Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

December 5, 2009

Welcome Home Qantaqa (2009 HP Pavilion)

Earlier this week I was stymied in my attempt to buy a new desk & chair at Ikea – who would have thought that they would close at 8:00 PM on a weekday during Christmas shopping? Never occurred to me they might close before 9:00. So we cross the street to the horribly perfume-laden Mall of America, stopped at Best Buy, and brought home a new housemate, whom I have named Qantaqa. As an HP Pavilion dv8000, she looks nothing like her lupine namesake from the Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series: 16.9" display, AMD Turion M500, 8 GB RAM, 500 GB hard drive, Windows 7. Great RAM, decent processor: best computer I've ever purchased.

After coming home, I had been feeling pretty good that I had only purchased/built five PCs since the mid-90s. Then I remembered the two Macs I've had [1], another Dell laptop I used for a year, the DEC Alpha I couldn't boot because I didn't have the right RAM [2], and probably a couple of other spare cheap PCs [3]. I was feeling so virtuous, and then remembered that yes I really have been a hardware-geek, not just a software guy. Oh well. But of course a lot of those were only half-way decent, used, and quickly outdated. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

[1] Used iBook: stolen after 2 years, used simultaneously with Linux desktop. G5 iMac - replaced both, but in two years mobo replaced under warranty and then power management and fan died. Switched to new but closeout-priced Dell notebook as full-time machine.

[2] I was an intern for a foodservice company. Tasked with raiding old computers for parts, and not realized that the server I was dealing with was an Alpha, I misplaced the RAM with the right clockspeed. Later bought it and a used Dell notebook for a few hundred I think. Later sold them for about $400 combined.

[3] I particularly remember a CompUSA in-house brand, 486SX. Don't think I used that for long even as an IP-masquerading Linux router box. Goodwill in Austin received.

Finishing out the computer memories: the first box I bought was an AST Pentium 60 w/Win 3.1. Years later I felt like trying to overclock to 90 MHz. Accidentally read the poor mobo diagram upside down. Result: booted for a few seconds at something like 200 MHz, then cooked and died. I was just amazed it booted for even that long.