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Opinion: What a load of old rubbish

Built-in obsolescence, don’t you just hate it?

Moving house or swapping offices isn’t a barrel of laughs. It’s great once you’re there, all the boxes are unpacked and everything is in its rightful place, but the actual process is a right royal pain in the backside.

PC Advisor has just moved offices. We didn’t want to waste money taking things we no longer needed, so we decided to sort through the cupboards.

We weren't really prepared for the monstrous volume of stuff in our storerooms had aged faster than a Jim Davidson stand-up routine.

Four-speed CD writers. Copies of Windows 95. Adobe Photoshop version 3.0. They were all there. Not to mention software from companies that have long since gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Most of these products weren’t actually made all that long ago. The pace of progress today dictates that once things are more than a few years old they are as good as useless because they’re too slow or look naff.

But they still do the job don’t they? Reading this, you might think that I had something against new technology. Obviously I don’t, or I wouldn’t do this job, but I do think that sometimes things move on too fast.

Often technology can’t even keep up with itself. Recently, DVD writers went on sale that can write twice as fast as any before them. However, there’s no media available that can handle those writing speeds. What’s the point in that?

On the other hand, technological advances make life better. But must they create so much waste? If all the people who still owned a CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor threw them out every landfill site in the country would be full.

But soon CRT monitors will no longer be manufactured and thousands of offices, including ours, will be forced to replace monitors with shiny new flat-panels. The result of this will be tonnes and tonnes of waste, most of which will never be recycled.

So what’s the solution? Should we refuse to replace what we have until it actually stops working? Invest more in recycling and make it expensive to dump our ‘rubbish’? The answer isn’t clear, but what is obvious is that we can’t keep creating so much junk.


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