Intel486dx33 wrote on 2021-05-04, 12:24:
Yes, going to the computer store on the weekends and just browsing around for a few hours on the weekend use to be good place to […]
386SX wrote on 2021-05-04, 11:53:
The shopping of components locally in stores is gone everywhere I'd say mostly... also in Europe old style components stores doesn't easily exist.. just few ones that sell overpriced components and many times not really the latest. I understand it's not their fault, there's probably no business anymore on that and to mantain that market in such specific stores it's not easy I suppose.
I miss those tech times too.
Yes, going to the computer store on the weekends and just browsing around for a few hours on the weekend use to be good place to meet fellow computer enthusiast and speak with sale people. Our computer stores in America sold all kinds of electronics not just computer stuff
But TV, Radios, Cameras, printers, Home theater equipment, appliances, books, software, circuits, etc...
Even the book stores are gone in America today.
If it was not for the public libraries we would have no physical book to read.
The library is going to be the new hang out for techies and software developers.
I kind of feel like this correlates with the fact almost nobody except gamers and the kind of people who buy a lifted 4-door RAM to look big on the street roll their own systems anymore. Where I work, there's a lot of us here who can build a new system, and most of us are using prebuilt OEM systems now when maybe, 5-15 years ago we were rolling our own out of components for our personal machines at home. Even then, most gamers today don't need that much horsepower for their games unless they are running some huge AAA title with lots of graphical assets - most "Gamers" I know play stuff along the same lines as "Five Nights at Freddy's" or "Minecraft".
And those bookstores were where I cut my teeth on PC knowledge. The first PC related book I ever bought was "Upgrading and Fixing PC's for Dummies" and it was invaluable to fight back on all the arguments I had at the time making a internet connected 486 in 2001 with computer shops and so called "professionals" around me telling me it could not be done. But I don't even need to buy books now - 1 because I know so bloody much I'm giving other people advice/help these days personally and professionally, and secondly because I can just google it up for free and save the gas, money, and having to deal with our degrading social values.
Tbh even when those stores were a thing, I almost never went in them because I Could not afford a **new** computer at the time. My "computer shop" was the local Goodwill and Value VIllage, Salvation Army, or St. Vincents store. I'm sort of a "Mad Max" of the PC world of sorts - I just cobble things together out of whatever I can get for ridiculously cheap or free. THis kind of correlates today with how much power you actually need vs. what actually is there - as discussed on this post that dinged the bell this morning...
386SX wrote on 2021-05-04, 10:26:
creepingnet wrote on 2021-05-03, 15:41:
The reasons may be different from person to person but they all expect things to be fixed but they never get fixed, or if they do, it breaks something else. Sadly, it seems people also vote with their wallet less today than ever before. Because the alternatives are shady, incompatible, or require more technical skill than your regular person can muster. So people stick with the mainstream releases of everything and upgrade when asked hoping it'll get better, and then when it does not, it's just another normal release cycle - news articles on what's wrong with the product, forums filled with repeat questions for the same issues, and a user base that just shrugs and goes "it is what it is".
It used to be computers were tools to get a job done, now they're like any other consumer electronic device - a yardstick by which you are judged, a status symbol, a sign of how technologically skilled or advanced you are. If you're not running "the latest and the greatest" people in the rat race will chide you for it until you "get with the times" - these people are not the actual experts, the actual expert will get on your case for being an "early adopter".
Add on top of it that your non-technical user does about 90% of everything on their cellphone so the computer is foreign to them, which is causing a backslide in computer literacy from what I can tell. People have no problem doing 10000 things on their phone swiping their finger around, but put them on a full sized computer with a keyboard and mouse and they seem like the time your non-technical dad bought an XT Clone in 1985 and was hunting and pecking while reading the MS-DOS user's guide.
Entire o.s. were possible into single CD or Floppies, productivity applications too. I did the example of an Autocad version of the middle 90's and it was installable with 20 floppies or similar and we used it in labs to render mechanical gouraud shaded geometries. 2000's Photoshop app had features I didn't found on other similar modern apps that weight 100 times that size. Some of the common people think like only nowdays hw and sw can do all they need for but there's no difference in common tasks compared to 2o or 30 years ago imho.
The truth is everything we have today is bolted over an old infrastructure that was created 30-40 years ago. I always see the 386/486/Pentium era as the PC's pubescence - the 486 era especially since it's the most interesting and where most of the tropes of PC design took place - where it grew from a single user business-oriented DOS system for guys who wear a suit and tie or stylish vest to work - to a machine everyone has and uses to research, play games, talk with others over the internet, and do their jobs.
When it comes to the internet, TLS, HTTPS, Streaming Media, P2P sharing, even social media - all came around in the 1990's in some form or another - except maybe streaming video, that started being a thing around 2001. You can get at least 65% of the way there on a vintage PC today using things like Links, REtroZilla, mTCP, or even old applications like IRC, and now even AIM and Yahoo! via the phoenix project. Shoot, my Versa M/75 has a modified RetroZilla install (thank's MSFN forum docs) that I can post to Facebook from - and it's not even that slow, it's actually comparable to a Core 2 duo at 3GHz running the full site. Granted, I'm using low-resource versions of sites, and I hope they never go away, but they work and they are usable. If you have e-mail (RetroZilla, FLMAIL, THunderbird), Web browsing (Links, Dillo, RetroZilla), Social Media (Facebook), about all that's missing is fully-online e-commerce (for individual sellers you could just use the E-mail/money order method which is how it was done in the 90's before e-bay) and YouTube videos when it comes to covering all the bases of modern internet on a vintage PC. AT that point you're generally functional.
And so much of the PC that's around now came around during the 486 era - digital audio at CD quality or better...SoundBlaster 16 anyone? MPEG video? Go look up mPEG ISA card, I think there were even some rare examples that worked with DVDs. Webcams were a thing in 1996 via a serial port, as poor as they were. Video capture with AVI recording - I had a Packard Bell "Multimedia" Legend model that had a Reveal TV tuner card that could do that on the standard ISA bus. We have had social media since the dawn of AIM or ICQ and Geocities - and it's just grown into something bigger starting with Friendster till now where it all became a self-contained group of services rather than several discreet ones. We had CD burning in 1993 but it cost $3000 and nobody knew about it. We had converitble Tablets and laptops in 1994 like the Microsoft Surface - such as the Dauphin DTR-1 or my personal favorite, the NEC Versa with the touch-screen add-on. (ie EP and ECP models).
One big reason everything today needs so much power is today we use all these "interpreted" programming languages for the whole shebang, whereas I've read about projects in the 80's and 90's using multiple languages depending on how speed-dependent the part of a program or piece of software was. You'd write all your drivers, speed dependent parts of the program/service, and whatnot in Assembly language, while using higher level languages like C++ or Pascal to write the stuff that was less speed dependent. Some programs were all assembly (ie that stuff we needed a Turbo Button for), and some programs were written in C++ with so many special libraries dependent on 386/486/586+ opcodes that the program would have a minimum system requirement set higher than the actual requirement (ie Pentium 90 for a program that runs fine on a 486 DX4-100), or would do the same task as another, older, harder to use program done in Assembly but require a Pentium 75 with 16MB of RAM and an SVGA card to run to "look pretty and run comfortably". I've been watching a lot of David Plummer (Dave's Garage) - a lot of this I got confirmed from watching his videos.
But if you want to get down to real world brass tacks, there is some usefulness in modern applications for vintage computers. The primary reason I browse the web on old hardware is to download files or even utilize the internet for it's original intention - free exchange of information. You don't need a 350MB Web Browser with 29MB of plugins to read a page of text and jpeg files. BBSes are still useful and I can get on those with a nearly 40 year old Tandy 1000 using mTCP and it SCREAMS despite running on a 4.77 MHz 8088 due to Broadband internet, Assembly Coded packet drivers, and Brutman's wizardry. This is the stuff that allows me to forego floppy diskettes, aging CD-Rs, and make good use of a ridiculously huge 80GB HDD on a computer designed/made when Regan/Bush 1/Clinton was in the whitehouse - which wipes away the "bad" part of the experience, and at thimes, makes retro-computing more efficient than using a modern PC for the same task. SHSUCDX suite is a godsend, and if HX DOS Extender goes any further I won't need WIndows 9x anymore.