Wednesday, December 06, 2006

geek-spirations

i remember when i was growing up thinking about what the future might be and what cool gadgets/toys we might have. i never would have thought how fast we would get to where we are now and also the path that i would take in life.

as a kid i was always into anything that was space or electronics or could be taken apart, be it a radio or an rf adapter for my atari or trying to make my own telescope.  i always ended up taking things apart to see how they worked.  most of the time i couldn't them to work again or my modding made things worse. however i still remember my first interactions w/a computer.  now that was a 'cool machine'.

our family never had a computer when i was growing up. computers and macs were pretty pricey still (late 80s-90s, i am 27).  you really couldn't go out and build a nice system for $300.  if you wanted a pc you had to either buy a pre-built system or know some REALLY geeky rich friend and were looking at spending an easy $2000.  my initial interactions w/computers came in gradeschool, i'd say prob in 4th grade.  i decided to take some summer typing classes on the Apple IIe (we even had one w/the color monitor at school) and ended up falling in love with computers (remember oregon trail?? hehe).  then finally in 5th grade my pal's mom got a Mac PowerPC and we got our first tastes of BBS boards and Compuserve.  i remember him and me sitting up late at night trying (keyword, trying) to find a computer to try to hack into but most wardialing sessions ended w/us finding nothing.

we kept up on the hacker underground via the BBS boards (or what we thought was the hacking underground, lol) but really never got into it since we didn't have a laptop and we really didn't know that much.  we were more attracted to the culture, the risk and the brilliant minds.  so i never hacked a single computer in my life and probably never will (my definition of hacking is more old skool and less malicious than nowdays).

before 7th grade started, our area had gotten a grant to build a consolidated highschool (7-12) that was state of the art.  full computer networking in all classrooms, ITV in each room, a olympic sized pool, 2 gymnasiums, etc.  the first day of school was pretty amazing, especially walking into our computer lab filled w/35 of the latest IBM PCs. there was also a smaller computer lab filled w/20 macs that was used for programming class.

 the best thing though was that in the library we had internet access and could sign up to get an email address for $1.  so of course every kid got their own email address (poor sys admins, had no idea what they set themselves up for!).

browsing the internet back in 1992 was good stuff, advertising was not legal on the net yet and no one had ever heard of a 'popup'.  search results for 'nba' or 'jordan' brought up only like 459 hits and of course who can forget the first free website hosts, angelfire, and making your first site made of <blink>blinking text</blink> hehe...

my interests in computers and electronics faded while in high school; i was more into the whole sports thing (soccer, basketball) and of course girls and hanging w/pals.  my senior year in high school i finally saved up enough money to get a laptop before i headed off the farm to the big city for college at the U of MN Minneapolis.  i remember the day like it was yesterday. cue foggy black and white nostalgic video.. she was pretty highend at the time sporting a nice 133mhz intel pentium and a whopping 16mb of ram and a 600mb hd running windows 95b.

up to this point, i had never owned my own pc and really never got to dig into them since i didn't want to break any of my friends. the internet at this point was starting to explode w/information and taking shape to the web we know today.

the first thing i realized i had to learn was how to fix my pc or restore it back to factory state incase i do something wrong(which i did early).  after perfecting the operating system install and disk partitioning i was free to do anything i wanted w/my laptop.  i dug into litestep and a few other shell replacements and also got into skinning and other customizations.  at this point in time, we saw some of the most amazing processor technology erupt. cpu speeds were doubling from week to week, 200mhz to 400mhz to finally the first 1ghz cpu.  finally, after 2 years of owning my laptop, i decided it was time to build my own.  after reading up on what i needed and the costs, i went online and bulit my first system: an AMD Athlon slot a cpu, EPOX mobo, cd-rw/dvd burner and generic white case.

after a ton of probs and hardware failures (probs and failures will teach the most about a pc or anything), i had gotten to point where my building skills were topnotch and i wanted to help get my friends caught up with the rest of the world (most of them did not have a pc or could afford one). so i went on a pc system building frenzy and built 20 systems in 3 months for $300 a pop on a system. it felt good helping my pals get up to speed and i realized in all of my searching on the net there were not that many sites or people willing to give good, free computer/geek advice. there were a lot of individuals that wanted to hoard their knowledge or lacked the skill of teaching others.  and it seemed like the way i thought was like a computer.  the processes of a computer seemed to click and flow w/my chain of thought and logic.  i tend to think of a computer or anything as a series of networks interweaved within each other. a network is made of computers is made of harddrives/cpus/mobos/chipsets/memory which is made up of electricity/silicon which in turn is controlled by the os which is made up of applications/drivers/documents (or so how my brain sees it!).  so i figured that my niche in life is gadgets/electronics/pcs, i might as well do good not evil with my skills.

so that is who i wanted to be, i wanted to be a giver/spreader of knowledge. i wanted to be able to help spread my knowledge to those who may lack the skills or know-how to do more advanced/complex things on their pc or toys or electronics.  as time goes on, our lives are made much easier with technology but at the same time its made more complex.

so hopefully my nostalgic ramblings haven't put you to sleep, but you did read it all so its your own fault. :P

i always think its gonna be fun being 80yrs old and jamming to snoop dogg on the 'mp3 player' and telling the grandkids about how we used to have to plug in a cable to get online.

(edits made to remove extra characters from prev exports/imports)