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steam powered

·364 words
Andy Jackson
Andy Jackson
Fighting entropy since 1993

If we ignore, for the moment, the disturbing sight of democracy being vigorously throttled by the self-righteous propaganda of a dogmatic nation and it’s blinkered masses, we can turn our minds to news of an altogether happier, or at least geeker nature. While in L.A. on the way over here, that kind gent Sir Graham of Davies was foolish enough to give me a fine piece of geek-kit in exchange for some Talisker…

Whimsically referred to as the ‘Steam-powered laptop’ it is indeed old, excitingly chunky, strangely green and decidedly retro. I have yet to determine where to put the coal, but nevertheless it seems to be working rather well. Admittedly, I did blunder in and mess up the Windows 98 installation within a few hours of getting it, but this just made installing a more recent operating system necessary instead of merely wise.

The process of upgrading it was rather messy, as it has no CDROM drive, and indeed no built-in anything much except for the basics (mouse, keyboard, floppy drive and 2GB hard disk). I ended up getting a 2.5" to 3.5" drive convertor so that I could slap the laptop drive inside a desktop machine and then dump the contents of my W2K installation CD directly onto it. Then I put the drive back in the laptop, booted it up using a Windows 98 boot floppy, and ran the i386/winnt.exe installation program directly from the DOS prompt. Worked a treat. Just to gild the lily, the kind sysadmin at work delved into one of his darker and dustier corners and managed to dig out an extra 64MB of laptop memory, bringing the total up to a pretty respectable 128MB.

Despite gushing clouds of scalding water vapour while running at just 266MHz, it does almost everything I need of a home machine. Furthermore, I’ve managed to get a broadband internet connection in my digs, and so here I am, checking email and submitting weblog entries on recycled hardware in New Zealand with a few buckets of coal at my side just in case. Overall, I’m very pleased with this new toy.

But I’ve not told you all about the other one yet.