When a computer is not a toy

My first computer was a 33mhz Compaq POS. It has Windows 3.1, DOS, and QBasic. (Side note: yes, I got started ‘late’). After I played my first game in QBasic and realized that the words on the screen are what made the game tick, I was hooked and I have been ever since. I think I tinkered with and hacked every single device I could get my hands on. You name it, if it had a way to get custom software on there, I was going to try it.

This morning I came across an article on Lifehacker about converting your router into a wifi repeater, which sounded really cool to me, so I started reading. Unfortunately about halfway down the page I realized I couldn’t care less about this.

Sure, I can reuse that old hardware collecting dust in the garage. But why? To save a few bucks? What happens when I’m at work and my wife is at home with the baby and the thing stops working? Now I’m getting phone calls to do tech support because I saved $100 and can do that one “cool” thing that I never actually needed in the first place.

When I was 13, the hacky free way was always the best way, not because it was free, but because it was fun to tinker. While it is still fun to tinker, some things should just work. My router should just work. My wife, my mom, and my grandma should be able to use it without calling for help.

The same goes for my phone, my “tablet”, and to some extent, my laptop.

The Android argument that you can install whatever you want and that you can even replace the ROM that runs the phone/tablet is insane. 99% of people don’t need that capability. They don’t need the ability to shoot themselves in the foot. I’m sure it would be fun to hack the OS of my iPhone, but at the cost of possibly not making calls? I don’t think so.