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Me and my history with computers


Eldmannen
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First computer

When I was little our family got a computer.

It was 386, and it had a big full-height hard disk which was the size of two CD-ROM drives on-top of each other.

Later I opened that hard disk with a screwdriver, inside I found some powerful magnets and some very strong solid metal discs. I used to pretend they were the weapon discs that the Predator had. :D

My first own computer was a Intel i386SX at 16 MHz. It had about 8 mb RAM, I think. Could have been less like 2 or 4 megabyte. Later I once used a 286, which made my 386 feel pretty d*** fast. ;)

386 was so cool, that the CPU didn't even need a fan.

It was running DOS with Norton Commander, a text-user interface file manager.

Gaming

Me and my brother played lots of games. Like Blues Brothers, Joe & Mac, Prehistorik 2, Sam & Max: Hit the Road, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Simon the Sorcerer, Police Quest, Innocent Until Caught 2: Presumed Guilty, Wacky Wheels, Wolfenstein 3D, The Curse of Monkey Island, etc.

Also used to play Doom, which our parents did not like.

Oh and Monster Bash, Commander Keen, Desert Strike, etc. But my favourite game was Raptor: Call of the Shadows, only had the demo but I played it so much that I dreamed about it. :D

More than just a gamer...

My brother just played games, and the PC was like a game console for him. I played lots of games too, but it became quickly apparent that I had a more profound interests in computers. He couldn't do much more than to start the games, while I liked to explore the system, check out all features and settings, and look in files, and learn stuff.

We both wanted to make our own games. I would kind of like draw games on papers, and write features I would like to have in my game. :D

Later we got Windows 3.11, it was the first time I had used a graphical window system. Windows 3.11, wasn't a real operating system, it was DOS with a graphical window system, it was pretty crappy, but hey it was the first time I seen a real graphical user interface, so it was cool. :)

Once in a while, it happened our computers would get messed up. Then my dads boss would come to us and fix our computers. He did so couple of times. With time, I learned more about computers, and then I fixed the computer with his help over the phone, and as time progressed, I just got better and better with computers.

I found a floppy titled "Database", I had no idea what it was, but it sounded really cool. :D

A new computer... a 486

Later we got a Intel 486DX (50 MHz) home with 16 or 20 mb RAM. It was fast. We could run Destruction Derby on it, though I think it lagged maybe. We still had no sound card, and only PC speaker, that made beeps in games. :wave:

Dad bought what at the time was called a "multimedia package" (which would transform your computer into a multimedia computer), which consisted of a sound card, CD-ROM drive, and loudspeakers.

Sound Blaster 16 was kickass. Now we had some real audio! Yeah baby!

We used to play this game Stunts and we made own maps for it too. :)

We also had this Formula 1 game with this kickass soundtrack. :D

Also played games like Comanche: Maximum Overkill, some F-15 or F16 or something airplane game.

Following dad to his job - first experience of the Internet

I would follow dad to his job, and use his computer there, because they had Internet.

I would surf with Netscape Navigator on Windows 3.11, the internet was amazing, I wanted to follow him to work everyday. I surfed the web and printed lots of cheat codes and stuff.

We used to get floppies with games from my dads boss. I was there often at my dads job, so the people there knew me. I was the little computer geek kid.

I've had hundreds of floppies. Floppies were vulnerable and tended to fail to read. My dads boss learned me, when that happened, you could put your finger on the floppy disk and press it up or down, or shake it, and it increase the change that you would be able to read the floppy. Neat. :)

Later we got Windows 95, now this was a huge improvement over Windows 3.11. A 32-bit operating system. Yeah, Windows 95 wasn't great, but at the time when all I seen was Windows 3.11, it was awesome. :D

My big SCSI hard disk

I was lucky enough to have a 1gb SCSI hard disk. This was really big at the time, and it almost felt like it was infinite. :D

I would take the disk out of the computer, and hook the disk from my brothers computer into the same computer, and we would copy over games forth and back. So I learned some about hardware too.

Windows NT4

I went to my dads jobs for a long time, I loved it. Now they had Windows NT Workstation 4.0, wow this operating system was great. It was like Windows 95 on steroids. I had Windows 95 at home, but this system was better. I explored it and learned new stuff, it had lots of features that I didn't have back home at Windows 95. I could change the color of the Command Prompt, sweet! :)

Surfing the internet for warez

At my dads job, I would surf the net to find games to download, so I could put them on floppies and bring them home. I surfed for "warez" sites. My poor little innocent eyes, all those sites had porn banners and popups. :D

Warez refers to copyrighted works traded in violation of copyright law.

Some people there used to make pictures in photoshop, which I thought were awesome, and I copied them home on floppies.

Winamp

I would often ask my dad to download Winamp and copy it to a floppy, and bring home. I loved Winamp. It was like the first or one of the first software to have skins. When I first discovered Winamp, I probably didn't even have any MP3. :D

One of my dads co-workers burned a CD though with MP3s. :)

Web page

My dads co-workers had made a really cool homepage with a JavaScript menu that changed image when you moved your mouse over them. Webpages back then looked really crappy. Not as bad as MySpace profiles, but they were crappy. :)

They had frames and animated GIFs, hehe.

After that, I started to make homepages too. First in Netscape Composer and Microsoft FrontPage Express, and then with Notepad.

New computer - Pentium 150

Later we got a new computer, a Pentium 150 MHz with 32 MB RAM and Windows 98. Later we got Windows 98 Second Editions. This computer was awesome, it was so fast. It were in my room, my brother wanted to use it too, but I wanted it to be all mine. I remember I had StarCraft like a month before it was released.

I got my hands on a USRobotics 28.8k modem, I begged and pleaded my parents to get Internet. They were skeptic, but eventually I got it.

Having the internet at home was awesome, and I would learn so much from the internet. The internet is the best thing ever.

Duke Nukem & Quake

I used to play Duke Nukem. He said cool stuff like "I've got balls of steel" and "It's time to kick a** and chew bubble gum, and I'm all outta gum!". We kids loved that.

But the first time I saw Quake, it totally blew my mind. Wow! Just wow!

It was in school, and it was the first time I saw a "real" 3D game. Games like Doom and Duke Nukem weren't real 3D. When you shot people with rocket launcher, they would explode and it would fly chunks of body parts. It was incredible.

IRC

Here I met with friends on a IRC networks, we had an IRC channel (chat room) were we used to meat up in. I used the IRC client mIRC and started of on the RelicNet IRC network. There were lots of warez activity on this network, there were many warez channels such as #warezxdcc, #warezlords, #warezdudes, etc. Dozens of them.

In those channels you could download stuff from other people. P2P networks didn't exist back then. With a 28,8k dial-up connection, it was slow as hell.

I used to goto sites like hackers.com and download text files, information, stuff about phreaking (phone hacking) blue/red/black/yellow boxes, etc. These texts often mentioned Unix and Linux, so I figured thats what the cool people were using. I would download software like WinNuke, port scanners, etc that could be used to attack other computers. Phreakers were people who built devices with stuff from radioshack, etc and they could hack phones, and call for free, etc. If you whistled a 2600 Hz tone, you could get free calls. I never did this, but it was fun to read about phreakers and computer hackers.

Kevin Mitnick got busted, and he were forbidden from contact with any electronic devices, the government feared he could start a nuclear war by whistling in the phone. :P

Using hacked dial-up accounts & free internet access

It would get expensive to be on the internet, and my parents didn't like it. In the chat room I used to hang in, there was this guy who had gotten a hold of hacked/stolen dial-up accounts to toll-free modem pools. He was nice enough to share the accounts with us, and this way I would connect to those toll-free modem pools and use the internet for free. Awesome! :)

I would use a telephone code prefix to make my phone number secret so it didn't show up, in order to avoid getting busted. I heard some rumors about people betting caught.

New fast broadband internet & warez

Later I got 10 mbit/s broadband internet connection. This was amazingly fast. People on the internet would envy that, they would see my ISP on IRC, and approach me and ask to join their warez channels and run fserve/XDCC and FTP in there. I installed a FTP server on my computer, and shared some files. You could share some stuff, and put up a request list of stuff you wanted. People in the channel would would have a script that would every other minute advertise their FTP servers, or fserves and XDCC. Many would use a dynamic DNS service so they would get a subdomain that pointed to their IP and they could update everytime they got a new IP address. Many people would have messages such as "This FTP is for private use only. You are illegally accessing it." or "If you are a law enforcement agent then you are not allowed here and must disconnect now", and cited some law paragraph in their login message for their FTP servers. I had the text "Unauthorized avatars will be prosecuted and have their routers removed.", I copied that from someone else. ;)

Then came Napster, it caught on like wildfire. The music industry shut it down, but that spawned dozen of other file sharing software and networks such as KaZaA, Gnutella, etc.

Me being evil - a kid on the dark side

I built a botnet by spreading evil ircbots on KaZaA, I gained control of about 200-300 computers, I think. These I could use to attack other computers by means of packet floods. I packeted people on IRC and watches them get disconnected. Then I would stop, and wait for them to connect back again, and start attack them again. I thought I was really cool and "1337" (lol) then, but later I realized how dumb and lame what I did was. But I was a kid. To my defense, when I was little I wanted a LEGO space ship, and a LEGO space base with a monorail train, which I never got. :-(

Nowadays I wouldn't do some lame script kiddie stuff like that.

When I found other people distributing these evil bots, I would download them, and open them in a text editor, or run a program called 'strings' on them, to read strings from the file, to try to find out what IRC network they would connect to, and what IRC channel, and what the password for the secret channel was, and I would sneak in there and infiltrate it undercover. :D

I used similar nickname as the bots, in order to blend in. Sometimes I would discover the passwords used to control the bots.

I used to download lots of freeware and shareware stuff too. Sometimes trials and stuff.

Peeking at scripting & programming

mIRC the IRC client, I used supported scripting. I would experiment with some small scripting.

I also got Visual Basic and started programming some. I would make an implementation of an ident daemon, try fool around making an IRC bouncer, a web server, and some silly stuff. Some stuff didn't do anything, but display MessageBoxes, when you clicked on a button.

I wrote a program that would send a packet flood of UDP packets. I didn't think it would work, so I tested it with a friends IP address. It worked, and he got p***ed. :P

Visual Basic is a pretty crappy language, but it was easy to learn, and it was pretty quick to develop in.

Flirting with Linux

Many of the IRC operators (who ran the network) and other skilled computer people used Linux or had shell accounts on Linux servers. I found some website that provides free shell accounts, but they were heavily restricted and sucked.

I subscribed to PC magazines, PC Gamer, it sucked, I should have subscribed on something else. I occasionally bought PC magazines. One magazine came with Red Hat Linux. I installed that on a spare disk I had. It was the first time I used Linux. I think it had the KDE desktop environment and the XMMS audio player.

One of my friends were a member of some warez group, he ran a server in his house, and they sent him free hard disks for him to have in this server. He could get any warez he wanted. He would just put up a request for something, and he would get it.

I would frequent computer hardware websites, where I learned a lot about computers and computer hardware. I eventually did a slight overclock of my Pentium 150 MHz to 166 MHz. :)

I also tweaked the BIOS and stuff.

Later we moved from the RelicNet IRC network to EFnet, and then later I also found Undernet, where I found some cool people, had an awesome time there.

Another friend of mine ran Slackware (a Linux distribution) on his 486. He used that 486 as a server, and had it on for over 100 days without reboot, it was cool. :P

He gave me a shell account on his Linux server. I would learn more Linux, and try out new stuff and software that I couldn't run on Windows. I put up a Eggdrop bot that stayed on IRC. Later, I would write some scripts for it in the Tcl scripting language.

New computer - AMD Athlon 900 MHz

Later I got a brand-new computer, a AMD Athlon 900 MHz with 256 mb RAM. I used to have a computer worse than those of my friends, but now I had the best one. :)

I got Windows 2000, this was an amazing operating system. It was really good. It was the best Windows at the time by far. Windows Me was the bastard child, that nobody loved.

On an old computer, I flashed the motherboard, it went wrong, and it got bricked. Oh, well I didn't use that computer anyways.

On Undernet I met new friends. One of them coded in C++. He coded a software could be used to launch an "smurf attack". This was the first program that could launch this type of attack on Windows. Previously, this kind of advanced software had only been available on Linux. Windows 2000 was the first Windows OS to get powerful raw sockets, which allowed the creation of software that constructed it's own custom raw packets and IP source address spoofing.

Peeking at Linux

I had played around with small Linux distributions that fitted on a floppy, such as LOAF (Linux On A Floppy), but those weren't very fun since they didn't come with much software, although it could be used to run a router.

My friend had a CD burner, and he burnt me a Slackware 7 CD. Later I installed Slackware 7 (a Linux distribution) on a spare hard disk I had. Like me, it was very geeky. I used the command-line a lot and learned a lot about Linux. I played with the firewall iptables which is the best thing ever, its so advanced and you can write own rules and stuff. I wrote some shell scripts, I compiled my own kernel, etc. Played around with the graphical window system using the Fluxbox window manager.

By this time, I had started to really Linux. But it was just a flirt, and I was back to Windows. Even though it was just a flirt, and I didn't use Linux, I would frequent Linux.com and keep tabs on Linux. I installed ActivePerl on my computer, and started messing around with Perl programming, writing simple Perl scripts. Wrote an IRC bot (a nice one, not an evil!) and some stuff.

Windows XP

Then came Windows XP. I didn't like it. I thought it had a dumb and childish kindergarten theme. :D

It also had WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage), and product activation which I did not like. The more restrictive EULA (license). Also if you change hardware often, Windows would stop working, and you would have to call Microsoft, etc.

So I stayed with Windows 2000 for a while and didn't want XP. But cant stay with that forever, and as time went by, I eventually installed that too. Then I got used to Windows XP and I stayed with that for many many years to come. Overall, XP still kind of was a nicer system than Windows 2000.

I remember starting using Mozilla Firefox, first just or porno. :P

But then I quickly started to use it all the time. :D

Often I wanted to try Linux, but I had no CD burner, and no spare hard disk.

Some where along the time, I discovered free open source software. This changed everything. It changed me, it changed the ways I thought about stuff, and it changed how I looked on computers and software.

Web development & coding

As I mentioned, I had done HTML (web stuff) before. I liked that.

So, some years ago I installed Apache (web server), PHP (scripting language), and MySQL (database). I started writing my own PHP scripts and HTML. I liked to do web development, it was fun. I would write websites with PHP that used database backends, and could output data to XML and RSS, and I would have own projects, I were coding. Over the years, I got pretty good with PHP. I like PHP, its very nice, it got a really nice syntax.

I never released any code though. Often when I had made lots of work on a project and it was beginning to shape up, I got bored and moved to another project.

I also messed some with C and C++ programming. But found it to be rather difficult and complex. Wrote a little app using C++ and the wxWidgets toolkit. I also briefly tried out Python a bit.

In 2005, I ordered a free copy of Ubuntu 5.04 "Hoary Hedgehog" (a Linux distribution that were getting popular), tried that out, but it ended up being just another brief flirt that too.

In 2005, I think I also found Wikipedia. I been editing Wikipedia a lot. I have several thousand edits.

Came to Lunarsoft after an invitation by Tarun on the CCleaner forums.

I tried to get rid of proprietary software from my computer, and replace it with free open source software. After some time most of my software on the computer were free open source software with Windows and a couple of other exceptions.

Vista sucks

Then I heard about Windows Vista. As I mentioned before, I was a bit reluctant to upgrade to Windows XP. Well, in Vista it was worse. The license were even more restrictive. It was more DRM and restrictions in the system. Lots of stuff, I didn't like about it.

Over the years I have also learned more bad stuff about Microsoft and how they operate. How they abuse their monopoly, stifle competition, etc.

So I knew that XP was the last stop for me. I were abandoning the Windows train, and leaving the Microsoft world.

It felt like Microsoft listened too much to Hollywood and didn't care about making a good operating system for the people. I knew I wouldn't do Vista.

(2007) New computer - Core 2 Duo

About a year ago or so, I bought a new computer. Core 2 Duo 2.13 GHz, 4gb RAM, GeForce 8600. I built it myself, it was fun.

When I got it, I tried it out with Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn" but ended up installing Windows XP with SP2 and used that instead.

So I bought an additional hard disk, and installed Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon".

This was cool, it has desktop effects and stuff. At first I found myself using Windows pretty much though, but over time that gradually changed. I were using Windows less and less, and Ubuntu more and more. I liked Ubuntu.

Then came the alpha and beta versions of Ubuntu 8.04, I couldn't hold myself, and upgraded to the beta. Been running Ubuntu pretty much full time since that.

Where do I go from now? ;)

  • I like Ubuntu 8.04 a lot, its really cool, and I am eagerly looking forward to Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" which is coming in 6 months, in October.
  • I some days SP3 for Windows XP will get released. I will install the service pack. Even though, I don't really use Windows XP anymore, I still have it around on the disk. Part of me wants to get rid of it, but I will keep it for a while, if I need to run some software that is not available for Linux, or something. Also, it sounds like a good idea to have more than one operating system installed on the computer. Just in case. ;)
  • I would like to try out some more Python programming.
  • I would like to try out some other Linux distributions such as Fedora, openSUSE, Arch Linux, Knoppix, Zenwalk. I haven't tried Slackware in years, I would like to try it out again sometime.
  • I would like to try out some other operating systems such as OpenBSD, FreeBSD, OpenSolaris, and Plan 9 from Bell Labs. Perhaps FreeDOS.

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I am glad you guys liked it.

It got pretty long, I know.

I tried to split it up some with headers to make it more readable.

It is jumps forth and back some between different topics and times, but is more or less somehow chronological.

Some may say "Dude, write a book!" :wave: , or "Don't tell me your life story" and find it boring.

But I hope that people find it an interesting read.

I wish I found the free open source software and its community sooner.

I also wish that I could have attended some computer club as a kids, where I could have met other like-minded people and people with more skill and experience than me.

I wish I would have had an tutor that would take me under his wing and teach me and guide me.

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