Monday, March 24, 2008


Goodbye, Indy!

Time has come to say Goodbye to my Silicon Graphics Indy workstation. It has been a difficult relationship for years, and I finally offered my Indy on EBay.

Introduced in 1993, the Indy for a long time was the workstation to have, powerful and good looking, too. When EuNet, PING and Computerwelt offered a fully equipped Indy workstation as the reward for the best Austrian Website, my good friend Peter Wansch and I submitted The WWW Entertainment Package, a collection of classic board games ported to the Web from the like-named OS/2 games package that Peter had developed.

I had just learned the basics of writing CGI scripts and managed to get four games up and running. Although playing games over the Web was kind of slow in the pre-JavaScript, pre-AJAX era the gaming site was very well received and generated both lots of traffic and nice feedback from gamers around the world, too. We asked people to register for free access, we made it easy for them to vote and we spent a considerable amount of time answering e-mails and encouraging games to vote.

To make a long story short, we won. In hindsight, we had a pretty good Website that was actively used and would continue for years, but some other submissions were pretty slick, too. I guess we didn't just win for having the best product, we won because of good marketing.

The news reached me while participating at the WWW3 Conference in Darmstadt and while I had been hoping for this when it happened I could hardly believe it—we did it!

What followed then was a huge disappointment. We learned that we would not receive the machine at the official ceremony at Café Stein but only a few weeks later, and what's worse in a different configuration: The 5 GB harddisk that was originally advertised may seem small today but would have been perfectly adequate back then, what we got instead was a machine with a much smaller harddisk, barely sufficient to hold the base operating system and multimedia tools, and no CD-ROM drive to install software from.

Filesystem Type kbytes use avail %use Mounted on
/dev/root efs 439704 408189 31515 93% /

Now the Indy came with great connectivity already, including Ethernet and ISDN ports, only my home office had neither and upgrading the machine with more memory, a larger harddisk and a CD-ROM drive (from Silicon Graphics only, others would not boot!) was too expensive an option. We could have sold the Indy, probably for a good price. Seriously though, if you got an Indy, would you sell it? (Don't answer, please.)

So for many years this marvel of technology has been putting on dust and remained unused. When I booted the Indy today it started up nicely, only issuing one warning message: “WARNING: clock gained 1856 days”

The auction has a few more days to go and already has six bids. It is about time that someone starts using this machine, and time for me to say Goodbye. It has been a difficult relationship, and yet I will miss this electric-blue colored pizza box.

PS. At the age of fifteen the Indy is still a modern computer. For some really old computers, have a look at the Old Computers online museum.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let is snow

Happy Easter, or whatever you celebrated over the last few days. As reported by Time Magazine Good Friday this year happened to coincide with many holidays of other religions: Purim, Narouz, Eid Milad an Nabi, Small Holi and Magha Puja.

We spent the Holy Week in Salzburg with Andrea's parents and had hoped for some nice warm spring days to go for walks or just hang around on the terrace—not so. With a forecast for cold weather and even snow over the weekend, we saw the traditional Sunday Easter egg hunt at risk and decided to cheat just a little, letting the Easter bunny hide his eggs on Saturday already. Elias was quite happy about this and managed to quickly spot and collect all baskets with eggs, chocolates and yet another picture book.

Moving the egg hunt turned out to be a smart choice. Sunday started out pretty nice as we went to church but then it would snow heavily for hours. Despite the car rental agency giving us an upgrade to a 4 wheel drive we even extended our stay at my in-law's place by another night and only headed back to Vienna today.

Now see what our car looked like in the morning! We had a pleasant drive though, with surprisingly light traffic on the highway.


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