Two Guys Arguing


Posted in hardware by youngnh on 03.16.09

I wanted to catalog my currently available programmable processing power, eventually satisfying the questions that Norvig Wants to Know:

Currently programmable:

  • IBM Thinkpad T42 outfitted with Fedora 10, 2GB of RAM, 1.7GHz Pentium M processor, ??? GB Hard drive. This is my main machine. My workhorse. I’m terrible about backing it up, even though I’ve gone to the trouble to craft the right rsync command and have plenty of external drives with lots of space on them laying around. What’s worse is that every new release of Fedora entices me to do a hasty backup of my home directory and upgrade. Its like I’m asking for it.
  • Dell tower that I bought off Saint Louis University’s Law School IT dept for $75, shitty processor (P2, maybe) and small HD (couple hundred MB), almost no memory to speak of. Its currently running Arch Linux, because the Haskell guys have such good things to say about the distro. I’m excited about the fact that the base distro is light (no heavy desktop environment or system services to speak of) so anywhere it goes from here will be the result of my efforts. That’s an opinion I probably didn’t hold a year ago — not being savvy enough to make all of those decisions — but its becoming increasingly important to me with every piece of software I uninstall from my Fedora box.
  • Also available to me as storage, are two Maxtor external USB hard drives. 300 and 200GB in size.
  • I own a TI-83+ calculator, none of that silver bullshit, its got the Zilog-80 processor (?? MHz) and 160Kb of flash memory (I think).
  • I own a HP-15C in perfect working condition. Something like 96-something words (read: bytes) of memory, and an even slower processor, but its a cool tool to hack on beause unlike any other platform I’ve worked on, you are always conscious of the fact that processing speed and memory are precious, exhaustable resources.


  • Old Original Xbox, has a CPU, a GPU some amount of memory and a hard drive. Its basically an off-the-shelf computer. There are some security measures to get around, though.
  • I own a PSP with a cracked screen, rendering it — unlike my fully functional Xbox 360 — sacrificable to the gods of hackery.
  • A spare Linksys B router that I don’t use.


If my comfortable world ended tomorrow and I had to build autonomous, roving robots to stride the city and wreak devastation upon plagues of the undead, I guess I could probably sacrifice the following to serve as those robot’s brain:

  • A network-critical Linksys G router, which isn’t as readily hackable as, say, the WRTL versions.
  • Xbox 360 with an attached 20GB hard drive.

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