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Blog Challenge: Describe Your Computer Setup – Then and Now

This week’s blog challenge is to blog about your computer setup as it was “then” in the early days of your computer life, and how it is now, in your modern technology life.

What computer tools are you dependent upon for your blog that surround you on your desk? Do you podcast? What do you use? Video? Video streaming? What did you start with in the early days of podcasting and video, and now, what do you use for multimedia creation?

Over the years, my desk’s setup has changed, moving from huge desktop computers to smaller laptops, handheld computers, cell phones, and – well, smaller everything.

And I mean small. A friend just emailed me that she found a small SD digital card on the floor of her car. Thinking it was hers, she checked it out and found it had some of my video files. Don’t remember losing it, but how would I know? They weigh nothing and there is no room to put my name and email address on the card label, so they could be lost forever and never come back to me.

My desk was custom built for me by my husband and in the monitor base are two drawers, one for 3.5 disks and the other for CDs, perfectly sized. I still have a few CDs in there, but I haven’t seen a 3.5 disk in years. Instead, I have a ton of digital media cards in several shapes and sizes of various data storage sizes stacked like thin blue chicklets amid the colorful sticky note pads, stacks of business cards, tape, stamps, and junk I stuff in this open drawers.

Gone are the hundreds of meters of phone cord and the acoustic coupler we used to strap onto telephones and payphones to connect to the Internet, replaced by WIFI hi-gain and boosting PC cards and antennas. My huge and heavy desktop monitor that measured 32 inches (81 cm) deep is now replaced by a 1.5 inch (4 cm) thick large monitor.

Some things remain the same. My desk has stayed the same through more than fifteen years on the road in our trailer. While I don’t use a big desktop computer, the space is now taken up with a stack of portable hard drives – at least ten of them are currently hooked up with tons of USB connectors. Until a couple months ago, I was still using the small but very powerful Altec Lansing computer speakers and woofer, but it finally gave up after 16 years of hard life on the road. I replaced it with something only slightly smaller, but much more powerful.

Who lied to us about the magic of easier connections and wirelessness? I have a black snake jungle of wires under my feet and two more USB/Firewire snake infestations on either side of my desk connecting all the parts and pieces together. My mouse and keyboard are wireless, but everything still needs a cord! It’s a power brick building along the power strip.

Recently, I replaced 18 lbs (8 kg) of laptop and power brick with a little over 5 lbs (2.26 kg), lighting much of my travel load due to increased weight restrictions on US domestic air carriers. But I still carry too much computer crap with me, as I haul around portable hard drives, USB hubs, digital microphones and recorders, WIFI boosters, digital camera crap, and all their cords and connectors.

Don’t even get me started talking about the tangled black snake jungle I have to take with me every time I travel. Power bricks, USB cords, Firewire cords, custom cords, s-video cords, USB hubs, power strips…I keep trying to reduce it, in weight, number, and size, but I swear those black snakes are breeding in my travel bags!

I have two digital recorders, digital cameras, MP3 players, four printers, several USB hubs…I have more computer crap now than I did when everything was 10 times bigger.

Next week, I’ll challenge you about software, but this week, I want you to blog about the hardware that controls your life, what it looked like when you started, and how it has improved – or not – over the years.

As usual, send a pingback or trackback to this post, or put the link to your blog challenge post in the comments, so we can all see how you’ve done with your blog challenge.

Did you know that you don’t have to write these blog challenges? You can also use audio with podcasts or make a video in response to the blog challenge and publish it on your blog. There are a lot of ways you can have fun with these weekly blog challenges. Use your imagination and see how far you can take the challenge into territories you haven’t explored before.

These are published weekly and are an attempt to kick your blogging ass. They serve to challenge your thinking and efforts in blogging and blog writing. To participate, start challenging yourself now. Today. Go for it.

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  1. Posted July 3, 2008 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    I am actually newbie to computers and blogs.. I started blogging from Office pcs, so it was a typical office set up

    Now, I have a laptop and its a less confusing environment 😉 when I use the wireless modem, its really simple to use.. 🙂

    Nice post

  2. Posted July 3, 2008 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I described my computer setup and my computer use over the years. I might have to write a separate article for next week about my history with blogging specifically, as that seems like a whole story in and of itself 😛

  3. Posted July 3, 2008 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Well first I started with an Apple II (that is without the plus and with no type of disk drive whatsoever.) It had 16″K” of memory (Who would ever need more?)and you had to load programs with a cassette tape recorder, and also save them to a cassette for reuse. That was 1979.

    I’ve pretty much worked with computers of all type, mostly pc based, of all varieties ever since.

    Now my command center is in the living room, stretched out on a make shift table made from a used door, and covered with a draped sheet. Looks ok to me. No wife you see.

    Got a pretty high end HP that is a couple of years old, two widescreen LCD monitors, a separate older computer with a third monitor on the same bench but it NEVER is connected to the Internet. That’s where I keep the keys to the kingdom and I’ll be damned if I am going to have it compromised.

    I also keep a SONY VAIO laptop open on my left that has a VERIZON wireless anywhere card in it, works great.

    We had a HUGHES/Direcway satellite ISP (which is the shittiest ISP system in the whole wide world,) until just yesterday! We live in the sticks, but our local telephone company FINALLY installed DSL.

    Color me very happy now.

    Lorelle you make us think. That’s a good thing.

  4. justincarmony
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Well, I just threw up my blog post. It was nice meeting you Lorelle at LT Pact. I was the American guy sitting with John when you were giving us a demonstration on “tadding.” While I doubt I’ll ever tad, I do respect as a pretty cool hobby. 😉 Hope you enjoy see a 4 monitor set up…. I swear one day I’ll have 10 or something.

  5. Posted July 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, I can’t write a challenge post on my Anxiety and Panic Disorder blog. It would be wildly off-topic!

    I won’t get into the Apple ][, Televideo and Columbia computers I used in the 80’s. I’ve been a Mac guy since 1984, though I have had PC’s along the way, and have one now.

    Just recently built a computer desk which has hidden wire paths — but you should see the rat’s nest under it! UPS’s for the computer and network, 2 7-port USB hubs, studio monitor and sound electronics wiring, sequencer MIDI wiring. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    I currently use a Mac dual G5 tower and a PC built into a server box, which also holds 6 of my Mac hard drives (more wires!). Two printers, a scanner, iPod, cameras of different sorts, a rack of sound equipment. I have three monitors on the desk, 2 for the Mac and one for the PC, along with a KVM box. I’ll be getting another Mac soon, haven’t decided on another tower or a laptop yet.

    Incidentally, thank you, Lorelle, for all the wonderful articles you have posted! I’ve learned a lot from them, and expect to learn more.

  6. Posted July 3, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I had fun with this! I described some of the details with my computer setup over the years, but I also described a lot of the websites I created. 🙂

  7. Posted July 3, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    @ Mike Nichols:

    Three monitors…I remember when one monitor weighed a ton and took up ALL of my desk with little room for my keyboard. Three…what’s the world coming to? 😀


  8. Posted July 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    @ justincarmony:

    Tatting. Oh, how funny. I remember you, and I see a trackback here! Yeah! I’d love a 4 monitor setup. I’m so envious.

    It was great to meet you. I tatted a little flower and sent it home with the non-American who was sitting with us at the table. He said he would take it home to Holland and give it to his 100 year old grandfather to see if he remembered that kind of lace making. Isn’t that sweet!

  9. Posted July 3, 2008 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    @ Rich Hill:

    I’m envious of you, too. We live in the sticks and have similar satellite. They say it could be years more before anything faster gets out here, but this is a temporary situation for us. Hopefully we’ll be in something with better Internet access soon. SIGH. So jealous.

  10. Posted July 5, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Hello again.

    I’d really liked your challenge so i made my post.
    The bad thing is that my blog is written in spanish, so you may have to check it out using Google translate to understand my adventures in computers.

    Mi PC. Antes y Ahora… qué cosas no?.

    Greetz From Chile


  11. Posted July 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I can’t remember enough info about my last ten years of computing. My first PC was a 286-12 with 1Mb RAM, twin floppy and no hard-drive or CD-ROM (total storage space approx 2.6Mb) – I think in 1992.

    My current setup is a Core2 Duo running at 2.83Ghz, with 4Gb RAM and 500Gb Harddrive (so in sixteen years, I have (2,300x clock speed, 192,000x storage space, and 4,000x RAM)!

    Anyway, although I haven’t written up this yet, I have posted about ten years worth of mobile phones.

  12. Posted July 6, 2008 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I started off with a Sony VAIO that had a 32MB gfx card and 128MB of RAM and i don’t know about the processor. This was considered “amazing” at the time.

    Now I have my custom built computer that has a 512MB gfx card, 1GB of RAM, and a 2.1Ghz processor. This works good enough for me! Though I might upgrade my RAM.

  13. Posted July 6, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I loved this Challenge: Then and Now Computers.

    Enjoy my version of it.

  14. Posted July 7, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Hello Lorelle. All the wires and clusters behind our computers is kind of like the unspoken downside of computing we never talk much about (that I have seen anyway). Probably because we try hard to not think about it.

    I started with a 486 IBM and 2400 baud modem with a monitor that weighed as much as my 32″ TV.

    Need I say more? 😉

    Currently I’m sporting a wireless keyboard, mouse, two thin speakers on my desk and a flat monitor with small printer just to the side. My computer now sits vertical rather than horizontal, which is nice. I spend the rest of my day when working from home trying to keep my 2 year old from dumping all my back up staples for my stapler on the ground (which he just did so uh, I gotta go lol).

  15. Posted July 7, 2008 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    @John Hoff: I spend the rest of my day when working from home trying to keep my 2 year old from dumping all my back up staples for my stapler on the ground (which he just did so uh, I gotta go lol).


    Something like that happens here. I try to evade my nephews from trying to use my PC to play Racedriver Grid. 😛

    Hope they have a PS2 soon… or my room will have a ticket to use and play sign outside right next to a can for quarters.. like a cybercafe :/


    PS: Sorry about my lousy english. I speak spanish natively jeje.

  16. Posted July 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the flood comment, but I have a present for you. Oldies but goldies. Still good and working as new.


  17. Posted July 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the free blog tip, I wrote about the games I enjoyed when I was younger.

  18. Posted July 8, 2008 at 1:14 am | Permalink


    I compared my first computer (Apple IIC) and what I have today. It was good to reflect on how much things have changed in the past 24 years, since my first computer purchase. Baby Boomers and Old Computers.

  19. Posted July 8, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I actually have gone backwards in some respects when compared to others who have gotten smaller. I have gotten bigger, with a mid tower and a full tower underneath my full size office desk, with one of them being a DVR. I record my audio pod casts with a thirty year old integrated amp and a 30 band graphic equalizer. I listen not from small high tech speakers with marginal sound quality but a pair of 10″ 3 ways sitting on my desk and a huge pair of floor standers a few feet behind me. Not that I have to listen as loud as I did when I bought them in my late teen age years. The one concession is when I listen to music, I know whether is I can tell the difference between poorly produced and poorly compressed which is nearly impossible good quality speakers and a decent amp. Smaller is not always better.

  20. Posted July 8, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    @ Brad:

    LOL. Smaller is not always better, but bigger is much louder. 😀 I recently turned on my huge tower to connect my laptop to it and was about blown off my stool with the growling fan blowing hurricanes under my desk. I’d forgotten how loud those things are since it has been off for months.

    The portability factor is one that people love, keeping up with the world as they move around the planet. In this manner, smaller is better. But for those with no where to go, bigger may be better.

  21. Posted July 8, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    @ Scyfox:

    Great picture of the floppies – I haven’t seen those in ages! Wow. This got me thinking about the 8-inch floppies I first worked with so very long ago. I found a Wikipedia article on the history of the floppy disk and pictures comparing floppy disk sizes, which brought back too many memories. We thought moving from tape to mag card to 8-inch floppies was so innovative. Best most of you reading this have never seen nor heard of an 8-inch floppy disk. 😀

  22. Posted July 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    aw GEEZ. Thanks, all–I haven’t felt this old in months!

    First Computer: a teletype machine connected via a handset cradle modem. For all the kiddies… a teletype was a large roll of paper–there was not monitor.

    Second Computer: Punchcards. I was never actually in the same room with that computer, but it was the size of two clothes dryers: one stacked on top of the other. Again, no monitor. I gave my stacks of *very* carefully typed cards to a guy at a counter and I could see the computer behind the guy in a climate controlled room.

    OLD, I tell ye!

  23. Posted July 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    8-inch floppy disk. :0 you’re old… xD

    No offense jejje, but as you said.. never heard about them..

    i thought that the 5 1/4 were the firsts after the tape-kinda-cassettes that were used in old age.. (damn.. i said old again)

    i think i’m about to get pwned.. i better shutup now.. 😛

    See ya later.. can’t wait for a new challenge…

  24. Posted July 9, 2008 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    ahahaha… nice pict

  25. Posted July 9, 2008 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    @ Scyfox:

    I’ll forgive you this time. I was in diapers when I first used these. 😛

  26. Posted July 9, 2008 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    @ Kevin Combs:

    Old and in good company! 😀

  27. Posted July 9, 2008 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    My first computer was a big honkin’ Vector Graphics CP/M machine with 56k RAM and a whopping 340k floppy drive. This was in 1980 and it cost the earth, but it was totally worth it.

  28. Posted July 9, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    @ 365pwords:

    56K RAM! Oh, I’d have been SO jealous! 😀

  29. Posted July 10, 2008 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    @ Scyfox – sounds like a ps2 would be a great investment 😉
    The problem is, will you get hooked as well?

  30. Posted July 11, 2008 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    15 years ago. in the land of windows 95
    i had a pentium with a matrox card with 6 mb of memory my main ram was 64 mb. back then it was $1500

    2 months back, i got a $3000 compuer 4gb corsair , q9450, Nvidia 9800gx2, 1 tb harddrive, 160 gb os hdd, 2 22′ samsung screens, thermaltake armor+

  31. Posted July 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    @ John

    Being truly honest…. Hell yea!!!


    but if you see it from my point of view… my expertice is way better than theirs… so i’m necesary in this ecuation xDDD


  32. Posted July 11, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    That’s pretty funny. Now, in relation to this post, that’s just more wires! Ugg…I hate wires. I wish it were all wi-fi. Everything . . . the whole world! LOL.

  33. Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    The desktop may be big and heavy. But what it store more important. New computer just bring more trouble. You need to buy copyright software for it. I still use an old desktop instead of buying a new one (although I really can do it)

  34. Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    My first computer was a big honkin’ Vector Graphics CP/M machine with 56k RAM and a whopping 340k floppy drive.

  35. charles Dean
    Posted March 2, 2013 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Grate post keep it up. Thanks a lot.

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