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Our Fleet

Okay, we all know I have a little bit of a car addiction. Well, I'm also kind of the same way about computers - we have way more in our household than the average (sane) person. Each one has a reason for existing, though - at least in my mind. :-) When you have multiple computers on a network (such as our home network), each one needs a unique name to identify itself... and it's normal for sick people like me to pick some kind of a theme when naming the machines - to make them easier to remember. Like nearly all the other geeks out there, I chose to go with a "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" theme. Not very original, but it works for me.

Claire currently uses a Gateway 200ARC for most everything. You can tell I haven't put my grubby mitts on it yet because it's running Windows 2000 instead of Linux. Heheh. It's a pretty nice, small, light-weight laptop that we bought refurbished from Tigerdirect. Tigerdirect has unbeatable customer service, and great prices - I highly recommend them. Anyway, I can't remember what this little machine is named right now - as I said, I haven't got my hands on it. If I ever do get a chance to assign a name to it, it'll have to be one of the female characters from HGTTG to sort of fit the machine's "personality", if you will. I guess it would end up being "trillian" since I have "fenchurch" reserved for the black titanium Thinkpad that I *will* own someday. :-)

I have a fairly old machine that, until recently, was pulling duty as an ssh and ftp server. It will hopefully be back up and running once I get a chance to diagnose it's problem. Anyway, it was a monster system back in it's day - Dual P3 1000MHz CPUs (originally on an ABit VP6 motherboard, which was later replaced with a SuperMicro), Antec 480 watt (continuous) power supply, and 512mb of PC133 memory. It was my first real gaming rig (I transferred the nvidia ti4200 video card that it was using into another system after I relegated it to server duty). I figured that with 2 CPUs, the naming choice was practically made for me - I called it "zaphod". Zaphod runs Gentoo Linux.

My desktop, which is used as a development machine as well as a gaming rig, is really an amazing machine to use. Very fast, and quite good looking. When I originally built this machine, I reused the Seagate 60gb hard drive, Plextor CD burner, Enermax 550 watt (continuous) power supply, and MSI nvidia ti4200 video card from zaphod. I chose to go with the new (at the time) socket 939 AMD Athlon64 platform - so I bought a socket 939 3500+ CPU with a 2GHz front-side bus, a pretty ordinary motherboard w/integrated gigabit LAN, and some super-nice Corsair TwinX dual channel RAM (1GB in total). I also bought a Lian Li aluminum tower case to put everything into. Pricey, but worth it. Eventually I decided to do a video card upgrade (my ti4200 was 2 years old at that point), which also prompted me to do a motherboard upgrade so I could use a PCI-Express card. Since I was doing a motherboard upgrade anyway, I figured I might as well get one that supported the new dual-core Athlon64 CPUs and SATA-II. I opted for a Gigabyte K8Triton nforce4 motherboard (SLI ready, even) and an evga nvidia 7800GT CO SE video card (factory overclocked to 550MHz (GPU) and 1100MHz (memory)). It was the least expensive 7800GT I could find, as well as the fastest. The upgrade made a world of difference for playing more modern games, such as Far Cry. This machine is named "deepthought" (in keeping with the Hitchiker's Guide theme). Up until recently, deepthought ran only Gentoo Linux, but The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion came out and I had no luck getting it working under wine or cedega, so I dusted off the old windows 2000 CD and installed it on another hard drive just to get the game up and running until cedega catches up by supporting pixel shaders 2.0.

Next up is "arthur", my Sager 3790 laptop. I really like this laptop. I bought it, it was by far the best deal I could get on a laptop with a WUXGA screen (that's 1920x1200) and a graphics chipset that would actually play modern games. All of the 3790s have the ATI radeon 9700 mobility chipset, which is respectable for a laptop. I skimped on the CPU by choosing the least expensive one available, which is a 1.6GHz Pentium M. I paid a little extra for 512mb of RAM (and, of course, the WUXGA screen). It was no extra for the combination CD writer/DVD reader, and I saved $90 by being able to order it without an operating system. The first thing I did was install Mandrake Linux 10.1, but I later became a Gentoo convert so I did a reinstall using gentoo. It's a great all-purpose laptop - from playing Quake 4 and Neverwinter Nights to doing web development and writing code. I recently purchased a new Macbook, and so this Sager will soon be up for sale. I'll be sad to see it go.

Then, of course, there is "LaFinca", which is a VIA EPIA 500MHz mini-ITX mainboard running inside of a custom wooden cigar box case. This machine is set up in our guest bedroom, using a small high def LCD TV as a monitor. Guests who spend the night can watch cable TV and use LaFinca to check their e-mail or even play DVDs. The ultimate plan for this machine is to be dual-boot between Windows 2000 and Gentoo Linux, so that guests can use whichever environment they're most comfortable with (most of my friends are Linux users, but there are also a couple who still use Windows).

My latest acquisition is a new Macbook. It's a 13.3" WXGA screen, and the new Intel Core 2 Duo platform. I've been a fan of OSX for some time now - since it's just BSD under the hood, I'm right at home with it. It's a great combination of an operating system that "just works", yet is secure and powerful at the same time. Mine is white - I couldn't bring myself to pay extra just for a black finish (even though the black ones are pretty slick looking). I am really enjoying this machine.

Lastly, we have a machine that technically isn't built yet. I have some of the parts that will be used, but I still need to buy a few. It will be a media-center pc in our home entertainment center. I'm working on some nice custom software for it, and should be done this summer. It will be used to play back media files such as MP3s, still pictures, MPEGs/AVIs, and I will also have all of our DVDs ripped and stored on our network - they will all be playable directly through this media center PC, so that we won't ever have to fiddle with DVD discs anymore - our whole collection will be available at the press of a button on the remote control. Should be a pretty slick setup. I am unsure what this machine will be named, but I'm leaning toward "desiatio" (fairly obscure Hitchhiker's Guide reference).