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Hard wearing hardware by cyke Written on 24th July 2002

I only really got a good look at the Nintendo Gamecube the other day. I'd never seen one 'in the flesh' so to speak (Console releases don't merit a 'blip' on my gaming radar).

What can i say, other than it's certainly square. It's small. It looks like its own prototype. A mini-me version of itself. Better keep a tidy house if you have one, it could easily get lost in a small pile of papers or if the dog sits in front of it.

Hardware wasn't always so small. Heck, hardware wasn't always so well made either. I never wanted the safe environment of consoles where you never have to open up your machine and what you get the day you buy, will be the most it'll ever be.

There's something exciting about spending a grand on a pc, knowing it'll devaluate 50% in 6 months and opening up the case to install the latest wonder device.

Extreme sports? Extreme pc owning I say. Adrenaline to the max.

(Dude: hey man, at the weekend I sky-dived, base jumped, surfed with sharks and went bungee jumping. What did you do?
Geek: spent 2 grand on a pc, watched it devalue immediately, bought an overpriced warranty, broke the warranty immediately by opening the case to fit a 3d card and played Yahoo Poker online for 30 straight hours.
Dude: What? Man, you're crazy, nuts, outta control!)

I've owned a few machines in my time. I used to put up with things kids today wouldn't bear for an instant before getting daddy to sue for mental anguish, loss of productivity/time and probably erectile dysfunction. Sadly, I'm aware as I'm getting older I'm turning into the grumpy old bastard who wants everything pre-installed and tested.

One cheeky bit of hardware was the Commodore 64 tape drive. This was notorious for failing to load games as it couldn't read them. There was a small screw under the lid you could adjust (i'm not making this up) and you had to turn it gently while trying to load a game. When the screen started strobing lines at you, you knew it could read the tape as it was getting the code.

It also had a TV output cable where you'd have to prop the cable at a certain angle to create upward pressure on the socket in your c64 otherwise you just wouldn't get a picture (again, I swear to you). What I guess was due to a loose wire I realise now, was simply refined logically by me as "magic box wants lead pushed up, magic box will get lead pushed up". Sure, I could have tried looking into the problem, but putting up with it was easier. Besides my time was better spent using my double tape drive to copy games.

(Disclaimer: Piracy is wrong. MP3s are wrong. Three way love trysts with supermodels when married are wrong. That chocolate will go straight to your ass.)

Of course, there was also the time I got my C64 for xmas, and played it solidly for the next 24 hours. Late on boxing night, I realised my power box was absolutely roasting, so I did the sensible thing and decided to power off for a bit. Unfortunately, my dad then commanded me to load something for my little sister who was curious about the machine, and minutes later the machine crashed and wouldn't reboot or power up at all. As you do, I got my dad to look at it (let's face it he may as well have been looking at the next space shuttle) but to no avail.

I pointed out that the power box had been really hot and i'll never forget to the day I die the sight of my dad placing his thumb on the thing and it melted beneath the weight of his thumb like a hot knife through butter. The hard plastic casing was completely melted and moulded itself at the slight pressure. It took 6 months for me to play that machine again, as it was sent back to commodore for repairs by my local gaming shop, and as the company had made a huge amount of bad hardware that year they were snowed under with work.

The Amiga 600 was notorious for a badly connected power lead. Many many people including myself had an issue where the machine would reboot at random due to power problems. It took me to lose my temper one day to grab the power cable and push it as hard as I could 'into' my amiga to hear a sudden click. After shitting myself I realised it was now properly inserted. There was a bad fit to the cables where it would seem as if they were fully in when they weren't at all...

Of course, one of the benefits of the Amiga 600 was you could easily fit another MEGABYTE of Ram (wow!) through a trapdoor underneath. Sadly I found when the extra meg was in there the thing would constantly overheat and reboot at will. The logical solution was to keep the trapdoor off the computer and raise the whole machine off the ground to increase airflow to the area.

Alright, maybe there is something to be said for consoles simplicity after all...


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