Southern Man

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Snow

The South celebrated the beginning of Spring with a surprisingly heavy snowfall so Southern Man has considered himself "snowed in" for the weekend and thus absolved from such annoyances as going in to the office and catching up on paperwork and grading and accessment and other minor curses of the academic life. This gave him a chance to get to work on those thirty-five computers and sure enough by the end of Saturday the dumpster out back was full of twenty-odd carcasses. None - not one - of the four new machines Southern Man built a few years ago for gaming and office apps came up. But the ten-year-old Packard-Bell he picked up at (yes, it was free) that served as game machine for all three kids? Runs like a dream. And his prized new(ish) 19" CRT made many arcs and sparks so it's also in the dumpster, but his very first 17" monitor - a Sceptre that he paid $595 for, wholesale, way back in the heyday of home-building PCs - is as crystal-clear as when it was new. And the large stack of hard drives in the corner waiting for backup will probably all fit on one modern drive with room to spare as most of these old machines date from an era when a couple of gigabytes was pretty hot stuff. And it brought a tear to Southern Man's eye to realize that the venerable old Canopus Pure3d and Total3d 3dfx video-card duo that brought him so many hours of wonderful gaming would never draw Gouraud-shaded polygons again. But that was the past - any cheap office machine with on-mainboard video outperforms them today - and Southern Man will spend some time consolidating and building a couple of modern computers and back up those old drives and get his computing corner back into action.

All of this is so he can play
Star Wars: TIE Fighter and Star Trek: Armada again, which he hasn't done for years and which is of course on one of the dead game PCs so that will be the first one to rebuild. Hopefully there are still mainboards out there that will run MS-DOS 7.0 and Windows 98 2nd Edition, as Southern Man has many old games with which the newer operating systems just can't cope. But the backwards compatibility of Windows is pretty amazing; Southern Man has one old console game with a compile date of 1988 that runs just fine at a Windows XP command prompt. Southern Man does not play online multiplayer games as he becomes annoyed by ass-kickings delivered by puerile teens with nothing better to do than spend eighty hours a week on the 'net. They should be in school, or something.

So what operating systems does Southern Man run? As mentioned above, DOS 7.0 and Windows 98 2nd Edition for older games, and tried-and-true Windows XP for newer games and everything else. Southern Man declined to drink the
ME or Vista kool-aid but will give Windows 7 a spin when he builds a new machine - he is particularly interested in learning to use virtualization. Southern Man scoffs at imitations and runs Solaris 10 on his UNIX box (one of his many hats at work is UNIX lab administrator). He currently runs three widescreen LCD monitors: a single in the gaming corner and duals for the office machines, with KVMs on both. The dual-monitor KVM is a touchy little bitch (particularly about keyboards; eight of ten USB keyboards won't work with it) but it's essential when you have several dual-monitor boxes. The aforementioned 17" Sceptre will serve on the general-purpose kid-and-Internet PC (mainly for ten-year-old daughter, who has a fondness for online flash games and Blasphemies such as Macs or iPods or iPhones are not permitted in Casa Southern Man; his music MP3s are DRM-free and his next phone will run Android.

So the new apartment is finally coming along and starting to feel like home even though it still looks like a combination rummage sale and storage unit. It may be that teenage daughter will move in when her mother weds and moves to Kansas, so Southern Man is also preparing the spare bedroom for her. It will be an interesting year.


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