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New tech is playing an old game

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Julius Cavira, guest columnist

My friend was sporting a refurbished smartwatch from a used online store. The smartwatch had many of the capabilities of a smartphone, although you would need the smartphone on your person for the watch to access the information.

My wife was pickled green with envy, and so chose to buy a used one as well. Then she felt guilty and asked me to get one too, or to at least upgrade my iPhone, considering I had an upgrade waiting for me to use. I explained to her that I would consider upgrading my rickety iPhone when starving people from Africa find it as necessary to buy iPhones as they do food.

When the smartwatch came, she was so smitten by the thing that for a couple of days she didn’t even try to sync it with her phone. Long story short, we both realized that Apple products do not sync with PC products. So we were left with a very expensive paperweight and a guilt-stricken wife.

To solve this, I decided to use my upgrade to switch to a smartphone that would sync with the smartwatch, then swap phones with my wife so that she could use her watch. We went to the store for the upgrade, where we were told about all the latest and greatest junk they had available. Turns out, people cannot stop talking about all the new-and-improved lumps-of-metal with dizzying lights and sounds that will bend to your every will.

After everything was said and done, we made it back home and my wife ran to check out her new smartphone and smartwatch to see all the pretty little things they could do. I looked through my stash of jimmy-rigged whatnots only to find that none of my power cords, charging cases, iHomes and other assorted iGadgets I had once enjoyed fit with my wife’s old iPhone5.

In case you haven’t noticed, technology conglomerates have really got us by the cojones. The industry has developed a way to shut the doors to hardware and software that would allow us to expand, reconfigure and improve the gadgets we own, while developing new gadgets that force us to upgrade to current products — very sneaky! We may have several tech companies to choose from, but once we do, we’re locked in.

If you don’t see this as a threat, consider this: while I was in class one day, my fellow students were discussing upcoming release dates for various software and sugar-candied-lumps-of-metal gadgets. Then my teacher chimed in, too, dusting off his new iPad Mini.

In disbelief, I explained that we college students are the future unemployed — at least for a little while. It takes time to find the right career, and purchasing new hardware using your newly activated credit cards is taking a big risk. That educators, too, are flaunting these new products is simply throwing wood onto a forest fire. Remember the gypsy curse: I wish you get what you want, and want what you get!

So go ahead, buy it ... and pay.

• After earning a bachelor’s degree, Julius Cavira volunteered with AmeriCorps, YMCA, Camphill Communities and finally enlisted in the U.S. Army (active duty) where he was deployed to Iraq twice, in 2004-05 and 2007-08. He was honorably discharged in 2009 and lives with his wife in Cedar Rapids.

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