Consumerism gone bad.

In 2012 Charles Duhigg  wrote an amazing article in the NYT called “How Companies Learn Your Secrets“. The article is still fresh after all these years and depicts a consumer society gone bad.

Sadly these days consumer data is the new gold for corporations, social networks, search engines, online markets and other corporations will go to great lengths to acquire information about us.

Users are not forced to use said services and I understand that corporations need to make a living from selling services and goods, what I dislike is the fact most users and consumers think they can easily control what they share with corporations.

The fact some corporations have enough data to predict with confidence a pregnancy is enough to make me wonder what other things they can predict.

Ebay the Chinatown of the world.

chinatownDon’t get me wrong from the title because I love China, it has a beautiful culture, amazing views outside the urban areas, and pretty badass Ebay shops.

The Chinese I know are very hard workers, they take their work and income very seriously and thus Ebay is the perfect window to sell stuff to a compulsive consumer world.
People might complain about the time it takes to receive stuff from Shanghai and give bad reviews when they don’t receive their goods but they’ll keep coming back for more cheap stuff, let’s be sincere everybody loves free shipping.

I don’t like all made in China products, some have poor quality and very little user safety, but if you know what to buy and find a decent Ebay store, Chinese clones are amazing ways to save money. Sure I don’t enjoy all imitations but in some cases they actually improve the design of some products from the feedback they receive from customers.
I dare to say some factories in China are more open source than some GNU/Linux operating systems.

Some stuff I won’t buy from Chinese Ebay stores, mostly anything that is a intimation of a known brand or pirated media goods. Those I will never buy on Ebay!
One thing is to buy a multi-tool card imitation, or a cheap USB dust cover, the other is buying a clone of a swiss brand watch. Besides the massive headaches one might get because of legal issues of importing stuff like that, the quality of complex cheap goods is never a good one.

Ebay these days is in fact a Chinatown with all the good and bad things that brings.

One thing most American and European consumers don’t understand is the fact cheap stuff will often be made of cheap materials, be it of Chinese, Portuguese or American origin. Plus cheap stuff comes at a high social price but that’s a boring detail because free shipping is so nice isn’t it?

Ebay is an amazing tool, if consumers know what they want to buy, if sellers are actually serious, if you don’t have bad luck when receiving your parcels and if your country doesn’t have draconian import laws, in Portugal anything above 22€ (Product + Shipping) will be taxed and most people don’t try going around it because papers will be requested and the legal outcome will not be pretty. To be sincere I wouldn’t spend more than 20€ in one parcel from China anyway, the risk of losing money would be too high.

Be it in a true Chinatown or a online one be careful with your purchases, always use paypal and never ever go for any other type of payment especially if the seller requests it.
Remember there always be bad sellers, best way is to report them to Ebay and be safe.

Buying a laptop, need or desire?

First of all I should say I have a old Intel Core2 Duo 2Ghz laptop and a newer Intel Celeron 1037U Dual Core ultrabook. The laptop now running Microsoft Windows XP is a decent workstation for writing and editing my site when I have a electric outlet near. One hour of batery power is not really much but on a old laptop thats the norm. The ultrabook on the other hand has plenty of batery but lacks the full size keyboard a screen size of the laptop, it runs ubuntu 16.04 so it’s a very rock solid machine for browsing the internet and I’m quite pleased with the purchase.

I admit both laptop and ultrabook do a decent job for basic tasks, but until some days ago I had the desire to have a better laptop. Something in the line of a Clevo barebone with a decent dedicated graphics card for games, a fast CPU and lots of RAM, a typical desktop replacement because my kids often kick me from main rig.

My need for a ubuntu compatible laptop made me research the professional lines of HP, Dell and Lenovo and thus I arrived to the wonderful world of refurbished computers, very desirable one to be sincere.
The idea of buying a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad makes me smile mostly because I would be using “old” tech and defeting the main idea of upgrading to a better newer laptop.
So after thinking a bit about it I understood I didn’t really had the need for a better machine, I just wanted a new one even if it was a old but very well designed Thinkpad.
Consumism at its finnest and desire turning the cogs on my brain. I love old thinkpads so I’m guilty as charged to fall in that consumer trap.

With that out of my mind I finaly gave up on buying a new computer in 2017, I just don’t need it right now. My desktop does the typical brute work it’s designed to do and does it well.
My old laptop is a fine way to write for my site when my kids take over the desktop and my ultrabook solves most of my browsing needs and multimedia playback.

As a bonus “sad but true” I got a Acer tablet that actually has a lot of computing power, enough to replace a netbook if I connect a keyboard and a mouse to it, just like I’m doing now to  write this article. So in a way I actually have more computers than I should have, but like I often say “they are never enough”, maybe thats because I spent more than a half of my life without one to call my own. Just like a teenager who wasn’t allowed to drink soda, often drinks lots of it when he has the freedom to do so, I now enjoy the idea of having computers around me.

In a way I always knew the laptop project would stay in the back burner, I just didn’t admit it earlier. Also my desire to buy a thinkpad didn’t die but I should not use the escuse of needing a new computer to actually buy said computer. I just desire it because its a beautiful and pratical machine.

In a society ruled by consumism its not easy to escape the little traps of desire, I’m not immune but I do understand how they often work, and I hope this little tidbit makes you think if you really need something new in your toolbox or it’s just desire.

Think about it but not too much. Life is short and some desires are quite fun.