My iPod has finally died, and I may have had a hand in killing it. Semiconductors shouldn’t get that hot. It was something of a kindness, though, as it’s been intermittently rubbish for nearly a year now (starting shortly after its warranty ran out, which is hardly a surprise). The newly-greened me is dithering over whether to buy a replacement: it would have to have longevity and reliability, which probably rules out anything made by Apple, which only has good looks. It’s rare to find something that looks fantastic, lasts a lifetime and is always there for you, and my advice in that case is to marry it.
It occurred to me yesterday, though, that for a geek, web developer and qualified physicist, I’m just not your standard gadget consumer. I mentioned this to K. and she looked at me like I’d started growing antlers. But consider:
- My iPod was bought for me. Arguably I was thinking of buying one for myself, but at the time I was also thinking of quitting my job to become a full-time author, starting up a network of freelancers and slaying my ex-landlord in a bloodthirsty rage.
- I have never bought a mobile phone, relying solely on the contract models.
- I bought one digital camera, a Kodak that started to play up after six months. When I finally ground it under my heel in a fit of pique in the otherwise charming confines of Glastonbury, I did not buy a replacement. A year has now passed.
I have never owned a:
- Video camera
- sat nav
- GPS locator
- Furby (technically)
- When my bicycle’s speedometer stopped working a few months into its use—the cable got damaged—I decided it would still make a perfectly good handlebar-mounted clock and let it be.
- Even the thought of getting a new computer for the house fills me with dread. My desktop and laptop are eight and six years old, respectively, and more or less work, so there is no impetus on me to buy replacements.
- I did buy a wireless network for home, but only after I’d decided that the technical, financial and security obstacles were all surmountable in return for a service that I would actually use.
Mechanical devices, on the other hand, fascinate me; as a student, though, not a consumer. I’ve always been one for twiddling with my own bike, and the semi-lemon (that nonetheless stood me for some eight thousand miles of commuting around Oxfordshire) forced me to climb many a steep learning curve on the landscape of mechanical repair.
I’ll happily replace a car battery, hack and ultimately fix the barrel-lock on the front door, or sort out the washing-powder tray on our Indesit. But I don’t particularly want a handheld device I can program Python on, or a camera outside of the one integral to my mobile. Despite my pretensions to programming, I’ve arguably been born at the wrong time: I want 1950s fridges, 1930s cars and late Victorian electrics. I want the whole world to be steampunk, and not just occasional graphic novels.