One week at 100Mhz: Hardware hopscotch

After one day, the 100Mhz experiment is standing tall. Which is to say, I’m standing tall even after some minor setbacks and inconveniences.

The most obvious difficulty I’ve had thus far is transferring material off external media — external media that just doesn’t exist to a machine this old.

So for example, if I want to transfer files off my digital camera — the same one I endorsed a looong time ago — I need something that can read an SD card.

That “inconvenience” is nothing new, since I don’t really have a machine that will handle SD cards anyway. I regularly use a Windows system with an SD port at work to move stuff off onto USB, which I can use on most of my other machines, usually.

But without a USB port on this machine, my only one now, I have another wrinkle to unfold. The beat-up Thinkpad has a USB port — only one, and in a rather inconvenient place, I might add — and so I have to move the files on to it, and then move them across the network.

So again, I have to rely on a Windows machine with an SD port to move images to USB, then rely on a Linux machine with a USB port to move them on to a network, then rely on a network connection to move them onto here, where I can transfer them out through alpine or whatever.

Just as an example, that photo from yesterday required two other machines and my in-house network to get it into place, just so I could upload it to the Web. 😐

And the same problem will exist if I need something off CD. It’ll be CD to ancillary machine, ancillary machine to network, network to Pentium. Don’t even talk to me about DVD access.

But that’s a rarity, to be sure. I rely less and less on DVDs these days (or even CDs, really), and more and more on things like USB flash drives or modular hard drives to back up my files and whatnot. (I learned an ugly lesson a few years back, when a collection of files were reduced to vapor because Sony didn’t intend for their DVDs to have a lifespan of more than a year … and neglected to tell me about it. I’m still angry about that one.)

In any case, I don’t think my survival at 100Mhz would be as successful if I didn’t have access to another computer, in order to take on some of the daily roles I expect the slow one to fulfill.

There are some ways around that, of course, but the measure of convenience of a SD-to-PCMCIA adapter or even a PCMCIA USB adapter would probably be thin when compared to the technical conundrums it would present, on a machine this slow and with such a narrow range of function.

And anyway, anything that I could use to expand upon it would probably require the loss of another component. I really doubt this machine can take on a second PCMCIA card, which means the wireless would have to be removed to insert the adapter.

But all that is empty musing. I’m not going to pay US$35 for an adapter that may or may not work with Linux and may or may not work on this hardware, to sidestep the cooler and geekier solution of routing my workload through an assortment of castoff computers. After all, which gets me more points in the techno-karma category: Buying an adapter, or stringing together three other thrown-out machines to do the same job?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too. 😉


6 thoughts on “One week at 100Mhz: Hardware hopscotch

  1. Luca

    I’m confused. Are you saying that to get pictures off your camera, you have to use the work Windows machine to put them onto a USB drive, and then bring that home?

    If so why can’t you use the cameras built in USB mass-storage function? USB2 devices will work in USB1 ports, just slowly… You could setup a machine so it automatically mounts and sets up a NFS / Samba share.

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      It’s a little hard to explain without going into too many details of my job. Can I say that I take photos as a regular part of my work, and move them off the camera there? In the same action I can sweep out my own pictures and put them on a USB stick, rather than go through the work twice.

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