Sunday, March 06, 2016

We are Engineers not Hoarders



Subtitle: Phrases heard in our Engineered Swiss household  (regarding purchasing)


It is the start of a new year and in the Marcus and Agata household it is a time for literal and figurative house cleaning. And planning for 2016 adventures including necessary  purchases :-?


Filing is Done Done Done
We have already done all of the [mostly digital] filing.  By this I mean scrutinising all of the documents and data and music and media, which is predominantly digital these days.  And filing it carefully in the 2015 sections of our onsite store, and then further encrypting for our offsite datastore, and finally at least 1 further obfuscated Disaster Recovery  (DR) copy for real paranoia.  All that is done.


So Planning and [Not] Hoarding
As Engineers we normally have special exceptions to the correct everyday social norms of regular folk.  Engineers you see are allowed a certain latitude to collect and keep /crap/ because: It might just come in useful  (see below). But despite this special pleading, here is an insight into our Household banter prevalent at this time of year.


It Might Come in Useful
The general idea is that whilst you might look at my collection of old electronics as a bunch of total crap that you never use, Marcus regards it as potential base material from which I can craft some new Digital thing.  And thereby better utilise stuff and even save money. Well that is the theory :-)


What does it Do?
The usual scenario is that Marcus explains to Agata in some convoluted way an essential technology item, that we should buy.  Several patient minutes later Agata will ask, with a glazed look in her eye.   /So, in 1 sentence, what exactly does it do again please?/


But you already have one
This is a challenge phrase when Marcus is convinced a new X has been located at bargain prices and must be bought immediately.


Just in Time Purchasing
The idea is that purchase of any that is readily available is delayed to the breakdown of its ancestor. Since our technology items are continually decreasing in price and gaining in functionality, never buy today, what you can buy tomorrow for a lower price.

Cost Per Hour
The idea is that something you use all the time can be more expensive that something you rarely use. An example: Marcus' Garmin Smartwatch is conservatively used for active exercise tracking for 2 hours daily. This ignores all watch functions, and sleep and step tracking. Purchase price (400 CHF) - Expected Sale (200 CHF) over 1.5 years ( 1095 hours use). Means active cost of 0.18 CHF per hour. When I compare that to the cost of our Car, even if we don't use it, the next time I will go for a fancier watch!

Will It really Make Our Lives Better
Whatever the environmental cost of an item we have to think: Is the new thing really going to be significantly better than the old thing. If the old thing is doing a fine job, say your Sportswatch or Keyboard or Laptop or Desk: Then: wouldn't it be just a lot easier, more environmental, more economical to just keep the existing setup?


Enough is Enough!


These are the words that Agata has been known to shout when Marcus keeps incrementally buying items and refusing to throw the old, and knackered items away.   My running sock collection shown above is an example.


The Project Committee
When either of us has a proposition that has passed the initial knock backs we have to bring it to an impromptu meeting. Since it's going be our joint money that we spend, we both have to agree it's a fair use of funds. In this way we banish the defamatory I told you so put-down that lurks behind every bullied decision gone wrong.
It's under my number
Trivial items Marcus often feels are by definition excluded from any sanity checks.  He will direct Agata to the Number definition  but Agata also has power of reasoned veto.



The Environment
The Environment total cycle cost of any new purchase, so by that I mean the energy used and resources and human cost used to make and transport it to us, as well all disposal parameters are also kept in mind.  To be clear this is separate from any monetary cost. We should not be endorsing a product made from slave labour, artificial subsidies, or poor recycle-ability.  You know the score.


Family Cost Cap
This is the idea that if your family has decided to overpopulate the world you don't deserve the pro rata right to use more.



2016 Example








So with that in mind, for example, yes, Marcus did just replace his 2+ year old Smartphone, but only after arranging the sale of the outgoing one to a new caring owner.

And as the photographs hopefully illustrate, it is a step in the right direction for image quality.



Oh, and the Mobile Internet seems to have picked up speed too.



Links
An Engineer's guide to Cats