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  Buying computer and software

  At first, I was reluctant to buy computer products completely online. Many of the online computer stores used to sell exclusively through printed catalogs, addressing the technically astute. I found those printed catalogs intimidating and confusing. And preferred to go to a physical store, where knowledgeable sales people could guide me through the maze of choices, explaining the benefits and risks and costs.

  When egghead, the prominent software retailer, closed its physical stores and decided to operate solely online, I was shocked and disappointed, as I had shopped hardware or software regularly at the local egghead store and depended on expertise, judgment and advice from their sales people. Also, I greatly valued the fact that when I brought new add-ons or upgrades for my PC, I could pay to have them installed on the spot. But now I was forced to learn more about computers than I ever expected to learn. As it turns out, that’s probably a good thing for me and for my budget.

  Today, the computer industry is a commodity, standards-driven marketplace. Computer “manufactures” are really just assembles. They buy processors from one, software, disks, memories, from other sources, and assemble them into systems. The competition is fierce and the profit margins are slim. In terms of the basic specs—speed, memory, and storage—what we now define as a “complete system” for home use would have made a wealthy technical guru tremble with jealousy ten years ago.

  Fifteen years ago, is seemed inconceivable that an ordinary individual would ever need a 100 MHZ machine with 1 gigabyte of disk storage space. Yet, with the predictable improvement of technology, the speed of commercially available processors doubles about every 18 months according to a rule of thumb (known as “Moore’s law”). While at some point, technology must meet barriers that will slow the pace of change, the computer industry has been adapting at this incredibly rapid rate for more than two decades now, with great regularity. And the software industry has been keeping in lock step with these hardware developments by making each new version of the common applications that people depend upon more and more complex and bulky, requesting the full capacity of the latest and greatest hardware. I believe this software inflation results from the consequences of human nature—software expands to fill the capacity available for it.

  Basically, “Moore’s law” plus software inflation mean today’s computer system will not last. And the new versions of software will make your equipment painfully slow in two years, and obsolete in four. To stay compatible with other people with whom you have to share files, you should invest time learning about these add-ons gadgets, etc. to upgrade your system. Thus you can make full use of the shopping resources on the Internet, and save again and again.



  刚开始的时候,我不太情愿完全依靠网络购买电脑产品。许多网上电脑商店过去主要靠打出来的产品目录进行销售,上面清楚地写明了技术需求。但是我总认 为那样的产品目录看起来让人感觉有些发怵而且稀里糊涂的,所以我还是偏爱实体商店,因为那里有精通业务的销售人员,他们能指引我走出迷宫做出选择,他们还 能向我解释产品的优点、风险性和成本。

  当著名的软件销售商Egghead关闭实体店铺,决定只走网络运营路线的时候我感觉震惊和失望。因为我总是定期到Egghead在当地的实体店铺去 购买软件和硬件,仰仗那里的销售人员的专业技能、判断力和经验。还有一点让我非常看重的是:每当我购买新的附加软件或是将我的个人电脑升级时,我只需付些 费用就可以让他们在现场给我安装完毕。但是现在我却被迫去了解更多的电脑知识,而我以前是不需要了解这么多的。但是后来发现,这或许对我来说是件好事,而 且节省了我的预算。

  今天,计算机产业是一种商品,是一个以标准为市场导向的市场。计算机“制造者”们实际上只不过是组装者。他们从某个渠道购买处理器,从其它渠道购买 软件、光盘和内存,然后将它们组装成系统。竞争是激烈的,利润空间也不大。从最基本的配置——速度、内存和硬盘空间——来讲,我们现在所定义的家用“全套 系统”足以让十年前富有的技术权威羡慕地发颤不可。

  15年以前,似乎难以想象一个普通人会需要100兆的机器和十亿字节的磁盘存储空间。然而,随着可以预见的技术进步,仅凭经验(被称为“摩尔定 律”)就可以推知:商用存储器的速度每隔18个月就会成倍增长。然而,技术必定会在某个时候遇上某种障碍,使其减缓变化的步伐。计算机产业在最近二十年 来,一直处于令人难以置信的发展速度,到现在已经稳步发展了。软件产业一直与硬件发展保持着齐肩并进的态势,人们最常用的应用软件的更新版本愈发复杂与宠 大,只有用最新及功能最强大的硬件才能操作使用。我认为软件企业的这种膨胀源于人类的天性——软件需要扩展以充分利用已有的空间。

  从根本上来讲,“摩尔”定律加上软件膨胀就意味着当今的计算机系统不会维持长久。更新的软件版本会在两年内使你的装备显得速度极慢,四年以后就该淘 汰了。为了与和你共享文件的其他人步调保持一致,你需要花些时间了解这些附加软件、小工具等,以便将你的计算机系统升级。因此,你可以充分利用网上购物资 源,一遍又一遍地反复保存更新软件和工具。


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