On Saturday I took 13 BeBoxes to the Vintage Computer Festival in Mountain View, with the intent of offering them to passers-by, getting them out of the house and into a good home.
I spent a bit of time creating a flyer to advertise them, and packed up a kit with stapler, tape, marker, etc., so that I could put them up in good places. Then I drove 45 minutes to the Computer History Museum, where the festival was taking place.
The second person who saw the flyer said, “OK, I’ll take them.” I hadn’t even posted it yet! After 10 minutes of transferring from my car to his truck, the BeBoxes had a new home, and better prospects for being refurbished and restored to their former, if not glory, at least functionality.
Rochelle hasn’t stopped smiling since I got back with an empty car. And I have to admit, with the CRAP efforts we’ve made in the last two months, it seems like we might recover the use of our third bedroom before the end of the year. That will make us both smile!
In preparation for the coming year, a progress report on last year’s resolutions, which Rochelle recently found on her computer.
Rochelle found the following snippet on her computer, dated at the end of last year:
“Crap Reduction and Abatement Program — While we have remained committed to the idea of having less stuff, we still have way too much crap. Michael has promised to get rid of his BeBox collection by January 17th (the one year anniversary of their arrival). I have promised to throw any remaining BeBoxes out the front window on January 18th. I have vowed that since Spring semester doesn’t start until February, I would dedicate a couple of weekends in January to weeding through the dressing room which, despite our good intentions, has reverted once again to the Island of Lost Crap.”
For the record, all three of these things will be on our resolutions list at the end of this year, too.
While I moved the BeBoxes out of the parlor, I have not actually moved them out of the house, the ultimate goal. So, while I technically avoided having my systems thrown out on the street, I haven’t finished the project, a fact Rochelle reminded me of just this evening. We discussed it, and now I finally have the motivation I need to move along in a hurry: Lust.
I’ve written previously that, while I moved the BeBoxes out of the parlor, I have not actually moved them out of the house, the ultimate goal. So, while I technically avoided having my systems thrown out on the street, I haven’t finished the project. Indeed, Rochelle reminded me of this fact just this evening, and wondered if I was planning to keep them in my office for another year.
The good news is, I have another motivation for making progress. We’ve decided that we get to upgrade our computer displays to LCD screens. Rochelle’s is ordered, and should arrive early next week. Mine, though, remains on the Wish List, and will stay there until I’ve earned the money to buy it. By selling off the BeBoxes.
So hopefully, what fear could not accomplish, a little (a lot!) technolust will.
Rochelle suggested that I should write up a Top 10 list of reasons why I should get an extension on my BeBox project, instead of her throwing them on the street.
Rochelle suggested that I should write up a Top 10 list of reasons why I should get an extension on my BeBox project, instead of her throwing them on the street. So here goes:
- Technology’s complicated.
- Fun with Gas #1
- It’s the NFL playoffs, goddammit!
- What BeBoxes? That’s a permanent art installation.
- The cats distracted me with shiny things.
- I’ve been drunk or hung over every weekend since I got them.
- Hey! You tricked me!
- Oh, yeah, right, I guess I need to work on those.
- Because I wear the pants around here!
- What about your projects?
Back in October, Rochelle got me to publicly commit to finishing my BeBox refurb project, or terminate it. She cleverly suggested a deadline far in the future. The date was last weekend.
Back in October, Rochelle got me to publicly commit to finishing my BeBox refurb project, or terminate it. She cleverly suggested a deadline far in the future. The 17th of January, the anniversary of my buying the collection. I later modified that to be the weekend after the 17th, to give myself an extra two days.
Those last two days were this past weekend.
So, I’m not finished, and haven’t actually made a whole lot of progress. My Daily Home Improvements are primarily going to tasks to clear space for the BeBoxes in my office, so Rochelle can have her parlor back.
Once upon a time, I bought a bunch of dead BeBoxes. I planned to refurbish them and resell them on eBay for a large profit. It’s been…slow to happen. And now Rochelle has a Final Solution in mind.
So, I’ve written about my collection of mostly defunct BeBoxes, and how I acquired them. My big plan was to refurbish those that could be made to run, and sell all but one on eBay. I should end up with substantially more cash than it cost to buy the lot.
Well, that was the theory.
The reality is more like, I’m working a lot, taking classes at night, and doing lots of things on my regular computer — Mac OS X on a dual 800MHz G4 with 512 megs of RAM is a lot more fun than BeOS Release 4.5 on a dual 66MHz BeBox with 32 megs of RAM. As JLG used to say, fast hardware covers a lot of sins.
In other words, I’m not working on the BeBoxes. What’s worse, Rochelle is now tired (really, really tired) of the BeBox Graveyard that was our parlor.
So, tonight came the ultimatum: If I haven’t completed the refurb project by the one year anniversary of bringing them home, they go out on the street.
And when I agreed, she said “You have to put that in your blog right now!”
So, here it is, a public commitment to my wife. Ask me how I did on January 17, 2003.
A great piece of music, and former corporate theme song for Be, Inc.
Since getting started on refurbishing all these BeBoxes, I’ve been listening to Baron’s “virtual (void)” [MP3], over and over again.
For those who never saw a BeOS demo, “virtual (void)” was the song baked into one of the most compelling demo apps we had, a 3D audio mixer that never failed to get jaws to drop. Andy Grove himself said “I didn’t know a PC could do that” when he saw the BeOS demo.
At any rate, listening to this song, which I truly love, and which is so completely tied to Be in my mind, I’m reminded (over and over) how much fun it was to work there, and how much I enjoyed working with the other people who were having fun there, like Baron.
So, I named the first BeBox “Baron”. ’Cause I still feel guilty for trying to take the files from him.
The best part is, it’s a 133.
Oh, yeah. The best part is, the BeBox that I got working today is a dual-133MHz system. The other three (and any remaining systems I resuscitate) are all dual-66MHz machines.
So, this is a score, and puts me way ahead of the folks who bought the individual BeBoxes for $175!
Rochelle still wants me to get them out of our living room.
I tried another three BeBoxes today, and one was good.
I spent an hour or so testing another three of the BeBoxes. Of these, two are very likely hosed, and one is apparently working (though it has some funkiness going on).
If you’ve been keeping track, I was three of five up to this point, and this would make me four of eight. But I’m pretty sure that at least one of the systems I tested today (a dead one) was a machine I’d already tested and counted.
So, while I’m very sure of the four that are working, I’m only partially sure of the ones that are dead. I only have three marked as bad…
I got my third BeBox working today.
Tonight I went through two more BeBoxes. One is apparently dead, and one is definitely working.
So that makes three out of five.
What I bought at the Be liquidation auction
So I went to the Be liquidation auction last week, and was the high bidder on a lot of “BeBox chassis.” It was a giant pile of BeBox carcasses, piled high up outside Baron’s old cube.
When I went back the next day to pick up my winnings, in that pile there were 20 computer boxes, 19 BeBoxes and one random PC (a dual-Pentium II system, gutted), plus three miscellaneous 17″ monitors, and some keyboards, and some other junk.
I managed to squeeze 15 BeBoxes and the PC into my Integra hatchback, which was a lot more than I’d expected. I wish I’d managed to fit the other four, though, because when I returned to pick up the rest of the lot, the 4 remaining BeBox carcasses had been swiped. Oh, well, the auctioneers refunded me $55, and 15 carcasses is more than my wife wants in our living room anyway.
Tonight I processed three of the 15. I got two working, and set one aside as probably dead. Of the rest, at least three look like they might be salvageable. My biggest problem is going to be finding RAM for the machines, which use totally obsolete SIMMs.
The individual BeBoxes went for $175 at the auction, and I heard that not all of them worked. After the refund my lot cost $400 + sales tax + auction fees, or around $475. So if I get one more working, I’m ahead.
Not that that makes Rochelle any happier to have them on the floor of the living room.
Today’s auction of Be Incorporated’s assets is the opportunity to purchase computing history. Unfortunately, the market said they were mostly evolutionary dead-ends.
This morning I’m headed down to Menlo Park, where I worked for three years at Be Incorporated.
It’s been over two years since I left Be, and in the time that’s passed, so has Be. Today they’re just another victim of the economic downturn, and their assets are being auctioned off.
I was at Be during some of the most exciting times, including the first public release of the BeOS, being invested in by Intel, and the public offering.
Be was a special place to work, and BeOS is still unmatched by any other operating system in some areas of functionality and technology. Be, the BeBox, and BeOS have a place in computing history, and it’s a tragedy that it will be as curiosities, evolutionary dead ends, rather than as an important turning point in the computer industry.
I’m headed down to Menlo Park to collect my piece of that history. Some momento of what it was like to work there, what it meant to me, what the company accomplished.
I’m taking the credit card. Don’t tell my wife.