Party like it’s (Windows) 98!

Okay, so I picked up a few laptops, a PCMCIA network card (no Ethernet dongle), LAN port replicator, USB floppy drive, and a single power supply off eBay last week, and after a delivery hiccup, they’re finally in my hands! The package was a bit weighty, and smaller than I expected… as were the laptops!

They’re all quite thin devices, though unfortunately this means that they lack an optical drive, and a floppy drive. I got 1x Toshiba Portegé 3440CT, and 2x Toshiba Portegé 3110CTs, and they all work fine from what I can see. I may do a fresh install of Windows 98 on all of them (after noting the product keys, and locating the required drivers), and then apply KernelEX on them, though I do have the issue of only one each of a LAN port replicator, USB floppy drive, and AC adaptor between them. Ethernet won’t be an issue with them at least because I’ve managed to source a brand new version of the network card in the 3440CT, as well as another used one, plus two Ethernet dongle attachments for the used ones, but I still have the issue of locating at least one other port replicator at a decent price. There is one available that is the exact same version of the one I already have, but having the LAN port is kinda redundant with the dedicated network cards, though I suppose for the sake of consistency it might be worth getting it… have to think about it though.

The batteries on the laptops can be assumed to be in need of replacement, so I really do need at least 2 more AC adaptors for the other two laptops, although I dunno if I might also need another adaptor for each of the port replicators as well… it is getting a bit pricey in some respects, but unlike the USA, there aren’t many cheap laptops that run Windows 9x available in the UK, and given that all 3 of these laptops have cost me 140 quid altogether, I think it makes them all cheaper individually! As for my plans with them, the 3440CT will be dedicated to being used with all my legacy hardware, such as the X1541 parallel port cable I plan to get, and also the Wonderborgs I have, and some other devices that may not work on newer hardware. I may also stick a copy of Visual Basic 6 on it, so I can refresh my development skills in that language, and maybe use some older programming software, as well as other older stuff. The two 3110CTs will be perfect for some DOS and Windows 9x gaming, especially once I sort out the network cards, and another port replicator.

I have also bought a USB hub for each of the devices (as there’s only one available on each device – USB was probably a new thing when these laptops were new!), and I’ll be going to Poundland tomorrow or Monday to pick up a few optical mouses as well (for a quid each!), as having to use the “nipple” on each laptop feels icky due to the texture of them; I can handle the keyboards as they’re fine to use. Of course, I also have the issues of not having built in optical drives, so need to think about how to handle that. Floppy drives aren’t an issue as I have another USB floppy drive knocking about so I can do two devices at once, plus everything completely installs from a floppy drive anyway. Optical media, such as CDs on the other hand… that’s a bit trickier, though that’s why I have the hubs coming in. Of course, I probably only need a maximum of two, or I can see about using some sort of USB HDD… have to think about it. I might also need to update the hard drives as well, to at least max out the capacity of the computers at the time, and also store everything I need to on them, as well as the fact the hard drives are likely getting on a bit now.

In any case, I plan to do a video or three (possibly more) on the laptops, staring from when I got them, to the points where I upgrade them over time, giving them the network cards, finding the right port replicator, finding some decently priced AC adaptors, and upgrading the hard drives, and finally showing some games running on them, although I need to think about how to present the videos. In any case, this should allow me to start using some of the older, more interesting items I have which I want to cover for Whatware and Whatware Gaming. I am still astounded at how thin the laptops actually are, and I’ll show off pics on my Instagram account so you can see as well. Most people won’t even need to use hardware like this, but as you have likely worked out before now I’m not “most people”! I will say that Dosbox is useful in the majority of cases (especially for recording gameplay), but certain games (and hardware) won’t work on newer devices, so if you plan to use older devices that need a parallel or serial port, you need a computer that supports that hardware directly, and ideally a laptop, so you can put it away when you don’t need it… unless you have the space as then a desktop should be fine.

In any case, I’ve essentially expanded the scope of my channel by getting these laptops, especially if I need to use them on the move, or near a TV for whatever reason. Granted, I have two desktops that can do a similar task to the laptops, but even having an all in one solution makes things a bit cleaner to use too, as there’s less wires and the like… I really need to sort out my flat, so it’s easier to do stuff, heh. In any case, all this is in aid of providing some more stuff to cover under Geeked Up, though we’re getting into some semi-niche stuff in some respects, although there are a lot of people who are covering this topic, so hopefully I’ll be able to add my own take on it, though I dunno if things will be served via my Geeked Up channel, or on the main channel, I haven’t yet determined. In any case, I’ll keep working on getting the laptops up to my ideal spec, and then we should eventually have some interesting stuff to talk about! As always, any suggestions on what you’d like to see are welcome.

Till next time, etc.