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Thursday, August 13 Front Page >> Random Rants >> Luddites slowing down technology...

Mar 22, 2002, 1:40am

I'm a man with a lot of pet peeves (yea, I know...). One of them is luddites. I don't have a lot of time or respect for them, especially when it comes to technology.

See, here's a backstory you don't know - a substantial portion of the development costs involved "backwards compatibility". Especially with the kludgemaster of all kludges, Netscape 4.x.

I used to love Netscape, even 4.x This was pre CSS and DHTML days. For what it was, it was good. My favourite feature, bar none, was the highly customizable bookmark bar, where you could drag, drop, and organize your bookmarks on the fly. I loved that.

But that was 1997. 5 years ago now. That's an enternity in web and computer technologies. But we spent literally thousands of dollars in manhours getting CoffeeGeek about 90% running for Netscape 4.x, because about 4% of our sites visitors use the technology, or about 80 visitors a day (out of about 2000).

I can't tell you how much that pissed me off. Luddites who don't want to upgrade their aging tech, but complain about it caused me to spend that money. Money I won't get back either, and you know what? Most of my clients won't either, even though they spend similar money with my company to get that backwards compatibility.

You know why I say that? I have serious doubts that someone who won't drop $600 on a new PIII 1Ghz computer will spend $2500 on a high tech mail solution, or $4500 on corporate seminars (some of my recent clients). Someone who still wants to get another year out of their 7 year old 28.8 modem isn't going to drop that kind of dough. Someone who thinks Windows 95 is the be all, end all of OS technology today, they won't spend that kind of dough. But we still do it.

Here's the deal. I couldn't care less if someone wants to get 4, 6, 8, 10 or more years out of their investment in technology. If you are happy with your Windows 3.11 computer, Wordperfect 4.2 and DOS, or Windows 95, Office 95, and Netscape 3.x, more power to you. Hell, if you're still driving a pre unleaded-gas car, more power to you as well. I am happy for you if you are satisfied with your choice in technology and are sticking with it - I'm serious.

But your not happy if you're bitching to people like me that a website doesn't work in your vintage 1996 browser technology. And that pisses me off. Stop your damned bitching, moaning and complaining that a site doesn't work with your technology ("so fix it", either said or implied to me), or you can't buy regular leaded gas, or you can't get current drivers for your 1994 vintage printer or OS. I don't want to hear it. Don't try to slow down technology for everyone just because you want your old stuff to still be 100% compatible with everything today.

Grr. This gets me real uppity, as you can see. But then I just go on, happy with my 1.4ghz desktop that loads Photoshop in a few blinks, using an OS that crashes maybe once a month, launching a browser that loads lightning on my current tech, and printing out near proof-color quality prints from a $300 inkjet.

All the while I praise the fact that technology advances to the point where I no longer have to deal with Photoshop taking 2 to 4 minutes to load, an OS that crashes every few hours, launching an old tech browser on an old tech computer almost at lightning fast speeds (but with many more incompatibilities with standards), or worrying about shelling out $3K for a color proofing dye-sub printer. Technology is good. Very good.

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