Let's go on a computing adventure together!


Hello again! I thought I'd take some time and show off my favorite laptop, the Dell Inspiron 8100. This is a super versatile and really powerful machine technically designed to run Windows XP. It specs out with a 1.2 GHZ Pentium III processor, and a GeForce 2 Go GPU! It has 512 MB of RAM, DVD drive, and I've put in an 80GB HDD. It also has 2 PCMCIA slots, battery bay and multipurpose modular bay. Supports an advanced port replicator that I'll have to dig out to photograph, and 2 usb ports!

a picture with the laptop closed

This is the top of the beast. While I'm not a fan of the dell desktops from this era, I find the purple-ish color they use to accent the desktops really, really ugly, this computer looks like a sleek, mean, computing machine. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that when open, the dell logo will be upside down, but that's such a preferencial aesthetic choice, you'll have to decide for yourslef whether that's a deal breaker. Maybe keep this one at home, not at the coffee shop. I really like the way the top is textured from the plastic to the sleek curve across the center. Other interesting choices for the top are that you can see indicator lights for power, HDD access, and battery activity from the top of the unit, making it super easy to tell if it's charged or asleep at a glance.

Laptop open at a diagonal angle

Here it is with the screen open and the unit still off. The screen itself has no unique features other than being a screen, but coming down from there we have full visibility of the same 3 indicator lights we could see when the unit was closed. We then have a button row, with a power button and a few media buttons. Then we have a fairly standard laptop keyboard with a trackpoint in the center. Below this we have a standard trackpad. This might seem silly but those palm rests on either side actually feel pretty good. The left mouse button is a bit bigger than the right, which trips me up sometimes, but it is pretty easy to get used to.

Closer shot of keyboard area

A closer shot of the keyboard that shows everything a little better. The thing at the top right of the baord is actually a vent for the fans, presumably for if the fan exhaust at the back gets blocked for some reason. Pretty nice thought if you ask me.

Picture of floppy module from the top

This is where this computer gets really cool. The second battery bay can be used for a number of differnet modules, making this computer pretty expandable for a laptop. You can put a second battery in there. A floppy drive like in the picture, or even a second hard drive. This makes this computer really good for quickly archiving things or even just being the computer you take outt adventuring with you because if the battery died you can just pop in another in the second bay. If you find some floppies in your travels, that's cool too, just pop in the drive and you're ready to copy that floppy. Need to connect to the internet? Pop in the modular bay and run an os of your choice new enough to be able to connect to the internet. This sort of thing is my favorite feature type on laptops.

Picture of the HDD module

This is the HDD module. I have an 80GB HDD in here with Windows XP installed on it. This will let me run windows XP on the laptop in case I happen to need that OS. Honestly, XP might be one of the OSes I use least these days, but it's definitely a goodie (at least SP3 is). It does make it a bit easier to transfer files over to the windows 98 HDD sometimes, even though I can share stuff over network. It's got space cadet though so there's that.

Picture of the battery module

This is the battery module. The system can have 2 of these installed at a time, but the nice part is you can hot-swap the ones in the modular bay in order to keep computin' in even the most remote regions with the most stingy of all plug layouts. If I had my way buildings would be made of plugs. The last person I suggested that to said the fire department wouldn't like that very much, but a guy can certainly dream.

A picture of the system in the windows 98OS

Here's the unit in windows 98se. The display is a gorgeous 1600x1200 and looks fantastic when you can actually find something to run at that. The icons are really small which is honestly really amusing to me.

This is the unit running the unreal demo crawl

This is the unit running the Unreal demo crawl. This might be the best looking game I can run on the system. It supports the native resolution and also is a really attractive game in the first place. I'm not super into the game to be completely honest but it really does show off that that first generation mobile GPU can do so here it is anyway.

Running Windows XP Space Cadet pinball

This is the windows XP mode of the system. Not something I really ever use, because I don't really have any software that can only run in XP, and even if I did, chances are it might need a faster processor than the Pentium III in this unit. I have used this and a wifi card to get online at a Harris Teeter for a couple hours, so I can confirm that both the battery life is pretty good for a computer of this age AND it might still be workable as a daily driver laptop, and lemme tell you that just the thought of that is tickling my innards

Another few photos that I didn't have anything to say about really

TThe batteries light up to show charge Closer shot of the floppy modules Closer shot of battery module

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  • 12-13-18

    Hello there! I've been spending a lot of time recently working on my nice 486 computer,
    trying to get this bad boy up to snuff. I think I'm nearly there, or at least close enough
    to begin sharing pictures and talking about it! This bad boy is a i486DX2 running at a breakneck
    66MHX. This is honestly one of my more versatile machines and the only one that can play a lot of stuff
    from the late 80s and early 90s that my more powerful machines won't play at all. I am running DOS 6.2 on it
    with a hearty dose of windows 3.1 thrown in for a little more class. It has ~8MB of RAM, which is pretty good but does
    occasionally struggle with later titles. Also it's the only computer I can seem to get wing commander 2 to run on,
    so that's pretty radical honestly.

    A picture of the computer in question

    The front display still shows 16mhz from when there was a 386 in this case, I haven't
    fixed that yet but I do plan on making that show 66mhz. I wasn't necessarily too fond of
    the slotted CDROM drive that I have in there at first, but I've come to really dig it.
    it'll never beat the whine of my worn out Sony CD drive in my win98 machine, but it does
    the trick for sure. Floppy drive isn't working though, still have to fix that

    Closer shot of the front of the case

    Personally, I find the system's aesthetic goegeous, with the horizontal lines and such it
    looks like I'm a dad in the 80s who has an ambiguous job and doesn't have time for my children
    so I end up on some wacky adventure that teaches me the value of family and how I need to
    give them time too. Love it.

    A dell AT101w keyboard

    Ahhhh, yes the AT101w. I currently have to use an adapter from PS/2 to AT to get this guy working on the 486,
    but it's much, much better than the actual AT compatible keyboard I have for it. If
    you're into mechanical keyboards, the at101w has black Alps switches. Though, I've found
    the keyboard more clicky than tactile. Your mileage may vary.

    A joystick made by CH products

    It's not a computer without a joystick! At least, that's what I tell people. I've use a lot of joysticks, from the microsoft sidewinder 2 to the X52pro, logitech wingman, force3d, Thrustmaster, etc, but this might be one of the very best I've used. Seriously, this thing feels so precise. Almost no deadzone and very, very smooth. This is the first ch product I've had the pleasure of owning, but it's definitely not the last I genuinely feel better at games like wing commander when I'm using it, I've never had such a huge improvement from equipment before. Highly recommend this stick.

    A microsoft mouse

    Just a bog standard, super simple, microsoft serial mouse. It's just a mouse, nothing fancy. Kinda boring honestly.

    A closeup of a crt monitor with wing commander ii vengence of the kilrathi displayed

    This is the monitor I'm using right now. It's a viewsonic e655. I've had this for a very long time. I've found that it seems really dark in a lot of games, and I'm not sure if this is how it always was or if the monitor is just getting old. Games to look better overall on the correct display though, so I'm going to be keeping this monitor unless I can find something better. I was using a flat screen 4:3 TV/monitor, but that was doing this thing where it made vertical lines down the screen, which I was not a fan of.

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