unixknight

Why Vintage Computing?

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This is a full scale rant.  You have been warned.

In a little corner of my basement, in what was once a darkroom before I bought the house, is my vintage computer workshop.  And on a counter in that workshop are a couple of Commodore 64s, some disk drives, a disassembled Commodore 128, and a flat screen monitor that has been adapted to accept video inputs from machine that were old when Bill Clinton was President.

Yet just 10 or 15 feet away at my desk, is an HP laptop with processing power and memory that is several orders of magnitude more than all the computers in my workshop combined.  Next to it is the gaming rig I built last year to do my Christian game reviews, which itself has - literally - a million times the RAM, moves over 3 billion times faster than the old CPUs, and has a hard drive which has over a billion times the capacity of the floppy disks used by the old machines.

And yet, I love my Commodores far, far more... even though I'm a software engineer and I work in modern software development, not vintage computing.  

Why?

Because this is 2019, where every computerized device we own is constantly screaming for our attention every minute.  I went on a rant about this last night and I  think for a moment my wife was getting nervous that I was having a mental breakdown it was so intense.  

When I wake up in the morning, my phone is already slamming out the notifications.  Formula 1 practice sessions are starting!  You have an E-mail!   Text  text text text text!!!!  That  thing you bought on Amazon is gonna arrive today and YOU NEED TO KNOW IT RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH, AND I'LL REMIND YOU 5 MORE TIMES TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My car alerts me that it wants an oil change when I get in it to go to work, or when the fuel is low, or when a tire is low, or when my parking brake is on...  You know, I'm old enough to remember when a couple of gauges and dash lights were sufficient to relay this information to me... but I guess this is 2019 where somebody believes I'm too dumb to understand unless a computer slams it in my face with some kind of digital screen and forces me to hit an 'OK' button so that I can go back to what I was doing...

My work computer yells at me all day that I have E-mails, Skype messages, it wants a software update, it wants a restart to apply updates... etc.

Every other webpage I visit both at home or at work has ads that pop up in my face.

I get home and my computer is screaming at me that I have E-mails and Skype messages and oh, I WANT UPDATES TOO.  (To be fair,  my regular computer at home runs Linux and isn't nearly as obnoxious as Windows... But when I turn on that gaming rig, which runs Windows... )

My phone meanwhile has alerted me to messages form my kids' school about insipid nonsense I can't be bothered to give a fig about, like how some kid found a garter snake in his locker but not to worry, no kids were hurt and the snake was let go back in the woods.  And of course those messages come in via text AND phonecall/voicemail so there's NO WAY I CAN GO UNINFORMED ABOUT THE GARTER SNAKE.

I'm even getting notifications about notifications.  Meta-notifications?

Mind you, I do not have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  If I did, I'm sure by now all the additional notifications would have driven me into full-on insanity.

Yes, I'm aware that notifications can (usually) be turned off... but we're always installing and updating applications, and sometimes their notifications settings reset when you do this, BY DEFAUT.  I even have a notification on my phone to tell me my "do not disturb" is on.

I sometimes want to rage against the noise and scream I. DO. NOT. CARE.  I do NOT need to know the second every single E-mail hits my inbox. I will check E-mail when I check it and not an instant sooner so why do I need this?  I don't CARE what you want to sell me and I don't CARE that F1 practice starts in 5 minutes I only watch the races.  And I don't CARE about an Amazon shipment changing hands in West Undershirt, KY I only care about when it'll hit my front porch and yes, I know exactly where to go to get that information when I want it.  No, Waze, I don't need to know about the traffic volume generated by a Redskins game when I'm not even going anywhere NEAR it today.  No, Windows I don't care that Cortana has some tips for organizing my desktop and quite frankly if I could uninstall it I would.  

I feel mentally exhausted by the constant need, by every device I own more complex than a toaster, to get my attention...

...but not my Commodore.  It just sits there quietly, ready for me when I want to use it but staying silent otherwise.  It doesn't shout at me.  It doesn't block what I'm doing to show me messages, it doesn't fill its screen with icons.  It just does what I want it to do and not one. single. thing. more.

I know that notification settings can be adjusted.  I know there are ad blockers.  I know I know I know... But these ads, these apps, these websites... It's like an arms race where they try to come up with ever more sneaky sophisticated ways to get around that and clamor for attention anyway.  You can get some peace and quiet for a while, but only as long as it takes one of them to figure out how to push through your shields and get you that INFORMATION THAT YOU JUST HAVE TO HAVE RIGHT FREAKING NOW!!!!!!!

We live in a world where human attention has become a commodity, and many of these things are efforts to harvest it right from the source: us.  Ads, notices about ads, offers, deals, special events... all of it is getting bolder, louder and more ubiquitous... and our electronic devices are the highway from them to our eyeballs.  

So yeah.  That's why I buy and restore vintage computers.  They remind me of a time when computers in the home were our servants, and not delivery systems for advertisements.  

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5 hours ago, unixknight said:

This is a full scale rant.  You have been warned.

In a little corner of my basement, in what was once a darkroom before I bought the house, is my vintage computer workshop.  And on a counter in that workshop are a couple of Commodore 64s, some disk drives, a disassembled Commodore 128, and a flat screen monitor that has been adapted to accept video inputs from machine that were old when Bill Clinton was President.

Yet just 10 or 15 feet away at my desk, is an HP laptop with processing power and memory that is several orders of magnitude more than all the computers in my workshop combined.  Next to it is the gaming rig I built last year to do my Christian game reviews, which itself has - literally - a million times the RAM, moves over 3 billion times faster than the old CPUs, and has a hard drive which has over a billion times the capacity of the floppy disks used by the old machines.

And yet, I love my Commodores far, far more... even though I'm a software engineer and I work in modern software development, not vintage computing.  

Why?

Because this is 2019, where every computerized device we own is constantly screaming for our attention every minute.  I went on a rant about this last night and I  think for a moment my wife was getting nervous that I was having a mental breakdown it was so intense.  

When I wake up in the morning, my phone is already slamming out the notifications.  Formula 1 practice sessions are starting!  You have an E-mail!   Text  text text text text!!!!  That  thing you bought on Amazon is gonna arrive today and YOU NEED TO KNOW IT RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH, AND I'LL REMIND YOU 5 MORE TIMES TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My car alerts me that it wants an oil change when I get in it to go to work, or when the fuel is low, or when a tire is low, or when my parking brake is on...  You know, I'm old enough to remember when a couple of gauges and dash lights were sufficient to relay this information to me... but I guess this is 2019 where somebody believes I'm too dumb to understand unless a computer slams it in my face with some kind of digital screen and forces me to hit an 'OK' button so that I can go back to what I was doing...

My work computer yells at me all day that I have E-mails, Skype messages, it wants a software update, it wants a restart to apply updates... etc.

Every other webpage I visit both at home or at work has ads that pop up in my face.

I get home and my computer is screaming at me that I have E-mails and Skype messages and oh, I WANT UPDATES TOO.  (To be fair,  my regular computer at home runs Linux and isn't nearly as obnoxious as Windows... But when I turn on that gaming rig, which runs Windows... )

My phone meanwhile has alerted me to messages form my kids' school about insipid nonsense I can't be bothered to give a fig about, like how some kid found a garter snake in his locker but not to worry, no kids were hurt and the snake was let go back in the woods.  And of course those messages come in via text AND phonecall/voicemail so there's NO WAY I CAN GO UNINFORMED ABOUT THE GARTER SNAKE.

I'm even getting notifications about notifications.  Meta-notifications?

Mind you, I do not have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  If I did, I'm sure by now all the additional notifications would have driven me into full-on insanity.

Yes, I'm aware that notifications can (usually) be turned off... but we're always installing and updating applications, and sometimes their notifications settings reset when you do this, BY DEFAUT.  I even have a notification on my phone to tell me my "do not disturb" is on.

I sometimes want to rage against the noise and scream I. DO. NOT. CARE.  I do NOT need to know the second every single E-mail hits my inbox. I will check E-mail when I check it and not an instant sooner so why do I need this?  I don't CARE what you want to sell me and I don't CARE that F1 practice starts in 5 minutes I only watch the races.  And I don't CARE about an Amazon shipment changing hands in West Undershirt, KY I only care about when it'll hit my front porch and yes, I know exactly where to go to get that information when I want it.  No, Waze, I don't need to know about the traffic volume generated by a Redskins game when I'm not even going anywhere NEAR it today.  No, Windows I don't care that Cortana has some tips for organizing my desktop and quite frankly if I could uninstall it I would.  

I feel mentally exhausted by the constant need, by every device I own more complex than a toaster, to get my attention...

...but not my Commodore.  It just sits there quietly, ready for me when I want to use it but staying silent otherwise.  It doesn't shout at me.  It doesn't block what I'm doing to show me messages, it doesn't fill its screen with icons.  It just does what I want it to do and not one. single. thing. more.

I know that notification settings can be adjusted.  I know there are ad blockers.  I know I know I know... But these ads, these apps, these websites... It's like an arms race where they try to come up with ever more sneaky sophisticated ways to get around that and clamor for attention anyway.  You can get some peace and quiet for a while, but only as long as it takes one of them to figure out how to push through your shields and get you that INFORMATION THAT YOU JUST HAVE TO HAVE RIGHT FREAKING NOW!!!!!!!

We live in a world where human attention has become a commodity, and many of these things are efforts to harvest it right from the source: us.  Ads, notices about ads, offers, deals, special events... all of it is getting bolder, louder and more ubiquitous... and our electronic devices are the highway from them to our eyeballs.  

So yeah.  That's why I buy and restore vintage computers.  They remind me of a time when computers in the home were our servants, and not delivery systems for advertisements.  

 

Time to change your avatar.

 

abc_wn_andy_rooney_111026_wg.jpg

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281CA6C6-0B27-4392-BD01-4F0D23E5BD25.jpeg.e173d27d15bcae465f389725ee7c49ff.jpeg

 

This was my jam.  

Besides solving almost any problem.  I could play games...  Roll D&D characters.  Store class notes.

I was a ‘scholar-athlete’ and finished with a BS in Nutrition.  But I was a member of the BYU Calculator Club and learned how to make this little machine hum.

I have an emulator on my iphone but it’s just not the same.

 

Edited by mikbone

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There are quite a few Sundays when I don't even bother turning my phone on. Pretty much everyone I want to talk to on Sundays is either at home or at the chapel and since I'm going to be in both of those places, I can talk to them face to face. And I still bring my paper scriptures to church.

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14 hours ago, askandanswer said:

There are quite a few Sundays when I don't even bother turning my phone on. Pretty much everyone I want to talk to on Sundays is either at home or at the chapel and since I'm going to be in both of those places, I can talk to them face to face. And I still bring my paper scriptures to church.

I still bring scriptures to church. My phone remains plugged into the phone outlet in the wall (my cell phone may or may not be on).  I do have a tablet now with the LDS gospel library on it (thanks to this site), but I also bring a hardcopy of my scriptures to church also.

Edited by JohnsonJones

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I love bringing my ipad to church with access to scriptures, talks and other church publications.  I can use electronic searches to validate anybody's comments and quotes and access scriptures to embellish my own comments.  Electronic access makes discussions easier and clearer.

 

The Traveler 

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Finance clerk here.  Two observations after many years:

1. Counting money is easiest/least error prone, when you start with big bills and count down.
2. In my experience, many of the bishopric counselors doing the tithing with me, seem genetically predisposed to do it some other way.

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20 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Finance clerk here.  Two observations after many years:

1. Counting money is easiest/least error prone, when you start with big bills and count down.
2. In my experience, many of the bishopric counselors doing the tithing with me, seem genetically predisposed to do it some other way.

It's more fun starting with the coins and moving up the denominations. More of a challenge.

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On 3/29/2019 at 2:21 PM, unixknight said:

To be fair,  my regular computer at home runs Linux and isn't nearly as obnoxious as Windows...

Really?  I'm currently ignoring the Xubuntu software updater sitting in the task bar telling me they screwed something up yet again, because I know if I let it update today it'll be back tomorrow to tell me today's was yet another screwup.

Quote

Yes, I'm aware that notifications can (usually) be turned off... but we're always installing and updating applications, and sometimes their notifications settings reset when you do this, BY DEFAUT. 

I've dumped more than one app I otherwise quite liked because they insisted on turning notifications back on at every update.

Quote

No, Waze, I don't need to know about the traffic volume generated by a Redskins game when I'm not even going anywhere NEAR it today.

Don't get me started on their idiotic "oh, you bumped the screen, and now we're going to berate you for not carpooling 4 miles to your 4AM shift."

Edited by NightSG

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On 3/29/2019 at 8:16 PM, mikbone said:

281CA6C6-0B27-4392-BD01-4F0D23E5BD25.jpeg.e173d27d15bcae465f389725ee7c49ff.jpeg

 

This was my jam.

Every now and then you can catch a really good deal on eBay, but what I'd like is a true 48G in every way except USB rechargeable.  They do tend to eat the AAAs pretty quick.

Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives.

 

 

Slide Rule.jpeg

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7 minutes ago, NightSG said:

Every now and then you can catch a really good deal on eBay, but what I'd like is a true 48G in every way except USB rechargeable.  They do tend to eat the AAAs pretty quick.

Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives.

 

 

Slide Rule.jpeg

Now that is old school.

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6 hours ago, mikbone said:

Now that is old school.

Good for messing with people too.  My K&E is in the living room, I have a Pickett in my room, and a cheap plastic 6" simplex in the visor pocket in the car for quick calculations.

Odd part about the 48G, though, was that for less complex calculations, somehow keying them in RPN would somehow trigger me to do them in my head and I'd write down the correct answer without ever looking at the screen.

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On the flip side I think companies are becoming aware of this. I felt the latest Android had some fairly sane notification blocking features, it even notices that I swipe away certain notifications and asks if I'd like them blocked ( reality was that I got enough info from the notification to swipe it away without going into the application for more info)

I say slap that do not disturb mode on and enjoy the silence!

 

Side note: I'd love to get a machine going that loads software off of 5.25" floppies. I have fond memories of playing this pirates game on big floppies on a DOS computer. Not that I'm old enough to really remember 5.25" floppies, my friend just happened to find some at a pawn shop and the bays were still around so we played it.

I've thought about building a free DOS rig for ancient gaming... But retcon games are a thing now and they tend to really pretty the game up while keeping the pixelated art styles.

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On ‎3‎/‎30‎/‎2019 at 4:47 PM, askandanswer said:

There are quite a few Sundays when I don't even bother turning my phone on. Pretty much everyone I want to talk to on Sundays is either at home or at the chapel and since I'm going to be in both of those places, I can talk to them face to face. And I still bring my paper scriptures to church.

Yeah my phone stays in the car while I'm in church.  I bring an Android tablet in with me for accessing Gospel Library.

16 hours ago, NightSG said:

Really?  I'm currently ignoring the Xubuntu software updater sitting in the task bar telling me they screwed something up yet again, because I know if I let it update today it'll be back tomorrow to tell me today's was yet another screwup.

Yeah the Ubuntu variants tend to act more like Windows than other Linux distros do, in terms of notifications.  My machine at home is running CentOS7 which doesn't pester me obnoxiously, because it assumes I'll run the updater on my own schedule.  That said, I am planning to switch it to the latest version of Mint because it's overall better for laptops.  

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I bought the car I have now specifically because I can turn down the bells to indiscernible level.  I hate my brother's car that dings at me for not having my seatbelt on every 2 minutes.  YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

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31 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

I bought the car I have now specifically because I can turn down the bells to indiscernible level.  I hate my brother's car that dings at me for not having my seatbelt on every 2 minutes.  YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!

My car is over 26 years old.  It is typical of younger generations to think they are the boss.  I recently heard a statement from the youngest senator that thinks she is the boss of like everything (not sure why anybody would pay for something or vote in someone to be their boss).  I no longer have tapes I can play on my car's tape deck but then, I do not purchase something for transportation and then spend extra for things that depreciate faster than most will make in interest payments.

 

The Traveler

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On 4/2/2019 at 3:02 PM, NightSG said:

Every now and then you can catch a really good deal on eBay, but what I'd like is a true 48G in every way except USB rechargeable.  They do tend to eat the AAAs pretty quick.

Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives.

 

 

Slide Rule.jpeg

When we were upgrading our phones at the T-Mobile store, I was talking with the very young salesman about old school devices and I mentioned I still have 2 slide rules at home.

He had never heard of them, I told him to Google it. Slide rules helped make rockets (among other things)

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On 4/4/2019 at 10:27 AM, mnn2501 said:

When we were upgrading our phones at the T-Mobile store, I was talking with the very young salesman about old school devices and I mentioned I still have 2 slide rules at home.

He had never heard of them, I told him to Google it. Slide rules helped make rockets (among other things)

I actually passed my Extra radio license and a college math test with slide rules when my calculators had dead batteries.

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On 3/29/2019 at 2:21 PM, unixknight said:

Because this is 2019, where every computerized device we own is constantly screaming for our attention every minute.

I hear you, my brother. When I taught information policy, I used to have the class read 'High Tech Heroin.'  Not only are we slaves to technology, but we gladly give up our rights to privacy, to be left alone, etc., for a bit 'more.'  More videos, more notices of sales from our favorite stores, more help in the home via a disembodied voice named Alexa...  We wanted all that technology could give us, we wanted the future, well here it is. It is not what we thought it would be and there appears to be no escape.

btw - I did my doctoral program in Information Science at the Univ of Washington. When I went, the program had just been in place for a year and Microsoft gave us all kinds of technology. Yes, we were happy to have it and a partnership with Gates, but good grief - the updates, the reformatting, the new machines, the migrating of data... Sometimes all I wanted to do was turn on the computer and get to work, but I had to deal with some garbage from IT first. It's almost as bad at the university where I am now, but not quite (I don't think they're getting as many freebies from Microsoft). :)  At least they stopped asking us for new passwords every quarter.

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