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5 Things I Learned about Gear in 7 Years as a Tech Journo
By Alvin Soon - on 12 Mar 2014, 12:05pm

Take one step forward and one glance back - I suddenly realise I’ve been a tech journalist for seven years. A tech journo’s life is interesting, you get all the latest toys first (alas, to loan, not to keep), and get to meet the people behind these tech toys firsthand. Seven isn’t long, isn’t short, and I’ve learned a few tidbits along the way. Want to hear?

There will always be another new thing.

Every year, multi-billion dollar companies launch an army of shiny new things to replace the shiny new things they launched last year, all to capture your dollars to put in their banks. The amount of new stuff they make staggers the mind, walk into the showroom of a regional launch for the press and you can see the mountains of stuff that doesn’t even make it here.

But it will never make you happier.

Sure, the shiny new toy which replaces last year’s shiny new toy will give you a twinge of joy at the beginning. But take it from someone who’s been getting shiny new toys to play with every year for the last seven years - they don’t make you happier in the end.

Stuff might make you fabulous, but it won't make you happier in the end.

Good stuff doesn’t make good stuff obsolete (most of the time).

Once in a while, you’ll get a product so good it leapfrogs its predecessor or the competition by a lighty-ear. But most of the time, this year’s product is simply a minor upgrade to last year’s. If the shiny toy you bought last year still works well for you but suddenly looks like crap when the newer one comes out, my money is it’s clever marketing doing its work.

Fanboys, take a good hard look at your life.

I enjoy my iPhone, but Apple is not my religion. I’m their customer, and if they ever mess up or someone else makes a better phone, I’ll switch. I’ll never get rabid fanboys and fangirls who foam at the mouth at any hint that someone could possibly like something they don’t, and delight in making people wrong for buying stuff.

Seriously. These multi-billion dollar companies aren’t your buddies, and unless you work for one, take a good look at why you feel this great need to prophesize for them.

Live to gear, or gear to live.

There’s nothing wrong with deriving joy from your gear, but do you live to gear, or gear to live? As a camera reviewer, it might shock you to learn that I actually don’t love cameras that much (there goes my career). What I love is taking photographs. I’d sooner take a camera out to shoot and get it beat up, than lock up a dry cabinet full of sterile Leicas.

Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re a gear geek, whichever gear floats your boat. Do you live to gear, or gear to live? To paraphrase one of my favorite photographers, “gear is good, gearing is better.” You know what I mean.


Alvin Soon

Alvin Soon / Deputy Editor

I like coffee and cameras, but not together.