phi (totient) wrote,

back from the dead

miss_chance and I have an old desktop machine which we use as a guest machine and as the primary repository for our Quicken files. It's on its second or third CPU fan, and has had some other upgrades cobbled onto it in an ungraceful manner, and has generally been unreliable lately, so we weren't terribly surprised when it finally stopped booting altogether. But though we had recent backups of Quicken, we thought it'd be convenient to continue having a guest machine, and not to have to reenter the most recent bank statement. So I hauled out the *previous* desktop -- which had been our primary machine back in the '90s -- and installed the primary hard drive from the dead machine as a secondary hard drive, and threw in three or four 256M SIMMs (of which it could only use 128M each) because no one should have to suffer with only 64M of memory even if they are running an operating system that fits in it. I'd forgotten how much of a better design it has; there was a proper place for the extra drive to go, and it uses a 4-inch power-supply fan and some clever ducting to cool its CPU. Even the real-time clock had managed to stay within a few minutes. I'm glad I held on to it all these years.

Any time that I work on PC hardware like this, I imagine myself a Jawa, futzing over robots in my Sandcrawler, and wonder what the experience is like from the computer's point of view. Waking up after years asleep, with two eras of an only somewhat congruent personality laid atop each other. From one point of view, the machine is vastly augmented; it has many times more disk and main memory, almost enough to be considered modern. From another, it has been diminished, running an older operating system and without many of the bells and whistles I didn't bother to transplant from the dead machine. And though two of the personality snapshots are now merged, neither is the primary one; it's still a second-class construct rather than a full-fledged citizen. I wonder sometimes if Ted Williams will awaken in two hundred years to find himself in a similar situation.
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