Slow Tech
November 30, 2011 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Science writer Angela Saini on the joys of avoiding tech upgrades and being a late adopter. Some of us haven't adopted at all. Perhaps there are some less resistant to peer influence? Or just more into making stuff? Or perhaps it's anotherway to be cool?
posted by mippy (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Oddly, some of the latest adopters of gadgets that I know are engineers. I have four friends that only got cell phones in the last two or three years and all of them are software engineers. One of them didn't even own his own computer until recently (he just used his office computer).
posted by octothorpe at 5:41 AM on November 30, 2011

For me, it's always been a case of "if it ain't broke". My 6-year-old feature phone is still more more cellphone than I need, and I can't imagine a time when I'd ever pay attention to the siren call of the smartphone. I have no need. The idea of getting a new phone every 6 months is unfathomable to me. It's like a religion from another planet.

Ditto on things like software and computer upgrades. The only reason I ever upgrade is if I have no choice. When upgrading one piece in the chain kills compatibility for other pieces. I just never understood people who seem absolutely driven to get the newest, shiniest gadget as soon as possible, or upgrade their software as soon as one is available.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:46 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've started being a late adopter because I've found that early adopters are basically just throwing their money away (at best) or being conspicuous consumers (at worst). How many times have you heard "yeah, I got that new gadget and played with it for a few months, then I lost interest". And that playtime, countable in the mere hours, cost you how much? All for something you could have done at a real computer too? Meh.

Plus I don't even find mobile phones that fun. The input rate of 1 or 2 fingers is so. damn. slow.

As for merely mobile phones in particular: I spend 99% of my time either at work (where I can't bring the phone in) or at home (where I don't need a phone). Kind of pointless. I do have a phone somewhere, but I only ever locate and charge it if I'm going on a specific trip where I'll need it.
posted by DU at 5:49 AM on November 30, 2011

If you have one, just take a good look at your iPod now. Spin it around in your hand. You'll notice it doesn't have any screws. You're not supposed to open it or fix it.

Angela Saini, meet the spudger.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:51 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

"It is possible to overcome the barriers the corporation put in your way" != "you are supposed to be able to open or fix it"
posted by DU at 6:01 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I tend to be a late adopter less out of a lack of interest in the latest gadgets and more out of a desire to get a product that has had its kinks and bugs made known and weeded out by somebody else. I waited through several generations before messing with Kindles or Android phones just to know for sure that hardware quality and support would be there.
posted by mrjackalope at 6:17 AM on November 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

I've always been a late adopter.

I can't stand buying in to markets that convince me that I need to keep spending. That buying once isn't good enough - that I need to constantly upgrade. I hate monthly fees, I hate improvements, I hate new technological crutches.

I want to buy things that last. When I don't really have a choice - electronics - then I want to buy things that will last as long as I can get 'em to.

Doing it any other way and I'd just feel like a sucker, enriching assholes who convince us we need things we don't.
posted by entropone at 6:19 AM on November 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

I stopped buying new gadgets when I did a major move across the country. As I was emptying my flat, I found so many different gadgets... mostly useless, broken, or superseded by my phone. Old e-readers, Arduino cards, hand-held game consoles, all forgotten about at a certain point, and left to moulder at the back of a cupboard. I cut out a lot of spending after that.
posted by The River Ivel at 6:27 AM on November 30, 2011

Medium adopters unite! I tend to upgrade to a generation behind the cutting edge. The bugs are fewer, the price is so much lower, and I'm rarely if ever in a situation where the cutting edge would do me any good. I still think progressive scan DVDs look plenty awesome for sitting at home and watching movies, so why switch to Blu? Seldom is there a game that catches my interest that my computer can't handle, and everything else I do is trivial in terms of requirements.

That being said, the one area where I tend to go big is in my own field, multimedia communications/collaboration. I want to know the latest and greatest inside and out before the users start showing up with their half understood devices with questions. I got caught flat footed with the iPad because I didn't think they'd bring them to work any more than they would their iPod. Can't let that happen again, right?
posted by envygreen at 6:27 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dunno where I fit in here. When something breaks, I usually get the latest and greatest thing as a replacement, but then I hold onto that until that breaks.

Currently running a G1 smartphone, the first ever Android phone, which was futuristic when I bought it but gets weird looks and confused comments now (though that's partly the double-sized battery and extended case).
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:29 AM on November 30, 2011

Not playing videogames anymore (and when I do, it tends to be things like Steel Panthers: MBT) helps a lot with not having to upgrade much.

Where I get screwed though is with books, that is, by buying the hardcover because I want to read something now then having it languish on my bookshelves until I could've gotten it in paperback...
posted by MartinWisse at 6:34 AM on November 30, 2011

I'm a late adopter, mostly because I'm a miser, but in the case of mobile telephone service I don't want more features because I still can't make phone calls reliably. Get that done and then maybe I'll be interested in other things like texting, cameras, and apps.
posted by PapaLobo at 6:36 AM on November 30, 2011

As an example of how late an adopter I am...Last year, I upgraded to CS 5...from CS1. I just had no need to upgrade over the years.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:40 AM on November 30, 2011

My daughter is 63 years old and I am 31. I am the latest adopter in here.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:48 AM on November 30, 2011 [7 favorites]

Oddly, some of the latest adopters of gadgets that I know are engineers. I have four friends that only got cell phones in the last two or three years and all of them are software engineers. One of them didn't even own his own computer until recently (he just used his office computer).

That was my grandpa, the rocket engineer. My mom tells me he wouldn't buy a microwave for years after they came out, and only got a color TV in the late 70s when his kids banded together to buy him one. He said he just wanted to wait for all the kinks to be worked out, but since they never work out ALL the kinks, he always had to be persuaded to buy anything new. When he died he had probably 10 computers in his house, and maybe one had been made after 1998.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:52 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh the book thing reminds me I'm a late adopter on media too. If I've heard a particular game/book/tv show/movie mentioned several times (the number of times varies by the type of media and the span of time between mentions) I'll eventually look into it. I've found that I get burned by a lot less crap that way.

Plus for TV shows in particular, it's so much nicer to wait until the end and see if people hate it and then never have to bother subjecting myself to the rage.
posted by DU at 7:02 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

For many years, my customers relied on me to recommend new technology, so I spent many thousands of dollars on "bleeding edge" tech for my specialty. There's lots of tech solutions that looked great on paper that ended up as unsellable junk in the stockroom.

The primary questions I learned to ask were 1) what problem do I have that this tech fixes 2) is there a cheaper way to accomplish the same thing and 3) do I need it or just want it.

As for the make / fix it vs. buy it mindset, I learned an appreciation of home-brew solutions from my Dad, who learned it by necessity during the Depression.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:07 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

This ancient William Gibson blog excerpt pretty much sums up by view re: early adoption of any sort of media or technology:
Buying used copies is ecologically correct and to be encouraged. The list price on a hardcover PATTERN RECOGNITION in Canada is $40. After GST and PST, that would be closer to $50. When people have the courage to shyly tell me they're waiting for the paperback, I'm all the more amazed and flattered at the number of people who buy me in hardcover. I didn't start buying new fiction in hardcover until I was in my thirties and owned a house. And most of the paperbacks I bought, up to that point, I bought used.
Maybe when I am Well Off, I will be in the line to be the first to buy a new thing. For now, I'll do as my mother raised me, and not buy anything that isn't explicitly on sale.
posted by griphus at 7:14 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mobile phone shops are able to sell heavily on the basis of perceived obsolecense (sorry, got a plaster on my finger and can't spell). I saw a window of one chain with a display saying 'Bored with your mobile? Trade it in for this week's new smartphone'. I didn't have a mobile on anything near a regular basis until two years ago, and only then because my boyfriend persuaded me by giving me one that had internets on it. Thinking that way, for me, seems as strange as being bored with your tin opener or your spanner - they're all just tools.

Yet despite having all the dresses in the world, a shiny new one might still entice me to open my wallet. It seems that spending on technology is seen as an acceptable type of consumption, yet buying clothes or shoes is seen as shallow, fluffy, girly, pointless. It's all another form of conspicuous consumption, and the constant upgrade cycle that mobile users are involved in makes me feel like we're all just part of some shopping-based race to the bottom.

Anyway, I forgot to bring my phone in today. That was annoying.
posted by mippy at 7:20 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I totally identify with this. I've been a slow adopter for years, but I grew up in a fast adopter household. My dad, an electronics and robotics engineer, always had bleeding-edge everything -- home computers starting in the 1970s, "luggables," laptops, and even a mini-mainframe in the 1980's. Multiple monstrous satellite dishes in the back yard. The newest everything. My childhood home was filled with electronic crap and there were wires running throughout the house.

Always having glitchy new tech around made me distrust the stuff. I'll consider adopting after the tech has been proven, and I can see a good reason to spend money on it. Plus I'm cheap. So, I still use a tape answering machine, tube television, rotary phone, VCR, old Windows XP computer, etc. My cellphone is an old basic Nokia that just works. And I only got that under duress. I fix what I have when it breaks, and prefer to buy used, well made old things. They generally will outlast any of the modern cheap crap, and I save money. When I do buy new, I err on the side of what will last the longest.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:28 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

It may be interesting to note that professionally run IT organizations tend to be fairly late adopters as well. It's maddening on occasion - I recently dealt with a major country's army that was still on Win2k - but often it's entirely rational behavior.
posted by dhoe at 7:29 AM on November 30, 2011

My husband (knowing nothing about this) changed our aunt’s browser this weekend. I was surprised that our clever, urbane aunt was still using Internet Explorer. But as I looked around her house, with its well-made furniture that has lasted for decades, and thought about her frugality and sensibility, it struck me that she just uses her real-life consumption patterns on the internet. Saini explains that her father's lessons have marked her own consumption of technology. I'm not sure if I can say the same for myself. I was raised by frugal parents, am careful in my purchases, and am a medium/late adopter, but the keeping up/upgrading--even when free--is another pattern of consumption that I may be adapting to.
posted by Fichereader at 7:45 AM on November 30, 2011

ooh! ooh! Angela's piece is the transcript of her contribution to the BBC Radio4 Four Thought show, that's on tonight at 2045GMT. You should listen to it. She's very good.

I'm the presenter. And there's extra Q&A on the podcast version.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 7:47 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I got a cell phone in 1994. Then I realized how dumb that was, and only had one if work furnished it, until about 2006, when my wife insisted I have one "in case something happens". Last year, when my old phone died (something about being dropped from ladders and residing in the back pocket of my large-assed pants), I decided to get one with a keyboard. I'm really not sure why.

In like kind, I'm actually having one of my more early-adopter friends come over in a couple weeks and show me all the websites, tools, devices, etc. that have passed me by, just so I kinda know what people are talking about. I drive a 17 year old car - that replaced the 20 year old car.

The only place I'm bleeding-edge is my home PC. I do a lot of Photoshop/Lightroom, and set up a four-disk RAID 0 on a separate controller card as a scratch disk. Now that they have 4 SSDs on a single card, I've been looking at what I'd need to update, mobo wise, to accomodate one of those. But then, are the computer upgrades really supporting the photography (which I don't really sell or do anything with) or is the photography just an incredibly elaborate and expensive excuse to try to stay on the bleeding edge of one facet of technology?

Yes, I am an engineer. Why do you ask?
posted by notsnot at 7:54 AM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Savvy computer-using musicians have long known to stay back from the bleeding edge. There are always plenty of third-party plugins that break with the latest OS upgrades, not to mention the apps themselves. Little software companies have a harder time keeping up, I think. (I also keep a couple of older Macs around to run older OSes for certain apps and plugins that never were and never will be upgraded. I also run virtualized Windows XP on one of those older machines solely in order to run an editor for one of my Roland boxes which was never ported to Mac OS.) The Mac is a great music computer, I've used them for years, but I won't be upgrading to Lion anytime soon, especially with the loss of Rosetta.

Much the same is true of graphic design at times (e.g., Quark, at one time.) I did tech support for graphic artists at an ad agency once upon a time. IT departments, despite often being staffed by stereotypical misanthropes (I was often told: you're much nicer than the guys we had at this other agency) too quick to quip "PICNIC" about user complaints (although usually on target when the users are management - I had quite a few Dilbert moments with the agency's managing director), are quite reasonably leery of upgrades, from experience.

Staying with the latest upgrades is fine if you're just an average user and you stay on the main street, so to speak, using only the mainstream apps. But otherwise...
posted by Philofacts at 7:56 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm both. I bought a Psion 5 in the first week of its UK release. Palm Treo, ditto. Asus eee, first UK shipment. Much other gear too. And then I use these things for years, or until they break. The Psion lasted five years until a cafe waitress spilled water all over it. The Treo lasted till it was crashing daily. I still use the eee--the original tiny-screen shitty-battery half-a-gig-of-storage ersatz-Linux version--because it's the perfect machine for writing in cafes or on public transport: the benefits of a real keyboard, a screen so restricted that I'm not tempted to go off websurfing, and if it was to get stolen then frankly by now it's paid for itself many times over and it'd be an excuse to go and buy the latest nice-shiny.

It's all about whether you consider them to be toys or tools.
posted by Hogshead at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2011

About seven years ago I had a project where I had to write a server component that acted as an HTTP-to-SMS gateway. That means you would send it a message via a form on a web page (HTTP), and it would pass the message on as a text message (SMS) that anyone could receive on their cell phone.

I coded it up using the library APIs, ran it, and sent my first test message via a little HTML form I hacked together. Then I had to take my company-provided cell phone to one of my younger co-workers and ask her "Okay, how do I receive a text message on this?". The look on her face was priceless.

I guess my take up of new technologies is wildly inconsistent.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:59 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

My adoption cycle is best illustrated by the fact that I bought my first MP3 player before the iPod existed; and I bought my second one about a month ago or so.

I was the first person in my fairly large circle of nerdly friends and acquaintances to have a whole gig hard drive; and the first one to have a cell phone, too. I even figured out how to send SMS messages from it, despite the fact that I literally didn't know anyone who could receive them as such. (I could send a short email through a gateway, but that was expensive and weird, so I sent myself a couple of "HA HA I DID IT" ones.)

I've attributed it to getting old in the past, but on further reflection, I still am happy to be an early adopter of an actual new technology that I have uses for or can at least tinker around with. When my lovely boyfriend got me a digital picture frame as a gift, I agonized over it, not really understanding what anyone would want with such a thing; then got up my nerve to ask him if we could return it and get a Chumby instead. Because he's lovely, he happily agreed, and now we have two Chumbys. I got an OLPC XO, too, and I still tinker with that (and am still waiting for a grownup version of it, including the convertible form factor and the dual mode screen).

I love technology. I get excited about it. What I don't get excited about are locked-in, single use, disposable consumer electronics that function out of the box to perform some predetermined function. I just get no joy from that, and honestly, when someone always seems to have new gadgets, I think more technophobe than technophile.

There's probably a little bit of defensive snobbery in this, but I find it a little strange that people consider themselves technophiles or something because they purchase a lot of new consumer electronics and learn to navigate the user interfaces, but can't change the batteries or modify the firmware or anything.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:01 AM on November 30, 2011

I'm .... let's say frugal, so usually by the time I'm done agonizing over spending the money on something, it's not cutting-edge anymore.

I'm not sure where that places me on the adopter scale....
posted by madajb at 8:24 AM on November 30, 2011

I just got a MacBook pro, and only because my blueberry iMac finally got too slow to handle the web stuff I need to do for work.

I'm a slow adopter of physical technology/consumer electronics (old computers, used cars, CRT tv) but I'm an early adopter/beta tester of programs (especially in social media) because I teach it. I have to be up to date in my field.
posted by bryghtrose at 8:37 AM on November 30, 2011

My late adoption approach to stuff spared me MySpace completely. Unfortunately, I just succumbed to Facebook last month. Wish I could say they have all the bugs worked out.
posted by philip-random at 8:40 AM on November 30, 2011

Thinking about all the people on this list who are late adopters "except for $X" makes me realize that early vs late adopting is the wrong coordinate system. The real question is: Are you buying stuff you don't know anything about (for whatever reason) or are you buying stuff you know a lot about?

A computer/media person who, for instance, doesn't use a cellphone but sets up a RAID for their TV is probably doing so because they know a lot about RAIDs and know exactly what they want/need.

Whereas a person who just buys the latest smartphone simply because it is the latest is buying something they know nothing about.

Both of these people are "early adopters" but they are apples and oranges.
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on November 30, 2011 [6 favorites]

OK, my late adoption checklist:

Computer: got my first Mac in 1993, with an educational discount. Had it until 2001, when I replaced it with an iceBook; my current Mac is a mini that I bought a few years ago, and which shares a keyboard, mouse, monitor, and speakers with my PC, which I originally built in '03 and gutted and rebuilt (replaced just about everything but the case and DVD drive) a few years ago. The iceBook still boots, although it's terribly slow.

PDA/smartphone: got a Palm III in 1998; used it for five years, replacing the case twice. Replaced it with two Zires, which were crap, and a Treo, which stopped syncing a couple of months before I was eligible for a discounted upgrade from my carrier. Got an iPhone 3G in '08, replaced/upgraded to a 3GS in '10. (I wanted a 4, but I dropped my 3GS in the toilet at a time when I could afford neither the expense nor the wait for a 4.) Before I got the Treo, I had a Sony-Ericsson t610, and before that I had a Motorola that was like a StarTac only silver, and that I only got because I was getting divorced and needed a phone number of my own--I'd already developed a hatred of cellphones and their users. (This would have been 2001, when it was still possible to not have one and not be seen as eccentric.)

Game console: This is where I really date myself. I won a Pong "console" in the mid-seventies for most new subscriptions on my paper route; it didn't last long (thanks to my cousins), and I didn't get another console until about thirty years later when I finally picked up a PS2 Slim. (Between that and my late adoption of a PC, there are decades worth of videogame references that I only know second-hand.) I upgraded to an XBox 360 last year, using the rationalization that I'd use the Kinect for exercise games (which I have, but only sporadically); lately, I've talked up using it for research into medical applications of Kinect, although the only "medical application" that I've actually used it for lately is to heal my squad with Unity in Mass Effect 2.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:21 AM on November 30, 2011

Thorzdad: "For me, it's always been a case of "if it ain't broke". "

For me, it's always been a case of "am I broke?".

Most of the time buying new things involves a long and agonizing research process that tends to end in "Actually, I'm not sure I really need that".
posted by Memo at 9:31 AM on November 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

What Memo said, only in my case it's not so much lack of money (can't afford to drop mad scrintilla for the latest iPhoney) as doing the research, dream about what I want, look at the flyers, then suddenly have a need to go buy more books and bang goes the budget again.

Also, what I really, really hate are not hardware, but software upgrades. Once I got a mature piece of software that works with the bugs mostly gone, I don't want it to change anymore because it always gets worse: iTunes, Opera, any new windows version or Office upgrade, it all becomes more annoying to use.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:40 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm .... let's say frugal, so usually by the time I'm done agonizing over spending the money on something, it's not cutting-edge anymore.

I'm not sure where that places me on the adopter scale....

Right here on the Cheap Bastard end, with me.

Although not all the time; I will drop money on a hardcover for a few select authors who I want to read so badly that waiting for the paperback is out of the question. Which has actually led me to consider a Nook or somesuch on the principle that I could read everything when it first came out. But I hate the DRM issues with so many of them, and haven't yet been able to commit to a library made up of 1s and 0s instead of books on my shelf. Seems too ephemeral and easy to lose or get corrupted.

I didn't get a CD player until the late 90s or a DVD player till the oughts, and we still have a VCR that just recently crapped out on us; I am currently agonizing over what to do with the old videos, which no one wants and can't be recycled.

I never got an ipod, and have a used iphone from an early adopter friend that I use for internet and music but not as a phone, because that would double my phone bill.

And then we bought a turntable last year and have been spinning our small record collection for in-house dance parties with us and the kid.

Don't have cable (just for internet), or a flat-screen TV, have only one car that's pushing 150,000 miles, and seldom go to movies. Salespeople hate me because I always know what I want and what I want to pay and will walk away if I can't get it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:55 AM on November 30, 2011

One thing a lot of Mac users are early adopters of is OS software. A lot of Windows users are still happily plugging away in XP. Most Mac users upgrade their OS whenever possible without even waiting to see if anyone is having problems. When Mac went from 10.4 to 10.5 they changed their print architecture significantly and managed to break color managed printing for virtually all of the printer companies who couldn't patch their drivers (more than 6 months for some older printers), which left a lot of users rather irate. Some of these irate users were print shops who had updated their mission critical machines with no thought of how to restore them if the upgrade was a problem. I understand Mac lust as well as any Mac user/fanboy but if you have a machine that you need to do business and it's working, leave it alone.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:12 AM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another cheap bastard here. My strategy has always been to use something until it can't be used any more, and then get n-1 generation to replace it. I just got Fallout 3 when New Vegas was released, just got an iphone 4 (to replace my 6 y/o LG dumbphone), can't wait for Portal 3 so I can afford Portal 2, love my 2005 Corolla (that I bought in 2008) etc. In fact, I have only ever bought two video games new in my life - Dragon Age 2 (disappointing, should have gotten Portal instead) and Skyrim. The first was my birthday present, the second - early Christmas. It was the slowness of the Hunger Games books to come out in softcover that finally forced me to get a library card. I love being a medium/late adopter. :)
posted by arcticwoman at 11:22 AM on November 30, 2011

I am fairly disturbed at how much of a late adopted I am becoming in my curmudgeonly...30's. Sure, I didn't want a cell phone back in the day because my mother is a phone stalker-- except of course I had to cave in on that one because I got into an LDR and had to make phone calls every time public transport was inevitably late. I only caved on getting a smartphone this year-- though really it was because I didn't want to double my phone bill. I do love it otherwise. Before getting the smartphone, I refused to text because texting worked horribly on my phone, and that was a Big Problem for people. And now most of the time I have my phone off because I don't get reception for most of the day anyway.

I really, really super despise social media and won't be actively using it until I'm forced to. But the annoying thing is that I know someday I'll be forced to tweet whether I want to or not. As they announced at my work this morning, "the kids these days refuse to read e-mail." Hell, they refuse to read anything at all that isn't a Facebook update. But dammit, short updates are irritating and I don't like them! They tell me almost nothing! *headbangs*

I don't like being a tech curmudgeon, but it shocks me that technological things have come out that I actually DO NOT LIKE in the last few years. (Or am apathetic about-- seriously, if I can't answer questions so well on Metafilter, why get an iPad again?) And I'll probably have to cave and use them anyway because "everyone else is doing it."
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2011

I don’t know who Angela Saini is, but just based on this article I’m hunting her down if anything happens to both our respective spouses.

When I was younger I was obsessed with the newest tech, I read Computer Shopper cover to cover, had multiple PDA’s (but even then I didn’t care about mobile phones). I’m over it. I don’t care about any of it except as being a tool that I need, I don’t want it. I always buy "last years" as well, it’s the sweet spot. I used to love the new shiny toys, but found the thrill wearing off faster and faster. Now it’s just not there. I don’t even want the new stuff and don’t really care when I get it. I’m paying for repairs on my old projection TV for the 2nd time and will spend ⅔ of the cost of a new one. I think this may be called "getting old".

This may just be my personal filter, but it seems like these days the people I see who are most into the latest and greatest tech are the people who understand it the least, and the opposite thought, which I’m too tired to make into a cohesive sentence.

Now I need to go dig my Apple Newton and Handspring Visors out the drawer and do something cool with them.
posted by bongo_x at 7:52 PM on November 30, 2011

When Mac went from 10.4 to 10.5 they changed their print architecture significantly and managed to break color managed printing for virtually all of the printer companies who couldn't patch their drivers (more than 6 months for some older printers), which left a lot of users rather irate. Some of these irate users were print shops who had updated their mission critical machines with no thought of how to restore them if the upgrade was a problem.

If the ad agency I worked at (two of us were the IT dept., for 80+ users at the peak) hadn't tanked (cokehead/alcoholic creative directors blew cash advances, esp. one critical major account from Genentech, and ran it into the ground), and I was still there, we would have done what we always did back then: take a hard look at the changes in the new OS, ask around and comb the Web for upgrade breakage stories, consult our major vendors (Adobe reps used to drop by semi-regularly to give us heads-ups in exchange for signing NDA's), and then and only then proceed with the upgrade, but still waiting a while just in case. Work had to get done. (We all worked through Thanksgiving once, to land the Genentech account.) To suddenly not be able to use the colour profile settings for the $10K Tektronix Phaser printer was not an option.

Any IT dept. that doesn't view new releases with trepidation isn't doing its job. Print shops especially should know better. (If they save costs by not really having IT people and doing it themselves in an offhand, distracted way, well, they get what they pay for.)
posted by Philofacts at 9:07 PM on November 30, 2011

Philofacts, these were small print shops, they didn't have IT departments. I agree, a real IT department would never let happen.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:45 PM on December 6, 2011

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