Raptor's background . . .

I was born in Brooklyn (a borough of New York City). I grew up there. I went to school there. I went to college there. (Look at that; we've already covered two decades. Maybe I should go into just a little more detail...) Since you and I both have some degree of involvement with computers, I'll use that as the start point of the significant events in my life.

Well, there was actually one earlier significant event. One event that I remember quite well, and thought was very exciting, was watching the first lunar landing. I was seven.

When I was 13 or 14 my father (who is one of the other Curators - He Who Walks Barefoot) bought a computer. It was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1. For those of you immediately convulsing with hysterical laughter, try not to hurt yourself. Way back then, the TRS-80 was actually a powerful and ground-breaking computer. We started with 16K of memory and a cassette player to store data. Eventually we had a massive 48K of RAM and a 5-1/4" disk drive.
(Z80 CPU - 48K RAM - 104K floppy - no hard drive - monochrome)

I learned BASIC and started programming. I wasn't writing any earth-shaking programs but, since my father was a programmer and I studied the subject in high school, I was writing them well. I learned about modular programming and the evil, sinister 'GOTO' command early. I learned FORTRAN in high school (and never used it again...)

My next computer was a Commodore Amiga. (grrr... I can hear you laughing again!) For the time, the Amiga was another impressive system. Actually, in some ways, it's still impressive. After all, it was able to multi-task right out of the box with only 256K of RAM. Try that with Windows.

Conveniently, the Amiga came with a version of BASIC by Microsoft, who had also written the version on the TRS-80. (Even back then, Microsoft was everywhere.) I learned about graphics, programming for a mouse and taught myself assembly language (a little suffering is good for the soul).
(68000 CPU - 2.5MB RAM - 720K floppy - no hard drive - color - 2400 baud)

I majored in computer science (big surprise) and learned lots of useful computer languages like SNOBOL (and no, I can't remember what the letters stand for). I also learned Pascal, which was my favorite and which I haven't used since. I minored in psychology. I was particularly interested in abnormal psychology... but maybe I'll go into that some other time...

When I started working, it became apparent that the business world leaned toward IBM PC-compatible systems. So, to make sure my computer skills stayed current, I bought one from a friend. It was, in fact, an IBM PS/2 Model 30. It's original CPU was an 8080 but the previous owner had upgraded it with a 286 accelerator card (today that would qualify as an oxymoron - 286 accelerator card).
(286 CPU - 640K RAM - 20 MB HD - VGA color - 1200 baud)

(I bet you're impressed now!) I got along with those two computers (the IBM and the Amiga) for a while until I decided to move to a studio apartment. Since I wasn't going to have enough room for two desktop systems (and didn't even feel like schlepping one), I sold them both and bought an Altima notebook. It weighed 6 lbs - not too bad.
(386 CPU - 1MB RAM - 60 MB HD - VGA monochrome - 2400 baud)

hmm... while I'm giving all these computer manufacturers shameless plugs... The reason I moved to a studio in the last paragraph was to keep the rent low. I wanted to buy a car without doing any belt-tightening (aside from having a small apartment). So I moved to Queens (still part of New York City) which has way better parking than Brooklyn Heights and eventually bought a Saturn. Yes, I'm one of those nutty people that raves about their Saturn. While I'm raving, you can go check out the Saturn Web Site. It's got a nice, clean lay-out and it's a must-visit if you have any interest in the car.

I was perfectly content with a DOS-based notebook for about three years until those pesky Curators (the other two, not me) started bugging me to get involved with the Web site. So, I bought a new computer (wow, doesn't THAT get tiresome every couple of years!). Since I've mentioned the brand of every other system, let me make sure to give Gateway 2000 their plug.
(Pentium CPU at 100 MHz - 16MB RAM - 1.03 GB HD - SVGA color - 28,800 baud
6X CD-ROM - stereo sound)

Two years after buying the Gateway system, I was still using the Altima notebook. Of course, this is five years after I bought the notebook and it was pretty much obsolete. So, in March 1998, I decided it was time for a new notebook. (I just love buying computer stuff - paying for it is the only part that irks.). The Toshiba Libretto is technically a sub-notebook since it only weighs 1.8 lbs.
(Pentium CPU at 75 Mhz - 16MB RAM - 770 MB HD - VGA color - no modem, no CD-ROM)

In July of 1999, my adorable Saturn sedan met an untimely end when a careless driver ran a red light and T-boned me in an intersection.
It doesn't look too horrible in the pictures, but the car was hit low on the right side. Aside from demolishing the rear door, the impact also bent the frame and trashed the suspension. The car was totaled.
Obviously, there was only one thing to be done.
I bought a new Saturn!
This one is a wagon.

After about three years, I decided that having a Pentium CPU in my desktop system wasn't cutting it so I bought a new computer and gave my Gateway system to a friend. I decided to get some significant horsepower with this one and, at the time I bought it, the components were pretty much top of the line. I bought this system from Quantex in April 2000. I was quite pleased with their product and their customer support on the one occasion I had a problem. A couple years later, they went out of business.
(Pentium 3 CPU at 733 MHz - 256MB RAM - 20 GB HD + 12 GB HD - 4x CD burner - DVD-ROM drive
Soundblaster card - Nvidia graphics card - 56.6 modem - 10/100 ethernet - 17" monitor
stereo speakers and a subwoofer)

Now that I had two systems running Windows (the Quantex desktop and the Toshiba notebook), I bought a 10/100 ethernet PC card for the notebook and networked the two systems with a Linksys switch. I had previously been using a serial cable to sync the two systems and it was way slow.

At the end of 2002, the Pentium 3 Quantex system gave up the ghost. It just stopped working. I wasn't ready to trash it and decided that I would troubleshoot and fix it myself. In the meantime, though, I had to have a working computer immediately. The Quantex system had been feeling a bit slow for a while, especially when running applications like Photoshop so I had been thinking about a more powerful system. In fact, I had been thinking about BUILDING a new system - and that's what I did. I ordered every single component from NewEgg.com in January 2003. (In an amusing twist, I'm wearing a NewEgg.com t-shirt as I type this.) I then built the system from scratch with my own two hands. It's a bit more involved than installing memory but if you've ever installed a drive in a computer, you can probably build an entire system if you do a little studying in advance.
(Pentium 4 CPU at 2.4 GHz - 1 GB RAM - two 80 GB HDs - 48x CD burner - video capture card)

You will note there seem to be a lot of components missing. There are several reasons for this. First, the Intel motherboard has the sound, graphics and ethernet built in. Second, the Quantex system had all the other components needed. I pulled the modem and installed it in the new system. I bought a Belkin KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) switch so I could use the Quantex monitor and speakers for both desktop systems. Finally, after adding the new system to my network, I could access the DVD drive in the old computer. Also, I replaced the generic keyboard that had come with the Quantex system with a Microsoft keyboard. They sell an assortment of very nice keyboards.

That more or less brings us up to the current point in time. I currently work for a company that is the North American sales office for a group of steel mills in England. My primary duties are Traffic Manager (no, that doesn't have anything to do with cars and trucks) and making the computers on the company's network sing and dance.

Flee, gibbering madly, back to Who is Raptor?

Comments or questions about this page should be directed to Raptor.
Last Update: June 21, 2004.