In high school, my friends and I held a few LAN parties. They were quite fun. I haven’t been to one since, and I don’t intend to change that, but it’s fun to reminisce and make the clackity noise.

I had an Apple Yikes! G4, the 400 MHz version that launched before they changed the low end model to be 350 MHz. It had a decent (for the time) ATI Rage 128 graphics card. But my friend John had a Voodoo3 PCI card that I was able to flash firmware on in order to make it work in my Mac. (I subsequently deleted the backup of the original firmware, thus leaving me no way to reflash it back to work on an x86 machine, and thus forcing John to give me an ultimatum that I’d have to buy the card from him. Luckily I found another friend who would, I didn’t have a spare $100 in high school!)

John and I bought 1000 feet of solid wire CAT5, a cheap crimper, and a bag full of RJ-45 ends. We built Ethernet cables (for fun at first) for all our friends. (And I eventually wired my parents’ house by running 100 feet of it through the attic, via holes in the ceilings of my bedroom and out by the family computer in the living room. Mom wasn’t impressed with my ceiling holes…)

We had the LAN parties in a barn my friend Matt’s dad owned. Random Ethernet switches and hubs strewn around, interspersed with outlet strips plugged into outlet strips plugged into multiple hundred foot extension cords (kids: don’t do that with your power cords!).

We’d play Unreal Tournament and Starcraft. It was awesome. (Although I have no recollection of why we didn’t play Quake, maybe it wasn’t out for the Mac?) We’d order pizza. We’d spend all day (from 8 in the morning till 8 at night) in the barn just playing games (well, we’d wait quite a bit, too, for things to load over the poorly wired network, mods for UT seemed to want to be on everyone’s machine even if we weren’t playing a game that needed it).

Those were fun days. Playing with computer with friends.

Even though I’m not really excited by computer gaming now, I do miss playing with computers with friends. That’s something I should do more often. That’s as good a reason as any to go to a meetup or join a hackerspace. Timely, as my plan is to head to the Ruby Meetup held at Coworking Rochester next month.


17 July 2012