I am a sucker for old technology. I assume it stems from the erector sets I played with as a child and my early days as an audiophile in college, before the days of computers and MP3 downloads. There is some sort of 'guy' satisfaction about finding something discarded or really cheap, and seeing if you can get it to work again. While some are waiting for the advent of Windows 7 or the next Mac OSX, I am still tinkering with OS9 and configuring a Palm Pilot that I recently purchased on ebay.
Since we live in an era of newer and faster is always better, I tend to rely on older proven technology that I know works....and is dirt cheap. In my world, faster isn't always better, and I like to lag a bit behind the curve.
Case in point; The Macintosh IIsi (pictured above)
This computer actually belongs to the State where I work, but was long abandoned during the last century. I rescued it from oblivion and put it in my office as a sort of curio / project. I have made every upgrade that I can to the thing (thanks to ebay and thrift store finds) and it now boosts three hard drives, a Jaz drive and a CD-ROM. It also runs at the speed of about 30mhz. Compare that to the 2.5 gigahertz speeds of most modern day computers.
Many would say that its slow speed makes this computer little more than a door stop or a paper weight, but I disagree. Our fascination with speed and power often times blinds us to the fact that some things are best done slowly. Over the years, my perception of the best way to approach something has changed, based on the resources that are at hand. Here is an example;
When I worked at Budget Rent-A-Car of Arizona, the business was run by a man that had purchased the franchise rights back in the 1950s for a few thousand dollars. By the time I worked there, the franchise was valued somewhere in the millions. The owner thought that he was a pretty slick entrepreneur and the fact that he had wades of cash falling out of his pockets didn't hinder his image of himself. He often time walked through the facility sticking his nose in everyone's business and trying his best to be a 'hands on' owner of the company.
I was often in meetings or within ear shot of the owner when he would put forth some far reaching, and sometimes ridiculous, idea that he felt could increase sales or efficiency in the company. He was almost always met with negative responses from managers and supervisors of why it would be impractical to implement his idea. At which point, he would sort of frown and change the subject.
One day we were having an impromptu discussion about something to do with the claims department at Budget Rent-A-Car when one of his ideas came up regarding changing the structure of how claims were handled. There was a pause in the conversation, and then I spoke up.
"We can make any changes you want, the only real issues are time and money. What you propose might take a long time and cost more than you are willing to spend."
The owner looked at me and his eyes lite up.
"That is what I wanted to hear! Someone that isn't afraid of change.", was his response.
It sort of dawned on me that the owner really didn't think most of his ideas would work. He was looking for employees that saw past the immediate constraints of their job and saw infinite possibilities and not excuses for not doing things.
"You give me enough time and money Mr. Budget, and I can build you a stairway to Mars. Mind you it will take a billion trillion dollars and take about 6 centuries complete, but it could be done."
"Thats the spirit!", he said, slapping me on the back.
This taught me the most valuable lesson in the busienss world. Look at what you can do, not what you are limited to do.
So what does this have to do with a 25 year old Apple computer sitting in my office? This little computer contains something that most of us lack. Unlimited resources. While it is slow, it still calculates a million times faster than my brain can, and it has no other functions to distract it, like writing reports or working spreadsheets. It just sits there looking for something to do.
So I give it something to do. I have loaded an old version of the POV Raytracer onto it and set it to render images. A raytracing program creates images based on a set of instructions. Based on the code that it is given, it can make photo realistic images of just about anything. My modern work computer can render a pretty complex image in about 10 minutes. The little Macintosh IIsi will take about 2 days to render the same image. But, it has nothing better to do.
So I have been running some POV scripts on it to test out various pattern settings to try and figure out some of the more advanced rendering techniques. I set it to run, walk away from it, and check on it the next day to see what the results are. I am in no hurry to learn this. I have been playing with the program for over a decade and will probably never master it.
Below is an example of one of the images it rendered about a week ago (it took amost 6 hours to complete). Four spheres, under spotlights, each with a different color map and texture pattern. By tweeking the numbers, I can adjust the complexities of the patterns
Someday, I hope to retire from the rat race and be just like the Mac IIsi. Left alone to work on simple things without distraction. If I can make it there, the sky's the limit, because I will finally have unlimited resources and no constraints.