April 2nd, 2004

mini me + poo

What Ian paid for his v34 modem poll

Doing some more tidying at the flat, I came across the receipt for the V34 modem I bought in January 1995.

For those of you who've forgotten :) this was capable of a maximum of 28,000 bits a second, or 50% of what a v90 56k dialup modem will download, and 5% of a 512k xDSL link.

I think it was to upgrade from a 14k4 modem - I was now paying the phone bill :) - and was eventually replaced by a v90 56k modem once a standards war had been settled.

Poll #272370 What Ian paid for his v34 modem

How much?

  • Current Mood
    amused amused
mini me + poo

The first modem I paid for...

... was a 2400 bits per second one: absolutely cutting edge stuff compared to the 300 bps ones or the 1200 bps from them to you but only 75 bps from you to them (!) of the previous UK standards.

It was an Amstrad, and it came with a portable luggable PC clone called the PPC-640 thrown in.

(This was about the size and weight of two reams of heavy A4 paper short edge to short edge, 8MHz 8086-clone CPU, 640k RAM, twin 3.5" 720k floppies, small black and white LCD screen with no back light making it Somewhat Difficult to read unless you had a good light source behind you, and CGA graphics = 80x25 characters or 320x200 in four ugly colours, or 640x200 in black and white. Eight or ten D size batteries would run it for about an hour when disconnected from the mains.)

Doing it this way was, for a while, the cheapest way to get a 2400 modem! Some people bought one, attached their 'real' PC to the PPC's serial port and ran a small program on the PPC so their PC would think it was directly connected to the modem.

They cost about £800 new. I paid about £250 for a second hand one, less than a year after the launch.
mini me + poo


It's been a while since I've had the chance to read a non-fiction book aimed at adults rather than toddlers, but finding a copy of a Christopher Priest I hadn't got - The Separation - in a charity shop on Saturday means I'm busily getting through one now.

Unfortunately for his fame, he's been pigeon-holed as a SF writer. One of his earlier books is one of the two I'd most like to make into a film or TV mini-series, and it's amazing that no-one else has done so.

Anyway, this one involves, in part, an alternative history of World War Two. The previous owner didn't quite get this - when the book mentions the war ending in May 1941, as far as the British are concerned anyway, there's a pencilled note: "Wasn't it 1945?"

(I note with more of today's amusement that you can pre-order "Untitled Priest 2 of 2" by Christopher Priest" in hardcover from Amazon, not least as there's no sign of '1 of 2'! Publication date... June 1, 2005)
  • Current Mood
    amused amused
mini me + poo

Curious spam

On what ISP would http://[domain name]/inbox/mail/read.php?sessionid-29719 get you a copy of an email / nasty?

Some virus has just invited me to do this...

And today's 'share in the money obtained by fraud' spam isn't even telling me how much of the $10.5m they're going to give me as the foreign partner. I'm almost tempted to respond saying I'm not prepared to do business with such people :)
  • Current Mood
    curious curious
mini me + poo


Let's see, ignoring palmtops and computers that have never been the main one (a Lynx, a CP/M box with 8" floppies, a Mac, a QL, an Archimedes, a...)

I've gone from two 4MHz (ish) Z-80s, one with 16k RAM for £120, and one with 48k RAM also for £120 a couple of years later..

.. via a 2MHz (ish) 6502 (effectively the same speed as the Z-80s) with 48k RAM probably for £399 (and free 5.25" floppy drive when Lasky's lost the credit card details) ..

.. via a 4MHz Z-80 with 128k RAM that I'd like to have working again for about £400 with one 3" and one 5.25" floppy disk drive..

.. to a 8MHz 8086 with 640k, for about £250..

.. to a 20MHz 386DX with 4M and a 40Mish hard drive, for about £1k..

.. to a 33MHz 486DX2, 4M to 16M - that cost £250 on its own - to 48M and a 1G drive and also upgraded to a '66MHz' 486DX2 and a '99MHz' 486DX3 before settling into the '120MHz' Cyrix M-2 that's still in the flat, for about erm, probably almost £2k if I could add it all up..

.. to a 450MHz AMD K6-III that's now here at work with 384M and about 40G for about £600..

.. to a 2GHz P4 with 1.25G RAM and 120G+40G drives for about £500.

Note that the last one was the cheapest since the 8086 and after the beginning, I've only tended to get the next one when it's been a) around for about a year and b) about three times the speed of the current one.

It's been similar with printers - although that's because since HP Laserjet Series II and III printers became available for about £20 second-hand, I've been happy with them.