Acquired skills?

From: Tony Duell <>
Date: Wed Feb 2 19:59:36 2005

> I would imagine many of us have acquired skills along the way during our
> hobby/career/life with old computers. I'm curious; what acquired skill are you
> proud (or ashamed) of? I'll start:
> I am proud of:
> - Memorizing at least half of most POST beeps of early PCs (unfortunately for
> me, mostly the fatal ones :-)
> - Being able to take off up to 1/3rd of an inch of tractor feed in a single
> swipe (none of this "tear-move-tear-move" stuff: I fold it once one way, then
> the other, then I move all the way down with a quick "schrrrrrip!" and it's off)
> - Being able to land most screws on a single quick lunge of a NON-magnetized
> screwdriver (of course, the 1% of the time I miss, it's a PITA to hunt for the
> missing screw with little wire claws)

No, I learnt to handle small hand tools by repairing classic cameras.
Assembling a suynchro-compur shutter from scratch really improves your
dexterity :-)

Anyway, classic computing has given me a lot of skills, including

-- Being able to understnad how a CPU actually operates. If I'd never got
into minicomputers I'd never have had the chance to see a CPU at the gate

-- Learning to use an engineer's lathe. Well, somebody has to make the
special tools to fix HP 9100 and 9810 card readers, make special mounting
hardware, etc.

-- Being able to tell roughing what's wrong with an SMPSU by looking at
the fuse (blackened == chopper transistor or rectifier shorted, open ==
less serious failure, intact == startup failure). And being able to spot
the startup resistor without doing too much work

-- Aligning a disk drive head.

-- Recognising what a machine is doing by the flicker of the front panel

-- Building interafaces for all sorts of oddball hardware to even more
oddball buses

-- Knowing the hardware testpoints in all sorts of odd machines (I guess
I was the first person outside an HP service centre to know how to use
the TPs in an HP35, for example...)

-- Actually, I learnt C (and learnt to use unix) to support my classic
computing interests...

Many more that I can't remember to list, but could still remmebr how to
do if I had to.

> I am "ashamed" of:
> - Running a badly-shielded sound card inside a PC at full volume (or an AM
> radio tuned to static) so that I can "hear" what the PC is doing (hey, I was
> able to troubleshoot something many times this way!)
> - Resting my finger lightly on a drive (hard, floppy, tape) to sense what it is
> doing, again during a troubleshooting operation.

I don't see why you should be ashamed of any skill...

Received on Wed Feb 02 2005 - 19:59:36 GMT

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