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Upgrade Time Again

Sunday, 9th March, 2003

Now that I'm on a decent wage at last, money is ceasing to be a problem. Damn, that's nice. Possibly it's even nicer because it's taken so long to get to this point, but I don't care. I just like it.

Last week's wage took care of my outstanding business payments to the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Customs & Excise. Back in the black.

This week's took care of the first proper upgrade to my computer setup for about five years. I've invested in a few items that I've been waiting a while for and I'm very happy so far.

Next week and onwards, money goes in the bank to sit there and accumulate until I hop the pond. It's not many weeks now but it'll still make a difference. I don't know yet how much it'll cost to hire a container to ship my library over, but it ain't gonna be peanuts, folks.

On to the upgrade...

Way back when, as a young whippersnapper playing around with technology, I was happily trapped in the upgrade cycle. When Dan seriously outgunned my meagre Amstrad 086 with his new 386 with colour EGA I had to retaliate.

Soon I was the proud owner of a machine a generation above anyone else. I bought a 486. Not just any 486 either, but the top of the range 486dx-50 with a blistering 16 MB of RAM, a 200 MB hard drive twice the size of anything I'd ever seen before, even at work, and a stunning 17" monitor. King of the castle once more.

Time moves on of course, and technology moves quicker. I upgraded the chip to a dx2-66, then to a dx4-100. I bought a multimedia package - double speed Creative CD ROM and a genuine SoundBlaster 16 - at the bargain price of �600. I started down the SCSI route. And then I suddenly realised that I was still running a 486 while everyone else had a Pentium. Eek, I'm an antique.

So I jumped generations again. While everyone chugged along on their new Pentiums, I bought a �2,000 state of the art box. This was a Pentium Pro 200, designed for servers and a generation newer and twice as fast as those tacky common or garden Pentiums. I bought a 21" monitor, which is still going strong, and various other nice features too like a registered copy of Windows NT 4.

I did a major upgrade a few years ago. I went entirely SCSI, bought an early CD writer (four speed read, two speed write!), a serious scanner, and ensured that I wasn't just ahead of anyone else, I was in an entirely different league.

The catch is that I've not done a heck of a lot since then at all. I've doubled the RAM to 128 MB, upped the graphics to a Matrox Millennium II with 8 MB, but this is all nothing stuff because I'm still running a Pentium Pro 200 while all those in the upgrade cycle are light years ahead of me.

I cut myself out of the upgrade cycle and expanded sideways instead. I have proper networking here, decent servers, different machines for different tasks. I have a serious setup, if not a serious main machine. Now I've sorted that one too.

I bought a Shuttle. These are tiny beauties that are meant to be the future of PCs. They're small, cute and powerful, with almost everything in built. I can see myself using these on a major basis in the future for various tasks.

The processor is a Pentium 4 running at 1.8 GHz, nominally nine times faster than my last, but in reality many times more than that. It blisters. I put in a GB of RAM, eight times more than before and running at far higher speed. I threw in a tiny 40 GB drive, over four times the total storage that my four SCSI drives had in the old machine. It has four USB 2 sockets, 3 FireWire sockets, optical ports, you name it. Nothing I have elsewhere even thought about these technologies.

I've thrown Windows 2000 Pro on and it is quite incredibly fast. I installed Office 2000 Pro over the network in thirty seconds. I've not seen that before.

I also upgraded some other stuff too. I now have an Epson Perfection 1660 Photo scanner which comes with an integrated unit for scanning negatives and slides. Time to do some serious catchup with all my old photos from the days before I had stuff developed directly to CD.

I also picked up a couple of 200 GB drives for Terabyte, my fileserver, along with an 18 GB LVD SCSI drive that will become the boot drive. A SCSI drive running at 10,000 rpm is about as perfect a NewsShark drive as possible. With the new storage space, I'll set some scheduled Robocopy commands up and have some serious downloading fun.

Anyway, time to dash. Bathtime, then off to Manchester for the Manchester Tattoo Convention with Fetish Catwalk and other intriguing events. Katt is up for Best Celtic again, but she'll have some serious competition I'm sure. Manchester is a bigger convention than Blackpool where she won before.

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