[rescue] A bit of Fun

Steve Pacenka s.pacenka at verizon.net
Wed Jun 18 23:27:00 CDT 2003

On Tue, 2003-06-17 at 12:51, Michael A. Turner wrote:

> 1. Worst Machine Architecture

Original IBM PC, due to its shortsightedness.  The memory map put the
frame buffer at a fixed location with a small window.  The contortions
to overcome this led to multiple generations of bizarre and overly
complicated video card architectures.  A limited IRQ count constrained
the number of devices that could have dedicated interrupts, again
causing major contortions to get workarounds as the I/O device count
swelled.  It only took a couple of years for the industry to outgrow the
original PC architecture.  The AT made some improvements but again
became a straightjacket early.

In contrast I like the simplicity of early Mac hardware.  No need for
parallel; fast serial can serve for modem, printer, and even light-duty
networking; and SCSI is there for high speed interfacing of internal and
external mass storage as well as scanners.  Multiple HIDs connect
through one lightweight serial daisy chain.

Sun has been growing on me as I see more of it.

> 3. Worst Operating system

MS Windows 98.  When 98 came out a notable and persisting problem was
crashes at shutdown.  Patch after patch came out.  This is also where
feature bloat set in.  Try to squeeze in eighteen zillion features and
to support a bewildering array of PC-type hardware.  Some of those
features and drivers are not going to be adequately debugged, and many
simply will not work together.  Crashes became a standard feature of
every workday for millions of PC users.  98 drove me off MS Windows
after having used it since V1.0 .

> 4. Worst Case Design

Apple Mac Quadra 650 and PowerMac 7100.  To change memory or motherboard
battery you remove the power supply (itself not a fun task), disconnect
data and power cables from all three drives (inadequate finger room) and
power cable from fan, remove two screws, flip up the drive assembly.

Best I've seen are the Sparcstation pizza boxes, especially the 20. 
Everything is easy to get at.  Sturdy.  Mostly snap-in without screws. 
Secure fit of everything.

> 5. Etc if you can think of anything else. 

An award for absolutely brilliant cable design must go to the CTX
company.  Their 15" color multisync monitors had two jacks, one for VGA
HD15 and one for Macintosh DB15.  Use a straight through standard cable
on either platform.  The innovation was in their own clever cable.  It
had one of each plug type, and you reversed the cable to use it on a VGA
OR a Mac.

DB15 matches the gameport on a PC.  Plug the HD15 end of the cable into
the monitor and the DB15 end into the gameport.  Smoke from PC.  Very

-- SP

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