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Grave-robbing for a good cause

I have a confession to make: I am a necrophiliac.

More specifically, a cyber-necrophiliac.

There is little in life that I love more than taking the corpse of an old, dust-filled, utterly dysfunctional computer and tearing it apart, seeing what it has, what makes it tick, and trying to breathe fresh life back into it. The sense of power, the rush, of pulling it apart putting it back together and seeing the previously-dark monitor flicker to life gives me a thrill that borders on the sexual.

Recently I found an outlet for my dark urges, a way to turn my perversity to a good cause. My friend Candy (whom I mentioned here) was grousing about her kids's education. She's pulled most of them out of the public schools and is home-schooling them. Several others in her church are doing the same, but are finding difficulties with a severe lack of usable computers.

A-ha! I sprang into action. I used some connections, browsed some used computer stores, and raided my own personal supply of spare parts. A couple weeks later (and maybe $75 out of pocket) I presented her with two computers (IBM P2-400, 128MB RAM, 4GB HD, 48X CD-ROM, floppy, network, 56K modem, sound, video and a Dell P3-550, 160MB RAM, 2GB HD, 16X DVD-ROM, Zip-100, sound, video, 56K/DSL modem, network), 2 monitors (15" w/slight scratch, 17" slightly dim), keyboards and mice (both used and in need of a good cleaning).

But I've allowed my perversion to corrupt my dear friend. I've turned her into a pimp to sate my unnatural urges. In exchange for these two computers, she presented me with three more corpses to ravish. Two are Compaqs, which are notoriously difficult to modify; the third is a custom-built one, with a AMD K6-300 and an AT keyboard.

She also managed to sate another of my cravings. She and her family treated me to dinner at TGI Friday's. And damn, that burger was good... although it was a bit of a challenge to keep it down after her youngest boys ordered desserts: "cups of dirt." Chocolate brownies and chocolate syrup, with Gummi Worms. At one point I looked up and both boys had rainbow-colored worms dangling out of their mouths. I was NEVER that young. Sheesh, all those stereotypes of little boys are SO true...

OK, breakfast has been digested. It's time to go mess around with hardware. I WILL get at least one of these up and running, come hell or high water...


Update: One of the Compaqs (PII-350) is fully up and running and ready to go. Compaq #2 appears to have a fried motherboard, and the custom one seems to have an irregular floppy-drive attachment that I don't have a cable for. I'm calling it quits for today.

Comments (11)

Prepare for rebuttal! A) It... (Below threshold)

Prepare for rebuttal! A) It was chocolate pudding, crushed oreos and gummy NIGHT CRAWLERS. 2) I'm trying to decide if I'm playing Muff Potter or Injun Joe to your Dr. Robinson.

Gummi night crawlers? That'... (Below threshold)
Jay TEa:

Gummi night crawlers? That's what they looked like, all right, but they call them Gummi WORMS. And once I saw the worms, I really lost interest in seeing just what the "dirt" was.

Thanks again for the food and company!


The term you want isn't nec... (Below threshold)

The term you want isn't necrophiliac, but necromancer. To quote filk-singer Cynthia McQuillin,

"I'm a computer wizard,
my appitites would fill your heart with dread.
I practice cybernetic necromancy.
I resurrect computers from the dead!"

If you were a cyber-necrophilliac, you'd be doing something with them that'd be dangerous around high voltage...

This reminds me of a conver... (Below threshold)

This reminds me of a conversation this summer with Business English students.... one accidentally used "necrophiliac" in place of "narcoleptic".... I explained both words, then asked him "What would happen if you were a narcoleptic necrophiliac?".... his reply? "I'd get caught". The visual image alone made my day.

Operating system?I... (Below threshold)

Operating system?

If you haven't already, try Linux. A good version ("distro") to start with is Mepis, which is based on Debian. You can download an iso image, burn it to CD, pop the cd into the tray, reboot, and then enter "demo" for username and "demo" for password (without quotes), and you get a functioning and very capable Linux system that won't touch the hard disk unless you want it to (you can save files you created to a home directory, and even use the included OpenOffice to open MS Office files, edit them, and then save them to a linux file, a usb key drive, a 2nd cdrw drive, floppy, etc.) If you decide you like it, you can install it to hard disk, where it will run much faster than running from cd.

You can see what applications are included here:


and use one of the mirrors linked above to download, a direct one is here:


download the latest date image,
SimplyMEPIS-2004.03.iso to a directory on your hard drive, then burn it to a cd.

If you decide to install it to hard disk, you can use a separate hard disk, or install it on the same hard disk as windows, but definitely back up your data before installing on the same hard disk. If you install on the same hard disk, you'll be able to "dual-boot", where you decide when you boot up whether to run Windows or run Linux.

With the huge choice of software, the security, the stability, the lack of viruses, the choice of multiple browsers (with tabbed browsing, no popups, easy javascript and image control and more), email clients, instant messangers that are compatible with AIM and AOL, the OpenOffice suite that can handle MS Office files, the multiple desktops, the included games for the younger kids, plus thousands of other applications, and tens of thousands of other applications that are an easy, free, LEGAL download away, you'll be booting into Windows less and less, and transferring your Windows data over to Linux so you can keep working in Linux.

As a new user of Linux, you'll be known as a newbie. Use google with terms, newbie Linux help and similar phrases, and you'll find a huge amount of documentation to guide you, and there are irc channels online that offer specific help to newbies, including a channel just for Mepis users. You are expected to read documentation for simple things, and are expected to look at documentation before asking questions, but really new newbies are generally given help on where to start looking for answers, especially with Mepis and Knoppix, another version of Linux. And Mepis and Knoppix also have forums


and how-to sections


that have a huge amount of info for newbies and experts alike. Knoppix can be found from this link:


and is another "distro" that can be downloaded as an iso image, burned to cd, and then booted by inserting the cd into the tray, rebooting, and waiting. That's usually enough to get started. Some unusual hardware may require entering information on one of the bootup screens, but just try waiting and see if it boots by itself. If it does, you'll get a desktop with an open browser window that is open to a page that explains what knoppix is (iirc) and has links to more info. If you have dsl, and use dhcp (picks up networking info automatically), knoppix should pick it up also, the only thing you'll need is the ip addresses of the name servers for resolving web urls to ip addresses, which you can get from your isp. If you use dial up to connect, and Knoppix can talk to your modem, you can also connect to the internet without too much trouble (not AOL directly) as long as you know the username/password and possibly other minor details. Or just try it offline, see if you like it, and take it from there.

Anyone wanting to try it, or just curious about it, you only need a blank cd, and a little time to kill. It won't touch your drive/OS/data unless you specifically want it to, when booting/running from cd, it won't touch the hard drive unless you "mount" the hard drive. If you don't "mount" the hard drive, it will run from cd only, you'll be able to check out all the applications, how they work, how they look, etc., and you won't have to worry about your data or your operating system installation. It will run slower, as it is running from cd instead of hard drive, but if you like it, you can install it to the hard drive, and it will run faster and better than Windows. And it is better than Windows on older hardware, though if the hardware is real old (under 400 Mhz) there are other "distros" that are actually better than Mepis and Knoppix, but aren't as easy to use for beginners.

Give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

What in blazes:<a... (Below threshold)

What in blazes:
does that mean?

ohhh, a geek of the night..... (Below threshold)

ohhh, a geek of the night.......

"Filk" is a demonic offspri... (Below threshold)

"Filk" is a demonic offspring resulting from the unnatural union of the word "folk" with the word "filch," which means to steal.

A filk song is a song parody using a known tune and original lyrics. JibJab's parodies are a high-quality execution of the form.

Aren't Compaqs fun to work ... (Below threshold)
Stephen Walker:

Aren't Compaqs fun to work on? After my first brand name computer, I have built all others from parts. They all have something in there that can't be replaced and has no drivers for a modern OS.

The secret trick is to always bring them back to what they were originally sold as, that includes modems and NICs that weren't there origionally. Then the restore image will work. WinXP will usually find drivers on a fresh restore. Once WinXP has informed you what the cards are, you can load whatever OS has drivers that support all of the cards.

Stephen Walker

I have old and extra and ev... (Below threshold)

I have old and extra and even unused computer parts and peripherals...I wish I knew what to do with them.

I TRIED to donate an old Compaq by running an ad in the paper but was overrun with people yelling and screaming at me in demands and such that I HAD to let them have it, OR ELSE...even had some guy come over and throw papers in my face when I asked him to reimburse me for the ad I ran (he was outraged, although I'd told anyone/everyone in the ad that I'd be asking for that meager sum).

It was a terrible experience. So, instead, I just tossed an HP Printer out -- still completely functional, I even cleaned it up to near-new appearance -- because no one I knew wanted it, and have another one in my store room, along with another monitor (previous one, still works just great, from before I bought my current system with it's own monitor), things like that.

I wish I knew how to donate used computing equipment because I would. I just never can find anyone who wants any of it, unless they really, really, really demand I give it to them, in which case, I don't feel comfortable giving them my address...not always an easy thing to do, to do something "free of charge," although I do believe we should always continue to try.

Try looking on this site: <... (Below threshold)

Try looking on this site: https://www.techsoup.org/mar/mars.asp?page=4&zip=&range=&SortBy=

It is Microsoft's Authorized Refurbisher Donation Program.

My disabled son got a computer from one of the groups listed here, Pan-Educational Institute.

I usually give my computer stuff to the Shawnee Community Center in Shawnee, Kansas, but they are not affiliated with anyone else so they are not a good recipient unless you are in the Kansas City metro area. I like this particular place because it's privately run and the founder runs it on a shoestring. They use the parts to train people to fix computers, and then give the computers to people who are disadvantaged one way or another - poverty, handicap, whatever. I've never had them do anything but thank me profusely for the sometimes disgusting junk that I bring them - they use it all.

I wish you the best in finding such a place.






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