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The little computer shop on the corner - Tech Geriatrix

The little computer shop on the corner

Posted on October 4th, 2011 in Rants

These shops are supposed to make it easier for people to get equipment and software, right?


These shops are meant to crush any out-of-line ideas you might have about computers and program you with their own ideas. If you don’t like it, go to hell. We only serve serious customers here. Who listen to our expert fat, lazy, badly informed, frustrated geek opinions without twitching.
To elaborate: the computer shop on the corner only sell what sells fast. What you “can’t keep on the shelf.” Because they have to buy products in order to have stocks. That employs a certain risk: they could buy something that won’t sell for months. That’s what they call a bad decision, because they already paid for it, but can’t profit from it because it hasn’t been sold yet. And rent, electricity bills, taxes or salaries don’t wait for products to be sold.
So, these corner shops are furiously market-oriented. Whatever they think people want, but most of all, whatever the masses think they want, that’s what these shops sell. People might want a particular model of whatever product, like a pair of good-quality and decently priced speakers, or a category of products, like DDR2 SDRAM. They constantly try to guess what to buy so that, in a nanosecond after bringing the product to the shelf, someone is waiting at the counter to buy it.
Thus, if you go into such a store asking to buy a stick of EDO RAM, they will probably ask what in the world that is. Even though EDO RAM sticks exist, brand-new. Because they are still being made. Or maybe they know what it is and sometimes they might even admit that there is a demand, but if it’s too small, they don’t care. They don’t “keep their money blocked in that kind of merchandise that doesn’t sell” – someone told me that I was the second guy in a year who asked for a certain kind of video cable.
With some stores, don’t even try to ask for DDR1 – for them, it’s ancient, because it has been faded out starting with 2003, when DDR2 was released. We’re in 2011, you should upgrade your computer! It doesn’t matter that you’re only helping out some old lady and looking for parts to upgrade her computer. Their assumptions are the only kind of reasoning that matters. Or exists on the planet, for that matter. And their assumption is that you’re buying things for yourself. Thus, how can you use such old crap today?! You should definitely upgrade! Like they’re not selling mere products, they’re also imposing their own assumptions and conclusions about computer architecture.
Okay, so let’s say you played into their bullshit, greedy way of tricking you into buying more than you actually need. What new computer would they offer?
That’s an easy answer. If you say you don’t need much, it’s gonna be an Intel i3-powered computer with a low-end video card and not enough RAM. If you say you need some power, they’re gonna offer an AMD quad-core system with a crap video card and not enough RAM. If you insist that you need more RAM or a more decent video card or both, they’re gonna point towards what they offer as premium. There are two ways of being an asshole here.
First, they can offer mid-high range cards as the premiums, adding more to the price. Like if the Radeon HD 4000 series was the latest, they would offer you a 4670 as the premium-est of them all. Or a 4850.
Second, they can offer all the cards at normal prices, but advertise the top of the line model as the best thing to get, and add a lot more to the price. This can also go in reverse – they advertise that they sell the top of the line model for just this much, indeed less than the competition, but raise the prices for everything else including the lowest-end models.
Of course, they can also do any combination of the above. And what’s more, they can be even worse when they’re an online store – they don’t update their stock on the website, they process your order after a long time or only after you call them even though you had already ordered (with the excuse that they are having a lot of orders), etc.

So if you want to upgrade a high-end computer from before (like a socket 478 Pentium 4 at 3.4 GHz with HyperThreading, the top of the line processor at the time), you have to throw it away and get a mediocre one from nowadays. Even if you do get an i3, they won’t sell you the top of the line model. Same for an AMD quad core system. They only care that you should have an insufficient computer all the time, so that you keep buying parts from them. They care about keeping their own business running, not providing real service to customers. Some wise business people say that they would happily go out of business when the problem they solve finally disappears. I remember a medical company doing surgical interventions on babies born with a badly-looking and probably uncomfortable birth defect, although not a really dangerous one. One of the medics working there, the owner of the company, said he’d be happy to go out of business because a drug preventing that condition has been developed, to be taken by the pregnant mothers.
Yeah, that’s the spirit. Solving a problem doesn’t mean you should protect the problem.

So, to anyone who wants to upgrade an older computer without headaches, your answer is Ebay. Well, sure, buying from Ebay also has some risks, but you must not be lazy and look at the ratings given to that seller by other buyers. You’ll be able to tell if they are serious or not, on your own. You’ll get the exact item you want and not what they “suggest” that you get. Even if you’re ordering from that seriously evil, communist country called the People’s Republic of China, there are many people inside it who are benign, serious about their work and want to make a living selling things for cheap. As a tip, they will sometimes say they live in Hong Kong or even use a Hong Kong identity on Ebay. Usually the package will have a Chinese address on it.
Of course, the people who know squat about computers should go into the corner shop computer store, or even an Apple store, and buy whatever box labeled computer they see first. I’m talking about users who know how to assemble, debug and upgrade a computer system on their own.

Go even further. Even when you need something that’s easy to find because all the shops have it in stock, don’t buy from the corner, unless they are kind people – I’m not saying all the computer shops are evil, of course. Pick an online store with low prices, or at least an online store that carries a wide range of products – that kind of people usually cares about solving people’s problems.
Don’t feed those assholes. They’re like the trolls on forums – frustrated, no life, overgrown egos, over-opinionated, could care less about others.

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