I've been thinking about cheap tech recently. Why? I'm a geek with little disposable income.
What is cheap tech? I define it as technology that does what you need, at minimal cost. A lot of people drool over the newest, most expensive tech. And a lot of people get excited about historically interesting tech (punch card readers and Apple ][s), but I like cheap tech.
Cheap tech should
- be inexpensive or free. If you can find old hardware on ebay, it will be cheap. Software should be free (FOSS).
- satisfy some minimal set of usefulness.
- be replaceable. If it breaks, buy another component.
- consist of upgradable, reusable components.
For example, I am putting together a cheap travel laptop. I have a P200 laptop my dad gave me a while ago. That, combined with the latest linux distribution and some more modern pcmcia cards, will allow it to satisfy the useful category.
My criteria: I need a laptop for traveling that can connect to the internet in three different ways: ethernet, modem, wireless. Three pcmcia cards should do the trick. It needs a CDROM for installing software. It needs basic software (bash, ssh), a text editor and typeseting system, a gui browser (firefox preferably, but dillo is acceptable). Optional software include an office suite, instant messaging, mp3 player, video player, games, and an image editor. Optional hardware include a large hdd and a mouse.
Right now, I am bidding on ebay to get the last major component, a wireless card. Next time I have some cash, I'll drop $50 on a newer laptop.