Obsolescence

Well, age is making its ugly presence felt here in the little law office on the prairie; it seems that what’s not wearing out is being forced towards the abyss of obsolescence by the simple fact that software is an ever-evolving entity while hardware represents a fixed point in time. While it is possible to stay the ravages of time – a bump in RAM here, a solid state disk there – eventually the operating system gods will deem a given combination of hardware to be unworthy of their further attention; damning these silicon sinners to the cold, electron-less hell of the storage closet where they shall wait until they are cast down, stripped of their reusable components, into the recycler’s bin.

And so it goes here at the little law office on the prairie; having extended the life of my desktop, laptop, and server with injections of memory, SSDs, and a wee bit of overclocking the little silicon darlings that have served me 24/7/365 for the last decade have been rendered obsolete by the simple fact that the gods above have decreed that they are no longer worthy of further OS upgrades. Thus perturbing the general tranquility of the little law office on the prairie for now a choice must be made; are these faithful servants to be forced aside to make way for younger brethren or are they to be kept in harness even though the threat of a zero-day bug draws ever closer.

For some, the decision is an easy one; wear has loosened the USB port on my PDA to such a degree that to get electrons to flow through it requires a major act of planetary alignment and has reduced the home button on my tablet to a translucent spot through which, in the right light) a wee bit of circuitry may be seen. It is obvious that these soldiers have fought their last battles and obsolescence brings welcome relief. But then there are the others; a bit past their prime it is true, but still productive bits of silicon all the same. The challenge then is to weigh utility against risk – a tough task for both are difficult to quantify.

Here, risk lies somewhere between a perpetual fear of the devils and demons that stalk the ether and the blissful ignorance created by the assumption that all attacks will be thwarted by the guardian angles that lie within one’s firewall; being neither paranoid or innocent I tend to accept that with each passing day without updates risk increases. A similar duality exists for utility; does one rush to embrace the most recent generation assuming that improvement automatically walks hand-in-had with new or is it that familiarity breeds productivity. Eventually the demands of the software I use will cause utility to drop below risk and make replacement inevitable. Until that happens, I think this little law office will keep moseying along with its aging hardware and its aging attorney.