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Journal Alioth's Journal: Old geeks, young geeks 4

I went to England this weekend, to meet geeks.

First, an old geek - my grandfather (mother's dad). I don't exactly know how old he is - no one knows his birthday, but at a rough guess at his age when he finished serving in the RAF after the war, he's at least 85. I was happy to see he's in much better shape than when I last saw him - he was getting a bit creaky last time I saw him, but he seems to have regained a lot of strength and mobility in his legs that he didn't have last time - indeed, "sprightly" is the word that comes to mind. His hearing's no better though. Although he seems better at listening to subjects he's interested in than trivia :-) We went for lunch with other relatives of mine. He seemed to have no trouble talking to me about planes, but his hearing got considerably worse on uninteresting subjects :-) We didn't just talk about planes, but also about LCD versus CRT televisions, especially picture quality. He's a great fan of the CRT. I am, too, actually (you'll prise this 21in. Trinitron monitor out of my cold, dead hands! The colours are still more vibrant, and the contrast still better than LCD).

My grandfather's a bit more eccentric than me. His house has no central heating, no mains water, and no telephone. Water is pumped up from a well. My mother used to always worry about what all the field run-off might do health-wise, but he seems as tough as old boots. Possibly because of all the nasties in the water leading to an immune system that's worth something. My uncle Bob (who is also highly eccentric) never left home. He was around a bit on Sunday, mostly hauling firewood back from trees the electricity company had pruned.

Here's a pic of my grandfather, outside the house he's lived in since he was 25.

The day before, I went to Oxford to meet up with some much younger geeks - a World of Spectrum and c.s.s (comp.sys.sinclair) meetup. About a dozen of us gathered in the Gloucester Arms in Oxford and took over a corner of the pub, and, well, drank significant quantities of beer and swapped bits of hardware and software. One of the guys brought his breadboarded Spectrum clone along (called the Harlequin). He's gone to a great deal of trouble to make a very high-fidelity Speccy clone - going right down to providing all the timing and other quirks of the Spectrum's ULA. It's all constructed from 74-series logic plus Z80 and memory. We had lots of hardware (and lots of coloured wires) all over one of the tables, and the highly concerned barmaid came over to check we weren't constructing a bomb. When the Harlequin sprang to life (it needed a little attention due to a loose wire), someone shouted "The bomb's working!" after that :-)

The meet went from about 2pm, and finally I was crawling into bed at 2am.

I've never been to Oxford before. Whistled through it on the train several times, but never actually been there. I thought it was a really nice place. We had good weather for it, too. The Autumn colours in the sunshine were beautiful amongst the cream coloured stone of the area.

My pics of the meet:

As well as some original Speccy tapes, I also picked up a dead Psion 5 series. If I can't get it to work, it does have a neat little keyboard which I'm sure I can incorporate into one of my projects - and perhaps the LCD too. I also bought a DivIDE (in kit form). The DivIDE is an IDE interface for the Spectrum. I'll probably build it tonight.

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Old geeks, young geeks

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  • As a pilot and aviation buff, I'd love to hear more about your Grandpa's RAF days...
  • Single-engine? Like a Spit?
    Two? DeHaviland Mosquito, Beaufighter or HP Halifax?
    Four!? Avro Lancaster? Short Flying Boat?
  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) *
    Your Grandfather would not have any pictures of his service, would he? I have tried to gather as many pics from my Grandfathers service and have scanned them, including lots with WWII vintage aircraft. My hope is to start posting more of them this fall/winter on Jonesblog.

    My point is that there are many, many photographs that will be lost to time unless we start archiving these things that are in attics/drawers or shoeboxes. If your Grandfather has them, please archive them and post them for all to see.
    • by Alioth ( 221270 )
      Actually - he does, and I would like to digitise them at some point. I may use a copy stand (you may have seen these - back in the day before scanners, you'd attach an SLR camera to the copy stand, which had half a dozen powerful lamps, and take a photograph of the print you wanted to copy) since I have a better DSLR than any scanner I'm likely to buy.

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