people buy (house, car, jewellery) it rarely is.
  • by zoney_ie ( 740061 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:15PM (#8183787)
    An analogue watch not only displays the current time - but has the reference points for a whole 12 hours. It is vastly more suitable to plan future events/refer to past events. The brain nearly subconciously reads the distances - and the 12 hour clock-face is so ingrained that we can work out relative times instantly. A digital watch involves adding and working out what area of the day the time is.

    One could argue that it would work better using a 24 hour circle - but we would have to have been brought up with that as kids. Old habits die hard. I admit that the analogue clock-face has to be explained to kids in school - but it's sure worth the effort.

    The only difficulty with analogue clock faces is the problem of translating to 24 hour for checking against time listings (train, bus, TV, etc.). But dealing with the add/subtract 12 hours thing is a minor issue really. On that subject - one doesn't even always have this benefit with digital clocks - my alarm clock, most annoyingly, doesn't have 24 hour display.
  • Broadcast radio (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:17PM (#8183809) Homepage Journal
    This is one I like. IMO, broadcast radio has survived because it works. You can have a cheap $2 walkman to listen to the radio, or something more fancy. With analogue radio, there are no technology licenses, no patents and no trying to find the specs to some properiety file format or codec.

    Now digital radio involves a bunch of semi open technologies, patents and licensing. Sometimes it just seems like technology for technologies sake, and maybe locking people into the royalty cycle?
  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity&sbcglobal,net> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:21PM (#8183854) Homepage Journal
    Well, technically, a vacuum tube does the same thing as a transistor, so the smaller, lighter, cheaper, cooler, and usually more reliable transistor should have replaced the vacuum tube, right?

    Do you ever ask yourself -why- vacuum tubes sound better? There's a specific reason.

    See, in a guitar amp, what you really want to do is overdrive the sound, creating distortion. That's the nice fuzz sound. When the signal is overdriven, the semiconductor clips off the top of the sound wave.

    Vacuum tubes and transistors clip sound waves differently. In a transistor, the clip stays high until the signal drops, causing a square-shaped clip. In a vacuum tube, the signal drops after the clip, creating a sawtooth-shaped clip.

    Brass and strings have sawtooth-shaped waveforms. Computers make square-shaped waveforms. So most people "like" the sound of a sawtooth better. So people like the vacuum tube sound better.

    MOSFET transistors are now being used in solid-state audio equipment because they, too, have a sawtooth clip when they distort. Now note that this only matters if you actually overdrive the sound; folks who think a tube amp that isn't distorting sounds better than a solid-state amp are probably imagining things. But your Crate sounds better than my solid-state pedal because of the way the semiconductors in 'em clip.

  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Weh ( 219305 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:28PM (#8183932)
    I'm not sure whether the learning process is more intuitive or not, since you have to know how to read in order to tell time on digital watches and can do without that on an analog watch.

    However it may be, I think that analog watches are definitely easier to read, you can tell time with just a glance, there are 2 distinct hands on a big round dial. With a digital watch the space is cluttered by the numbers and you have to be sure that you read each number right. Ease of reading is also the reason why many gauges and meters in cars, planes etc are still analog. (even though digital gauges which are a lot cheaper are used increasingly) Have you ever wondered why those crt's in planes display *analog* gauges rather than just some numbers?
  • by kpharmer ( 452893 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:30PM (#8183966)
    Since analog is the original form, and has the most sophsticated kind of follows that the digital watch is really just a technical triviality, doesn't it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:31PM (#8183981)
    What do you do, on a semi-regular basis, that you need that kind of "accuracy"? If you're timing events, then your reaction time is going to come into play and your accuracy will be stopped down. At 500ms, you're getting down to the limits of human reaction time which is really at best 100ms. Just admit it man, you're a geek. :)
  • Re:Pen/Ink/Paper (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bkaster ( 180966 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:34PM (#8184029) Journal
    The major advantage of Pen/Ink/Paper (or Pencil/Whatever pencils are made from/Paper, or Pen/Ink/Whatever you feel like writing on) is it's flexibility. Computers are no where near as flexible as pen and paper. Just try to figure something out while working on a computer (in my case working something out means finding a proof of something, or understanding a proof I am reading [I am a mathematician]), this is just about impossible on a computer.

    Also, on a side note, pen a paper is clearly more reliable than a computer. As an example, power blackouts happen, pen and paper will continue to work.

    Pen and paper will be around for a _very_ long time to come.

  • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:34PM (#8184034) Homepage Journal
    MACs have always represented a luxury/SUV computer.


    MACs have always represented Media Access Control id numbers, which are hard coded into ethernet devices at the factory and which are (in theory) unique.

    Macintosh Computers (Macs) have always represented a luxury/SUV computer is not entirely correct. The Apple Macintosh was supposed to be a high-powered, low-cost personal computer that people could actually use for useful things. Compared to the 286s of the day, which cost a bundle, it was fairly cheap.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:37PM (#8184078) Homepage Journal
    Well, I don't know about you, but I use my watch to tell time. So does my father, and so did my grandfather. So I don't think it's really a myth. it's pretty much the exact opposite...known as a fact. Do some people use there watch as a way of showing off money? sure. and we ALL known know one as ever uses "a cell phone and an MP3 player" to show off.

    "They are worn as jewelry for men. It's a vain, metrosexual affectation to wear a gold watch. There's your real reason."

    Its a piece of Jewlery that tells time. It's also a subtle way of exressing one-self. I have a nice watch, looks nice, its convient to look at at if you lok close, you can see a littl 'bat signal' at the top. I like it.

    I would wager if you and I were standing in an elevator, and someone asked the time, I could tell them befor you mangaed to fumble some electronic affactation out of your pocket, or off it's clip. That more then makes up for the '5 seconds' it takes to put on.

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

    me too. But I'll still wear a watch.

    On a final note, in some circles, certian things are expect. One of them is for a man to wear a watch. It may not be 'right', but there it is.

    "It's a vain, metrosexual affectation to wear a gold watch. There's your real reason."

    Thats why most geeks by the latest stuff now, isn't it?
  • by shepd ( 155729 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:42PM (#8184141) Homepage Journal
    >Macs are the best alternative in exactly the same way a $35,000 Cadillac, Audi or BMW is the best alternative to a $16,000 Kia, Ford or Chevy

    Good point. Both get you from point A to point B in exactly the same time, except the Cadillac/Audi/BMW cost a LOT more to operate, are expensive as hell to repair when they break, get stolen a lot, and tend to draw a lot more tickets from police officers.

    But, unlike the Kia/Ford/Chevy, they're a bit more comfortable and tend to have a nicer looking design.

    Thanks! You're dead on the money with that one. And, true to my colours, I'm sticking to a Toyota Corolla. Decades old design, cheap to get fixed, and light on the gas. It's all I need.
  • by lehyeong ( 569596 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:42PM (#8184147)
    Bullshit. I'm a medical assistant and I use my digital watch to measure pulses and respiration all the time.
  • by endoboy ( 560088 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:44PM (#8184157)
    You're almost certainly right that you could teach faster with a digital watch-- but that misses the point of teaching a kid to tell time.

    Traditionally, the cognitive mapping necessary to tell analog time is an important developmental milestone. It is commonly the first bit of abstract reasoning that a child does.

  • by raider_red ( 156642 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:58PM (#8184308) Journal
    How many people here have ever been subjected to a digital speedometer? They've only been put on a few cars in the past, and it seems that they're always eventually replaced with an analog dial. The reason of course, is that you can tell at a glance how fast you're going. With a digital readout, you have to actually read it.

  • by andynz ( 686071 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:58PM (#8184315)
    Oh for gods sake, wearing an attractive watch is neither vain nor an affectation, and there is a special place reserved in hell for those who invented and use the term 'metrosexual'.

    A good analog watch is also a piece of mechanical craftsmanship that any man should be able to appreciate.

    My current analog watch has been running for over 10 years now (except for battery changes) and shows little wear, I hope one day to pass it down to my children. All the digitals I have had have broken down.

  • Re:#1 : Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:02PM (#8184360) Homepage Journal
    So what time is 102935? (Clue, it's not 10:29am.)

    I ask because any time format is arbitrary until you learn it. The digital format in particular makes no sense without initial reference to the standard 12 hour analog clock face. The first two digits represent hours, an arbitrarily defined one-twenty-fourth of the day. The next represents minutes, an arbitrarily defined one-sixtieth of an hour. Without reference to the 12 or 24 and the 60, you have no idea what 09:30 is. It might be just under a tenth of a day, it might be that the day is nearly over. It might be that within whatever section of day the first two digits represent we're nearly one third of the way through, or it might be that we're half way through.

    The analogue clock is very clear at first glance, and you only have to look at it a couple of times to know what every aspect of it represents. There's a large hand that goes around quickly, and a small hand that doesn't. At a glance you can see that the small hand is a little over three quarters of the way around, and about the only unintuitive bit is that it's not refering to three quarters of the day, but three quarters of half a day.

    That's why it's more intuitive than a series of six digits. Oh sure, it could be more intuitive, but unless we move to a decimal time system, I don't think a digital format is going to be as close to "intuitive" as a clock face for a very long time.

  • by Starcub ( 527362 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:14PM (#8184515)
    I bet I know why women prefer analog watches... because thier fathers wore them. This is another area where girls and guys are fundamentally different. Girls like guys who smell like barbecue, where the same cologne their dad did, an anonlog watch, have grey acents in thier hair, etc... But if a girl reminds a guy of his mother, the relationship'll never get really serious.
  • by Endive4Ever ( 742304 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:17PM (#8184547)
    Probably the reason any negative comments about the Mac are modded low fast is that on a discussion site featuring a significant number of Macintosh enthusiasts/fanatics, saying anything negative about the Macintosh or Apple is indeed flamebait. The problem is, all too often the person flaming is the problem, not the person who posted the comment that provoked the flame.

    So the 'moderation system' corrects against any controversial comments on the topic of the Mac, and people learn to pull their punches on any negative comments about the Mac.

    Gee, Apple Enthusiasts: You sure know how to paricipate as adults in a discussion!

  • Re:ana-log (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:19PM (#8184580) Homepage
    Do many analog watches support syncing to atomic clocks?
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:32PM (#8184709) Journal
    Why should it be built to last a lifetime? I mean, you *can* build all sorts of things to last a lifetime, but it's not particularly economically sensible or desireable. Much like the grandparent poster, I have never replaced the battery in a digital watch, as I have never managed to avoid losing a watch long enough for the battery to run out. I admit that most of the features above basic time-telling are probably extraneous, but I do occasionally use a stopwatch, and day of week/month are useful.

    I do vaguely like the look of some analog watches, but it's to the same extent that I vaguely like the look of a trackball or a hammer or a fan -- I just don't really care much about how the thing looks -- just how it works. I don't exactly spend time admiring my watch -- I just want the time from it.

    I tend to mar faceplates. I don't care how ruggedly built they are, they *will* get scratched. If the watch is a $30 digital watch, it's no big deal. If it's a $200 analog watch, I do care.

    I could never figure out people that say that they can "see the time more quickly on an analog watch". It's just nonsensical -- you see it, you know. Perhaps if someone is extremely familiar with their analog watch and doesn't use any devices with LCD digits, they might take a moment to pick up on the thing, but when I look at my watch, it's just like reading a word in your post -- it's there, in my head. A digital watch has the benefit of giving an accurate time reading immediately.

    This isn't to bash people with analog watches. There are good reasons for them. They're a status symbol -- it lets someone clearly say that they can blow a lot of money on an expensive watch, or let the NASA folks say "I worked on the Mars lander project". There's a good deal of tradition associated with them, and tradition is fun. It's fun to put up a Christmas tree each year, and it's fun to get an heirloom watch.

    However, there just aren't any significant criticisms of digital watches that really hold true any more. I tend to think that unless people prefer analog watches for a particular reason, they're better off with a digital, but neither mechanism is badly flawed for people who just want the time.
  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:36PM (#8184747)
    Analog watches: I use analog watches exclusively, and it's not because they're easier to read, even though I grew up before digital watches were available. Analog watches are essentially fashion accessories, distinguished from other jewelry only in that they happen to tell time. (This is especially true if you're part of the crowd that buys expensive Rolexes and the like.) For myself, I just prefer a simple, inexpensive, and tasteful analog watch over an ugly black piece of plastic with a primitive multi-segment LCD display that looks like a refugee from the late 70's.

    Dot-matrix printers: This is probably lost on folks who came of age after inkjet and laser took over, but I find it a lot easier to read code when it's not interrupted by arbitrary page breaks. I long ago got in the habit of printing out code modules on greenbar paper, marking them up with highlighters and ballpoint notations, and tacking them to the wall. The later 24-pin models are reasonably quiet, perfectly legible, fast, and cheap as hell to operate. Moreover, they last forever, too. I still have and use an Epson dot matrix from 1984, and it works as well as when it was new. And if you want to do multipart forms, you can't use anything else.

    And while this wasn't on the list, I have to mention...

    Analog film cameras: There are still a lot of things you can't do as well digitally, but even if that were not the case, that's missing the point. Photography is an activity, just like snowboarding or building hotrods. Even if digital was better across the board, a lot of people would still use film cameras, just as a lot of people kept painting after film arrived.
  • by Naffer ( 720686 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:52PM (#8184877) Journal
    Actually, the only reason I wouldn't drive a car with a digital speedometer is that then I'd know for sure how fast I was driving. I prefer to see the hand at 90 and say I'm probably doing 85.
  • Die die die (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bugmaster ( 227959 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:01PM (#8184976) Homepage
    It seems that most of the technologies that "refuse to die" are in fact dying out -- but slowly, at the human pace, along with their users. I personally prefer digital watches to analog (they tell me the exact time, date and day of week, not some weird polar coordinate thing), I could never go back to using typewriters (one word: undo), and I couldn't care less about how many vacuum tubes were used to record the music I listen to, as long as I can get it on mp3. All of these technologies are still in use because they invoke some sort of a sentimental response from their users, sort of like vinyl does for audiohphyles. In other words, the value of the technology is not intrinsic; what has value are the memories of the user. For someone who doesn't have the same memories, the technology loses its retro appeal.

    Of course, no technology can ever truly die -- we still use fire and plows, after all. Still, I think if you compare the sales of manual typewriters (~500k/year, according to the article) with the sales of computers, I think you can pretty much pronounce them "mostly dead".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:09PM (#8185042)
    How many people here have ever been subjected to a digital speedometer? They've only been put on a few cars in the past, and it seems that they're always eventually replaced with an analog dial. The reason of course, is that you can tell at a glance how fast you're going. With a digital readout, you have to actually read it.

    Wrong. The digital speedo is better for telling how fast you are going. The analog one is better for telling how fast your are accellerating. Digital gives good instant information, analog provides rate of change. Hence a combination of the two give the best of both worlds.
  • by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:11PM (#8185060) Homepage Journal
    Time is a measure, not a number. If you want to know that it's exactly 3:59pm, then a digital display is fine. If you want to know how long you have until it's 3:59, then analog is the way to go..

    With a digital clock you have to read the number do the math and then figure out what the resulting number means. That's too much work if your real attention is on something else.

    With an analog clock you just note the distance. As that distance gets smaller, so does your time left.. simple as that.

    If I have to wake up at a specific time without (or ahead of) an alarm clock, I'll look at the time, convert to analog if necessary (I have a digital watch) and imagine the movement that has to occur between now and when I have to wake up... then I'll go to sleep and wake up at the apointed time.
    Dunno why it works. I read it in a (fiction) book once, and tried it. It worked, so I kept it in my bag of tricks.

  • Re:FAX! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Urox ( 603916 ) <luthien3@jun[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:14PM (#8185078) Journal
    I am rather glad that a lot of businesses use fax as communication. There isn't a scanner where I work so that route is out.

    With a fax:
    * I can send in my reciepts for health care reimbursement instantly AND keep the receipts.
    * I can sign legally binding medical release forms and get medical documents on their way rather than stopping by the physical office (which may be in another state) or waiting for the mail to deliver forms.
    * Faxing is cheaper than a 32 cent stamp in many cases.
    * I don't have to worry about our inconsistent mail carrier who decided he didn't have to deliver to us more than once a week as well as kept mail at the office undelivered. He also has continuously misdelivered mail, both for us (my SO and me) and not for us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:38PM (#8185260)
    I hate it when people bitch about the new phones. Any new phone can do what an old phone does as good or better. A new phone will still let you make a phone call by typing in the numbers and pressing send. A new phone will still display the time while the phone is idle. A new phone will also let you browse the web, send SMS/MMS messages, play games, take pictures, even track your pms []. If you dont want to use any of that new fangled scary technolgy, then dont!
  • by dinodriver ( 577264 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @08:56PM (#8185461)
    How about the bicycle? Sure, they get lighter and are equipped with fancier doo-dads all the time, but the basic has remained the same for a century. No other human powered vehicle has come along to challenge it (skateboards and scooters sell but nothing like bicycle numbers)

    A human on a bicycle is at least 100 times more efficient than a human walking or running. There are more efficient animals than humans, but few if the human is on a bicycle going about 8mph.

    I think it's possible that a human on a good longboard skateboard with large, soft wheels may be even more efficient assuming smooth pavement (though he's not seated so maybe not) but a bicycle is obviously able to handle a wider variety of terrain.
  • by Nickjansen ( 749253 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @09:07PM (#8185557) Journal
    How the hell do you compare a digital watch to an analoug watch. 1. an analoug watch is over a 100's of years old and has stood the test of time. the digital watch is only say 20 years old. 2. a cell ph has the same if not more functions and you dont need that much shit doing the same stuff 3. a anagloug watch has a much more elegant look to it.
  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @09:23PM (#8185698) Homepage Journal
    Or keep it even simpler - don't wear a watch at all.

    A few months back, I read an article about the recent slow decline in the sale of wrist watches in the US and Europe. It seems that people are one by one realizing that it's now nearly impossible to be out of sight of a clock of some sort, so why wear one?

    Myself, I realized this 5 or 6 years ago. Then a slight rash appeared on my wrist under my current watch, and went away when I didn't wear the watch for a few days. So I simply laid it aside, and I haven't really missed it.

    My computer screens all have the time in a corner. My car has the time display on the radio. In the kitchen, both the microwave and regular stove display the time. Nearly every room in the house has a clock in some gadget. Walking down the street, clocks are everywhere. My cell phone shows the time when it's not being used as a phone, so in the rare instances I can't see a clock, I can reach into my pocket and get one.

    Watches really are pointless now for many of us, except as jewelry.

  • by seeks2know ( 702160 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @09:28PM (#8185745)

    I'm a west coast guy, it's late in the day, so nobody will read this anyway, but...

    I've read all of the analog vs. digital debate. It's great to see such spirited debate over these simple devices.

    This is the way I see it:

    Analog watches prevail because the user interface is better. The time can be read and comprehended more quickly.

    Digital watches provide extraneous data. Knowing that the time is 5:13:47 PM adds no value. We really just need to know it's about a quarter past 5pm.

    The technology of how the information gets displayed is unimportant. The analog display could be electronically instead of mechanically driven. All I care about is the results.

    My watch needs to show me the time in an analog fashion (until something better comes along), look good and last for a long time.

    So here is my takeaway:

    As we techies develop our software, we need to remember that our user does not care about what goes on under the hood, as long as the program delivers the right results. And the most important part of the results is the user interface.

    The user interface does not necessarily need to be sexy. It just needs to serve the need.

    And overfeatured is just as bad as underfeatured.

    Usability is the key.

    For what it's worth...

  • by Ozan ( 176854 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:18PM (#8186137) Homepage
    I worked as a paramedic (sort of) for one year and never got problems using a digital watch when counting someone's pulse. When you start counting at second 33 you simply stop at second 33, there is no need to count the seconds. The same it goes with fractals of a minute, before you start to count you wait for the next even number, say second 40, and measure when to stop, as for 40 it would be 55 when counting the quarter of a minute. Since when is arithmetics such a big deal?
  • by yohohogreengiant ( 719145 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @10:58PM (#8186445) Homepage
    It really all depends on what you grew up with, and where. Analog more closely represents the "real world". The earth spins, and the shadow of your sundial spins around with it. It's cyclic as well, showing the whole period of sweep for 12 hours.

    Digital watches always scream the same time: It's always NOW. NOW, NOW, NOW. There is no sense of future or past inherent in the digital watch. For people who grew up in a time when past events and future possibilities were important enough to receive attention whenever consulting the current time, the digital watch is lacking.

    Finally, as an oceangoing navigator, there is something very basic about the analog chronometer that is completely lacking with those little LCD's. 12 Goes into 360 just fine, which can be handy when thinking in terms of time being relative to a circle on the globe. It just isn't as apparent on the digital watch. There are a bunch of short-cuts when figuring out position that just isn't suited for digital. Also, a wind-up chronometer is somewhat less likely to suffer EMP from close lightning.
  • by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @11:07PM (#8186509)
    Actually, I hate to bring this up, but the iMac was really what made USB take off. Before the iMac was released, PC makers had been pushing USB, but peoples' existing devices weren't compatible so they weren't popular and USB devices didn't sell, thus nobody made them. Kind of a chicken-egg problem. Apple comes out with the iMac, where USB is the only peripheral option, and everyone and their mother started making USB products because there was now a real demand for them. When the devices were available for Mac, Windows users started buying them too. The reason Intel doesn't incorporate FireWire on their motherboards is because they don't like paying Apple and Sony royalties for firewire controllers. Besides, they'd rather see high-speed USB 2.0 succeed, because they get to collect royalties from other companies on that. In other words, it's strictly business.

    As for PowerPC, yeah, lots of embedded devices use PowerPC-derived chips, including the Nintendo GameCube, countless routers and the TiVo. IBM used to make low-end AIX servers with PowerPCs, but I think they've stopped that. Though, one benefit of Apple being IBM's only PowerPC customer is that IBM will basically custom-build chips for Apple. Microsoft wishes it had that kind of power. ;)
  • by fingusernames ( 695699 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @12:16AM (#8186855) Homepage
    Exactly. I race... I just cannot get into the Tack Tick. There's something about the fluid compass, the motion corresponding with the boat, and the quick and easy ability to figure out tacks and course changes.

    I also race cars sometimes... there's a reason analog instruments are preferred. A *very* quick glance down instantly tells you what you need to know, almost without taking your eyes off the track. A pressure driven analog oil gauge can tell you information about the condition of your engine from the motion of the needle, something you wouldn't get from a digital instrument.

    There are lots of times that analog is superior.

  • by TEB_78 ( 748262 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @04:47AM (#8187123)
    The reason I've heard is that with analog speedometers people focus on where they are going. And drive aproximatly at the speed they want. But with digital speedometers they focus on the speed and goes aproximatly where they want. People tend to respect the digital representation more (too much).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @09:32AM (#8188398)
    The problem with drum machines is their perfection. Human drummers don't hit a perfect rhythm. It's slightly off. Not enough to notice consciously, but more than enough that it makes computerized drumming sound, well, computerized. Also, the mild variations in the exact sound from each drumbeat is something you won't get from a computer either.

    The solution is to replace the drums with electronic drum pads and still have a human drumming, or to create drumming "personalities" that distort the sound and rhythm in such a way as to make it sound human. The first approach offers very little benefit (though as the group two loons for tea has shown, it does make it sound very natural), and I doubt the second approach has had much research pumped into it.
  • by user2048 ( 198694 ) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @09:39AM (#8188427)
    Synthesized (or sampled) versions of acoustic instruments somehow always sound different from the real thing, even on recordings or through amplification. On hearing, say, a synthesized/sampled trumpet, I think "hey, that sounds a lot like a trumpet". But it's easy to tell the difference.

    Part of the difference may be in the way they're played, and by whom. A guitarist is going to play differently, inc. different notes, than a keyboardist imitating a guitar.

    But a bigger part of the difference is probably the fact that the sampled/synthesized sounds don't really capture the original sound. The original attack is probably more complicated and variable (note to note). Acoustic instruments also have very different tone color from pitch to pitch (or note to note), either intentionally or because of the way the instrument is constructed.

    I don't think the synthesized/sampled versions of instruments like pianos and guitars take into account the slight ringing of other notes when one note is played.
  • Re:quote (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:45AM (#8189764)
    Why would one want to bring a rechargeable battery to RadioShack for recycling? You know that you can just recharge them?

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