The Myth of Obsolete Hardware

I have often observed individuals who are quick to blame the age of their computer for any number of the technical ills they encounter. Things ranging from sites being too slow to load or a piece of media that will not play. Informed users, by contrast, might readily attribute these things to constricted network bandwidth or some codecs that need to be installed, respectively. But for the common user, is it really their fault that they perceive any hiccup as a sign of the dreaded being out of date?

Just look at how the web has devolved. It is not uncommon for sites to load up dozens or hundreds of javascript programs, and mostly for the purposes of tracking and advertising. When this invariably causes pages to hang, stutter or for one's laptop fan to spool up, it is not because the hardware components within have somehow become slower. With few exceptions, computer parts are just as fast years later as they were the day they rolled off the assembly line.

Instead, I blame persuits such as the constant churn of media and the associated hardware extensions to accelerate it. I blame the constant creep of programs and entire operating systems to always consume more CPU cycles, memory and storage. And most of all, I blame the software that is today lazily built on top of libraries, which in turn rest on top of their own dependencies, making operations that were once streamlined into a mess of inefficient middleware.

This is all unfortunately invisible to the lower tech literacy group that this writing opens on. They are kept on a treadmill which they cannot see, and perfectly operational hardware continues to find its way into municipal dumps. Encouraging your colleagues, friends and family towards blocking web content and using simplified software is not only a gesture to preserve their sanity but also to protect them from paying a tax incurred by lazy, inept, malicious or incompetent software authors.

*Disclaimer: Yes, I recognize that there are actual limits as to what one can get by on. Though I assert that this boundary exists at hardware aged about 15 years, not the commonly assumed (or engineered?) 3-5 years.