We live in an age that doesn't seem to believe in moderation, particularly in the United States. Yet it is easier to see this when it is not too close to us. As Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at Oppenheimer Funds, says (according to this article):
The U.S. uses 20 million barrels of oil a day. Prices are currently inflated by about $15 a barrel, and that additional cost is effectively a $300 million dollar-a-day tax on Americans, eating away at disposable income for people in this countryPhew! $300 million dollar-a-day tax. That is serious stuff.
But what of the lack of moderation in other areas, such as IT? I am a software person, but both hardware and software usage today fairly scream a lack of moderation. I am not talking about picayune issues, such as extra bytes on GIF files, which may speak to the general attitude, but not the problem. I am talking about the incredible software bloat, and the incredible disk and memory consumption of modern applications. I will admit that a bit of this is my old geezer attitude, but there is more than that, in my opinion. Software applications which used to run fine with 16MB of RAM now have trouble running with 256MB, and the functionality just has not increased much (MS Word would be a good example, but even Lotus Notes suffers from this). The problem is partly a lack of constraints. Software developers tend to have monster machines, and rather than develop with some sense of moderation, they use memory and disk like there is no limit. The hardware manufacturers go along because the only reason the machines of yesterday "aren't good enough" and "need to be upgraded" is because the applications are so bloated, and ever more bloated each year.
But what difference does it make? I'll tell you, it makes a difference because we all wind up upgrading machines constantly. We wind up throwing away (often even when we think we are recycling) older machines and filling up our landfills and poisoning our environment. All this so that Word can have a dancing paperclip? There is no excuse. The software developers should learn a bit of restraint, and the hardware manufacturers should learn to make money off upgrading parts rather than replacing machines.
But we don't see it. All the little incremental costs creep up, and then companies don't want to replace their expensive infrastructure because they have already spent the budget replacing their hardware, and don't want to have to upgrade it all again. I know people who won't ever upgrade their Office suite because they would have to buy new hardware, but Microsoft wants them to buy maintenance so they have to upgrade periodically to justify the cost. Why doesn't Microsoft spend some time and money making their software run better, faster, lighter? IBM is no better. Websphere is bloated. Workplace is little better. Even installing Websphere Portal exceeds the capacity of my current machine, and that is without running it.
Moderation, folks, moderation. If we don't learn it, we'll suffer just as surely as we are suffering because we are not moderate with energy use (read: big cars, big houses, etc.). I can't tell you the tax is $300 million a day, but I can watch the economy and tell you the cost is substantial.
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