Saturday, 19 July 2008

Out-of-date posts

Well, that last post didn't stay current very long - I've just had to replace the home-built AMD Athlon 1100 after a series of attempts to upgrade the processor to an AMD XP1800.
It's my own fault - I did a bit of reading up online and realised that a certain AMD chip found on eBay would work on my motherboard, so I bid for it. When it arrived, I was too impatient, and plunged straight in on the install.
I don't know what I did; I don't know if the processor was faulty, or if I knocked something on the motherboard, or whatever, but when I connected the CPU Fan to the motherboard, nothing happened, apart from BIOS screaming at me that the CPUFAN IS NOT FUNCTIONING.
The fan works on one of the other power blocks, but that doesn't trigger the CPUFAN sensor. Luckily, I'm the sort of person who takes in old PC's 'just in case' and so I tried another motherbord - with the same result. OK, let's put the original CPU back. Nope, same problem. Eventually, I got a third motherboard working with a third CPU I hadn't realised I had (a Duron), but this had a diferent set of problems - it kept generating errors on boot, and no amount of checking the plugs, repairing and, eventually, reinstalling XP, etc. could resolve the problem.

I gave up, went online and found a nice EpoX mATX motherboard with a Celeron 2ghz and 512mb ram. It arrived the next day and works fine! A bonus is the 4 USB 2.0 ports and the Network port built in, thus freeing up the PCI slots and speeding up my USB device connections!
So, on the minus side - I've trashed three motherboards and possibly three AMD CPU's; On the plus side, I've got a much faster CPU, and a little bit more upgradability. And I've done an XP reinstall, which means a much faster boot and shutdown.

Next step - upgrade the RAM and graphics (courtesy of, it's going up to 1Gb RAM and a 128Mb NVidia graphics card - it's currently using 32mb of system memory for graphics handling, which is not good for the sort of stuff I do on it.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

What I've Had and What I've Got

My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, though I did have access to a ZX80 in the computer studies class at school and I did, once, play with an Acorn Atom owned by an uncle.

I eventually got a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, to which I added the Interface 2 (ROM cartridge and joystick plug-in), Interface 1 (added serial ports and a connector for the Microdrive) and a Microdrive (a little tape based cartridge storage system offering a huge 100k of storage space!
Next I got an Atari STFM (when the price came down to £299 and it was available in WH Smiths) and that kept me going for a few years, but eventually I had to move to a Microsoft system of some sort and I got a Packard Bell 486 based machine for a (now) ridiculous price (on, admittedly, interest free credit) from a local department store. Seriously, I wince when I think back to how much that computer cost - the best part of £1500. It had a HUGE 256mb hard drive - that's Megabytes, not Gigabytes; I have USB sticks that have more storage capacity now.
That was running Windows 3.1; I got onto the Windows 95 Beta test and eventually (when my Beta version expired) upgraded to the full product.
From there it's been Wintel or WinAMD all the way (with a couple of slight diversions - I picked up an Apple IIE when it was being junked at work, and more recently a friend gave me an Apple Mac G4 which was being disposed of in similar circumstances)
The current set up is a self-built AMD Athlon 1100 with 512mb RAM, a donated eMachines thing running XP Home on a Pentium 4 1.5Ghz with 1.25mb RAM, the aforementioned G4 (MMD case, 1.25Ghz processor and 512mb RAM), a Fujitsu Siemens laptop with a 450Ghz Celeron processor that I built out of the working bits of two laptops. I also still have all the aforementioned computers somewhere, plus a couple of other bits and pieces (I have a Tulip 286 B&W laptop running Windows 3.1, and there is a DOS running Toshiba T1100 laptop that worked the last time I plugged it into the mains!
I also have a Handspring Visor Deluxe PDA which suits my portable purposes admirably well (and on which subject I will be posting later...), one of the very first 1st Generation Apple iPod Shuffles to arrive in the UK (courtesy of a generous friend and a 40th birthday!)


First of all, thank you for finding this blog!

I thought I'd use this post to explain what "Keeping IT Going" (of KIG for short) is about. It's not about cutting-edge technology, it's not about antique restorations, it's not about Modding. I have nothing against any of those things, but this blog is not about them.
No, it's about what most of us on a budget have to do - keep our existing and expensive technology equipment going for as long as possible.

If I had the money, I'd love to go for the latest equipment - I'd love to be an 'early adopter', to have the latest version of the iPhone, the Macbook Air, the Vista Pro (well, actually, I'm not that sure about the last named). I'd be as pleased as Punch o be able to go to one of the leading tech retailers, see something I like and buy it without flinching when running it through the till.

The big problem being, of course, that I don't have the money, and for what money I do have, I have other uses. Eating, mostly, also mortgage, heating and lighting, that sort of thing. (Clothes are less of an issue - I'm an aging geek so I have loads of similarly aging rock and SciFi tees to cover the midriff armrest; as long as I have a regular supply of clean socks, underwear and jeans, I'm more-or-less happy)

So, I make the most of what I have. And what I have is a collection of long past their best computers and other tech equipment, a good enough knowledge of how they are put together, a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife and an eBay account.

I'll be listing my past and present tech equipment in a separate post, in case anyone wants to know on what basis I decided to start this blog (and, if I get around to it, related podcast!)

I hope it will be a two way thing, this blog; I don't claim to know everything (as my searches on Google and Wikipedia will show) and sometimes get stumped by a particular problem - which I will be posting here, just in case someone is actually reading!

Mostly, I'll be posting about my efforts to keep the (as mentioned above) separately listed equipment running and doing the things I want it to do; surf the net, record podcasts, edit websites and blogs, play the occasional game, that sort of thing. If I find something that might be of use to someone else, I'll post it here. Ditto if I have a problem I cannot solve. Ditto if I ever succumb to buying something new!
Au Res.,

Watch This Space

KIG will open for business soon...