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Or as my wife and I call it…
The Third Reclamation. The cover photo for this article is not my home office – unfortunately – as it isn’t posh nor oddly flash, as in those home makeover television shows. I can say that the picture is in stark contrast to the state of my office, which looks more like my boys had all their mates over and threw a wicked local area network (LAN) party fueled by the finest of American Sodas: Monster Energy Drinks. And yes, that last bit was sarcasm (sans the mess).
Before taking on new roles and responsibilities away from Citrix, my personal office slowly evolved into a horrendous mess. I stacked racks with my own equipment, ran all sorts of packet slapping hardware across the room, and even had to fit an air conditioning unit as to not sweat data out of my machines, artwork, and things “open source XenServer”.
It truly was a masterpiece for it not only represented sheer chaos, but it also illuminated that no matter what, all things “digital” is my primary hobby. I will have to shuffle around for a bit to find photos of it, but it was just above college dorm status and right below the apocalyptic level.
“What does this have to do with this museum you speak of,” I can hear you asking.
I Know My Place…
Well, over the years I had built up a collection of modern hardware. Everything from audio/visual projects to spare cases I would use to stand up my own network area storage (NAS). The problem was that out of all my electronics, many machines, consoles, and so forth made it to the trash or recycling bins. My young boys and wife took priority and I had no time to address the state of each system, so instead of storing them, out they went. More on that later as eBay has only enraged me over the last two years in reclaiming older systems.
Fast forward to 2015 and I found a mint condition Apple ][gs. Bought it for literally nothing as in a form of irony, the seller needed to get rid of his own computers to make space for a home expansion project. My wife was all to kind to remind me that my order of operations in setting up my living, breathing, yes you can touch it, check out this code I wrote in 1992-esque museum was all wrong.
I had been taking donations in without the unused, modern machines going out. She was quite right and as of late, has even been helping me re-design my office as so I can – through purchase or donation – circle the room with a TRS-80, Mac LCIII, Kaypro, Amstrad (imported or otherwise!), and so on.
While I am happy to say that I am down to two computers for virtualization, I am fighting the hardest bit all of us face: sorting the bits I need to keep as spares as well as finding the actual machines I had recycled over a decade ago. Try and find the small form factor DEC Alpha online. Yeah, it isn’t cheap. Try and talk to someone with a “mint condition ZX Spectrum, but um – I can’t test it” — that’s where I am at now.
So for now…
It may not be a Jay Leno garage, but I’m about 30% close to repainting the walls of the office, properly installing wrap-around desks, but more importantly: book shelves. Despite being an O’Reilly author along with a good friend, Tim Mackey, I own the first copy of “The Whole Internet: User’s Guide and Catalog” by Ed Krol among many other gems I still find to this day. Many I have owned in the past and many are unique: capturing a few years of the hottest technology and how to become the master of such wizardry.
I’ll keep updates on my progress and sure, if you have an old system that you want to get rid of…. let me know! It will be well taken care of and can stare at their great grandfathers: my 1957 and 1945 Remington Rand typewriters I refurbished.
–JK Benedict | @xenfomation