Sometimes when you look back on a situation, you realize it wasn’t all you thought it was. A beautiful girl walked into your life. You fell in love. Or did you? Maybe it was only a childish infatuation, or maybe just a brief moment of vanity. — Henry Bromel
I must admit to being a recovering techaholic. I have yet to meet a small bit of shiny new tech that I haven’t lusted after to some degree or another. Fortunately age and experience have tempered my passion (oh for those days of youth when even a mere passing glance at an IMSAI 8080 could cause my knees to go weak) for no matter how much we are devoted to these sirens of silicon, they are ephemeral mistresses, lasting for but a brief moment before the allure of a younger model draws our attention away.
Despite the indiscretions of my youth (that fleeting experimentation with a Timex Sinclair was but a passing fancy – I may have used, but I never coded), my law practice has given me a stable, healthier relationship with tech. Gone are the carefree days of tech for tech’s sake; now tech must shoulder the burden of bourgeois profit; dirtying her electrons with the mundane tasks of business – being used as simple leverage, a mere augmentation of a frail biologic. Tech has fallen from the pedestal by the entrepreneur’s implacable rule that investment must show a return.
Now that I am in a long term relationship with my tech, I find that myself attracted to her more mundane side – that’s not to say that a shapely aluminum frame or a well turned LCD won’t draw my eye (but it’s a look, don’t buy kind of thing). I am finding that up-time, stability, reliability, and redundancy are far sexier than an over-clocked CPU and a huge RAM cache (besides, I’m more a disk-man – there ain’t nothing like a big RAID array). While I feel a twinge of regret that I’ve ceased courting the cutting edge, her demanding nature (always wanting that upgraded OS or those new device drivers) and constant demands on my time made her a poor business partner – oh, when she worked, boy did she work, but meeting her mercurial nature was far too draining on my time and resources. But when one relationship ends, another begins and I find myself in a lovely, stable polyamorous relationship with an fairly open desktop system with a lovely RAID, a obsessive-compulsive incremental backup system, and a laptop whose battery life and screen size more than make up for her slight weight problem.
Sure the relationship had a few teething problems during the early stages – most were due to peripheral issues. I had come into the relationship with a fairly liberal attitude towards peripherals (hey, any port in a storm), but both the desktop and laptop were far more conservative – oh, once some strict compatibility issues were met, they were very willing to plug-and-play, but there were some false starts and a couple of peripherals had to be replaced when the systems underwent a major OS change about a year into the relationship. But that is all past now and all systems have settled into a stable configuration. Oh, there has been some recent talk about inviting a smartphone or a tablet into the relationship; the tech is willing to accommodate the right device, but I am still questioning if the addition will have a suitable ROI.
My decades long relationship with tech has taught me that there are a number of rules if you want a stable, profitable relationship with tech (the first being: “never buy a computer from a manufacturer of analog wrist watches”) with the key rule being that the difference between tech and toy is that you invest in tech and you buy toys. If that pretty little piece of battery draining, silicon won’t make you money then it’s simply a tech-toy, fine for a short term fling (if you can afford it) but it will never make it as a long term business partner.
When I look at tech now, through an entrepreneurial lawyer’s eyes, I no longer define “sexy” in terms of raw performance or number of features, instead I look in terms of functional life span, costs over lifespan, time saved, money saved, and my overall ROI. It’s a mercenary state of affairs where tech’s attractiveness is not determined by it’s distance from the cutting edge, but rather is determined by the amount of profit to be made by it’s adoption.