Personal I.T. background

 

From an early age I was fascinated with technology and computers.

 

At the age of 6 I was opening up my fathers' brand new Bang and Olufsen Video Cassette Recorder (Beocord vhs63) to see how things worked.  Unhappy at seeing how his state of the art (it was 1985) VCR had been ripped apart by a 6 year old my father decided to nurture rather than punish by allowing me to play with what the 80's generation would refer to as computers.

 

My first step into the world of gaming consoles (which was at my time the second generation) was a second hand Vectrex manufactured by Smith Engineering.  Little did he know how much problems this was going to cause!!  The Vectrex was the first system to ever use a vector based screen.  The system itself was a disaster.  It was released in 1982 and suffered due to the US video game crash of 1983

 

Not happy at having only a machine to play games on, dad decided that it would be a good ide to invest in something a little more sophisticated and educational in the hope that it kept me out of trouble (which it didn't).  He also purchased a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, boasting a whopping 8bit, 48KB 3.5MHz architecture.  This allowed me to spend months of my time, with the help of the weekly issue 'Input' magazine typing up code, looking for mistakes in the hope I was able to make a tiny, very blocky graphic on the screen.  To this day I still have that PC!!

 

It was from that point onward that I fell in love with technology, and more specifically PC's and their ability to control almost everything that life has to offer in todays' world.

 

I had the normal gaming units that everyone knows, always demanding the most up to date systems and progressed from the Master System, to the Master System 2, Game Gear, Amiga CD32, Playstation 1,2,3 and now 4 with an XBox in between.  But I also demanded PC's.

Gaming consoles were fine, they allowed me to get away from reality for hours and days at a time but they did not let me explore the possibilities that different hardware had to offer.  For this I needed to play with PC's and so I was handed what looked to be a portable sewing machine.  What it was, was in fact a 'Compaq Portable' PC, weighing what seemed to be a metric ton.  The thing was amazing.  It had a 9 inch screen which had 4 levels of green shading controlled by a unique CGA video card.  Combined with a massive 32MB drive that Compaq claimed would never get full, 640KB of memory and a single 5.25" floppy disk drive.  Running MS-DOS (Microsoft's Dirty Operating System) it really was the thing to have.  

 

Not long after I finally managed to convice the old man to buy a much more modern PC in the form of an IBM model 5150.  This was utterly amazing, I can even remember my dad saying he was looking forward to doing his accounts on the blue screen... we finally had a PC with a colour monitor we were in the 90's running a PC which not only had a colour monitor, it had sound.  Top that off with an 8088 processor running at 4.77MHz and 256KB RAM we were having a ball... I could finally play 'Bart v's the Space Mutants' and know what I was meant to spray paint (it was hard finding the purple on a green screen)!

 

My next stage was an Escom 486 SX PC running at 25MHz.  We had now moved into the 250MB HDD ground and 16bit sound... after I had installed my first ever add-on 'Sound Blaster' using the 3.5 inch floppy disks on Windows 3.1.  This was when PC's really became modular and upgradable for the home user.

 

Skip forward a few years and I am now playing with networks.  Windows (3.11) for Workgroups had been released and I wanted to know what a woirkgroup was, so more money had to be spent by the old man.  Now we had 2 computers in the house, of-course I had to have the new one that had a 2 speed CD ROM.  I could cause him heartache messing about with his system, unaware when he was using it.  This was great... and I was able to nurture my creativity by causing all kinds of trouble at school.  Mintlaw Academy made the mistake of allowing us, near the end of term to play the original 'Wolfenstein'; I say original, but at the time it was the only version!  Boy did I have fun messing with everyone's PC's while they were trying to play.  This mischievous nature continued all the way through college.  I would like to say it has gone, but alas, I spent too much time in the Army and my mind has been warped by childish thoughts and it has not.

 

I'll skip a few years and move into my mid 30's.  Living with my partner of 10 years, and a little boy of 3 I would like to say I've calmed down with the tech, but I can't.  I am quite frankly an extremist and or geek.  Every PC I have is upgraded to the max.  The gaming PC is a custom built brute.  Running 128GB RAM, 2 x 8GB Video Cards running in X-Fire with a 5 x 4k monitor set-up just because it can be done.

 

But it doesn't stop there.  The house is fully networked (don't worry though, I only used Cat 6a cable not fiber or cat 7) with wifi access upto 150m away.  The server is a full on telecommunications beast controlling my home automation.  With the knowledge gained from my working life, and my own personal interests I have setup an immense 5K all round CCTV system, worldwide media server, phone system, heating & lighting system both inside and out.  

 

I have managed to get the server to run 65% of its available 512GB RAM, but it took a lot of effort ; not to mention video and photo editing.  The (over) 140TB of RAID 5 HDD setup of video may have something to do with this.  (Videography and photography is another hobby of mine).

 

The most recent update to my I.T systems has seen me incorporate Apple Mac and iOS systems.

 

Up until 2011, I was completely 'anti' Apple, however due to the changes that Microsoft implimented into the rules of their mobile operating systems, they refused to allow flash upgradeability within phones, which saw me (finally) change over to the iPhone.  This eventually led to me being forced into purchasing an iPad which allowed me to see how the systems would work together.  For the next few years I continued to upgrade the systems, every odd year being a phone upgrade with every even year an iPad upgrade, which to this date continues to happen... Yes it is very expensive, especially when I have to have the biggest an best each time; which is only compounded due to the missues requiring the same, with the exception of the Apple Watch.  She doesn't want one of them!!

 

In 2016 I finally purchased a Mac, again the top of the range system, but with the added functionality of 2 extra Thunderbolt monitors.  I figured, what the hell, I don't play games anymore, I just play with toys like the drone and my cameras (both still and video).  The Mac is the perfect companion for this, so roll on the 5k iMac and extra Thunderbolt displays for video and photo editing...  I hope I don't succomb to upgrading the Mac in the same way as everything else!!

© 2020 by Shane Fenton. 

fenton419@gmail.com

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02 ZX Spectrum.jpg

The 1982 Sinclair ZX Spectrum