I like allegedly obsolete computer equipment. There's two reasons for this.

First, I hate personal computers and I like to use large multi-user unix systems. Since "real" computers generally cost at least $50,000 - $100,000 I have to use old ones that no longer have any resale value. An old high-end system is more reliable and easier to maintain than a new cheap system, even though the new system might claim a few hundred times the "MIPS". Big machines tend to be more well-balanced and handle heavy loads better.

Some people think my current system is excessive for a home computer. They are wrong.

(Growing up on vt terminals, when I finally switched to an X11 environment I developed my own minimalist environment. Here's some screenshots and details.)

Secondly, I collect old computer equipment. I'm part of a group that collects big old stuff.

Here's a video of a PDP12 boot sequence

Here are some pictures of a DEC Flip-Chip:

And here are some photos of an earlier "System Module", AKA "System Building Block":

Here is a photo of an answerback drum from an ASR-33 Teletype:

This is the uucp map entry for my first net-connected home machine. Coherent was a $99 unix clone that got around the MMU problems of the 80286 CPU by restricting processes to 64K data plus 64K code at compile time. It had a very 70s feel to it. Because memory management was effectively done at compile time, corrupting your stack and returning to a random location could obviously bring down the whole machine.

#N	gilly
#S	Generic 286; Coherent 3.2
#C	Dave Fischer
#E	gilly!admin
#P	306 Thayer St. Box 82 Providence RI 02906
#L	41 49 12 N / 71 23 35 W
#R	Lat/Long is from GPS data. ICBMnet users should allow
#R	for a 100 meter margin of error in warhead selection.
#W	gilly!dave ; Wed Dec  9 20:40:26 1992 EST
gilly	quack(DAILY)
gilly	tmok(DAILY), umrk(DAILY), floor(DAILY)

Since then the 286 has been replaced with a 3B2/300, then a 3B2/400, then a couple of VAXstation 3100/30s, an RS/6000 Powerserver 930, and then a couple of Sparcstations (4/380, SS2, SS5). Eventually the SS5 was replaced with an 8-way Sparcserver-1000e, which was then replaced with a 6-way Enterprise-3500. There's also a 2xR10000 SGI Origin-200 that's been an intermittent compute server since the SS1000 days.

Of the various versions of unix that I have used over the decades, I like BSD the most. Of the various versions of BSD that I have used, commercial as well as free, I prefer OpenBSD. Aside from the fact that modern BSDs have cleaned up a lot of the messyness of BSD administration (layout of system files & directories), OpenBSD's approach to bugs & security has resulted in an extremely reliable and secure operating system. I use it where I work for a firewall, which seems to be one of its most popular uses, but I also use it on my home systems, which are not currently connected to the internet, purely because I like it and trust it, irregardless of security issues.

I run OpenBSD on my firewall, desktop, and assorted other small machines. My big Suns run Solaris.

I'm net-famous for two quotes. The first was from a usenet posting way back when. It is: "1993 is the year September never ended.". I am referenced in the alt.culture.usenet FAQ for that one.

The other quote was my .sig for a while: "Daddy, why do we have to hide from the police? Because we use vi son, they use emacs.". thinkgeek.com is actually selling a t-shirt based on that.

I do computer graphics artwork and graphic design by writing raw postscript. I actually do an entire zine called Providence Machines that way.

Here are some interesting documents:

RFC1 the very first RFC.

Some of my favourite RFCs:

RFC1097 - Subliminal Messaging
RFC1149 - Avian Carriers
RFC1217 - Extremely Robust Communications
RFC1437 - Teleportation
RFC1438 - There ain't nothin' to do...

Other docs:

The Ten Commandments of C
Holy Wars regarding endian preferences.
Watson talks about the competition.