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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 on...it's amazing the Mac has lasted this long after being pronounced dead several times.
    • 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)
      Ummmm...today'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 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.
    • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> 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.
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182964) Journal
  • by digitalvengeance ( 722523 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:14PM (#8182970)
    They still serve a very important purpose for many businesses: Multipart form printing.

    One company I work with prints 4 part invoices for in-home services. We've tested alternatives, but have yet to find a non-impact printer capable of getting the job done.

    I think its unfair to call the technology outdated when it still performs some tasks better than its modern counterparts.
    • 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 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 back...man 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:28PM (#8183170)
      NO KIDDING!!!

      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?

      • 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 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 MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @06:00PM (#8183612) Journal
          Strange that before I read the parent I was just about to point out that I have a nice analog watch because it looks good. I am a gadget freak, I have a cellphone/PDA combo that I use for video, web, phonecalls, calendar etc. I could quite easily look at it's clock, and I'm sure it wouldn't take more time than moving my arm to look at my watch.
          This is immaterial, however. A watch is a piece of jewelery and that's how I like it! IMO gold ones look tacky, but I have a nice, robust aluminium Quiksilver analog watch which cost about GBP100, looks great, does it's job perfectly and should last a good 10 years. I keep phones for 6 months, if that - my watch is an accessory and I like it that way.
    • Watches for Nursing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aumaden ( 598628 ) <Devon@C@Miller.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:54PM (#8183535) Journal
      Friends in the nursing professions all use analog watches. It's apparently difficult to take a pulse with a digital. Counting while watching a number changing is hard on the ol' brain.
  • Fortran is # 10 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@NosPam.thomasleecopeland.com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:15PM (#8182977) Homepage

    Forty-seven years after IBM unleashed it, Fortran (formula translation), the original "high-level" programming language, would seem to be the infotech equivalent of cuneiform. But it's still widely used, especially in scientific computing.

    No need to throw the Fortran libraries away, though, just wrap them [gfd-dennou.org] in a higher level language [ruby-lang.org]. Chances are it'll be fast enough, and it'll almost certainly be a lot easier to use.
    • It's much easier to vectorize Fortran loops than C loops, as Fortran does not have pointers and it's almost always safe to vectorize. Vectorizing is the easy part, figuring out if it's safe is extremely difficult in C/java.

      So as strange as this may sound fortran can be much faster!

    • Re:Fortran is # 10 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:37PM (#8183312)
      Fortran isn't really as outdated as the article makes out. For a start, it's not quite the same as the IBM language from the 60's - recently we've had the Fortran 90 and Fortran 95 revisions, and I believe there was even a Fotrtran 2003 revision.

      The reason that Fortran is still popular in the scientific community is that it's pretty well optimised for the kind of tasks that you're likely to be doing. For example, Fortran has complex numbers as a basic data type. It's also simpler than C based languages for working with multidimensional arrays - no need to futz about with arrays of pointers or whatever, just declare a (resizable, if desired) multidimensional array. In general, the builtin functions are designed to work well on parallel architectures, so writing good parallel code isn't (quite) so much hard work.

      Basically, Fortran is still used because it's well adapted for the job it's doing. The fact that it isn't used in application programming is because it sucks for that purpose.
  • 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...
    • 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 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.

    • I use a typewriter almost everyday at work. Typing purchase orders requires a typewriter, since ours are carbon paper based.

      And I find that feeding an envelope or a label into the typewriter is much easier than setting up the printer to print one address. It may not be elegant, but it's simple

      Of course, I can't surf slashdot from a typewriter.
      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:44PM (#8183413) Journal
        IMHO, there's really no good reason anyone should need a typewriter for the purpose of filling out purchase orders!

        The problem is, your workplace is still using the "old tech" of carbon paper based forms.

        The last company I worked for that made us fill out multipart purchase order forms finally phased them out completely. They installed new computer software that let employees complete the whole purchase order online. Sure, a few people complained and moaned about how much harder it made things - but over time, even they started getting used to it. (How often do you re-order something from the same supplier? I bet it happens fairly often. Sure is nice to have the PC fill in the whole address for you when you key in the name of the vendor, because it remembers them all in an address book.)

        It's also nice when someone needs to locate an old purchase order to figure out when a warranty expires or what was paid for a product the last time it was purchased. Just do a quick search in the computer, instead of digging through thousands of papers in a filing cabinet!
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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
  • One word (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kizzle ( 555439 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183021)
  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info&devinmoore,com> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183022) Homepage Journal
    As the owner of a Bulova timepiece, I am insulted that the other values of older technology like a watch are not considered. For example, the artistic merit and fine craftsmanship of my watch are enjoyable to me every time I use the watch. On a shallower note, it's dead sexy. The same conundrum was brought up about photos vs. oil paintings at the beginning of the 20th century -- sure, photos represent a "clear" picture of something, but they in no way diminish the quality and value of an original Rembrandt painting.
  • 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 nil5 ( 538942 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:18PM (#8183025) Homepage
    Some of us forget that "new" is not necessarily "better".
  • 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 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.

    • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:19PM (#8183043)
    My mother's a nurse, and she told me once that she MUST have an analog watch with a second hand when counting somebody's pulse. I tried it once, and she's right - you just can't count both pulses and seconds if you're looking at a digital display.

    I think what's happening here is that with the analog watch, you use the "number" part of your brain to count the pulses, while you use the visual part of your brain to see when your 60 seconds is up (by looking for the position of the second hand).

    With a digital seconds readout, you end up using the "number" part of your brain for both tasks, and you get screwed up.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:20PM (#8183058) Journal
    For ten years, now, the media have been saying that any day now chemical photography will just go away. Bloom County, back in the early nineties, had Opus and Milo flushing a 35mm SLR down the toilet lamenting, "Oh, little Nikon, we hardly knew ye." And that was back when you couldn't touch a decent digital camera for under a grand.

    And yet people are still buying 35mm film, shooting pics on it, and having it processed. Those single-use cameras (manufacturers bristle at the word "disposable") are still quite popular.

    I do see more and more people with digital cameras nowadays, naturally, but rumors of the death of chemical photography are greatly exaggerated. University art departments still teach the old-fashioned methods.

    I could go on and on about this forever, but there are other and better posts to read below.
  • by JohnGrahamCumming ( 684871 ) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjgc.org> 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.


    • by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#8183342) Journal
      if you like a clock that's quick to read, AND you're a MacOSX user, may i recommend fuzzyclock [objectpark.org] ?
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> 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!
  • 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

  • Small benefits (Score:3, Informative)

    by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#8183081) Homepage
    Two things I like about analog timepieces:

    The first is that you can usually make out the time further away, and in poorer lighting conditions, from an analog clock versus a digital.

    The second is that you can use your analog watch as an impromptu compass. In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch flat and point the hour hand towards the sun. Now bisect the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 (ie. noon) on your watch to give you a North-South line. In the southern hemisphere, hold the watch dial and point the figure 12 (ie. noon) towards the sun. The line that bisects the angle between the hour hand and the figure 12 is the North-South line.
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:22PM (#8183085)
    ...it actually points out why these "old-fashioned" technologies continue to be popular. You wouldn't know that from the /. intro.
  • VHS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SimplyCosmic ( 15296 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:26PM (#8183149) Homepage
    I'm actually somewhat surprised to see VHS not being listed. Despite large chains like Circuit City and Best Buy having gotten out of VHS sales, people still refuse to upgrade even to a $40 WalMart DVD player. These same people will complain to any employee at a store that sells or rents DVDs about how they don't have enough VHS tapes, but won't even consider the idea that times have moved on from the format.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:27PM (#8183152) Homepage Journal
    I have a technology they missed (granted, it is somewhat specialized), and one I feel they incorrectly marked.

    The one they missed is IEEE-488 (a.k.a. GPIB) - a control bus used in instrument control. 1 Mbyte/sec (unless you used a bastardized protocol), 30 units maximum, length limits, interface cards that cost US$500 or more, yet customers are STILL asking for GPIB over USB or Ethernet.

    The one they wiffed on is vacuum tubes. Sorry, but when it comes to making high power RF amplifiers tubes are hard to beat - it is a great deal easier to use a vacuum tube running at 3000V to make a kilowatt of RF than a transistor at 30V - and when you get up to microwaves (2GHz and up) tubes are kings. True, when a (sic)audiophile(cough) claims tubes are better for low power audio.... Well, as a coworker of mine says, "I don't argue with wheelbarrows - I push them."
  • 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.
  • Floppy Drives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sergeant Beavis ( 558225 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:31PM (#8183210) Homepage
    He most certainly should have included old floppy drives. I no longer order a floppy drive when buying new PCs or Laptops for my company, but you can still get them if you want. USB keys are just too dang handy and hold alot more data. I'm amazed that the ole 3.5 disk is still around. At least that is better than the super old 8 inch disks I used so long ago.
  • by Rufus211 ( 221883 ) <[gro.hsikcah] [ta] [todhsals-sufur]> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183252) Homepage
    Here's a real link to the article instead of having to look through Google:
    Ten technologies that deserve to die [msn.com]
  • Uh, the floppy disk? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by carambola5 ( 456983 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:33PM (#8183253) Homepage
    Gone are the times when the floppy is the only rescue tool for a b0rked computer. Bootable CDs and USB drives have fixed that. So why are they still around? For all intents and purposes, USB drives beat floppies in every respect: physical size, storage size, access time, mtbf.... the list goes on.
  • 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 OldVersion.com [oldversion.com] . Newer isn't always better.
  • 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.
    • Re:vacuum tubes?! (Score:4, Informative)

      by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:39PM (#8183347)
      Of course, vacuum tubes are alive & well in every radio & television station, and every microwave oven across america. There are solid state devices that will do a similar job, but they are horribly expensive & not as robust.
    • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity@sbc g l o b a l . n et> 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.

  • FAX! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @05:40PM (#8183363)
    Good lord, fax needs to go away. I've bitched and moaned about this at my office for FIVE YEARS.

    In addition to that, there needs to be some way of physically inflicting pain upon people who print documents and don't pick them up from the printer. It's a waste to print at all, but if you then don't even get your wasted print out ... what are you thinking?
    • Re:FAX! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Urox ( 603916 ) <luthien3.juno@com> 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 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 is...is 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?

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:17PM (#8184550) Homepage Journal

    Presenting different content to Google than to random visitors is deceitful. They want the Google goodness of appearing to offer publically available content, but don't actually want to offer it. They're effectively lying to Google. If you don't want to offer content to non-subscriber's, that's fine. (I pay for two subscriber only online magazines that I respect. They play fair and their content either isn't indexed, or only the table of contents and summary pages are indexed.) But don't lie about the availability of content to Google. (I'm complaining now because this article features just such an example regarding Tech Review's use of this sleazy trick [google.com]. My other pet peeve is IGN [google.com].)

    Anyway, if you encounter this crap, step one is to report the site to Google [google.com]. This is a case of "Page does not match Google's description" and "Cloaked page" and is clearly web spam.

    Step two is to read the page anyway. Set your web browser's user agent "Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html)" and you're good to go. You may also need to disable JavaScript so you don't get redirected. Personally I just suck down the page with "wget --user-agent="Googlebot/2.1 (+http://www.googlebot.com/bot.html) http://www.example.com/".

  • 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 alchemist68 ( 550641 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @07:47PM (#8184837)
    I first got hooked on analog watches when I took a vacation to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia Pennsylvania. Looking at the detailed construction of American pocket watches from the late 1800's and early 1900's facinated me. THESE are real time pieces, with hard steel gears meshing with softer brass gears, mounted on pinions that are encased by jewels. The balance has tiny screw weights to make the balance "balanced". Most of the gold-plated cases were warrented for 20 or 25 years! These devices were designed to last your lifetime, not designed with built-in obsolescence like today's products. More importantly, they were built by real people with TALANT in engineering, metallurgy, and art. Many of the the movements had very decorative Damaskeening engraved on the plate nickel and stainless steel bridges. Waltam competed fiercely with Damaskeening.

    To date, I have several American pocket watches, the oldest made in 1886 and the newest made in 1912. I even managed to find a 17 jewel Waltam Appleton Tracy Railroad pocket watch at an auction for $58 back in 1992. It needed some work, so I took it to a certified master watchmaker to replace the main spring, cleaned it using ultrasonic waves, and lubricated everything again. THIS WATCH KEEPS PERFECT TIME, and it's almost 100 years old!

    Now I wear an Orient (subsidiary of Seiko) that has an automatic winding mechanism, has a second hand sweep, tells the day and the date, has a 21-jewel movement, is water resistant to 50 meters, is made of all stainless steel construction, and it only cost me $40 (you have to know where to get them at low cost). I wear THIS watch because I work around NMR instruments ALL DAY and it is unaffected by the superconducting magnets and the 10 Gauss magnetic field. The only thing "wrong" with the watch is that it gains 5 minutes every two weeks, otherwise, I'm VERY happy with THIS cheapo analog watch.

  • Musical Instruments (Score:5, Informative)

    by fornix ( 30268 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @09:25PM (#8185724) Homepage
    Despite all the advances in in technology and manufacturing, old musical gear still reigns supreme in many areas. A vintage Neumann U47 mic (like the Beatles used) fetches a tidy sum and sounds better than most anything made these days. They don't make the exact replacement vacuum tube for it anymore, but there are close substitutes.

    And speaking of tubes - the rich nonlinear sound of a tube amplifier hasn't yet been replaced by a more modern equivalent, especially for electric guitar. I think one of the articles mentioned vacuum tubes.

    Piano, horns, guitar - most all acoustic instruments have nice sounding synthesized sampled versions that can be had at a fraction of the cost. These can be played from your computer or a keyboard. Yet the physical instruments, as expensive and potentially out of tune as they are, will probably always be preferred because of their human interface. Similarly, drum machines, which do not show up late or steal your girlfriend, are not replacing human drummers playing acoustic drums, except in 80's music and certain "techo" genres.
  • 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...

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire