tcepsa: (Computation Suspended)
[personal profile] tcepsa
In my past, the week leading up to Thanksgiving has always been one of anticipation. For almost all of my life, this has been due in no small part to the fact that my birthday tends to fall on or shortly after that fourth Thursday of November. However, it had been heightened by the tradition of Black Friday. Ever since I discovered that, if one were staunch of heart and geeky of spirit, incredible loot could be gotten at a pittance by rising early enough* I have been seeking out these bargains and prowling the aisles of Staples and Office Max at entirely unreasonable hours of the morning.

This year, I'll be there again, but while in the past I have often been keeping my eyes open for anything that I could use (a USB memory stick that's less than $1 per GB? Heck yes! A stack of DVDs for $5? Never know when you might need one!) this year I have only one item on my list: massive hard drives so that I can set up a RAID array because our old drives are getting old and we have no backups. Previous years I'd have a list of 5-10 things I'd be actively trying to score, and I'd map out my route between stores in a delicate balancing act between which ones had the things I wanted most and which had the most things I wanted. A new monitor. A video card. I think I even got my Nintendo Wii on Black Friday five years ago.** But this year? There's pretty much nothing. Part of that is because I just got a new laptop, and it's harder to replace internal components on that, but mostly it's because there's just nothing out there that's all that much better than what I already have for what I want to do. I'm not going out for some shiny new awesome toy this year***; I'm going out in order to do an arguably critical piece of maintenance**** that I should have done years ago.

Which brings me to my (slightly inaccurate) title. The main reason as I perceive it that I am not going out actively looking for more stuff is that there's nothing out there that I want that I don't already have. The biggest monitor I've seen in the ads for 2011 I've looked at so far is 27". I got a 24" one last year and it's already bigger than I use most of the time.***** Videogames? I have such a backlog already, and there's nothing that I've seen lately that really gets my interest anyway. Memory sticks? Yeah, I'm still loving that $1 per GB price, but I have about a dozen. DVDs? Do people still use those things? Backlit keyboard? I stopped using the one I have so I could switch to a wireless all-in-one. Nintendo 3DS? I just got a DS earlier this year; see also the aforementioned videogame backlog. Humongous TV? I have a projector that I'm thinking about upgrading when it dies, but I use it, on average, probably about once a month and I don't think I'd use a TV any more. Digital camera? Got one, love it. MP3 player device thing? We have 7.******

So it seems to me that at some point the computer and consumer electronics industries simply stopped making new things that I thought were awesome enough that I wanted to have them. Since I already have pretty much all of the things that they have already made that I think are awesome enough that I want to have them, I'm having a tough time getting particularly excited about this year's Black Friday sales. This isn't limited to Black Friday; it's just highlighted by Black Friday because Black Friday is when I'd rush out and try to get as many of these amazing things as I could.

"Effective computing speed" may still be doubling roughly every 18 months, but "net ability to capture my imagination" seems to have completely gone off a cliff. Where's my polychromatic e-Ink monitor? Where's my hi-res heads-up display? Where's my Murphy computer station? Where's my home automation system? Where's my chording keyboard?

Actually, I know where my chording keyboard is. The prototype is currently on the workbench in my basement. Which brings me to my final point: if you reach the stage where nobody is selling what you want to be buying, sometimes you just have to build it yourself.

*Or perhaps simply not going to bed at all in the first place, though I don't think I ever did that. Braved the hordes with three hours of sleep, yes, but pull an epic all nighter in Best Buy's parking lot? No, I don't think that ever happened.

**Good grief the Wii has been out FOREVER!

***Though having my own RAID array does have a certain level of geeky appeal ^_^

****Which is arguably completely unnecessary at this point, but I'd rather trust my data to a stack of drives that I'm maintaining than some cloudy corporation; who knows what they'd do with it, and I don't want to deal with the hassle of encrypting it before backing it up, etc. Baby steps.

*****That having been said, when I do have a use for the whole thing, it is FANTASTIC.

******You want thingamabobs? I've got TWENTY!
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