Sunday, June 28, 2009

Electronics and Us

Thanks to everyone who has commented about PCs vs. Macs, and feel free to keep the comments coming. We're still in decision-making, budgeting mode. But thinking about the electronics around here got me thinking about our last TV-buying decision.

You see, we like to get our money's worth out of things. Call it frugal, call it cheap, call it an attempt at good stewardship, but we hate to replace things that still work. That's why, when our incredibly comfortable couch became so frayed that it had reached the embarrassment-saturation point:

instead of buying a new one, I bought some fabric and (yes!It involved sewing!) covered the cushions:

(Oooh, that looks almost pink on my screen. Ugh. The couch is not pink. It's a nice, dark red.)

We just couldn't see spending money on a new couch when this one still worked.

And, that's why our old car, our beloved Putty, chalked up 227,000 miles before he collapsed. As our mechanic said, "He didn't owe you a thing."

Our last TV didn't owe us anything either. Awhile back, at the age of 13, it began to sputter. The picture would distort and go kablooey, but we found that if we smacked the side, the picture snapped back into place. Frugal people know that smacking the side of a TV is doable for weeks, even months. Perhaps years.

So, we smacked the TV on its right side until the day a bit of plastic fell off. Hmmm. Time to smack it on the left.

For awhile, anyway. Until you-know-what happened. So, there was still the top, right? And the picture was still snapping to attention with a well-executed smack.

Then one day, a bit more plastic fell off the side, and we worried that the thing had become a safety hazard. But, removing it from its home and carrying it to its burial place was easier said than done.

When Atticus hefted the body out of the entertainment center, it ... disintegrated. There was a sort of implosion of dust and aged plastic and the effects of repeated smacking. It was sad and ugly. I tried to shield the children from this wretched sight, but Anne-with-an-e jumped for the camera, and documented the TV's final moments:

Yup. That TV didn't owe us a thing.


Cay Gibson said...

I love it! The scenerio w/ the television is very familiar. We just bought a new TV after a year (or more) of "smacking" the sides. lol

Like I said before, if you can afford a Mac, by all means, go for it. Otherwise, do what the rest of the working folks are doing. Find the best, most affordable PC out there. :-)

Another plus for Toshiba girls' dance instructor & the sound system guy used one yesterday for the dance recital music.

P.S.---I really do hope you can get a Mac. Really! It's in my "future" plans too. ;-)

cliquish chicken said...

Dear Karen-

Love your blog- longtime reader but not commenter. But had to say: GET A MAC.

I don't own a TV so haven't seen the ads- but a Mac makes your life simple and easy. Turn it on and go. No fuss. My mother has gone through 4 different PCs in the 4 years I have had my same mac.

Also- via Umberto Eco:

"The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counterreformist and has been influenced by the "ratio studiorum" of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach - if not the Kingdom of Heaven - the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counterreformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It's true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions.....

And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is Talmudic and cabalistic."

Christine M said...

I love your TV. It makes me wonder if ours will disintegrate when we finally take it out of the entertainment center. We don't hit it though (partly because in the entertainment center we can't really reach the sides). But the contrast is shot. For years I wondered why so many people filmed scenes that were so darn dark and impossible to see - then I realized it wasn't the scenes, it was our TV.

on Mac vs. PC - we have both in the house - but the PC is the dominant one. A lot of it is what you're used to.

Charlotte (Matilda) said...

This is the last thing I will say on the issue and mind you, I have complete and total respect for anyone who practices extreme frugality... how much is your time worth? I read lots of blogs where people talk about the great find they made at a garage sale or a thrift store and I wonder "how many times did you go and find nothing before you made this amazing find" because that time was worth something.

If there is one thing a Mac will do for you it is give you back that chunk of time that a PC takes away every time it crashes.

From my computer nerd husband: Mac has embraced the open source community and there is lots of free software being written for the Mac platform but not for PC. It's a UNIX thing. And when you are totalling up the cost of a PC vs. Mac, please don't forget to add in the cost of anti-virus software and firewall software that must be renewed EVERY YEAR to be effective on your PC. Also, Windows is updating it's operating system in the next 6 months and there will be a licensing fee for that which is typically $100 to $300 dollars. When Windows changes their operating system (OS) old hardware becomes obsolete. Mac's OS are usually compatible with previous generations of hardware with the exception of a change in processor (2 in the last 15 years). Mac's new OS is out in a month and they are only going to charge you $29. Don't forget all the included software that comes with your Mac that you have to pay for with a PC. One final point... Mac offers an education discount for homeschoolers and you can buy a refurbished unit from Apple for less.

Karen E. said...

Cliquish Chicken, that is hilarious! Thanks!

Karen E. said...

Charlotte, you've covered all the points that we've been discussing, points that have had me leaning heavily toward the Mac. It's exactly the "how much is my time worth?" question that's significant in this season of life. Our current PC has me wasting a *lot* of time (though, granted, it's very old, and that's a huge part of its problem.) And I firmly believe that sometimes frugality means a good investment, not just what is paid up front for an item. That can't always happen, of course, with all purchases, but if it can happen, well ....

And, not only does Mac have an education discount, but right now they're offering a free iTouch as well. :)

Jennifer said...

I grew up a TV smacker. I can still hear the clangy thump in my head. I'm impressed with your, ahem, "stewardship". :)

Sara said...

You're cracking me up with the TV smacking until the whole casing is gone! Our tv just broke and dh kept smacking it, which annoys me because it didn't help and I think it just makes the problem worse (IDK why it worked for you!). Smacking or no smacking it died anyway.

Lovin' the mac discussion too!

KC said...

I have a couch like yours. It's 14 years old and the springs are great but the fabric is frayed. I need to recover it as well.

Warren said...

The pink couch problem means "too much white in your picture".

You need to increase contrast, lower the "exposure" setting if your photo program has that, or play with the "gamma".

Click link to see your picture with the contrast increased, for example:


Warren said...

okay this is another try to link the picture

Anonymous said...

We have a Mac. Great for personal work with graphics, as my husband is a Wildlife Artist; lousy for the internet or any other application. Everyone has their own 2¢ -- we're going back to a PC when we can. You get full internet service without all the Mac blocking on and off. and the graphics are excellent, nowadays.

BTW: I love your covers! I am into sewing - especially keeping all projects modest and wholesome, as many Catholics forget these days --- God Bless you! In Jesu et Maria - Adrienne.

Patty said...

I don't have an opinion one way or the other about your computer decision (I just turn the thing on and type) but your couch cushions are nice. Good job sewing!