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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up? 635

An anonymous reader writes: It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

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  • Gopher (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:06PM (#47787733)


  • Desktop (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:06PM (#47787743)

    I still like to use a desktop. Curse all you stupid laptop users!

  • Pen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dolmen.fr ( 583400 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:07PM (#47787751) Homepage

    I'm still using pens and Post-It to take notes, not my phone.

  • My watch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:07PM (#47787753)

    I still wear a wristwatch. I've worn one constantly since I was 10. I'll probably be buried with one.

  • pine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lexible ( 1038928 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:08PM (#47787759)
    (Well... alpine.)
  • by SiriusStarr ( 1196697 ) <SumStultusSedEsQuoque.gmail@com> on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:09PM (#47787765)
    'Nuff said.
  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:10PM (#47787791)

    that war is over, and vi won

    Now, as to interviewing people for IT, who will be working on *nix, asking "emacs or vi" used to be a teasing question, now you're lucky if they know what one or both are.

  • Old towers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wes jones ( 3805027 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:13PM (#47787807)
    I pick up old desktop towers and then put Linux on them. They run like crap, they serve no use, but I like to have them. Something about watching a Gateway 2000 boot up and be "usable" makes me happy.
  • by timothy ( 36799 ) Works for Slashdot on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:14PM (#47787821) Journal

    - Model M keyboard (I bought several when they were $5 at the Goodwill, including some with US Government stickers or NASA badges; if I knew then what I know now, I'd have loaded up a storage unit with them ...)

    - Nano (sure, it's not as old or as rabidly backed as Certain Other Text Editors, but it's so very nice to use ...)

    - Logitech Trackball. Unfortunately, the new ones are junk -- they seem to die in a few months. The old ones lasted me several years apiece.

  • Eudora (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saccade.com ( 771661 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:15PM (#47787829) Homepage Journal
    Yes, Eudora [wikipedia.org] hasn't updated since '06, but it's still by far my favorite email client.
  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:21PM (#47787873) Journal
    here goes:

    My good old trusty Data I/O 29A with UniPak (it's an Eprom programming station from the 80's) that I just love too much as I can edit Eproms-on-the-fly and enter manual data on it, copy eproms, and it's compatible with the weirdest stuff on the planet.

    Commodore SX-64, it's sort of a portable commodore 64 with built in 5.5 inch color screen & floppy disk...all in one practical unit, I have an assembler cartridge for it, and it's actually quite practical for coding 65xx series code on, and quick & dirty electronics projects I just connect to the I/O port (User Port), even in Basic.

    My extreme stash of millions and millions of NOS Discrete components from the 50s to the 90s, I can literally built a spaceship with those things, doc Emmet Browns time machine is next. Transistors, Linear Circuits, Cmos, Timers, PCBs, MCUs, Static ram, roms, pal & gals (pain in the *** to program), resistors, solar panels, mics, crystals, coil formers, oscillators, capacitors, reed relays, diode galore, tubes tubes and even more tubes.

    All my PCs I've built over some time, gets hard to part with them because 1) I can't get any money form them. 2) I always bought the best stuff. 3) It's not worth the agony of erasing all the pr0n...err...strike that last thing. And they're terribly practical for running old test gear, burners, peripherals etc. that doesn't work with todays computers.

    My lovely old test instrument park, oscilloscopes (got at least 5 of them), spectrum analyzer, multimeters galore, function generators, frequency counters, PSUs and whatnots.

    I don't even do this stuff enough justice, but you know what a MAN CAVE is? I just love to go into my MAN CAVE and sit there for serenity for hours and hours, even if it's just to write some pointless post here on Slashdot, and surrounded by all this cool stuff make me feel so 1337 H4xx0r and all that (no seriously...) it's like I'm a prop taken out of the old wargames movie (acoustic modems anyone?)

    It feels so lovely sitting there with those things, knowing that any second I could build any project I'd ever want. (And I do from time to time), but just because they're THERE...I don't know if anyone of you know this feeling, but it's very energizing. Whenever I feel completely depleted (either me or my batteries) I go there and start at endless wastelands of components. Luuuuuv it!
  • CDs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:21PM (#47787879) Journal

    ...because there's something tactile and convenient and immediately gratifying about flipping through a box of CDs, selecting one and slotting it in the player. With most audio gear supporting thumb drives, this doesn't make a lick 'o' sense, I suppose, but there it is.

    I could justify this, maybe as it being faster to find a physical CD than it is to navigate the rather clumsy interfaces in some gear, but it's really that it's nice to have something I can physically handle.

    I also make it a point to go through supermarket lines with a real cashier rather than a do-it-yourself scanner. Not because I am a technophobe (quite the opposite) but because I like dealing with a real human.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:25PM (#47787915)

    vi. Because emacs is for the devil.

    This year I delved into a Debian system, the first time I had really used a linux system in decades. What scared me was that when I needed to edit something my muscle memory took over and before I knew it I was happily editing away in vi.

    I haven't used vi since well before the turn of the century.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekd ( 14774 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:34PM (#47788003) Homepage

    Emacs user here. The only one in an office full of vi users. They and I have our config files set up so that indentation, etc all match, so when we open each other's code it's not all goofy looking.

    I *can* use vi, I just prefer emacs, and I always have.

  • Cable Lacing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bearded_yak ( 457170 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:37PM (#47788019) Homepage
    I love cable lacing with waxed linen string. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org] I've never seen a more elegant way to bundle cables. Velcro is close, but maybe I'm just old-fashioned.
  • Re:The VCR (Score:3, Interesting)

    by javajeff ( 73413 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:39PM (#47788039)

    I tape shows on my VCR. It still works, and I am the master of the fast forward button to avoid commercials.

  • 35mm film (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RDW ( 41497 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:53PM (#47788149)

    Yes, I use digital too like everyone else, but somehow I keep going back to the Leica.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:55PM (#47788159) Homepage

    This is my news printer [aetherltd.com]. Each morning I turn it on, and it prints a paper tape with the Reuters news summaries.

    This is 1926 technology. The machine talks to a standard serial port at 45 baud, 5 bits, no parity, 1.5 stop bits.

  • Re:Old towers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lacrocivious Acropho ( 741314 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:17PM (#47788317)

    I do this too.

    Some of them actually do have use, for example, if I add a NIC or three and put ClearOS on them to make an actual gateway/firewall/etc so I can put the client's compromised, obsolete, data-theft-oriented, crippled, piece of crap, 'free' end user 'router' (i.e., router-like device in the same sense as a Chicken McNugget bears relation to an actual Chicken) in Bridged Ethernet mode and protect them from an incredible percentage of malware.

    It doesn't matter that they 'run like crap'. It isn't possible for the overwhelming majority of end users to ever make those old PCs even break a sweat when the PCs are replacing their 'routers'.

    This solution becomes problematic basically in three cases: (1) physical space is at a premium; (2) noise is a problem in living space; and/or (3) power consumption is a huge issue.

  • True "E-Waste" Story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:47PM (#47788487) Homepage Journal

    About 9-10 years ago I was trying to decide whether to accept 4X the price offered for dismantled Floppy Disk Drives as I could get from a USA recycler. I'd heard that the Asians probably burned the FDDs in a fire for crude metal recovery, but it didn't add up. Why weren't they paying 4x the price for other dismantled components? How could they convert MY avoided pollution cost into that much value?

    Turns out there was a factory in Kunming (South China) which purchased used floppy disk drives. They used to make new FDDs. I got photos of the factory, fairly modern. When new FDD orders "scaled down" they could no longer afford to manufacture new ones at scale... but they could buy used ones for 4X scrap value, about 1/10 new production value. And the factory in Kunming supplied just about every Floppy Disk Drive people purchased from 2002 on... when FDDs were still offered on units but NO ONE WAS MAKING THEM ... except for the "primitive e-waste Chinese factory" in Kunming.

  • Re: Desktop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sillybilly ( 668960 ) on Friday August 29, 2014 @10:30PM (#47788939)

    All I ever catch on my LW radio is power grid hum, no stations. Shortwave does pick up some Jesus freaks though that are nice to listen to, or some Hispanic stations like Florida or Cuba halfway across the continent, which of course I don't understand, but I catch the gist of it, when they talk about Putin or Syria or Gaza, I know what they talk about, just don't know what exactly they are saying about it.
    I do miss the days of BBC world news. They stopped service to the Americas on SW.
    SW and BBC used to be synonyms even 10 years ago.

    Also my SW radio is an LCD digital one, and sometimes I wonder if it's not hacked and it's really some bogus transmission getting fed through it, pretending to be shortwave. You cannot trust chips. A SW radio based on vacuum tubes is a lot more trustable that it's actually picking up the airwaves as directed, and then the issue comes down to actual bogus programming on those frequencies by nearby stations - they can even fake ionosphere reflection noises and fading, broadcast from nextdoor to you.

    As Rene Descartes said, I think there I am, but beyond that, every fact in my mind is on shaky ground, and it takes the power of faith to believe a scientific experimental measurement as true, but I believe those a lot more than what someone picks out of thin air, without scientifically possible repetition and verification of measurements

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 29, 2014 @11:06PM (#47789099) Journal

    DVDs. The reasons why is they are cheap, easy to transport, and can hold a lot of data. With DVDs I can hand somebody 4GB+ of data for 15c including the sleeve, and when you can't predict how well or reliable their net is? That comes in REAL handy.

    So the pundits can talk cloud this and cloud that but as long as I can get 'em I'm gonna be using DVDs. Hell if I had my way I'd still be using Lightscribe, but now that HP has pulled the plug its getting harder and harder to find new burners with LS. Sucks as it worked quite nicely.

  • by der_joachim ( 590045 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:55AM (#47789583) Homepage
    Modern wet shaving is rubbish. Overpriced cartridge systems, harsh chemicals to soften up the beard and mediocre results. I prefer a good DE razor with a traditional soap. Easier on the skin and I get better shaves.
  • by twms2h ( 473383 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @05:29AM (#47790039) Homepage

    I recently bought (used) a few of the old Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro from before the 4000 series. Those that still included a USB hub and the lettering on the keys did not disappear after only a few months of normal usage.
    Before that I had several of the 4000 Keyboards and all of them started to lose their lettering within a few months. They are just really bad quality.

    I will probably be using them until they fall apart.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell