Behavioural economists will tell you that the “happy high” you get from buying a new toy, a new device, a new computer, a new car or a new house usually wares off within three months. It’s called the ever-receding horizon of happiness (or something like that — something close to the ever-receding hair line) and it’s why I have a small car (just big enough for day-to-day requirements but not big enough to take the whole family on vacation), a fairly crappy laptop computer (good enough to run OpenOffice Write and an SSH client on, but not good enough to compile FPGA firmware or big chunks of software in any hurry, but that’s what the SSH client is there for) and why I’ve had the same iPad for the last five years or so.
When I bought my current iPad, I bought the best one that was available at that time. I use it on a daily basis to write E-mails, search the web, read technical documentation, watch the odd movie, play Sudoko1, etc. I’m pretty happy with its performance so far, but it doesn’t seem to want to update more than a few apps at a time. That and the long password requirement one of the mail servers I use puts on the iPad, and my up-coming birthday, motivated me to take the boys (my two sons) to the Apple Store and go look at a new iPad.
The new iPad Air 2 is a nice piece of engineering: it’s thin, it’s supposed to have a respectable battery-life, it has a nice screen and it runs iOS 8. I played with it for ten minutes or so and was thoroughly underwhelmed. I had decided that, because one of the reasons to buy a new one is that the old one crashes with a watchdog when you update too many apps, one of the tests would be to try to make it crash. Maybe I’m biased towards stable software, but while I was playing around on the iPad Air they had on demo, first one of the apps crashed, then the thing reset due to a watchdog. Not very impressive.
Of course, it didn’t help that an “Apple genius” asked me whether I had any technical questions — twice — and neither had an answer to my rather simple questions. So when the youngest of my two sons decided to go try the escalators, I decided that looked like more fun than spending a large amount of money on a replacement of my adequate iPad.
I bought my car trying to pay as little as possible in terms of maintenance, gas, etc. while still meeting my day-to-day needs — and saving more money than it would cost to rent an SUV for the duration of the family vacations if need be2. I bought my laptop computer (which cost far less than my iPad) so I can work at a local coffee shop while connected through my VPN to my server, where all the real computing is done. It has to be able to run a word processor (which I prefer not to have to pay for), run a browser, run a compiler if I can’t connect to my VPN for some reason, and talk to my phone. I bought my iPad so I wouldn’t have to take out my computer so often, and do pretty much all the same things plus watch movies read books and play Sudoko — none of which I do on my computer. Much to the frustration of sales people, I am not interested in having the fastest computer, the shiniest toy or the biggest car.
I am interested in having a good kitchen with all the right appliances, in having an office where I can work on electronics and have lots of light. We picked the colour of the counter-top for the kitchen considering what a raw salmon would look like being prepared on it.
<insert words of wisdom here> and try to keep your money in your pocket.