“My Life in Laptops” – am I Doug Rocket?

In truth I’ve been planning to publish this ever since first seeing Nathan Barley back in 2005. The series “Nathan Barley” was a Charlie Brooker/Chris Morris satirical masterpiece, it was way ahead of its time and it accurately foretold several online & cultural trends. If you’ve never seen it then I highly recommend you seek it out on All 4. It’s genius. It’s 6 slices of 26 minutes of pure satirical gold. One of the characters “Doug Rocket” (played by the legendary David Hoyle) is a parody of Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics and in episode 3 we see Rocket’s collection of laptops made into art installation at “Place” (“be enabled, Place is creativalisation”)….


MY LAPTOPS 1991-2005 :: Doug Rocket at Place

This post is purely a self-indulgent, archival list of things. I don’t expect it to have any meaning to anyone else… Am I Doug Rocket? Maybe, maybe not. Anyway this is my homage to his installation “MY LAPTOPS 1991-2005” (and so in some ways to Rocket himself, the owner of “Place – a multimillion-pound creative enablement hive, which comprises studios, galleries, minglespace, thoughtcupboards, flotation melds and an Eric Clapton memorial songwriting vineyard“). ENJOY. It’s well f***ing futile.

0. Psion MC400   (personal) – Feb 1995 & April 2021
Spotted in Exchange & Mart, drove over to Bourne Lincolnshire to collect.  Sold Jun 1995 to fund impending wedding/honeymoon. Iconic design in many many ways – way ahead of its time… it had a trackpad and SSDs in 1989! Missed it so much I recently bought another.

1. AJP 6200 T  (personal) – May 1997
P166MHz First proper “PC” computer I ever bought brand new.
Big, heavy, slow Win95 laptop. But it had PCMCIA slots, which a “Pace 33.6k voice”, then a Psion Dacom 56k “Gold Card” modem found their way into, and wahey! It was on the internet! Later (post-1999 but before ADSL/broadband) used as a Linux-based dial-up gateway for the whole home network… PCMCIA modem & network cards! I over-clocked it and added a massive heatsink that protruded through the case. RedHat something-or-other (probably 6.1 or 6.2?) with some scripts to do the on-demand dial-up.
Made in Taiwan by “Kapok” and re-badged by AJP in the UK.

2. Dell Latitude CPi A (work) – 1999
P266MHz, my first official work laptop – Windows NT! Eventually upgraded to 256M memory! Tremendously underpowered, but it gave me my first taste of Linux – later installed on a spare HD that I would swap out to run either win/lin. Used for out-of-hours on-call tech support, had a Psion “Gold-Card” modem to dial-in to the corporate WAN.

3. Dell Latitude CPt C (work) – 2000
Celeron 400MHz, Replaced the CPi. Installed win2k (unofficially) and built the Marconi standard Novell + office stuff on top…

4. Dell Latitude CPx H (work) – 2003
500MHz, Primarily used for Linux – used to swap HDs between (yet another unofficial build of) win2k and Linux. Upgraded the win2k up to XP later. Removed all plastic case parts and sprayed them matte black! Used for occasional wardriving with a PCMCIA 802.11 card with external (car-roof mounted) antenna. Keyboard intermittent, but still going. (Recently pressed into action to upload firmware to an old Magellan handheld GPS unit. )


Using an actual 16550 UART RS232 serial port

5. Toshiba Qosmio F10 (Personal) – 2005
Windows Media Centre laptop with built in (analogue) TV tuner, DVD drive and “Bang & Olufsen” speakers. Brightest, clearest screen I’d ever seen… HDD began to fail just days out of warranty, but I was able to clone it before it properly died. Soon after that the fan failed and then it liked to spontaneously shut-down as it was getting too hot. Tried to repair with a 2nd hand fan from ebay, but that soon failed too!


6. IBM Thinkpad R51 (work) – 2005
Came without a wifi card inside. Installed one from ebay (miniPCI) and then had to hack the BIOS to get it to recognise the card! Was briefly a hackintosh, my first taste of OS X – so impressed that I bought a Mac mini! Replaced HD later with a bigger one and installed WinXP/FC9 in dual boot. Case/hinge cracked, original PSU DC jack failed (frayed!) replaced with new PSU from ebay. Overwrote FC9 installation with Ubuntu 9.10. Still going. One of the best laptop keyboards I’ve ever used. Not still going, properly died June 2013 😦

7. Fujitsu Lifebook B2154 (Personal) – 2005
Tiny, super-portable Celeron 450MHz with 10.5″ 4:3 screen. This little fella gave me a real challenge – reclaimed scrap, presented as “dead” I brought it back to life with a soldering iron – repairing the charging socket/PCB, but managed to kill the trackpoint “nipple” thingy in the process. Luckily this machine had a touchscreen. Original 2GB disk replaced with a 6GB one. Next challenge was how to install XP on it – as it had no internal optical drive. Went for a network install, another learning process. Tried linux, but without a decent touchscreen driver it was painful… Still going.

8. HP Compaq nc6120 (work) – 2006
WinXP. Nothing else to say. Some keys non-functional. Still going (lab PC).

9. Samsung Q45 (work) – 2007
Ace little 12″ screened super-portable machine. Replaced original 70GB drive with 250GB drive and dual boot winXP/FC11. Later replaced Fedora with Ubuntu 9.10. Some keys not working. Dodgy battery connections, intermittent backlight (!) and some random reboots – but apart from that, still going (lab PC)!

dirty Samsung Q45

10. Asus eee PC 901 (Personal) – 2009
Replaced original Xandros with FC10. Flash disk died on day 5. Replaced whole machine under warranty. Later ran Crunchbang from SD card, then finally replaced Fedora with Ubuntu 9.10. Keyboard failed (random keys not working) – replaced with ebay spare!

eee + crunchbang linux in Tokyo hotel bar 2010

11. Apple MacBook Pro (Personal) – 2010
My first apple laptop (not counting [ 6 ] ). Installed XP & F13 in VM (virtualbox) 3 OS’s on one machine! Spilled Whisky (BNJ!) on it April 2013… top-case replaced in Vally-Fair mall Apple store, CA ($198 – £134), later boot issues – fixed Jun 2013 Liverpool 1 Apple store – motherboard replaced at no charge! Swapped HDD for 480GB SSD. Still going.


12. Toshiba Portege R700 (work) 2011 – 2015
Intel Core i3 M370 2.4GHz – 4GB – 320GB. Win7. yuk. Swapped original HDD for crucial 240GB SSD Feb 2016, installed Fedora 23. Still going (F34!)

13. Apple MacBook Air (Personal) – 2013
Migration-Assistanted from Macbook Pro [11] 1.8GHz Core i5 – 4GB – 256GB SSD

14. Asus Zenbook ux303 (work) 2015 – present
Intel® Core™ i7-5500U CPU @ 2.40GHz × 4, Intel HD Graphics 5500, 8GB, 500GB
Windoze 8.1 Aaaaaagh! Original 256GB SSD swapped Jan 2019 for Samsung EVO 860 500GB. Cloned + added Fedora 29 Jan 2019 (dual boot)
RH Hinge snapped off the plastic screen mount Aug 2019 – repaired with epoxy glue/sugru/screws drilled through lid 😄 Frankensteinlaptop. Still going. Writing this post on it right now 😀

frankenstein hinge repair 🙂

Published by zedstarr

Chilled out human being, doing techy stuff.

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