It's cool to be old school
5 January 2006
When you're working in a technology field it always seems like the motto is "newer is better". Having just turned the Web 2.0 corner, we're now looking ahead to Web 3.0, and dreading Web 4.7. Don't use PHP, use Ruby on Rails. Not DHTML, it's AJAX. Gameboy? PSP! MD? MP3!
But there's just some things that don't seem to get any better. Products from days past that they'll never seem to top.
A couple of months ago, my keyboard died. This, my friends, was a sad event. 101 keys is precisely where it's at – it's the optimal balance of features and precision. Any less, it's incomplete; any more and you have a device that's littered with dangerous finger landmines that can easily pop-up an OS dialog in the middle of a life and death rocket duel.
So, it was with great trepidation that I trekked down to my local computer emporium to purchase a new one. Needless to say, it was a great disappointment.
When I'm typing, I like people in the next room to think that they're under siege by an M240G machine gun. I like keys with a spring action that could launch a small Russian satellite into low earth orbit. Furthermore, the whole assembly has to weigh enough to cause a small bulge in the fabric of space-time. Cheap plastic knock-offs from Crapco don't have this. They do have buttons that can change the volume on your lawnmower and open up the preferences menu in your dwarf throwing simulator, but no machine gun audio, orbital action, or gravity multiplying sturdiness.
As desperate as I was, however, I had to fork out for one of these flimsy knockoffs and then struggle to type on it for the next two weeks – its featherweight build moving all over the desk, its confoundingly placed shortcut keys reducing productivity by an estimated 47%.
When my parents later reminded me that there was the carcass of a 486 in their basement that I could butcher, I was in raptures. The weight ... the spring ... that weirdly off-colour plastic shell. Keyboard heaven.
Sure, it's part nostalgia and part resistance to change that makes these old school items seem unbeatable, but there's also an undeniable quality to them. I'd like to know: what's your old school obsession?
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