I Keep My Old Tech

I keep and use my tech devices for as long as I possibly can. I tend to keep this tech even after I’m forced to upgrade or replace a device. I store old phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, and I even have CD-ROMs for games that may be available via download. I’ve been called a hoarder for keeping all these things, but is it really that bad?

Phones

I use my phones until they no longer function, or I change service providers and am forced to switch. I’m not so irresponsible with my money that I want or need to have the latest and greatest phone. I may have upgraded my phone once, and that was only because I was experiencing problems with the one I was currently using and there was a great deal to get a new one nearly for free.

When I finally replace a phone, I still keep the old one because I’ve got a lot of information on it. It’s not just the passwords, pics, text messages and chats. I’ve written entire books on a couple of phones and I don’t want anyone to steal that intellectual property.

Yes, you can factory reset the phone. However, just like formatting a hard drive or “deleting” something on your PC, that only deletes the data-links stored in the memory, not the data itself.

I want to be absolutely certain my information is gone completely. Since I can’t toss the thing into the nearest star or black hole, I keep my phones hidden away until that one day in the future I completely disassemble and destroy the memory as though I’m reenacting the Butlerian Jihad[1]. I’ve already destroyed one phone, but haven’t gotten around to destroying the others…

There’s one phone that I’ll keep forever, and that’s my Windows phone from around 2010. Despite being over a decade old, that phone’s battery still lasts an entire week before needing to be recharged. It has a radio function which has saved me several times. The last time I needed to use that phone was during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. I was able to listen to news and music while the power was out, which was almost a week. 

Tablet

I only have 1 tablet and it’s a Kindle Fire HD 7″ my grandmother gave me for Christmas in 2012. It is probably the best present I’ve been given in my entire life, because it helped springboard my reading. Because of this one device, I’ve been able to read over 600 books (both Kindle-edition and audiobook). It still works well and I take it on camping trips to read or watch downloaded movies.

I don’t have a need for any other tablet until the sad day this one dies.

Computers

I have 6 computers that I will never part with unless they die completely, and can’t be repaired.

  1. I have my 15-year-old PC with Windows XP that I use at my vacation house to play old video games and watch movies.
  2. My 2nd boyfriend gave me his Windows ME computer (which is now 20-years-old). I only use it to play a few games my other computers are too powerful to run. My favorite game to play on this PC, which also happens to be the very first game I ever bought, is Star Trek: Birth of the Federation.
  3. A laptop I bought from Office Depot 11 years ago. I only use this PC to store stuff, organize files on my various hard drives, and because it has a non-subscription version of Microsoft Office… just in case I need to use it.
  4. I have an Alienware PC that may have burned itself out because of pet dander a month or two after Hurricane Harvey. The thing cost me over a thousand bucks, so I keep it in the closet just in case I want to fix it one of these days.
  5. Following the death of the Alienware PC, I got a replacement Corsair gaming PC for Christmas. It’s VR-ready, but I’ve never actually used it for that. I use it to play first person shooters (FPS) and turned-based strategy (TBS) games about equally.
  6. I bought a new Dell laptop just before Covid-19 caused shortages across several industries, including computer chips. I use it almost every day for writing and I play a few TBS games on it when traveling. I hate the keyboard layout, because I keep hitting the “pg up” and “pg dn” buttons when editing while typing. Another painfully annoying error that keeps happening most of the time is the Ctrl+Shift+Arrow functions don’t… function. And several keys don’t register the keystrokes while typing which is frustrating. I’ve fixed these problems by using an external keyboard, which happens to be ergonomic and probably better for me anyways. Anyways, I don’t think I’m getting a Dell again in the future.

Once these computers die and I can’t or won’t repair them, I’ll take the hard drives out and destroy them.

Game CD-ROMs

I keep all the CD-ROMs for my games, and even have most of the boxes they were sold in. Most of these games are available via download on Steam or the developer (EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft). I may or may not have re-purchased them out of convenience, when they were on sale. I keep them because they can still be used on my older PCs.

Plus, there’s no telling what may happen to Steam or GOG in the future. We buy these games (and other digital property) by digital download with the understanding the games are ours forever. But, what happens if these companies go bankrupt? What assurances do we really have there are plans to ensure consumers have access to our property should something like that happen?

None. We’d be up shit’s creek without a paddle, or back up versions of the games we love. I’m happy giving up an entire drawer in my dresser for that piece of mind, and entertainment at my vacation house.

I must have somewhere between 50-100 games stored in the house. I think the newest game I have a physical disc of is Civilization V. And the oldest games I’ve kept over the years are: Star Trek: Birth of the Federation, Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares, and Wing Commander II: Vengeance of the Kilrathi. Wing Commander II is actually the oldest game in my possession, but I purchased it at a flea market a few years ago and never actually played it. It still has the instruction manual, and all the 3.5” floppy discs[2].

Game Systems

I have several game systems at home too. I have a PlayStation 2, that I’ll power up once every 2 years to play some of my PS1 and PS2 games. I love dusting off and playing old titles like: Colony Wars, Final Fantasy VII and VIII, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Dark Cloud.

I have an Xbox One, which I have fond memories of playing Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Ryse: Son of Rome… that’s it. Those are the only games worth playing on a console because it’s way, way, way, WAY easier to hit something on PC (I had to get a “PC is better” jab in this story somehow).

I recently acquired a Nintendo Switch and have been enjoying all those games that can only be played using a Nintendo product. I bought the typical games everyone should buy for the Switch: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! (remake), The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (remake). I deeply regret wasting money on Animal Crossing, which is just a glorified mobile phone game, akin to Facebook games around 2010.

Yes, I said it! ;-P

Now that I’ve explained why I keep my old tech, is it truly that bad? I still use most of my devices, and keep them stored away when they’re not being used. And for those devices I can’t use anymore, I have legitimate security concerns for holding onto them until I can destroy them completely… one day.


[1] Butlerian Jihad is a literary reference from Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, and brought to life in the Butlerian Jihad trilogy written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

[2] For those who don’t know what a 3.5” floppy disc is, it looks like the “Save” symbol on most productivity applications like MS: Word, Excel, etc.

Video Games and Sleep

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Before I start this story, I should remind my readers that I love gaming. I’m pretty sure this story isn’t going to do the world’s perspective of us any favors, but this is a unique experience I had 2 decades ago while being sleep deprived and playing videogames.

I remember playing Medal of Honor on the PS1 during the summer between 9th and 10th grades. Daddy found a new girlfriend around that time and was spending most of the days living with her. He’d only come back to check on me and see if we needed groceries, and to spend the weekends with me and my sister when it was her weekend to live with us.

  • I could have a boyfriend come over and umm… “play”.
  • I could eat what I want.
  • I could go to bed when I wanted.
  • I could listen to music and watch TV however loudly I desired.

I had a blast!

Someone gave me a Medal of Honor game around my birthday, so when my dad left to go visit his new girlfriend, I started playing it… nonstop. I went from level to level, and only took breaks to: pee, drink tea, shower & brush my teeth, watch the local & world news, play with my boyfriend, and check to make sure all the doors & windows were locked (I didn’t eat much).

I did this for 3 to 4 days.

Yes, I’m sure there are players out there who can speedrun the remake in a couple hours or so, but this was the dawn of the millennium, and most games were time consuming and challenging back then. Access to cheat codes was virtually nonexistent as well since the smartest device in the house was the family’s Windows 98 PC, and getting that thing connected to the internet was a pain.

I played this game day and night. I’d get back from my boyfriend’s house in the evening and switch the TV over to my PlayStation and play. I glanced out a window once or twice and notice that it was dark as night outside, and after a couple missions, it was bright as day. I’d do my morning hygienic ritual and went back to my game.

With each mission I completed, I had a sense that I was getting closer to beating the game. I didn’t want to stop until I made it to the end. I was on the mission where I was tasked to sabotage the Nazi’s heavy water plant when I was forced to stop for sleep.

I was progressing through the level when a German soldier appeared behind me, in my house, and yelled, “Halt it Americana!”

I heard that German (or burglar) yell at me from behind, so in one swift motion I:

  1. Rolled out of the couch while taking care to push the pause button.
  2. Peeked over the edge of the couch while pointing my wireless remote as though it was a handgun.
  3. Quickly get up and ran around to the other side of the couch to check if the intruder was hiding behind it.

There were a lot of hooligans in my neighborhood, and I lived there with the looming possibility they may break in at some point. I checked and double-checked the locks on the doors and windows throughout the house, the garage, and I even checked the attic. I only decided it was time to sleep when I appeased my paranoia enough to be certain, beyond a shadow of doubt, I was the only living creature taller than 2 inches in the house.

I ended up sleeping for about a day and a half, only waking once or twice to pee and drink. I don’t remember what my dreams were specifically about while I slept, but I recall they were in PS1 graphics. Everything was cubic and angular and the people in the dreams were cartoonish.

I woke from my hibernation and did my “morning” ritual, even though I got out of bed in the afternoon. I was eager to complete my mission, and hopefully the game, so I powered up my TV and was thankful the game was still paused. I finished that mission and beat the game that day.

***

I still enjoy playing video games for hours on end, but I play in moderation and make certain gaming doesn’t interfere with any scheduled social commitments and household tasks. There’s a lot of things helping to maintain that healthy balance, such as: working 9 to 5, going to the gym, reading, writing, and the occasional social visit with friends.

Sleep also helps to keep me from gaming all night. I used to be able to stay awake all night and function the next day at work, but that changed once I hit 30. My body now requires at least 4 to 5-hours of sleep or I’ll suffer the next day. I still slip up and play until 2 or 3 AM in the morning… sometimes.