Saving for a new computer

A handful of computers have been mine, but it all started getting serious with the 486 server from my father’s office – after they upgraded (things were still licensed UNIX back then). Multiple SCSI drives that were duct-taped together and a single speed CD-ROM reader, not to mention a 4MB RAM plate on a riser card the size of Europe.

tl;dr This blog is about how I am saving up money for a new system via, and give a little background as well as an update. And say thank you to everybody who contributed in 2015.

My middle-school friend Michael Bos and I spent many hours figuring out what we got our hands on, what it all meant, and what we could do with it. We had no documentation, just a bit of shared experience. The answer: Redhat Linux, I think version 5.1.

We were already connected to the Internet, dail-up 14k modems though, chatting on IRC networks, exploiting BIND to join websites and chat rooms with hosts and all that fun stuff. And sure, we weren’t Kevin Mitnick or anything, but with our shared experience with computers and tech (sorry Sister for taking over your Atari workstation) we had loads of fun learning.

Back then not a lot of computers were connected, not a server like this, and not this powerful enough to give us a heads-up on the rest. We had fun learning about networking concepts, kernels, coding, scripting, compiling, and maybe a little bit of social engineering, who knows. Besides watching WarGames and sci-fi movies, this is what kept me up at night when I needed a distraction, and kept our friendship blooming talking for hours about the potential of a web site indexer, micro-payments, and massive community networks.

Fuck yeah, we knew the Internet and the World Wide Web was going to be it for the next few decades. So we better get our shit together before the change of the millennium, we had about ten years when things probably would go 64bit and computing power would be more than we could handle.

Around 1996 or so, after a few laptops and desktops, and making money learning about web site design and development, and fixing the Y2K bug for small companies (and I think Michael moved towards the architecture tech side of things for corporations), I ended up with a Gateway system from Ireland and later my own home-build Chieftec tower with an array of hard drives (thank you broadband cable) making web sites for small companies who didn’t have 350k budgets and just wanted to get on-line with the rest of the world.

But eventually it was time to accept that Linux wasn’t it for me anymore, that Windows XP would be the last comfortable OS by Microsoft, and that Steve Jobs was going to own it with Apple. OSX was taking shape, and there were rumours they’d be switching to Intel. Dreams do come true! That old Atari interface-feeling in a modern package, wrapped around beautiful looking hardware.

I ended up with an Apple laptop, desktop and server, making me mobile, versatile, and keep personal separate from any projects and hobbies. The desktop was the 24” iMac, my last purchase, back in early 2009. Finally a system that would be great and help me be full 64bit, and up to date for the next six years. I suspected since it’s an all-in-one that the wear and tear would be slow and steady, and either the monitor, power supply or a fan, or the hard drive would give in. It was the network port and power supply. I suspect after a power cut.

Thankfully this was fixed by Apple last year, and 2016 will make this machine 7,5 years old before I will get its replacement. By now the monitor is showing wear and tear, discolouration, and the hard drive when it hasn’t been spinning for a few hours can be slightly heard (please don’t fail on me). I really feel 2015 was it’s last year, but it will have to do for another 12 months.

When the machine wouldn’t boot up the other year, I made the choice to save up money the best I can. And I did. I was putting away cash each time I got home by emptying my pockets. Unfortunately due to incoming bills I had to keep using it. Quite frustrating. So when it was around May 2015 I decided I needed to make a choice. Either do a few other things, save up money for whatever is on my list that’s also important, or choose to have something that really makes me happy.

Something that I use every day, that I use to escape the troubles from real life with, that I can use to potentially make money with. Enjoy my hobbies more with, and all that stuff. Sorry, with all the stuff that’s going on with my health, my life, my eyes, and how that prevents me from simply doing what is normal for others… a new computer, was the obvious choice for me.

This means I have to be accountable for it somehow. I have to show responsibility that if I save money, and share that I will need help saving money. It motivates me to do better, and maybe it motivates others to read up on what this might mean for me and support me with a contribution. One thing I certainly did not want was to beg for money, to spam those who want to possibly support me, and to turn this into a greedy event. It’s not who I am. I seriously dislike it when others do it.

I thought about it hard and decided that a low cost web site with a single page, introducing the project, sharing the details of it, and explaining why I am doing this… would be the right way to approach this.

A cheap VPS hosting solution with a domain, for 12 months and paid in full. The only costs. The web site design and maintenance is on me, obviously. And the one pager design keeps it easy to use, quick to update, and allows for transparency.

The site is and it is where I hold myself publicly accountable via social community. Whatever I am able to save offline, as well as via on-line banking, together with contributions from strangers, friends and family, it is mentioned on the site. A little bit of script magic shows the total saved, and an impression of what I am aiming for to buy. I do not ask for contributions on the page (at least not yet), and the Donation button is pushed to the bottom of the page making it completely optional.

I am explaining this, because I want to show that I am taking ‘saving for a new computer’ serious. The amount saved is going towards a new computer, I can’t have any excuses that it disappeared towards something else. Or that any contributions from people is used to buy a new guitar or pay a utility-bill. I am damn serious about getting something to better my life, my shitty little life that is about sci-fi, movies, technology, and whatever the future brings. And I believe this is for me currently the only way to get one; and I hope this is doing it the right way.

Through May to the end of 2015, I have been able to put money aside, automatically move money from my normal bank account into the savings-account, and I have received contributions from family like my father and mother, my niece and sister, and my friends like Justin, Nikki, and Iestyn. It is amazing that my plan seems to be working (well, so far..) and that I can start 2016 with a computer piggy-bank of a thousand euros. I am so happy that I reached my goal for 2015, and thank you – thank you – thank you everybody who helped me get to it.

An iMac is not cheap, they are expensive but amazing computers. And I know, some prefer Microsoft’s OS over Apple’s OSX, so be it, but it is what works for me. Anyway, it means I am not there yet. I have to double up in 2016, save more money, budget better, compromise in the fun things I will do in 2016, etc. And hopefully I will get a few more people to contribute towards my goal. Please consider it? Hopefully I will have a new system by the end of the year. This one really is ready to be replaced.

To round this up, tech has always been in my life, it’s what I do, it’s how I do things. It makes me active, more social, and able to be more ‘me’. I really hope the iMac will survive until the end of this year. And I really – really – really hope that I can replace it with the system that I want. I am so happy that I have made a wonderful start, 33% completed!