I didn't talk about this earlier, when I shared this image, so I'ma share it again and talk about it.


This is my friend Jon experiencing virtual reality for the first time. This photo was taken in my record store in 2015 or so.

He's using a $5 hunk of cardboard and plastic that I bought from a blisterpack at the corner store, and a Galaxy S3, which was already old enough that people were throwing them away (this was my step fathers.)

There's some stuff to unpack.


Okay, the first thing here:

This was clearly a magical moment in his life.

Like, you see that smile?

He was playing a space shooter. Not even a very good one. But that didn't matter.

And he was playing it on a two year old phone, with some cardboard, a washer, and some plastic lenses.

This was essentially garbage, that we turned in to something magical.

Eventually, we'll get in to what is represented by Virtual Reality as a medium, because I have Thoughts.

But right now, I want to focus on the fact that old tech and cheap tech and low-tech is valuable, viable, valid, and other v-words.

Ultimately, Google Cardboard will never be more than a simple toy, in a tech space full of $3-5k hardware.

But without that simple toy, who would be taking the $4k hardware?

Would anyone care, if they didn't have this $15 gateway?

We have a bunch of old phones, and old computers, and old tablets and laptops sitting in drawers and closets and basements.

This phone from 2012 could still make magic in 2015. Can still make magic in 2018. But it's sitting unused.

My primary laptop is an 8 year old thinkpad.

My primary desktop is a mid 2010 iMac.

I also use a 4 year old refurb chromebook from time to time. I stuck a new battery in it and I get 10+ hours out of it.

I used a 10 year old Kindle until I cracked the screen, and then got another about the same age.

What I'm saying is that we should focus on extending the useful life of our technology.

We have companies actively fighting against this. The companies that make are things make them to fail.

The companies that make our web services make them to require newer faster computers.

I spent half an hour today tooling around with the same Galaxy sIII and a google cardboard kit.

It was fun! There were some great games! I enjoyed it.

That's a 6 year old phone, $2 in cardboard, and $2 in plastic

The other thing about this image that I love is that Job is using a bunch o cardboard and an unwanted cell phone in the middle of a record store.

We were selling 50 year old hunks of plastic and brand new hand made equipment to play it back.

Open standards!

More open designs!

@ajroach42 My fridge is maybe 30 years old. My house is over 20 years old, and it's a new one. My bed is nearly 20 years old. They all work fine.

I feel like we have an insanely short usable-lifetime horizon when it comes to technology, and that's not a good thing.

@ajroach42 I mean, for comparison, my actual desktop computer, on which I play actual video games, is around 8 years old.

It's fine and continues to be fine.

@ajroach42 (I am every computer company's worst customer, I guess. I don't buy new things to replace things that are already working. I feel gross and icky if I do.)

@ajroach42 When I *do* replace this computer with a $1000 new one, it will probably be because a $5 fan stopped working, and it won't be because I chose not to buy that $5 fan; it'll be because either the fan is glued in and not user-replacable, or because literally nobody will sell me that $5 fan anymore because shruggie.gif 'economics'.

Yes, I get unreasonably grumpy about this situation.

@natecull @ajroach42 Nah, it's just because we don't know what we're doing. Give it a century.

@ajroach42 I have a 1st-gen kindle because all the newer models dropped the analog scroll wheel, which was one of its best features.

@ajroach42 eh, part of the problem is that stuff gets released that wasn't ever that good in the first place. so when it gets old, it's even worse than that. not much ages gracefully and even less so with newer products. the oldest phone i'd consider "usable" is my htc one m7 if its battery wasn't completely degraded. generally, lack of lte + aged battery + tiny internal storage = obsolescence

@trwnh as a phone, sure.

I’m not advocating that we carry old phone.

But a phone is not all it could be.

This is what annoys me so thoroughly about phone models that die due to defects in the hardware. @RussSharek, @Avalon, and I have all had a Nexus 5X fail in rapid succession, and meanwhile certain older phones like the Nexus 5 just keep working. I wish it were easier to know at the beginning which would last like tanks, because older phones can be invaluable.

@naugeleh @ajroach42 @Avalon

Agreed, he typed from the backup relic.

Hell, I'm tempted to buy another backup to my backup at this rate. ;)

@Brennan @naugeleh @RussSharek @Avalon That's honestly what I do.

But also, not usually viable because there aren't many places to buy older hardware online.

@Avalon @RussSharek @naugeleh @Brennan Or rather, the only real places to buy older hardware are online, and ebay is kind of skeevy as heck.

@ajroach42 I had two laptops stolen while in college. I haven’t bought one since (barring cell phones). My current PC is a circa-2008 laptop that was bought refurb by a family member, then handed to my younger brother for writing papers while in high school, then given to me b/c it was “useless”


I've personally purchased two actually new computers in my life.

I bought an eeePC 701 for $200 the year they were released. I bought a general craptop a few years ago.

Everything else is second hand, and has been since I got my first handme down 486 back in 2002.

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