Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for May 8th, 2007

Happy Lucky Tech Big Fun Super Go Surprise!

Posted by Trixter on May 8, 2007

I realized today that I’ve been very lucky when it comes to technology and surprises. Previously I mentioned the surprise IBM 5153 I found in storage, but today I was able to count many more:

  • An i-river iFP-380 128MB MP3 player. Shortly after purchasing it, some “beta” firmware surfaced on the official support website that turned the player into a USB storage device. This means you could copy music onto and off of the device without using the severely idiotic crippled software that came with it. To date, I think this is the only hardware player series they’ve produced that allows you to do this — all prior and later models require the software to enforce DRM.
  • My ReplayTV 5040. It was a Christmas gift, but shortly after I got it, DVArchive was released, and allowed me to suck the shows off of the unit via ethernet via a sensible GUI. This greatly increased the personal value of the unit, as I like to archive shows that are important to me.
  • In the early part of the new century, I purchased a 3ware Escalade 6400 RAID-5 controller, intending to put it into a Windows system to function purely as a file server. A few days after I purchased it, and before I opened the box, 3ware announced Linux kernel driver source for driving the card, and a GUI to manage the card remotely! Needless to say, I installed Linux on the machine (a P933) and it’s been running for nearly 7 years — and does much more than a typical file server would, thanks to Linux.
  • In a similar nod to the PC/XT I found, I pulled an IBM PCjr out of storage and tested it — and found out it was much more than I realized it was. When running Flight Simulator side-by-side with said XT, it was running faster than the XT! Further investigation showed that it is probably the most souped-up PCjr I will run across: It has a Jr HotShot installed (brings the machine to 640KB without additional memory sidecars), the 8088 was replaced with an NEC V20 for an additional 50% speed boost, and the motherboard was rewired slightly with the Tandy 1000 graphics modification (allows Tandy 1000 programs to run without graphics corruption). Oh, and did I mention that the packing material used in the box was a complete PCjr Newsletter set?  Dang!

Anything like this ever happen to you? Technology goes from good to awesome as a complete surprise?

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