Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I just realized I hate computers

Not really but there are aspects of computers that I no longer like or even appreciate and while I think I have evolved over time there are elements of the industry that have not learned a damn thing.

In the early 1980's I reversed engineered Dancing Demon in order to figure out how they accomplished the speed that was simply not there in BASIC.


This program used BASIC as a sort of bootloader for raw byte code which is where the performance came from. Later I would spend a lot of time in CPU and board design, copy protection, simulators, device drivers, TSR, operating systems, BIOS and maybe some other things I've long since forgotten.

  • Transec systems I used an ICE machine to debug copy protection and bypass it. Later I wrote low level DOS extensions to the filesystem.
  • IBM MSD had used for a number of systems including a highspeed simulation of a cluster of single board computers, BIOS for it's Artic Coprocessor; later I moved to the OS/2 team and worked on Video Drivers, AIX for PC, and WorkPlace OS Presentation Manager.
  • At Core International I implemented the disk and tape device drivers connecting the company's hardware to OS/2.
  • NaBanco I implemented a terminal messaging network as a DOS TSR.
What I'm saying is that over the years I have been writing code at a low enough level to understand the hardware and the operating systems. AND I LOVED IT. Tinkering at such a low level was always a thrill. It was especially fun when debugging a problem required an ICE machine, logic analyser or oscilloscope.

Fast forward 35 years; rotate in my chair to my workbench and I see a Dell C6100. It's quiet now and it might remain that way for the time being and longer. Between the IPMI, BMC and dated BIOS I've realized a few things.

These clunky machines are not the future. The cases weigh too much. The power supplies are too big. The Fans are mechanical, noisy, and prone to failure.
And this thing(chip) costs $9.
While the Dell C6100 cost $300 that was not it's original retail price. But regardless of it's original source, likelihood of a MTBF failure, it still requires plenty of sweat equity to get it up and running. More than I'm willing to put into it. I have moved beyond my interest in all things hardware. It also means that, at least Dell, has not learned anything about it's own hardware. The BIOS while simple is complicated and not necessary.

I think I want to use my phone as my computer.

And something similar on the serverside. Maybe some stackable Chip.

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