That Walkman does look valuable.
Why don't you put it onto eBay for a £100 and see if anyone bites.
It would justify your hoarding and both annoy and please the missus simultaneously.
Alistair Dabbs is unwell this week. This column is a repeat publication of something we found, er, at the back of the cupboard. It's actually not that musty (it's from 2012). I like my house zen. Unfortunately, I am a hoarder, so it’s not. My half-life wife has been trying to educate me by making me watch TV programmes with …
I never used floppies as coasters. It was always AOL CDs. Of which I had many. Multitude upon multitude of the bloody things! Why are astronomers wasting their time looking for dark matter, when we know that 10% of the mass of the universe is made up of unused AOL discs?
Don't do it!!!
I moved house under 2 years ago. I can remember dumping my parallel printer cables, because I remember reading a piece or a comment on El Reg about 2 weeks later, about someone looking for some.
I'm trying to clear the box room now, where all the crap got/gets dumped. I came to this huge box, that I could barely lift, and assumed it must be full of books that didn't make the shelves. But no, it was totally full of cables. And had a twin, which had cables, plus the odd 8 speed internal CD player, unused joystick and my copy of Elite for DOS, that I didn't have the heart to throw away when all the other crap went. Like my copies of Windows 3.1 and DOS 5 on floppy, plus manuals for same.
I looked through it, and was there a SCART lead that my Mum needed? Nope. That'll only come out of hiding when I'm looking for an HDMI cable in a few weeks/months time, and can't find one of those... So I've boxed it all up, paid a removal company to take it away and store it for a couple of months, had them deliver it once I'd bought somewhere, humped it into the box-room, fallen over it a few times, and still not used any of the stuff inside it! Though I've probably chucked some stuff away, and shoved the cables into it, 'just in case'...
Like most of us reading this, I have a collection of odds and ends, 99% of which I'll never use. From time to time I'll dispose of some of it I feel has crossed the 100% threshold, but damned if I don't always seem to find a totally unexpected need for something I just threw out weeks ago.
Not for the intended purpose of what I threw out, mind you, but some unintended purpose I realize I could have put it to if only I had realized it at the time.
Possibly worth sticking on eBay. I sold mine (original CGA version, not the later Elite Plus) a few years back. Prompted a brief bidding war up to £50 quid. That only actually stopped when one of the bidders realised that he not only didn't want to pay the price it had got to and would prefer a dodgy download, but also started listing copies of that illegal copy for sale. Still not sure if I should have reported his listings, or if that would have got him banned and wiped his bids out on my listing (dropping it to a much lower price).
Surely he should be undergoing the patented beer and bacon diet at the el'reg own private clinic
I thought that unwell was journalist euphemism for him having spent the last week doing just that...
Although I suppose there's no harm trying a bit of the hair of the pig that bit you, the morning after. Talking of which, I've got some nice rolls and bacon at home. That's tomorrow's brekkie to look forward to.
I have it on good authority that Mr Dabbs is not so much sick as missing, presumed lost in the attic. He may or may not have been last heard saying, "Look dude! I *know* there's a spare c64 tape drive just beyond that pile of ever useful NES, megadrive and 3DO controllers."
He was last spotted passing beyond the milk crates full of cable off-cuts (did you know if you plant 'em in the garden they grow into full-sized coax cables?), striding confidently towards the mountain of empty VHS tape cases (you never know when you'll need one, or four hundred). Sadly, like the crew of the Mary Celeste, our intrepid Mr Dabbs may never be heard from again.
The 'Milestones' museum in Basingstoke has excellent exhibits covering the last century of history, and I'm sure they'd appreciate a donation of well cared-for 80s and 90s tech. They have displays featuring toys and gizmos from every decade since 1900. They've even got a ZX Spectrum in there. In return, I wonder if they'd be so kind as to let you chuck that copy of Tim Langdell's book next to it through a wood-chipper?
> This column is a repeat publication
We know that TV "stops" (well, stops broadcasting anything worthwhile) during the summer ... and for the month or two over christmas ... and at weekends and various random times throughout the year when the american broadcasters go for a lie down and screen sports instead of entertainment - and we have to stop too, in case we accidentally see something good first.
So in the spirit of repeats, let's have a few commentards repeat some tardy comments.
Here's a possibly prescient offering from October 2007: (filed under Olympic ticketing system crashes under demand)
and in 4 years time ....
... what's the betting we'll see this exact same story again, only with a different country in the frame?
Athlon XP 2400 Thoroughbred overclocked to 2.4ghz
Asus A7N8X Deluxe mobo
1gb of DDR400 RAM (as the mobo can't handle more than that at 200Mhz, IIRC - it'll take 1.5gb at 166mhz)
ATI X1650 Pro GPU
2 x Samsung Spinpoint 120gb HDDs in RAID 0
CoolerMaster Aero7 fan with rear mounted controller
4x 80mm fans with front mounted controller.
Built when those parts were newly available retail - so a solid ten years by now surely?
I still have to fire that machine up and check what data needs recovering from it.
And that's just one of the bits, bats and boxes that I need to sort out.
Also, how the hell did I remember all that exact spec without having to think about it? Terrifying. I can't even remember what I had for dinner on Monday night.
I think half of my house move a couple of months ago was toss like the above....
I'm not a hoarder, er, honest.
"Would probably work fine as a firewall or file server for the house"
It might do, but it will be cheaper in terms of electricity and reliability to just get a modern box to do it. It'll be quieter and take up less space too.
BTDT - the old 'large microwave' sized PC that served as a firewall was replaced by something the size of a small paperback book.
This is the dilemma of all old kit. It still works fine. It cost a fortune at the time. But now, five years later, it's out of date and everything you could use it for can be done faster/cheaper/quieter/more efficiently by something new, occupying a fraction of the space.
But it still seems such a shame and a waste to throw it out. Hence, my attic....
I spent a lot of time trying to keep a system with Thoroughbred XP2600+ system running! The thing would work fine at full speed, then start to crash but would start working again if I underclocked it. Few weeks later, it would start crashing again, so underclock it a bit more. Was not the memory or the MoBo.
Finally give up, and scoured Ebay for another Thoroughbred, and repeat the cycle. And again. Then completely give up on the machine!
If you got good results overclocking a Thoroughbred, then you had better luck than me!
Must finally get round to chucking the thing out. It's still in my not-quite-dead PC stack, kept only because it had a retail (not OEM) XP license on it.
"2 x Samsung Spinpoint 120gb HDDs in RAID 0
I still have to fire that machine up and check what data needs recovering from it."
Given it's two very old HDDs in RAID 0, I wouldn't hold my breath. Although I've still got a 16 year old 4GB drive that still works, so you never know.
Re the Thoroughbred, never had to gate it - it just worked. I think the pencil trick was only if you wanted to try to unlock the (binned) cache. I didn't care TBH, I was after better single threaded performance.
Remember the days when single threaded performance wasn't a thing, it was just what you wanted? :-D
As for the HDDs, well, fingers crossed. Worst case scenario I'll have to try to use a Linux based program that understands Sili RAID 0 patterns...
Nothing too important on there, just some very early SLR photography work and some dutch progressive media ;)
I hoard quite a bit and also still hang on to a late 90's Macintosh SE/30 that is fully functional as well as a working Apple Newton and a working Diamond Multimedia RIO MP3 player
I often wonder if it's the sentimental value or just how much those things cost me way back when?
It's also nice to show them off to the youngsters of today and show them the comparison of how technology has moved along over the past three decades.
Yes, in essence I do hoard, it's hard to throw things away that function but have no use...
I have a Quadra 650 (upgraded to 128 MB of RAM!) and it still runs. Ok, it takes three different adapters stacked on top of each other to connect up to a monitor but still, it's never died in me. And the metal case makes a great stepping stone when I need to reach a high shelf.
Now, about the TI-99/4A that still runs...
To begin at the beginning...
Get well soon Dabbsy
Just built a new pc - 8 cores 32gig of ram, water cooled; the full schlemiel.
(it's fucking great btw)
But there is not space in 'the pit' for more than 2 pc's one of the old ones had to go...
both specced pretty much the same
all user data resides on external drives
not much in it really
I'd do eeny-meeny, but that's frowned on these days.
in the end tossed a coin (they can't touch you for it!)
not wanting to throw too much crap away, went through the old box, removed mobo & chip. ram, dvd recorder, old hdd. (well you never know!!!)
then with nary a thought chucked the old case and PSU into the bin.
that was Tuesday
our bins are emptied on Wednesday
the psu on my old machine went bang on Thursday
I'll never throw anything away ever again!
Great timing for this article! We are moving the little boy into a new room, the old office! Guess what I found, rather the missus spotted as garbage.
1x iMac G3 Dark blue
2x 15’ G4 Powerbooks
1x 12 G4 Powerbook
1x 14’ G3 iBook
2x 15’ Acer Ferrari don’t remember the model number
2x HP\Compaq - Compaq/HP desktops one with SUSE12.x the other Win 7 Pro
To be relocated after the boy takes his new room:
Still in service, a headless 13” White MacBook pre-unibody as Mavericks server and the old G5 Powermac or is it a MacPro, serving all the media to the house.
Plus all the boxes of cables, cards, HD’s, RAM etc, all nicely labeled.
Hoarding you say? Nonsense my boy, it’s the beginning of a Museum!
Get well Mr. Dabbs
Fine weekend all!
It is toward the end of spring and the outdoors parts are more or less under control, and the SO is once again utterly certain I'm going to end up like an old cat lady hoarder with computer bits. Honestly I'm running out of spots in the house to hide the stuff that I just KNOW I'll need to fix some computer next week. Gonna have to start taking to the rafters in the basement to hide the bits.
It is (at least in my neck o the woods) faaaaaaaaar to nice a day outside to be stuck in the troll pit in the basement on a WFH day. Now, i have that weatherproof patch block and about 60 extra feet of ethernet cable somewhere. I see an evening project. (yeah wifi sure, but ethernet is just plain more stable. Especially with my neighbour's modern microwave in use by the herd of 'tweens hanging out at their house)
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I did warn management last week what would happen, if the hours in The Register Footer Department weren't reduced
Now look what's happened :o(
I can only hope - for the sake of us all - that some one (still sober - I note the time in the UK) has changed all staff passwords as a precaution
... No one ever listens to me (or sends me a T-Shirt)
Happy weekend Reggers ... get well soon Mr Dabbs ;-)
I still have my old Sega Saturn, cost at the time: £250. What a crock of shit that was, sega too. Then they faceplanted with the Dreamcast and good bloody riddance!
It's got a CD lid override switch for playing shady CDRs and the AV lead SCART plug has a stereo 1/4in TRS socket hanging out of it. We've kept the old CRT TV/VCR around for it so we can play light gun games and Wipeout 2097.
Yup. Big time hoarder here. G/f is the same. But we're in recovery.
Two weeks ago, we held a stall at Redfern Park (just down the road), and made a profit of over $200. We sold an old Apple keyboard for $1, gave away MS laser mice (of which I still have plenty), sold an unused IP WiFi camera for $50.
And just yesterday, I put together another two full tubs of gear to take to market next month.
It makes me feel so much better looking atop my cupboard and seeing the wall, and not a pile of boxes and tubs full of ... one person's trash is another's treasure.
I still have all five Atari-800s (courtesy of Garage-cleaning friends), but have not seen my box of Magneto-restrictive delay lines (Surplus from RADAR MTI units) in years. Just went looking for a miniUSB cable, with which the house was once infested. None to be found. Worse is running across my "spare" BSA Goldstar transmission, about 15 years after selling the Goldstar. No, you can't have it. Gave it and a Panther engine to a fellow who actually wanted them, a year or so later.
BTW: Best use of AOL CDs? A friend made himself a plausible "Fish scale" suit of armor from them.
Two of my garage walls are now covered with floor to ceiling plastic 35 litre stacking boxes - 60 of them plus half-a-dozen much bigger ones. Previously things just balanced precariously - and landslides were not uncommon. Just to prove I know the meaning of the word "organised" - these boxes are actually labelled with their content categories - and the transparent plastic helps too. Invariably the one I want at any time is no higher than the middle of a stack. The nurse giving me my last flu jab complimented me on my biceps (for my age).
The other two walls are covered in IKEA heavy duty shelving. Much of that is occupied by mostly empty PC cases. They are all ivory coloured - as my godchildren on the last tech refresh wanted black ones with water cooling. The treadmill for daily exercise on winter days does add to the claustrophobia.
Now all I have to do is sort out the IT kit covering half the lounge floor, the dining room, the two spare bedrooms, the top landing.. ...ah no - that's covered in books as the lounge bookcases are overflowing with the other 2000 books. Oops again - there is a Core I7 870 "spare" PC on the landing. The kitchen you ask? That only has the exercise bicycle for H.I.T. - and all the paraphernalia of my clay modelling hobby. All the over-wintered pots of dahlias and geraniums are finally outside on the patio again.
One of these days Oxfam will receive a wagon load of books in a periodic "blind" purge. Dell's recycling policy should take care of some of their laptops and spares that wouldn't upgrade to W7.
Another generation of neighbours' kids are discovering my house is like a Tardis warehouse. Today it was requests for a torch and water guns - last week it was R/C cars and a basketball. They haven't guessed at the model hovercraft and R/C blimp yet.
It's probably a good thing that I can't afford the asking prices to downsize to a retirement bungalow.
I'm sure there are countless people out there who keep bits and pieces of old computers around.
Let's see - I've a box containing the following....
Several PATA hard drives, ranging from 1GB (from my 1996 P100) to 100GB (from a 2001 Athlon PC, although it's not the original drive from that machine). I've also got a 45GB "DeskStar 75 GXP"; I kept it just because it may be the only known specimen not to have self-destructed. Yes, it still works!
Various cables, including an old 4-pin analogue CD-audio internal cable, for connecting a 1996 CD-ROM drive to a SoundBlaster. I guess I should throw that out!
A ZIP 100 drive (and associated parallel cables and PSU and disks). An assortment of 5.25" and 3.5" floppies. An old PCI DIamond Stealth graphics card. A Sound Blaster Live card. An IBM XT flopypy controller card - I kept it from my first PC as I didn't know what it was at the time and it looked interesting (especially the massive port on the back, which I now know is for hooking up an external floppy drive). Various screws, motherboard stand-offs and other related tat.
I've some old PCs lying around in a cupboard too - an IBM PS/2 (486SLC) from 1992, kept because it was utterly weird. Its keyboard, however, is still in use as it's wonderful. A 486 DX4/100 laptop with DOS games on it. A P166 with Windows 2000, which ran my weather station for many years. It's all set up so that if my current PC dies I can just pop it back in... as if that'll happen!
I kept my old P4-450 from 1999 - purchased with the proceeds of writing some Shareware games - and its associated CRT monitor. It was a fantastic machine and it still holds my collection of DOS games. It's a home to more old stuff - both sizes of floppy drives, a DVD drive, Voodoo 2 and so on.
Although that's a load of old tat really, I did manage to clear out some stuff in the past couple of years. My old Athlon PC is now used for an IT course at the school where I work, I gave my old P4 Dell PC and Core2 generic PC to a friend and the old CRT monitors I had kept have been dismantled at work (there's some special copper wire inside which is useful for DT lessons, apparently).
"Kind and resourceful people see potential value in every cracked and crazy thing. Throwing it out may be a waste, but if you can't find and use things in the mess, they are already lost to you. On top of that is buildings and space you cannot use, clarity and beauty lost, wasted.
Its already wasted. You are only gaining by letting it go.
[Cecilia Macaulay, "Lessons from a Japanese Farmhouse makeover"]
This is the thing.
Some people think they mustn't waste anything.
So they either hoard it or leave it to someone else to shoulder what they perceive as the guilt.
It was true the last time we went over this ground and it's still true.
And not just IT tat. There are people who won't their dump out of date food from the office fridge: Not (only) laziness. They won't eat it. But they genuinely seem to think that if they leave it for someone else to find mouldering and dump it the guilt of waste isn't theirs
My S.O. decided to tidy up the junk room. While I was glad to see the back of most of the 'puter related tat, unfortunately she binned my prized HP25C calculator - complete with original packaging and manuals.
The 25C was my last tangible link to the bright young lad I once was. I worked the summer break between school and uni to afford it and it served me faithfully through my student years. It had great looks and a fantastic tactile keyboard. It would hang from my belt in it's little pouch like a wild west gunslinger's shootin' iron and I quite prided myself on my ability to rattle off a calculation at the drop of a hat.
It's sad to loose a part of my youth, but there's a lesson to be learned. Look after the things that are dear to you, coz no one else will ...
An Archimedes A310 with Arthur 1.2 ROMs. An Acorn Teletext Adaptor in a world where teletext barely exists any more (and the German channels that do exist use different character set and later styling than the ancient SAA5050 can cope with). Several
dozenhundred ßetamax tapes (no working player). A bunch of DC6150 archive tapes (streamer is where?). Parts of a dead Camcorder that I might one day wire up to some sort of microcontroller...
,,,you get where this is going. All of it is junk today but it may be exactly what I am looking for tomorrow!
Ah Dabbsy mate, always enjoy your pieces. I'm just like you (even our meatspace forename), but also have an ebay-tat-from-china habit. Currently pi/arduino bits as I'm preparing an electrical workshop.
Unlike you I'll never get married or cause any kids, and my best BOFH mate is my housemate, so think of The IT Crowd's lair and you're not far off. Living the dream!
I was dismantling a piano this morning so that it could be replaced with one that works, and even as I was breaking up its ancient hulk I was thinking, "that lid would make a good shelf", "haven't got any screws like that" "what could I do with 100 felt washers?"
Just Remembered where we took that USA-made 21in monitor that was put together with a glue gun (same guy that sold me on the same friday eve those 2 long screws that hold the back of a Think Pad on, for a dollar)... the guy has an entire warehouse full of stuff that is being mentioned here...
He Hoards Stuff For a Business and is an EPA legal recycler too !!
IMHO= forget EBAY, just move all my precious old stuff to the recycler n go there for coffee occasionally to re-visit it...for me, this is a Paradigsm Shift of epic size...RS.
like the Acorn RISC PC600 (upgraded with StrongARM, the "Clan" priority reservation certificate must also be somewhere...). I don't think I've had it booted for a decade or even more.
I think he also threw out all my expensive (well, then) Iyama CRTs in the same run to the recycling center.
Other stuff, like the slightly functioning SGI Octane had to go in a move about nine years ago (yet, my parents' VW Passat was full just with my computer-stuff, the rest fit into my Lupo...)
I've still got an old DLT40/80 external tape drive that will probably be very difficult to get to work (which modern PC are my SCSI-controllers going to work in?) and also lots of cables.
And that old 24" CRT monitor that came with the HP Kayak, almost 14 years ago - still in the basement - you can't throw away such stuff, can you?
But I've dumped a lot of DVD-Rs recently. And the cases. In fact, even more cases than DVD-Rs...
I've stiill got working 8" floppy equipment stashed. If you keep that stuff long enough it can become valuable. I know a guy in his 80's who claims he has an analog computer in his hoard. Now THAT I'd like to see. Some of those do go for $$$ on ebay, but I'd want to get it working and fool around with it if it was mine.
Though this behavior is indispensible at work if you are in an environment with "legacy" (to put it kindly) shop floor equipment. Every 6 months or so someone comes through our storage/testing area and has a big hissy fit about "5s" and how we must clean up. Then something used for production breaks and we delve into our crap pile and have it working again in an hour, for nothing, instead of a week later for $10K plus lost production costs.
I've got an IBM 5150. Still works. Plus a case and some misc hardware for another. At one point I had a respectable Pentium mobo in there, but it became slow and obsolete. When I get around to it, it will be upgraded. I have a (dead) CGA monitor and if I can find a flat panel HD monitor panel to fit, the effect will be complete. That will turn a few heads when I take it to the next Linux bootfest.
I also have a collection of vacuum tubes (valves) as spares for some antique test equipment I collect. I buy them usually in mixed up batches, sort and test them and trade the ones I don't need with some antique radio/TV collectors. So its not really a hoard, even if it loks that way.
The assorted slide rules might qualify as such until I get around to building a nice display case for them. Then its a collection. Or a hoard, hanging on the wall.
"The assorted slide rules might qualify as such until I get around to building a nice display case for them. Then its a collection. Or a hoard, hanging on the wall."
Back a few years, around 1977, say, I took an open-day type tour round the secondary school where I would be going the following school year. In one of the maths classrooms, they had a (one) (1) slide rule on the wall.
Of course it was six feet long, for demonstrating slide rule technique to twelve-year-olds...
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Up in loft I have several (more than 4) Spectrums (Spectra?) ranging from 48K+ to +3 via 128K+ and +2A. BBC Master 128k with twin 5.25 floppies, Sam Coupe 512k with twin 3.5" floppies. A 17" Toshiba CRT monitor (needs fettling) that took 2 people to get up there as it weighs more than my 28" CRT TV. Bags full of various cables, some graphics cards, sound cards, hard drives ranging from 100MB up. I am sure all of it will come in useful someday.
Classic article which I missed first time round.
That bit about the boxes in the loft - that's me!
It's very easy to be in denial about being a hoarder - I guess you are a true hoarder if the rate at which you acquire stuff which "might just come in handy, one day" is greater than the rate at which you throw/recycle stuff which "OK, won't ever be used again"
Since we move around the world a lot for work I have to curtail my electronics hoarding impulse somewhat. I think it is green to save old kit from the landfill. And it is satisfying to come up with a USB mini when the cheapo manufacturers these days ship printers etc without cabling. However this green glow is counterbalanced by the Brobdingnagian carbon foot print laid down by bunging it around the world. Also the older equipment does have great big sooty feet. This does not stop me from saving working gear, mind you. But I do get rid of some of it. I sort cables into plastic totes. One for analog cables RCA , speaker and antenna wire (icluding coaxial). Another tote for data and periferal; usb, hdmi, ethernet patch cables, parallel, rs232 (you never know) , Another for internal computer data. PATA, SATA etc. Another tote for DC power supplies and dc power cables. And finally another for mains including international adapters and extension cords all with various plugs: US, British (safest in the world) and European. Had some Aussie plugs and binned 'em. No chance of an assignment there again.
My favorite save involved an old box built for me by the Armenian Institute of computer Science. Top flight ASUS components for 1999. It just refused to break. It was used as a file server until I gave it to a center for disabled children in Tajikistan in 2011. It ran Ubuntu Linux and would not get infected like the hopeless unmaintained XP machines. This proved very useful to the project director as she could visit the site and not get her thumb drives polluted. I hooked it to an old printer. The kids could even play games on it. Things like this are what make it hard to cure myself of e-hoarding.
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