It was on August 24, 1995 that Windows 95 was released, amidst much anticipation. It was the most widely anticipated Windows release of all time, and the runner up really isn’t close. The idea of people lining up for blocks for a Microsoft product sounds like a bit of a joke today, but in 1995 it happened.
I received a free copy of it because I worked at Best Buy in the summer of 1995 and I aced Microsoft’s test that demonstrated sufficient aptitude to sell it. A few weeks later I landed my first desktop support gig, ending my career in a blue shirt, which means I probably never actually talked anyone into buying a copy of it.
I got plenty of Win95 experience over the next couple of years though.
Continue reading Happy 20th birthday to Windows 95
Here’s an interesting question I got recently: Will ARM overtake x86?
I think the answer depends on how you define “overtake.”
Continue reading Random question: Will ARM overtake x86?
The ultimate DOS gaming PC is a topic that I’ve seen come up in forums frequently, and that I’ve been asked directly a number of times. I guess since I published advice on running DOS games on Windows PCs on two continents, people figured I knew something about that. I guess I fooled them!
The trouble is that no single PC can really be the “ultimate” DOS game machine. Well, not if your goal is to be able to optimally run everything from early 1980s titles designed for the original IBM PC up to the last DOS version of Quake. I learned that the hard way in 1995 or 1996, even before Quake existed. Continue reading Building DOS gaming PCs
In the shadow of Windows 10, Intel and Micron announced a new type of persistent memory that’s 1,000 times faster than the flash memory in today’s SSDs. It’s still not as fast as DRAM, but it’s fast enough that it’s going to make things possible that weren’t before.
Intel and Micron weren’t the first to develop something like this–HP has been working on something similar for years–but HP hoped the product would be out by now, and as far as I know, it didn’t happen. It looks like Intel and Micron’s similar technology is going to happen.
Continue reading Intel and Micron imagine a future beyond flash memory
It was 30 years ago this week that Commodore released its landmark, long-time-coming Amiga 1000 computer–the first 1990s computer in a field full of 1970s retreads.
Yes, it was a 1990s computer in 1985. It had color and sound built in, not as expensive, clunky, hard-to-configure add-ons. It could address up to 8 megabytes of memory, though it ran admirably on a mere 512 kilobytes. Most importantly, it had fully pre-emptive multitasking, something that had previously been the exclusive domain of commercial workstations that cost five figures.
It was so revolutionary that even NBC is acknowledging the anniversary.
Being a decade or so ahead of its time was only the beginning of its problems, unfortunately.
Continue reading How the Amiga could have lived to age 30 and beyond
If you need gigabit ports for your home server or router project and you’re short on available expansion slots, I have just the thing. Home sysadmins have known for a while that you can get cheap PCI-X Intel NICs and run them in PCI mode, but you may not know that you can find the very same thing by searching Ebay for HP 7170 and it’s usually cheaper. It’s not rare to find them for $7, shipped.
Continue reading Need a good, cheap dual gigabit NIC? I have just the thing.
I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.
But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.
Continue reading SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype
Earlier last week, Intel quietly unveiled a new series of Braswell SoCs, intended for very low-power computers. Literally low-power, as the chips use between 4 and 6 watts. Add the requirements of the motherboard, memory, and an SSD and you’re probably still looking at a computer that uses less than 15 watts.
The SoCs are priced between $121 and $161, which probably means the motherboards will run between $140 and $200 depending on the feature set. Add memory, a case, power supply, and an SSD, and you have a silent, power-sipping computer.
So far only MSI has announced motherboards and they haven’t announced pricing, but given Asrock’s selection of boards featuring previous-generation 6W TDP CPUs, I expect at least Asrock will join in, and probably Asus will as well.
These aren’t powerhouse machines, but they’re fine for everyday use, and someone like me who has a 7-year-old PC that works fine could think about replacing that machine with one of these. It’ll be marginally faster, but with the difference in power consumption being nearly 100 watts, the computer will probably pay for itself eventually. Or go grab one of the previous-generation boards, which sell for well under $100, and settle for less performance but a faster payoff.
Here’s a good question from a search query: What’s the difference between the number of CPUs and the number of cores in a system?
It’s easier than it sounds. As far as the operating system is concerned, there is no difference, but I’ll explain why.
Continue reading The difference between a CPU and cores
I guess I owe an apology for not writing and posting this last week, when $40 tablets were all the rage as doorbusters. Cheap Android tablets are back again, and people are going to buy them–so it pays to buy one worth having, rather than one that’s going to drive you nuts.
Here’s what I look for, and you should too: Continue reading What to look for in a 2014 bargain Android tablet