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The Holmes Page THE SOAP BOX 1997/05/21



1997/05/21: Upgrade Frenzy   Upgrade. Upgrade. Upgrade. Everyone is in a feeding frenzy of hardware and software upgrades. 
But not me. No sir. 
I was using a 386/40MHz up until May of 1996 when I made a deliberate decision to purchase something that was not "leading edge". 
The machine I wanted and the machine I needed were two different things -- about two thousand dollars different. So I bought a new PCI motherboard with a matching ATI Mach64 video card and Adaptec SCSI controller. 
The CPU is a 133MHz 486. Really. Not a Pentium with MMX, although it is equivalent to a 75MHz Pentium. The only thing it doesn't do "fast enough" is Quake (but it is good enough). It even runs OpenGL for Win95 just fine. I expect to be using this machine for another year before upgrading again. 
Most of the time I am waiting on the Internet anyway. Having a faster machine would not do any good with that. Talk about yer bottleneck... 
Software is being "enhanced" so quickly, there is barely enough time to install one version before the next comes along. In the good old days, you could rely on a product version number being the same for a couple of years. Of course, the revision number might change, but it was just the number to the right of the decimal point. These days the whole thing is changing. 
Visual Basic version 1 was out for a year and a half before version 2 arrived. Then, less than six months later, along came version 3. It was a sign of things to come. I should have paid attention. Microsoft's Internet Information Server went through the same whirlwind schedule. You could make a career out of keeping track of upgrades. 
One thing I have been trying to keep up with is disk space. I paid $600 for an 80MB hard drive "only" seven years ago. Now it costs about $320 for a 2GB drive, but even that space may not be enough. 
Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment takes 2.4GB of space. Read that again. What a pig! Yeah, I know that it is a development environment, but how on earth can anyone even create a product that big? How do they test it? You can bet that there are numerous bugs, which means that you are going to need updates and patches often. OK, I know that they are actually separate products that are developed by separate teams, but that just means that they are not fully integrated. 
The only way to effectively distribute something that big is to not distribute it! The hugeness of today's programs, along with their rapid version progression, can best be handled with a "pay per view" approach to software distribution. You dynamically download the program (or parts of it) from the Net for a small fee when you need it, then toss it away when you are done. Since you always get a fresh copy, you always get the latest version. 
So that takes care of the hassle of software upgrades, but what about the hardware? What'll you give me for a good old 386 motherboard?

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