Saturday, September 18, 2010

Retirement Planning—Updating Technology

Even though I’m relatively tech-savvy, there’s a gap between what I know and what I do in practice. The gap is especially problematic when it comes to my computer setup. I’m quite computer literate, but my home set-up is as out of date as my knowledge is current.

I’m a Mac user, so the web browsers that work best on my equipment are Safari and that masterpiece from Mozilla, Firefox. Sadly, Facebook does not seem to share this infatuation, at least not for version 2.0, which I have. Although I can visit their site from home, I can’t post anything. I probably can’t do any of the other things Facebook offers, like poking and prodding and tickling or whatever all they have. Since I don’t know how these geegaws work anyway, I can live without them. Really I can.

However, other things that don’t work with my out-of-date browsers are important to me and will be even more so once I’m retired. I decided that upgrading my browser would be a productive step in my retirement planning. When I attempted to do this, I got caught in what I call the domino effect. It went something like this.

Me (via my internet connection): Hello, Mozilla website. I’m in dire need of a newer version of the web browser on my Mac. Mozilla: No problem. Click here and you can download Firefox version 3.6. I dutifully click there. Mozilla: Sorry, dude, but this browser only works on Mac Operating Systems of 10.4 or higher. Looks like you’ve got 10.3.9. Me: Well, can I get an older browser, but newer than the one I have? Mozilla: Dude, version 3.6 IS the oldest browser we still offer. You’ll need to upgrade your operating system to at least 10.4.

Ten minutes later I’m on the Apple site, looking for OS 10.4. Apple gives their OS versions big cat names, like Cheetah and Panther. Me (again via my internet connection): Hello, Apple website. I’d like to get a newer Panther for my Mac. Apple: You’ve got to be kidding me. We don’t have Panthers anymore. We keep operating systems on deck for maybe five years. The oldest upgrade we still offer is Tiger.

I’m good with this; after all, I have an adopted cat that looks like a tiger. Me: OK, gimme a Tiger. Apple: Love to do that for you, but the home you’re offering is not up to our standards for Tiger. I see you’re running on a PowerMac G5. (Suddenly I feel exposed, as the website probes me electronically. I’m glad I don’t have a video cam.) Apple again: You need to upgrade your hardware to something with a built in FireWire port. While you’re at it, you should just bite the bullet and get our newest operating system—Snow Leopard.

The crash you just heard was the sound of the last domino falling. In order to upgrade the browser, I need a newer operating system. To upgrade that, I need new equipment. Simply put, because I didn’t have the discipline to upgrade my software regularly (and mostly for free…), I’m now forced to upgrade everything at once. That whooshing sound is dollar bills flying out my window.

All of this has led me to increase the category for computer hardware/software in my retirement budget. More importantly, I’m committed to upgrading my software at least yearly so I don’t get caught in the domino effect again. I’m devastated to have missed out on Cheetah and Jaguar. I don’t care how lame the TV show is, I want to be first in line if Apple ever offers Cougars.

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