My Old PC’s

The brief history of my computing


I upgraded my father in laws old PC with my desktop PC, as I’m not using it anymore, so I got in return, my old old PC back. I took it apart and I could see the motherboard and did recognise it, and the heat sink, but could not for the life of me recall the chip. One quick heat sink removal later it was an AMD Athlon 2800 chips, 2.8ghz clock speed, and 1 core. Oh yeah, that old beast, that was about 2002 or so. I got me thinking, of the others in my computing history. So I started listing what I had.
Commodore VIC-20 – games and some early animation moving letters about
Amiga A1200, with a 60 meg hard drive – couldn’t believe I would use 60 meg. Used a very early animation program on it, Imagine 3D v2, that was free on the cover of a magazine. Loved playing around with Deluxe Paint IV
Advent (maybe) 486DX2-66, with about 8meg of ram. My first PC running Windows 3.11, later updated to Windows 95. This was my first, and last off the shelf desktop PC, every other desktop after that was custom build, as I wanted better control of the hardware.
Pentium 2 equivalent – Novatech PC – might be with an ATI All-in-Wonder Pro card, that captured video.
P100 equivalent Toshiba Laptop –  A heavy thing, used it for university work
Some custom build based around a AMD chip, maybe a K2 or 3, with a serious graphics card (At the time) Geforce 2 GTX, started doing a bit of 3D animation work using at first a cracked copy of Lightwave 3D v5.6, then an actual version, when I purchased v6.5 as some features didn’t work correctly. Did some flyers and logo’s. I also created my favourite project at university on it, Terraforming Mars. As part of one of the ecosystems module I created a series of images that showed the progress of the forestation of Mars. Some good science went into it, got a A15 for it, would have got an A16 grade, but I had a few typo’s in it.
AMD Athlon 2800, 1Gb of ram, 60 Gb hard drive, with my first DVD drive! First 64bit chip.
HP Laptop – DV2000 Intel Core Duo maybe?? 13inch –  Piano black case looked smart, XP Media edition, it came with a little remote control that you could slide in and out of the side
AMD K7 3 core PC 8Gb of ram, a few 320, and an 640Gb hard drive, later updated to a 120Gb SSD
HP Laptop DV6000 15 inch, can’t recall much else
i5 Intel 4 cores, 16Gb ram, 240Gb SSD, 1Tb drive, 640Gb drive, 1Gb AMD Graphics card
MSI Steel Series – i7 laptop, 4 cores- 17inch, 16Gb ram, 120Gb SSD, 1TB drive, Nvidia 1Gb graphics
Updated 2020 – 

Macbook Pro – 16 inch i9, 16Gb Ram 1TB SSD. Very nice, have been loving the Mac since I started using a Mac Mini at work to do somethings. MacOS have really come on since I last used one about 2005?? It is a slightly better user experience, but there is not that much in it with Win 10 these days.

So that’s a total of 12 computers but I also have to account for an IPad 2, Motorola Zoom, Samsung A6 tablet, 6 Raspberry Pi’s, and a Play Station 3, 8 inch Fire Tablet and 7 inch Lenovo tablet. 

So I’ve gone from a VIC-20 3k to an i7 16Gb monster over the last 33 years or so. One other thing, USB sticks are the new Bic pen tops and chuck keys for drills, as I seem to keep losing them!
As for OS’s, I’ve been through Windows 3.11, 95, 98, 2000, XP Pro, XP Media Centre, Vista, 7, 8 10. Also Linux Debian, Ubuntu and Mint.


Confession time

During my first true IT role, rather than just being a guy good at IT in the office, I was tasked with the backup tape duties of the AS400 while the regular guy was off on holiday.
I was shown how to load the AS400 backup tapes into the tape hopper,  and take the latest back up to be removed and taken to an offsite location, which was the security hut about 50 meters away. It looked simple enough. So on the Monday I took out the Sunday backup, and loaded it with a fresh set of seven tapes for the rest of the week. Nice, easy, job done.
However, I got in on Tuesday morning for the early support shift, and as soon as the clock had ticked over to 7:30am the helpdesk started getting a load of calls about the main ERP system being down. Soon about 350 people could not do any work. A quick call to the one of the AS400 guys sorted out the issue. It seems that I had loaded one of the tapes wrong and it had jammed. The backup process had failed, and the ERP system did not start up if the backup failed. The AS400 guy started the ERP system back up, people got back on with work. I checked the tapes; they looked OK, next day the same thing happened, Tape Jam the sequel, I had put it in wrong again. The AS400 person finally updated the start-up routines, so if the backup failed, the ERP would start. Thankfully, they never put the backup issue with me loading the tapes, and as the system had gone live within the last few weeks as part of a company takeover, they put it down to teething issues.

I see dead people, in my database

Millions, millions of dead people are voting! said Trump. Well for starters, they aren’t voting, despite the claims, however they will be in a database.

As a consultant I see data sources that contain all sorts of stuff, and they have one thing in common. They are full of dirty data. In fact when i’m talking to a customer, you have to tell them that it is a common problem, a lot of clients think that the issue is unique to them, it’s not, don’t worry, we know how to handle it. I normally say tell them this:

‘The only time you’ll see a clean database, is when it is empty and no users are entering data into it’

Think about it, there a most likely millions of dead customers in the Amazon customer database, or in any user registering database. Facebook will be a massive virtual cemetery of people over the coming years. Having dirty data in your database can be a problem. During my time consulting for a bank for the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) Claims and building their management information, we came across the issue of people being contacted about making claim as they had PPI in the past, however they had died, which can (and was) upsetting their remaining relatives.

Every year I get a Electoral Register Form to confirm who are the registered voters living at the address. The rough data latency (the time of updates) could be a year, or even more depending when I move address. Dirty data isn’t the issue, it is normally your process in updating data that is.