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The $500 Computer

There is a strong correlation between a new computer’s initial cost and its performance characteristics. This performance is mostly or completely fixed over the life of a computer. Some components are upgradeable, but laptop processors are soldered to the motherboard. Some manufacturers (Apple) now sell laptops with fixed RAM and storage as well.

The minimum performance characteristics that software developers, engineers, and programmers (the world) expect computers to have increases over time. When you get a new computer, there is usually some margin between its performance characteristics and what the world expects. As time goes on, this margin closes and your computer seems slow. Eventually, the world’s minimum expectation exceeds your computer’s capabilities and your computer becomes garbage. The technique employed by computer manufacturers to drop the price of a laptop to the $500 point is to use components with less capable performance characteristics. These computers ship with a slim margin between their maximum capabilities and the world’s minimums. They are slow to start and quickly become garbage.

Ballpark figures

$1500-$2500 computer will not be garbage for about 4 - 5 years
$1000 computer is good for about 3 years
$500 computer is practically garbage when you buy it

The $1000 computer seems to have the lowest cost per year of useful life.

Digging Deeper

Computers also have replacement barriers. It takes time / money / attention / effort (let’s use money for our units) to move all of your data from an old computer to a new computer. Let’s call that about $300. Over 15 years, if you’re buying $2,500 computers and getting 5 years out of them, you go through 3 computers and spend a total of $8,400 on hardware and overcoming replacement barriers. The total cost of the $1,500 computers that last 3 years is $9,000. The $500 laptops that you want to throw out a window every year (because they are garbage) cost $12,000 over 15 years.

So “splurge” on a new computer because it’s really saving!


Looking for A Few Good Nerds

Feedwire is growing. We are increasing our capacity to provide kick-ass IT support to you. In order to do so, we need more real live genuine Nerds on our staff. Finding qualified staff has been a challenge for us, and we could really use your help. Zach and Chris are a tough act to follow, but we have total confidence that with your assistance, we can succeed.

We’re looking for the fourth Beatle, the geek d’Artagnan, a master of all trades nerdy. Do you know anyone who might be a good match for our team? Can you refer them to us? Here’s a job description for you to share with your favorite future Feedwire Nerd. You can also click here to forward this very note to them.

Feedwire is a Los Angeles based IT consulting firm. We work to fill the three roles of IT in business today: Data protection and risk mitigation, enhancement and optimization of employee efficiency, and the support of business goals through intelligent technology choices and implementations. We fill these roles while maintaining the belief that technology can be magical, that Nerds don’t have to be nerdy, and that human skills are just as important as computer skills.

Our customers vary in size from residences and sole proprietorships to hundred-million-dollar companies. Their industries span entertainment, law, finance, retail, manufacturing, and more. We even work for some guys who wear mustaches and carry guns. They run mostly on MacOS and iOS with a smattering of Windows, Linux, Android, and Blackberry.

We are looking for a few good Nerds. In a single day, our staff members may be asked to wear many hats: CTO, Accountant, Suicide Hotline Operator, IT Manager, Tier 3 Tech Support, Network Engineer, DBA, Webmaster, and friend. Each role needs to be handled expertly. We find joy in solving problems and take pride in our attention to detail, all the while saving money, time, and grief for our customers.

Are you an IT Nerd rockstar? Are you amazing with Mac OS and terrific with Windows? Do you have a passion for technology? Are you the scientifically improbable love child of Doc Brown, MacGyver, Dr Who, Doogie Howser, and Chuck Norris? Join us! Fill out our application and take the test here: http://www.feedwire.com/hatchery

If you refer a candidate that we hire, the entire Feedwire staff will take you out on the town for dinner and drinks, and if you’re lucky, dancing and karaoke. If you prefer, we can provide a few hours of IT support to you, on the house.


Henry Ford

If you need a machine and don’t buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it, but don’t have it.

It’s good advice. Perform a basic cost-benefit analysis: consider how much time is worth, and multiply it by the amount of time the machine will help you save over its lifespan. Is that number greater than or less than than the cost of the machine?


Ask a Nerd in Vegas

It’s been a busy month for this nerd. Feedwire traveled along with Profiles Television on their Escape Routes project. We designed and implemented a portable managed network to ensure their video streaming traffic priority over all other traffic on the production network. Malibu, New York, Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, and finally, Las Vegas. The project was a win-win—it was both fun and successful. Now our portable managed network is available for rent, so if you’ve got a production office to set up and need some rock-solid managed network gear, get in touch with us.

I’m on my way back to LA, but I’ll be taking questions all day. Hit this nerd up via comments and receive answers to your questions. Any realm of knowledge is fair game. Nothing is off limits. Ask away!


Ask a Nerd in the City

Los Angeles is a fine city, but today I’m writing from THE City. New York City, where they know nothing about the taste of picante sauce, but plenty about the taste of pizza. I’m here providing IT support for Escape Routes, but that’s not all I’m up to. I’m also here to answer your questions.

Come one, come all. Submit your questions and behold the answers. Ask any question from any realm of knowledge. No subject is taboo, no question is sacred. I will beam your answers through the clouds.

Post questions to comments.