Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Right Tool For the Job

My son is finishing his second semester... and I thought I'd share a little about having the right technology tool for the job.  Some people overlook the obvious - and get caught in the hype and marketing.  This most often occurs in the personal technology market, where there is plenty of advertising, promotions and up-selling.  This includes computers, electronic devices, stereos, headphones, and the pads, pods, and other personal electronics.

Case and point... take a netbook... a small ultraportable two and a half pound note taking monster that will go several days between charging.  This is not a choice for an engineer, or someone who needs tremendous speed... it's a solid, long-lasting, basic computing device.

As a technologist who's been working in industry since 1984... I've seen a lot of trends come and go... and I know after these years, there are a few philosophies when it comes to purchasing...

1.  Buy what you can afford... because if you over-purchase, the equipment will be obsolete less soon.
2. Buy something upgradable, and hopefully you won't get stuck with upgrade options that are obsolete from advances... and that won't perform well, which often happens.
3. Buy what you need... at a price point where you can toss it and get a new one when you need it, provided the basic machine meets your requirements for the next year or two.

Well, the laptop's been ideal... no, it's not a status symbol, and nobody gasps at excitement... however, long after the "other students" stopped carrying around their eight pound monsters that could launch a space ship... the netbook still goes to class.

I have to chuckle.  My son had one of the kids beside him snicker a bit about the netbook... Matt asked what he had... of course it could launch nuclear war heads, crack the human DNA genome sequence, and do anything else you want.  It was too heavy to carry around... so... wrong tool.  Great status symbol... if someone goes to the dorm room to see it.  My son handed him the netbook, and the kid was amazed... it weighted less than the book for the class.

Next year, if the netbook is too slow... we'll buy a faster one... and give the old one away.  Moore's law... and the ever dropping price of technology means that he'll probably end up with a much faster laptop by purchasing new ones at cheaper rates, than someone who mortgages the house today.  Remember, get the best tool for the job!  It's often not the most expensive one.

There are additional factors that need to be included into the business cost-benefit scenario for the cost of conversion and retraining.  When you look at enterprise technology, the cost of conversion and retraining can make purchasing the right tool for three years down the road more common sense, or better yet... get a solution that can be upgraded and expanded.  Don't mortgage the farm... Moore wouldn't, and for your sake... use common sense... and make a solid business... or personal decision!