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Technology is unpredictable (OT)

Posted by fabriziogiudici on January 28, 2011 at 4:01 PM PST

I'm taking advantage of these times to fix some things of my life. One of them is my lab. It's packed with things and sometimes a "temporary" rearrangement causes some of them to be deactivated or disconnected... and then they stay in that state forever - or until I remember of and fix them. This operation is always a source of surprises. You would ordinarily think that a piece of equipment, disconnected and properly stored (I mean, no excessive exposure to dust, food or beverages) will just work when powered up again - with the only exception of things including a battery, that could need replacing.

Well, technology is pretty unpredictable. Three things I've recently resumed: my 24-years old Roland D50 keyboard, a photo printer Epson 2100 and a Canon flatbed scanner. I've not used them for more than three years (well, the D50 occasionally just a handful of times, but earlier than one year ago). Of the three things, I was pessimistic about the D50, since it is the oldest one (and it has got a battery inside). It made me feel sad, because that keyboard has got a strong emotional value for me. Second came the Epson 2100, which has got some mechanical parts (the ink nozzles). I was pretty confident that the Canon scanner was ok - it's the simplest thing and it just connects with a single USB cable; so, there's even no power supply unit that could have been lost in the meantime.

You figure out - the exact opposite happened. The D50 worked without a problem (it just needs some ordinary maintenance for a few keys that aren't properly working, probably obstructed with dust). It's a gear made 24 years ago! It's the oldest piece of working electronic technology that I own. Even the battery is fine, and all the patches I made when I was young are still there.

The Epson 2100 needed a few nozzle cleaning cycles, but it was ok. After running the nozzle align test and recalibrating them, it restarted working as usual (with a minor defect to one of the black nozzles that was already present in the past and only affect B&W prints). I experienced quite a mess with the software (it seems that Snow Leopard has some troubles with that printer's driver), but software is always a mess, I know that.

The flatbed scanner just didn't work.

PS As a side note, I'm having a really unprecedented experience with technology. Usually, when we start dealing with a technology, we keep on using it and we get acquainted to its evolution. For instance, my MacBook Pro is very different than my first computer (a Texas Instruments TI99/4A); my Motorola Droid is another world with respect to my first Palm-Something of 1999. But I've owned many intermediate models in the meantime, with a gradual evolution.

I bought my first music-oriented software in 1998 (the first time I had some money for my free time, just coming out of the university, after resorting for many years to a kludged application I wrote in Pascal). It was Steinberg Cubase VST and at the time the VST (Virtual Studio Technology) thing was just coming out. I only enjoyed it for a couple of years, because I started travelling a lot for my job and music wasn't a "portable" hobby. Having revitalized the Roland D50, I took a look at the current version of the Steinberg software. It's just fantastic. VST has evolved so much that now you can run really everything in a music studio in your computer, from sequence recording & editing, audio recording & editing, sophisticated voice retouch... and you have extremely powerful software synthesisers and audio effects. What would probably cost 10.000 € of equipment in 2000 (and needing dozens of meters of connecting cables) can now be run inside a single computer (even a laptop... so the thing is portable now) at one fraction of the cost.

It's such a shock to see ten years of technology advance in a single step.