Stay in school.

(Reprint from a few years back.]

Recently, there was an article about how you could be more efficient with older computers posted on a forum I visit. The young kids who use computers as phallic symbols disdained the article as being hog wash. I responded with the following comment:

Basic laws of electricity and electronics are still the same. No one has improved on the basic digital one and zeros yet….. (+5v and 0v). Sometimes I wish I could take certain people back to the time of punch cards when monitors were not even invented yet. They might appreciate all technology a bit more. It is amazing how many people are doing retro projects in the hacking scene, so there has to be some value in even in legacy equipment.

For that matter, Arduino units and the like are a big thing now. By the time you add all the whiz bang upgrades your are at the size of an old pc. Why not just save money and use an old pc mb to begin with. For sure, you are less likely to be sued for any patent issues. Making a router with an old pc (openwrt will run on x86 as well as a host of other firewall software), You can upgrade hardware (nics) as you see fit. That is kind of hard to do with the standard router. An old i486 will control a robotics arm as well as any multicore pc. Since old mb’s have parallel ports, and the newer systems do not, they are easier to interface than having to worry about dealing with the usb port. You can still use an old pc with multiple sound cards to make an awesome mixer. If you really want to go inane, I used to use an old bulky unix text based rs232 terminal to communicate with my Cisco Linksys NSLU2 (running debian as a file/web/media server) via a usb to rs232 adapter. An old i486 with an isa nic could do the same job as well as text based word processing, email, spreadsheets, databases, and etc.

If you had not bought new equipment yet, you have alternatives to use to advance your bargaining position. It is a lot easier to get a better price when you do not need something than when they see you coming. Example: The fancy new tv’s have dropped a ton in price. Glad I waited. $100 for an lcd screen tv is not bad compared to the $500 price tag not so long ago. I use an old Commodore 1701 monitor in the bedroom with a hdtv converter for a tv. I am not that impressed with so called “additional quality” of the newer tv’s from them to blow a wad of money. I will keep the money in the bank earning interest till I need it for other things.

The Media said to throw out all your old analog TV’s. Pure rhetoric. I still use my 5 inch portable b&w tv with a dtv converter and coathanger antenna in the hacker space. Works just fine for me. Who’s controlling your pocketbook? Even if there comes a point when I could not use it, there are lots of reusable electronic parts. I have two dead vga monitors that I intend to strip for parts if not all the copper wire to make a motors and etc. My brother threw out his old dryer because it did not heat up anymore. I am using the motor from it and the edger he also discarded to make an emergency generator. Generators sell for upwards of $1000. My cost, less that $50. I am so glad I took physics if only just 6 hours in college. Knowledge is power.

“The more you know”


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