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Melooon
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« on: June 27, 2024 @37.97 »



I'm curious how many people out there have a family PC - e.g. a home PC that is shared by many members of a household (you don't actually need to be related). Or maybe you've moved on to everyone you know having their own private computer?

This is part of my wider thoughts on the idea of shared technology verses private technology! And how sharing technology changes our relationship with it really significantly!

In the 90s when computers were new, the family PC was an iconic object; often shown with great pride at the center of the home in advertisements, and touted as the tool for everyone from kids to grandparents.

In my own life most people I know (including me!) have one or multiple private computers. However at my dads house there is still a big desktop. Whenever anyone is staying and needs to use a computer, they get to make their own account on it; so its got lots of accounts and each one is like a little portrait of its owner ~ with their own wallpapers and settings and files.

In some way's a family computer is like a living photo album of fragments of lives ~ or maybe even a household pet, everyone has their own relationship with it, but its presence is felt by all.

I'd like to hear peoples thoughts about the classic family PC; the good, the bad and what if anything we could carry on from it into modern tech and the web!  :pc:
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2024 @97.08 »

We had a family PC for a short stint of about 2-3 years, before I had discovered Minecraft or any other game i'd soon become obssessed with. I'd remember hours of going onto Kizi.com, Silver Games (those websites have gone to crap now, filled with generic slop games, but they used to be cool) and especially ArmorGames.com (That website is still a banger, probably one of the last places to find good flash games now. They also became a publishing studio, and is one of the places where Kingdom Rush and Last Stand got their start. Theres other banger titles that came from there such as Dont Escape (and their release of Dont Escape 4), Earth Taken, Strike Force Heroes, the Swords and Souls series, Aground, Zombie Society Dead Detective, etc. etc. I could gush about armor games for AGES), and i'd spend hours there in what was probably an unhealthy way, gawking at the beauty of it all. It was really formative for me.

I'd also remember the endless fights and bickering i'd get into, with my brothers watching over my shoulders, demanding i'd play a game instead of watching YouTube, or wanting to get on themselves... I wish I wasn't so mean to them when they did that, but theres alot of things I wish I didnt do when I was younger. That'd be a tonal shift on this post for SURE. Honestly, kind of a rough patch of my life happened when we had a family PC, and i'd only get worse when I had a private PC all to myself. But, ive grown past that and am better now :D.

I feel like what was good or bad about family PCs can be objective. For me, it was more of a developmental issue, but as for whats good or bad about them, I dunno! The good to me strikes to me as the fact that they were shared places where people from the entire family would explore the web together, at detached times. I think a family website on a family PC could be interesting, if that says anything! The bad would be I think would be the loss of privacy. No one can explore themselves through digital art or writings without the possibility that their brother logs onto their account on the family PC. Other than that? Im not too sure, to be truthful
« Last Edit: June 27, 2024 @100.61 by Zombiethederg » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2024 @263.41 »

i had 2 family pc setups since my parents were divorced.

at my dads, there was a blue compaq presario 5000t in the living room and we all had different user accounts. i remember hating how the screen was faced towards the door so anyone could see what i was doing as they walked by. not like i was ever really doing anything i wasn't supposed to at that age, just a privacy thing.

as for my mom, we didn't have a home computer that i could use the internet on until i was about to start high school. she would just take home her work laptop for me to use. i remember 2 specific ones. the first one was an ibm thinkpad laptop with windows 2000 professional on it. the video isn't the exact model, but it looks how i remember it. i think i eventually ended up loading that thing with viruses as a kid oops :drat:. and then the second one was a silver dell laptop with windows xp. it might even be the one in this video honestly.. if she couldn't bring home a work laptop, i could use one of the public computers at my town's library. or on vacation, i would go down to the computer room in the hotel and use theirs until they kicked me out. i don't have those old work laptops, but i do have a hp pavilion 6645c desktop that has windows 98 that my mom saved from getting thrown out so i could play the sims 1 and 2 on it. when we finally got a family laptop, it was an acer extensa 4620-4605 running windows vista that i put teenage mutant ninja turtles stickers on :3.

pics of the family computers i still own
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the win98 desktop in all her glory, long may she reign.


running elmo through the looking glass, a game i adored as a kid.


the front of my acer laptop


what's on it currently, almost a perfect time capsule of 2009 if you ignore spotify lol.

[close]


nowadays everyone in my family has a smart phone and they don't need to use a computer, but back then the only time another member of my family would use it would be to quickly check their email, the news, list something on ebay. otherwise, i was the one that used the pcs the most.  :pc:

none of the family pcs ever had parental controls, i remember vividly going onto a certain "bunny" site as a kid and just deleing the browser history and no one found out. outside of that one instance, i just stayed on kid friendly sites like barbie, nickelodeon, disney, things of that nature.

i kind of miss some things about the family pc. like, having a designated computer room was pretty cool. i do that at my house actually: the basement is my computer room. i do not miss having to share it with others or people going through my files. computers were and still are virtual diaries to me, and it feels so wrong to have someone poking around in my hard drive.
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2024 @310.13 »

When I still lived at my grandma's house, We had a family computer. It was some old HP tower with more replaced parts than original and It was pretty slow. But most people in the household used it from what I can remember (or at least I and my sibling certainty did.) I would use it to browse websites like scratch or club penguin, but otherwise didn't do too much with it. Later when we moved, the computer ended up becoming my sibling's and the rest of the family had laptops. Though for awhile I would still bother my sibling to use it as I did not have my own laptop yet.

Once I got my own laptop, and my sibling ended up getting a better computer as well, I believe the old tower ended up being sent to some thrift store somewhere. I hope it has a good home now, despite it's admittedly rough condition.  :transport:  :pc:
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« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2024 @433.94 »

Windows 98 has an account system, but of course nobody in my family knew about it. So basically every family member had their own folder on the desktop. Considering pre-internet days as well, there really was nothing to hide.

I think the prices played a role of getting only a single computer per household. In 1999, a low-end complete system with writing software, Windows CD, monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers (from Aldi, the supermarket chain) cost 3000 Deutsche Mark, about 1500 Euro at the time. Quite expensive compared to today.

My current North-Korea kind of firewall, blocking all websites of the big internet companies, would make a shared computer quite difficult to fit for everyone. So to me, the shared PC is a last resort. Might be a solution for computer addiction though!
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« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2024 @456.71 »

We were late to join the digital party, and had a shared, by the time already strongly outdated computer when I was seven years old - my parents got it, since my elder brother had to take typing classes.

It was a fun time; my brothers and me played outdated games from magazine CDs or these small  free games that we downloaded from the internet, and I suppose this was formative for my later love for underground games :).

On the other hand, I was glad when I got my own computer at the age of 12: digital spaces were already a important part of my life by then, and it was much like getting a key to my door (even though I allowed my little brother to use it till he got one of his own). By now, my computer is probably the most important and intimate object I own - it, and my files are diary, tool of communication, entry to places that I visit; many of my acquaintances are purely digital, and some files contain information and memories that only the persons next to me know about (and sometimes even they only partly). It is a part of me and my identity, sometimes it feels like a part of my body. My whole system is encrypted, and I sometimes get nervous when somebody else uses it in my absence, even if I trust them completely. Losing my filesystem would be a small catastrophe, and sharing it is out of question.
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« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2024 @503.13 »

Nowadays we're all fancy with it, my brother and I have gaming(-ish) PCs of our own, mom has a laptop and dad has... well, he has an interesting combo of an old laptop + an old monitor attached to it to see better, plus a separate work laptop that technically belongs to his workplace. (There's also an old grandpa of all laptops that used to belong to me. We wake it up only when we need some old photos still stored on there, and it takes a lot of time.)

But this topic does make me weirdly nostalgic for the time when there was only one PC. Getting to use it felt like an entire ritual. Me (and then my brother when he got old enough) were allowed a couple hours of computer time daily, so we didn't really fight over it too much. I believe we had one singular account, too, altho the memory of Windows XP account selection screen is way too vivid for that. Perhaps I'm forgetting things - I suspect we might've had like, an acc for kids and an acc for parents (mainly dad).

Now that I think about it, yeah, I think that was it! Dad's acc was the admin and I had to ask for his help (or his password) to install new stuff, 'cause our kid acc didn't have admin privileges. Dad was suspicious every time - what if that's a virus??? Hah, now that's a memory unlocked!

Honestly nowadays I would love to restrict my computer usage to a few hours again, but. Work. All my work is on there. :tongue:

I'd also remember the endless fights and bickering i'd get into, with my brothers watching over my shoulders

Yup. Especially frustrating when you're trying to play/watch something that maybe they shouldn't be looking at. (Maybe you shouldn't be looking at it either sometimes. But while I take responsibility for potentially traumatizing myself - I shall not be responsible for my little brother, so. SHOO!)
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« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2024 @592.66 »

I had a family PC! I þink my dad bought it around þe time it was born? when I had gotten old enough to use it þough, I was mostly þe one who spent time on þe PC; sometimes my mom would get on it since she needed it to print photos, and my dad had his own laptop (if I recall correctly.) After some family drama happened (which I will not get into,) it kind of just became my computer. I've since gotten a new desktop PC, but I still have þe old one around, and I'm planniŋ to eventually use it to host a Minecraft server.

I really like þe idea of a shared computer! I þink after I discovered Linux and þe Tildeverse I've gotten more excited about þe concept, since it's based off of Unix which was designed to have multiple users active at þe same time! Alþough since you'd be shariŋ a physical machine, you probably couldn't all get simultaneously on wiþout haviŋ a different computer þat could SSH, but I þink þe multi-user capabilities would lend itself well to þat as well; you can make some directories viewable but not necessarily "editable" to oþer people, þe way admin permissions work is a lot more clear compared to Windows, etc. I'm probably just biased as hell since I'm a Linux enþusiast, but I þink usiŋ it for a shared computer would be really great!
« Last Edit: June 27, 2024 @610.90 by sharpieBath » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2024 @730.38 »

My family used to have one. It was stored in this funky dresser thing and the keyboard slid out from the bottom (which I loved to slide in and out). It broke pretty shortly (not from anything I did but my parents had had it for AGES before I was born and it finally gave up) and my mom then got one of them newfangled laptops. All I remember is it was Toshiba because my mom for a long while LOVED Toshiba brand stuff because it "lasted longer", citing a TV she used to have that lasted for like, 40 years or something before it burned out and was like, passed down through the family. I also remember we didn't have user accounts because my parents didnt know how to set up those.
The computer ran Windows XP and it was a pretty big clunker by todays standards for laptops. I pulled it out once to try and install linux on it (the thing was so fried it was having a hard time booting into the Live CD mode) and it was HEAVY as hell. Disc reader on the side though because this was still the time when people used discs. We had tons of CD ROM games which I remember having a lot of fun with (that and kids websites were most of my entertainment). I remember begging my mom to stop working so I could play them. I also remember being really really bad at this Bug's Life video game my aunt's ex-husband gave me (he also gave me and my sister an old laptop he owned with that game and a couple others that was like, custom made with Florida Gators theming but for the life of me I can't remmeber what I did with it. Believe I did play a lot of flash games and AJ on it though and despite my sister having a ready made user account by him, I was the main person that used it), which was also the first REAL video game I ever got. One taht wasn't a game meant for babies and was like, published normally. And because I was bad it it and therefore getting pissed off it was banned from my family and then I never played it again. I also remember the graphics of it being absolutely insane and like the most high-fidelity thing I had ever experienced but there were also a lot of other things I thought were very high fidelity that were not that so take that with a grain of salt. I should dig that up though and finally beat it (it was probably in reality very easy too but I was a dumb baby who had only ever played flash games on kids websites and baby CD-ROM games).
Eventually my mom got a new laptop after the old XP one stopped reading discs and charging and every time it turned on it would just start making this loud earpiercing shreiking sound and then shortly after my dad got one. After then we were too old and based to play CD ROM games. We played.... more flash games oooooo! All the classics, Club Penguin, AJ, Neopets a bit but I didnt understand it at that age and I thought it was dated as hell even back then (ofc I have a major appreciation now), Poptropica, Cool Math Games, Slither.io a bit because that started popping off. Some older PC games too of the time like Minecraft and WolfQuest (the og old 2.5 version from when they were still being funded and then the newer versions after which were amazing and also super high fidelity to small me, esp in comparison to the orginal. I owned some of the og WolfQuest merch too with the old logo. I need to find it, even though it definetly wouldn't fit me now) Eventually a long while later I got my own little tiny laptop for schoolwork (but ofc I used it for literally everything else) and that was when the world opened up to me and where I was first born under this name, making YouTube videos of Roblox gameplay and doing tours of game maps because I wanted to fill the one-person niche of "Looking and pointing at various landmarks on maps". Not even like, custom maps because I didn't know how to install those, base-game FeralHeart and Legends of Equestria maps. Those videos are still up to this day. You can see like, the evolution through my videos on there and like, me going through lifes stuggles. All made on that small laptop with the dated Fruitiger Metro decal on the back and keyboard. I still have it too. It still has all of those files and my wallpaper from back then and it still starts as though it was only yesterday (I have no idea how they made a HDD boot so quickly because never in my life have I had a computer since that starts as fast as that one).
This turned into me reminisining about my old laptop sorryyyyyy.
But yeah, home computers are something of the times I think. Back when computers weren't as all encompasing and commonplace as they are today. As someone in the thread said, we have phones now. And that does basically everything a computer would have needed to do back then and more, plus they're far cheaper so it is much easier to just give your kid a phone instead of a whole laptop. Still though, the communal aspect of them does give them that sort of cozy quality. Like a kitchen or a living room, but a box in your house.
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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2024 @758.87 »

I'm curious how many people out there have a family PC - e.g. a home PC that is shared by many members of a household (you don't actually need to be related). Or maybe you've moved on to everyone you know having their own private computer?

My wife and I have a shared computer (an old G4 iMac running NetBSD) that we use for offline, plaintext computing. We can write down recipes, and use local email to leave notes for each other. But we also have our own, personal devices. And my wife is welcome to use my computers if she needs something more powerful than her iPad or iPhone.
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« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2024 @773.55 »

My boyfriend and I have a shared gaming PC! And of course back in the day my family had one computer, though my parents got divorced when I was fairly young, so there was a brief stint when I had two "family" computers at both my mom and dad's house before they eventually bought me a laptop. Now that I think about it, I was probably given the laptop that young because my parents recognized the inconvenience of having two family desktops that couldn't communicate with each other. My dad liked to build computers up till the mid-2010s, so I remember we had multiple "desktops" sitting around the apartment at one point that were in various states of disuse lol. We really liked to hook the main desktop up to the TV so I could play computer games on the big screen.

As for nowadays, I do have a laptop (as does my boyfriend) that is my primary computer, and our shared desktop is used almost exclusively for gaming. My boyfriend will sometimes bring up getting another so we can game together, but there's something I really enjoy about having a communal computer again. Maybe it's the lack of pressure to be the sole maintainer of the machine, or the fact that if my boyfriend pirates all the Sims 4 expansion packs I will automatically get them too. It's nice to have that point of connection, in a way.
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« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2024 @801.53 »

we had a family pc from the time i was a kid up until i was seventeen, i think! it sat at an old desk (which i still have and is actually mine now) that was in our dining room. we technically had three different ones in this timespan, even though the third didn't last all that long as a family pc.

the first one i remember was an old dell tower that ran windows xp. my mom set up accounts for everyone, but i had no understanding of that as a wee lad so i usually just used my mom's since that's the one that was already signed in most of the time. i spent countless hours sitting there playing webkinz, club penguin, wizard101, toontown, and the various games my mom purchased from popcap or big fish. a lot of the time, we'd sit and play games together. it was loads of fun and i have lots of good memories :ozwomp:

eventually that one started to slowly die so we got an hp tower with windows 7. i thought this thing was the coolest and, like the old one, i spent lots of time playing games on it, both the same from before and other games such as feralheart, wolfquest, and probably some others i can't recall at the moment. i also remember it being the computer i used when i first discovered forums and chatrooms and things of that nature (and look where i am all these years later :happy:)! online spaces became a huge and important part of my life. those were some good times. this is also around the time my parents got me my very first laptop when i was ten years old - a samsung that ran windows 8. it wasn't the best thing ever, but it got the job done and gave me more freedom to pursue digital art since i had started to get into that. it also made things great when friends would come over since minecraft started to become huge; friends could play on the family pc while i played on my laptop. genuinely such an awesome time  :seal: to this day i'm still not quite sure what killed this computer; i think it had a virus on it because the hard drive randomly failed once while my friend and i were playing minecraft. kinda funny now but it still sucks that it happened.

after that, my parents bought a dell all-in-one that ran windows 8 or 8.1. i was using my own laptop at this point - i think it was the hp running windows 10 i got after the battery on my old one finally gave out. this computer eventually became my main machine for a little bit after the hard drive failed and i offered to replace it for my parents; they didn't want it anymore - instead they wanted a simple laptop since the desktop wasn't used anymore like the previous ones had been - so they told me i could have it. i ran linux mint on it and used it until i finally built my own pc a few years ago.

i think it's nice to have my own devices since i spend a lot of time on my pc playing games or creating things; i can just leave them up and come back to it whenever i want/have to. i also don't have to worry about other people going through my files or shoulder surfing :ok: but in all honesty, i actually do kind of miss having a family pc. sure, there isn't really a need for one in my family, but i do miss stuff like sitting and playing those point-and-click puzzle games or webkinz minigames with others. there's probably some other stuff i've forgotten about over the years, but the games were definitely a major part and make up a lot of my memories. i see a lot of nostalgia posts on social media about family computers nowadays so this topic has been in the back of my mind for a bit, honestly. kind of weird to think that this is something that's no longer the 'norm' given how everyone's got phones or tablets now, if not their own laptop/pc. kinda just rambling into the void now after all this :tongue: i'll end it here haha but i'm definitely going to be thinking about shared vs private technology a bit more now!
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« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2024 @41.90 »

We used to have a family laptop back in the day that I used for CD-ROM games and my parents mostly used for taxes---they still do to this day. I got a personal iPad and a personal netbook when I was young, but I still used my mother's Dell PC with Windows 7 for quite a few years until I got my own desktop.

I do rather like having my privacy but in future, I definitely want to have a family computer when I get married---I prefer sharing things like that especially because it would keep me from being on-line 24/7, amongst other reasons. I just hope I can find a husband with similar Luddite (as my mother calls them) tendencies to mine!
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« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2024 @731.52 »

Growing up we had one family computer. It's amazing how long this thing lasted and how much it went through haha.

It started with Windows 98 or something on it, I think it's an IBM or a Dell? It sat in the living room and I was the first one to be excited about it because I wanted to play the "Shockwave" Digimon games on foxkids.com. I remember I used to go to the Yahoo search engine and type my favorite things into and was at awe of all the stuff I could see or play or download.

I had 2 siblings and during summer break we would all take hour long shifts on the computer, just rotating and keeping diligent track of each other's time when it was close to our turn to use it. Our mom would get tired of us always being on it and started hiding the keyboard when she went to work sometimes... but we always found it. ;) We would mostly go on Neopets or browse forums. My sister got really good with HTML and made some pretty rad websites in her day.  I mostly spent my time lurking every Sonic fan site I could find.

For Christmas around 2003 or 2004, I got Halo for the PC, but the graphics card in the computer wasn't powerful enough to run it. My mom took me to Circuit City to pick out a new 32 MB graphics card which still lives in that computer to this day.

Eventually it was upgraded to Windows Vista, which I really miss as an OS. It was sleek and trim and I learned how to customize the start button to say different things. Then Windows XP which it still has on it. For a while as we got older, it was mostly used to run chat programs for my sister and I, and to browse MySpace... it was starting to get too old to run most modern games so we quit using it as any sort of gaming machine and it was just used to browse the internet or record music here and there.

After a time, it was moved into mine and my brother's room where I would mostly use it staying up late browsing the interwebs and chatting with my friends. After I moved out it became my brother's computer and after he moved out it was shoved into storage.

A few years ago my folks moved out of state and were clearing out a lot of stuff and asked if I wanted the old family computer. I excitedly took it, ready to crack it open and re-discover whatever treasures were left on it.

It was caked in dust, inside and out. I gave it a quick pass with a leafblower and hooked it all up. It took about 10 minutes to fully boot to desktop and it creaked and groaned the whole time.

I found that my brother had actually wiped the whole thing... just nuked it, and started from scratch. The desktop was still the default XP, green hills and blue sky background. He mostly used it to play this old online game he was obsessed with (Ragnarok Online... to his credit, I'm still obsessed with it too). There was also a movies folder which had 2 seemingly random movies in it (iirc it was like Flashdance and Sister Act 2).

Now the computer sits in my storage shed. I had hoped to find remnants of all the old stuff we used to do on it, but since it's got pretty much nothing on it and it can hardly run, I keep it around as a totem or a relic.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2024 @734.66 by milo » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2024 @796.50 »

Growing up we had one family computer. It's amazing how long this thing lasted and how much it went through haha.

It started with Windows 98 or something on it, I think it's an IBM or a Dell? It sat in the living room and I was the first one to be excited about it because I wanted to play the "Shockwave" Digimon games on foxkids.com. I remember I used to go to the Yahoo search engine and type my favorite things into and was at awe of all the stuff I could see or play or download.

I had 2 siblings and during summer break we would all take hour long shifts on the computer, just rotating and keeping diligent track of each other's time when it was close to our turn to use it. Our mom would get tired of us always being on it and started hiding the keyboard when she went to work sometimes... but we always found it. ;) We would mostly go on Neopets or browse forums. My sister got really good with HTML and made some pretty rad websites in her day.  I mostly spent my time lurking every Sonic fan site I could find.

For Christmas around 2003 or 2004, I got Halo for the PC, but the graphics card in the computer wasn't powerful enough to run it. My mom took me to Circuit City to pick out a new 32 MB graphics card which still lives in that computer to this day.

Eventually it was upgraded to Windows Vista, which I really miss as an OS. It was sleek and trim and I learned how to customize the start button to say different things. Then Windows XP which it still has on it. For a while as we got older, it was mostly used to run chat programs for my sister and I, and to browse MySpace... it was starting to get too old to run most modern games so we quit using it as any sort of gaming machine and it was just used to browse the internet or record music here and there.

After a time, it was moved into mine and my brother's room where I would mostly use it staying up late browsing the interwebs and chatting with my friends. After I moved out it became my brother's computer and after he moved out it was shoved into storage.

A few years ago my folks moved out of state and were clearing out a lot of stuff and asked if I wanted the old family computer. I excitedly took it, ready to crack it open and re-discover whatever treasures were left on it.

It was caked in dust, inside and out. I gave it a quick pass with a leafblower and hooked it all up. It took about 10 minutes to fully boot to desktop and it creaked and groaned the whole time.

I found that my brother had actually wiped the whole thing... just nuked it, and started from scratch. The desktop was still the default XP, green hills and blue sky background. He mostly used it to play this old online game he was obsessed with (Ragnarok Online... to his credit, I'm still obsessed with it too). There was also a movies folder which had 2 seemingly random movies in it (iirc it was like Flashdance and Sister Act 2).

Now the computer sits in my storage shed. I had hoped to find remnants of all the old stuff we used to do on it, but since it's got pretty much nothing on it and it can hardly run, I keep it around as a totem or a relic.

Mannn, thats a sad ending to the tale. I was on the edge of my seat during the whole story up till the reveal. :tnt: Very resiliant machine though. Even through all of those updates and being covered in dust in a shed for a decade, it STILL started. Absolutely wild. Not to sound cliche but they really don't make machines like that anymore. Probably can't do the old "Put Linux on it" trick with something like that though (nor would you want to. Both for memories and because a genuine Windows XP install is getting harder and harder to come by as the old machines die or get overwritten).
Logged

If I sound angry I'm probably not unless I say so. I'm just really really blunt. :dog:
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