I begin to wonder whether I have too many computers at home. At the last count, my family uses four computers on a regular basis, which of course begs the question of exactly what the other 6.5 are doing… I’ve decided to make an attempt to justify to myself my possession of the 10.5 computers living (in some cases not) alongside me, a technophilic teenager.
First of all, the family computer – 5-6 years old, Windows XP. It’s used on a daily basis by my parents, and occasionally by myself. It seems to have become the central computer since all our DAS is connected to it, and it’s the one physically closest to the router (interestingly it’s also the only computer which is linked to the main router via a single cable – just about everything else is connected through an ethernet switch).
My own desktop is probably about 4 years old now and still serving me pretty well – when we bought it, a config with 1.5GB RAM and an Intel Pentium D 2.8GHz processor was pretty impressive. I use it for just about all my Windows software and it’s rigorously maintained, using the likes of TuneUp Utilities and CCleaner. It’s also running XP, arguably the most compatible and programmed-for OS around. I’ve optimised it quite heavily for performance – relatively minimal yet pleasing visual effects and faster, more efficient free software alternatives to default crapware such as foobar, Pidgin, the Mozilla suite and AVG Free.
The antithesis of my desktop, so to speak, is my Laptop: if my desktop is D, my laptop is D’. Optimisation goes straight out the window immediately as it was shipped with Vista and I was too lazy to install something decent, and besides it’s a Toshiba Satellite A300 with 3GB RAM and a speedy Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 processor so it can theoretically cope with pretty much anything I might care to throw at it – including Vista, excluding games. I use it, obviously, for all mobile computing needs, and also as a ‘programming computer’ – it’s the only machine at home with C#.NET installed.
The last of the regularly used computers is my Debian server – the white Compaq. An ancient machine, it boasts about 500MB RAM and a processor whose clock speed is probably best measured in tens of MHz, but it does the job of hosting a WordPress blog with the help of the wonderful stress-reliever XAMPP.
Next to it is the Dell Optiplex workstation (WinXP), which is used for road testing software and port scanning other computers on my network using Nessus in search of security holes.
Compaq: This one runs Windows 2K and is the same model as the Debian server. I tend to use it occasionally to test software in a Win2K environment and experiment with LiveCDs.
Huge server: A wonderful piece of history, definitely worth the ~0.25 square metre of floorspace it occupies. It unfortunately has no HDD and seems to use nothing but SCSI and tape drives (oh the days of tape drives…), neither of which I possess, so only boots off liveCDs – Sabayon Mini and Knoppix are therefore its OSs of choice.
Our old computer was a Time, and was built for Windows 95. That pretty much says it all – the wires protruding from its rear end are testimony to its current function: its PSU provides DC for my electronics projects.
Toshiba Tecras used to look like this…
…and HPs used to look like this. The HP is the only computer downstairs so is used as an excuse for a home entertainment system – it just about managed to install XP so can’t be all *that* bad.
And finally, the half computer: the picture really says it all. I think it was made by Time.
You may now be wondering how rich I must be to own so many computers. Allow me to surprise you – we only spent money on four of the above: my desktop, the family computer, my laptop and the old Time computer (the PSU one). Both Compaqs (including my server) and the old Dell were given to me by the school as old machines when they replaced the computers, my dad’s company also threw out some machines: the huge server and the HP, and my friend also contributed 1.5 computers to my collection – the Tecra and the, erm, box of components.