[rescue] Production uses for rescued hardware

Tim H. lists at pellucidar.net
Sat Jan 18 10:57:15 CST 2003

On Thu, 16 Jan 2003 13:54:28 -0500
"Sheldon T. Hall" <shel at cmhcsys.com> wrote:

> The stuff I have isn't all that antique or unique:  Sun lunchboxes,
> SGI Indigo2, HP X-terms.  I use some of for "production"
> file-and-other-stuff serving on my home-office network, and some for
> just screwing around.

That is the beauty of this list.  If I were to show 95% of the CS
students at college (yes I have rejoined the masses of the educatees) a
Sun lunchbox or an X-term they would not know what it was, even in
generl terms ("That's a computer?  What, a 286?)  The I2 they would want
to know if the processor is upgradable to a P4 bazillionHz.

The general computing atitude is similar to the architectural atitude in
the early 1900s in the US, if it is not new, tear it down and replace it
with a "better" new one.  There is no regard for the quality or
appropriateness for a task in the "old" equipment.  I am reminded of an
environmental control system that, to my most recent knowledge, was
still running at Houghton College.  The machine was installed in the
70s, had one of those 15" hard disks, and had run flawlessly for
decades.  Sure, it has less actual power than a TI89 calculator, but it
is incredibly suited to it's task.  Of course, when it is replaced it
will be with a more powerful machine, but I bet it won't be as reliable
or usable, even if it has a scrolling mouse.

at SUNY Alfred, where I am going to school, they use a package from Best
Locks, which is supposed to handle the building access card readers and
such, it runs on Win2K server, has a whole bunch of fancy menus and
icons, but card readers fall off the system, and the only way to bring
them back is a server reboot.  There is no way to efficiently schedule
lock/unlock times for other than the standard schedule (over breaks and
such)  Could someone show me the improvement which has taken place in
the 30 years between these systems?  

This list is a shelter from the "old is useless" atitude I get
everywhere else.  (Policed very well by Dave M, just mention that
useless PDP you saw the other day :-))

Oh, and to temper my rant, I got an inspiron 8200 with the Dell ultra
sharp UXGA display (15", 1600x1200) for school, New panel displays are
better than old ones, even if they don't have that beautiful orange
plasma glow.

And for those of you forced to produce/use Microsoft Office documents,
take a look at Crossover Office and/or Xandros Linux.  Xandros/Crossover
Just Worked on this Dell, with the minor fuss of no acceleration for the
ATI Radeon Mobility 9000 video (Yes, Josh, a minor fuss for me, I know,
it wouldn't suffice for you).  All I had to do was get Windowmaker and
such loaded so I didn't have to use KDE.

Just don't buy one with built in wireless, instead, buy the built in
wireless mini-pci card Dell sells for the latitude series.  The one
shipping in the Inspiron is a newer version, actually is mini-pci, the
older one, which is the one they sell for the latitudes, is just a
mini-pci->pcmcia bridge interface, so the wireless is supported by
standard pcmcia wireless tools (prism2 chipset).  Cost was the same too,
the option for the Inspiron was $90, as was the latitude card.

And college has changed in the last 12 years since I was there.  12
years ago there were terminals in the computer labs, and PCs were just
getting started, and they were often not networked.  We didn't have
internet mail, and the control issue was teachers not wanting us to use
talk while we were supposed to be doing labs.  Now the campus has 100%
wireless coverage, I have email and web even from my Handera, and the
control issue is teachers unpluggung the WAP so students can't
browse/chat during class.

Then the computers were slow because there were lots of people
attempting to use them at the same time periods, now the network is slow
because all the students on campus seem to think they desperately need
to download more MP3s than they actually have time to listen to.

Then the bad kids tried to break into student records, now the college
gets threatening letters about the bad kids from the RIAA.

Then there was an Altair sitting in the back of the lab, unused, with
floppy drives and documentation and everything, now it was long ago
scrapped and I am still mad because I expressed an interest even then in
preserving it intact and functional.

 Oh yeah, the original topic, I have several older machines, My Indigo 2
was my primary desktop, until I got the Inspiron, now the desk just
isn't as comfortable as the couch/bed/wherever.  My Alphaserver 400 is
my home fileserver, my Alphaserver 800 is waiting for drives, my
SparcServer 670MP with 2 sm41s is sitting in my storage shed temperature
cycling and surface rusting because I lost my job and didn't manage to
construct my new garage/computer building/workshop this past summer, the
boards out of the 670 are in a 4/160 chassis in the house, the boards
out of the 4/160 are in the 670 chassis in the shed, because of space
issues (I chose to risk the 4/160, instead of the 670).  My other non-pc
machines are just waiting for time and or space to come to life.  The
mostly complete list, along with a couple friends lists, is at


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