First post, by Stiletto
This might be more "Milliways" appropriate... not "System Specs", I don't think, because it doesn't exist (yet)!
So, not sure how many people saw this article today but:
https://hackaday.com/2021/11/04/weird-als-mon … onably-fast-pc/
Which is all about the classic Weird Al song (and unofficial VOGONS anthem?) "It's All About The Pentiums".
The article is all about musing upon what Weird Al's "uber nerd character's" PC build's specs would have been, and how those specs aren't all that impressive today.
I think we can do better, both on nailing the hardware and the software/operating system configuration - or at least come into ballpark even more. 😁
Once we got it nailed, one of you guys with more money than sense could build it... with some gangsta 1999 case mods and all! 😁
On the one hand, the singer is as much a braggart as Puff Daddy was in the original "It's All About The Benjamins". The late 90s gangsta rap braggadocio. So this may all be hyperbolically exaggerated. Don't need to interpret ANY of this literally - but it's fun to try!
On the other hand, the character is "down with Bill Gates, I call him 'Money' for short, I phone him up at home and I make him do my tech support" which implies that money is NO object and there is no limit to these specs... other than the release date of the song.
So let's be era-appropriate! 😁
Recorded: April 19, 1999
"Running With Scissors" album released: June 28, 1999
Music Video was shot June 30-July 2 1999 (https://web.archive.org/web/20000229042458/ht … com/behind.html )
Released as Single (with B-Side "The Saga Begins"): August 4, 1999
Music Video released on same date: http://www.mtv.com/news/1435280/weird-al-enli … -for-new-video/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_w ... vic_album)
Music video shows a "live concert" with a large "Welcome to COMDEX" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COMDEX) sign - however this was all staged - COMDEX 1998 was too early, COMDEX 1999 wasn't until November. (http://edition.cnn.com/TECH/computing/comdex1 … 1999/index.html)
This implies a drop-dead final date for specs of August 4, 1999, earliest date of April 19, 1999.
Official lyrics: https://web.archive.org/web/20000229144944/ht … com/lyrics.html
Music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpMvS1Q1sos
- "it's all about the Pentiums" - it doesn't use an AMD or Cyrix chip, not even a DEC Alpha.
- "Defraggin' my hard drive for thrills" - it's got a HDD.
- "I got me a hundred gigabytes of RAM" - THIS IS KEY
- "Installed a T1 line in my house" - it has Ethernet, probably 10/100. T1 line might be directly connected, but more likely connected to a router for an in-home network. Someone in the comments section of the article ballparks the price on a personal T1 line at $1000/mo USD in 1999 dollars...
- "double-clickin' on my mizouse" - it has a mouse as an input device.
- "Upgrade my system at least twice a day" - more likely to be a desktop PC than a laptop
- "I'm strictly plug-and-play" - all PC motherboards, most expansion cards, and all OS's of 1999 should be Plug and Play (PCI, USB, etc.) - it isn't anything older
- "I ain't afraid of Y2K" - it has all available Y2K patches
- "I'm down with Bill Gates, I call him Money for short, I phone him up at home and I make him do my tech support" - implies (but doesn't guarantee) that at least one of the operating systems it runs is a Microsoft OS
- "Rule cyberspace" - Definitely has a web browser
- "crunch numbers like I do? They call me the king of the spreadsheets, Got em all printed out on my bedsheets" - spreadsheet software is a requisite installation
- "My new computer's got the clocks, it rocks, But it was obsolete before I opened the box" - bleeding edge, high MHz CPU(s)
- "My digital media is write-protected"- ???
- "Every file inspected, no viruses detected" - antivirus software -at least- is installed on the Microsoft OS, maybe others
- "I beta tested every operating system, Gave props to some, and others? I dissed 'em" - A lot to say here. If all were tested on his primary box... Might STILL be running a beta of an OS. Windows for sure beta tested. "Every operating system"? How is he running macOS aside from emulation? Too early for macOS 10.4 Tiger on x86 processors, so he might mean the Apple "Rhapsody" x86 previews, although that had severe hardware limitations. Then again, with an unlimited budget, might expand the HD support. Besides, the character is "payin' the bills with my mad programming skills" so it is possible. On the other hand, this might not be his only box!
This ALSO implies that he's got multiple operating systems installed. Although a number of people out there DO interpret "gave props to some, and others? I dissed 'em" as the character likely being a Linux fanboy versus a Microsoft one, but that may be their personal bias coming out...
- "While your computer's crashin', mine's multitaskin'" - definitely modern operating systems
- "It does all my work without me even askin'" - feels like exaggeration here, too early for AI-driven things. But maybe he means some productivity software and some well-written scripts.
- "Got a flat-screen monitor, 40" wide" - THIS IS ALSO KEY. 40" plasma television "monitor" in 1999? Gut feeling it's that, timeline is close... Unlikely to be an LCD unless a grid of LCD monitors, and he specifically says "a monitor", not a bunch of monitors. "Flat screen monitor" could also be a 40" flat CRT, but as the writer says, that is unlikely...
- "In a 32-bit world" - not x64 or IA64 Itanium, too early - but it's not any 16-bit OS. On the other hand, this is used as a part of a rapper "diss", and doesn't need to be strictly interpreted as 32-bit being what Al's character uses.
- "If I ever meet you I'll control-alt-delete you" - again implies usage of a Microsoft OS, although this keystroke sequence also functions in Linux and OS/2. Also, this is part of a "diss" and need not be interpreted literally....
... you could also flip some of the "disses" on their head...
- "You're using a 286? Don't make me laugh" - the CPU is WAY beyond a 286
- "Your Windows boots up in what, a day and a half?" - fast boot speeds
- "You could back up your whole hard drive on a floppy diskette" - but Al has a TON of storage so he can't.
- "Your database is a disaster" - Al is a capable database programmer
- "You're waxin' your modem tryin' to make it go faster" - Al's not on dial-up
- "Your mother board melts when you try to send a fax" - Al does have functional digital fax capability - probably via 56K faxmodem!
- "Where'd you get your CPU, in a box of Cracker Jacks?" - Al bought his CPU(s) from a reputable 1999 source
- there's a scene where Al's sitting in an office with a laptop on the desk that may or not be his. I suspect a Dell. However, this is implied to be an office computer, not what he uses at home
- there's a visual "tunnel" as a background that shows motherboards and a cooling fan, but this seems to be props department generated and shouldn't be clues to this imaginary beast
- ... that's about it.
- I gotta concur with the Hackaday writer, Al's most likely running Intel Pentium III Xeon. I'll go so far as to say a dual CPU or quad CPU (or more) motherboard. Doesn't seem to be a budget, so we can go nuts!
Bleeding edge would have been Pentium III Xeon 550 "Tanner" core (SL3FK (C0), SL3FR (C0), SL3LM (C0), SL3Y4 (C0), SL3AJ (C0)) with a launch date of April 7, 1999 - however, that only has 512 KB L2 cache. So Al would more likely go for the Pentium III Xeon 500 "Tanner" core with 2MB L2 cache (SL2XW (B0), SL3CB (B0), SL387 (C0), SL3DB (C0)) and maybe even overclock? IDK. He's got the clocks, it rocks, it's all about the Pentiums.
- "100 GB of RAM" - so this, like I highlighted, is probably either 96 GB or 128GB given computer architecture. But the Hackaday writer gets into how that's improbable with 1999 Microsoft OS's. Definitely implies a Microsoft NT OS or Linux as an OS though, he could be beta-testing Windows 2000 like I did (it wasn't released in August 1999) but I am not sure what the RAM limitation is on any of its 1999 betas, what with PAE and different editions (Workstation/Server/etc.) adding more variables. The article writer claims that any Linux or Windows NT of the time would max out around 32GB. However, the article writer misses a few other possibilities beyond the custom supercomputer solution, especially that Al might have more than one box. 100GB of RAM in one home system... he might have an early Beowulf cluster (or other sort of cluster) setup!
... CAN. WE. GO. DEEPER? 😁
"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen