Since working at Keepad Interactive I haven't had to buy a new computer for the last 3 years. My work laptop is fine. Before that I bought the toshiba laptop that I'm writing on now for my year in Japan. But unlike a lot of people I've kept my old PC's. They have been gathering dust in my spare room...but girlfriend wants them out - they are taking up too much space.
So I'm firing each one up to rescue any documents I might like to keep, and see what programs I used to have on them and then wipe them. I haven't got to the last part yet.
I'm finding it hard to wipe these machines and take them to the eWaste recycling centre for a number of reasons.
1> they are like a snapshot of the time when these were my main computer, my access to the internet, the games I used to play and the types of programs I was interested in.
2> they are all differenct opperating systems, from 3.11 to XP (some of them boot faster than my current machine)
3> some of the programs on there that were free are now commercial or defunct so once it's wiped it's gone forever. Some of the programs were special offers on magazines so again you can't get them again (magazines and discs are long gone).
So as I grapple with this problem here are a few of the programs I found on my 300mhz machine from used from 1998 to 2002 that are still available in some form.
Notrium - Still free, this top down role playing arcade game is great for more than a few hours of game play.
Kaboodle - This is also still free (GPL). I used this to keep an eye on a large network of 40+ computers. It tracks in real time what devices are on your network in a friendly graphical way.
FreeCommander - Back in the days of DOS there was Xtree Gold. If you want a powerful file manager that does FTP, bulk file renaming and hanker for the old double pane views - then this is the beast you are looking for.
Fresh Diagnose - Do you want to know more about your computer? Just bought a second hand one? Run this up and see what it's made of.
Magix - Not free anymore - music creation software that used to do automatic music videos as well - not a bad price though.
Starbits - Only does one thing, but does it so well. Creates star fields and galaxys to order on your PC. Still free - still awesome. This one is being downloaded tonight.
Terragen - Terragen is a scenery generator, created with the goal of generating photorealistic landscape images and animations. It is available for Windows and the Mac OS. Terragen is free for personal, noncommercial use, with only a few limitations. I used this with a class of students to do a CD-ROM (back in the day) of the nine planets and generate the landscape of each planet.
Amorphium - An easy to use, "soft" 3D modeling program. I got this as a special offer off a magazine disc. Good value for $79
Swish - When buying flash is just too expensive - there is Swish. Again I got this off a magazine disk. Currently the minimax Swish is $69. again something in the back of my mind if I ever go back to multimedia production.
Anvil - Anvil Studio is a free Windows Windows 7 / Vista / XP / 2000 / 98 program designed for people who want to; record music with MIDI and Audio equipment; compose music for MIDI and Audio equipment; sequence music with MIDI equipment, or play with music using a computer and sound card. Add ons you might like you have to pay for but the basic program is still free.
AlamDV - Oh I wish this was still free and available... Morphed into FXHome it is now paid for software. reasonably priced for what it allows you to do... But this is one of the main reasons I don't want to wipe my old machine - this program made it easy to do light sabre and laser effects in video.
Amabilis - Free 3D software - you can upgrade to professional versions if you want more features. Easier to get your head around than Blender or Maya.
C-Evo - got a few weeks to yourself -don't know what to do with all that time. Download this and they won't see you for weeks. A free civilisation clone. C-evo is a freeware empire building game for Windows. With a time scope of several thousand years, it covers aspects of exploration and expansion, industry and agriculture, warfare and diplomacy, science and administration.
WAV to MIDI - If you thought voice recognition was hard - this is harder. a free program to convert analogue sound files (wav) to digital (MIDI). It works best with single instruments like the piano or the guitar.
So that's one computer - another one from the 2004-2006 era between Europe trip and Japan trip to come next. I wonder what I'll find....