I eventually made it to the UK for university, and that’s when I really began to learn about how PCs worked. Up till then I had only been interested in gaming more than anything else, and was too chicken to try messing with tech by myself. I bought an old AMD athlon based system off the university, the first proper PC that was actually mine. It had 256 MB of RAM and a 10 gig hard drive. It came with Windows 2000 on it and the processor was about 1 Ghz. The pentium 4s were out then, but I was incredibly happy with my £30 PC. I noticed that the university PCs were running XP Professional, but had XP Home product key stickers on them. So I figured if they weren’t gonna use them, I would, and installed XP Home on my PC with a product code nicked from a uni PC. It came with a 14″ LG Studioworks monitor, which had built in speakers so I didn’t have to worry about buying external speakers. Because it was actually mine I was happy to open it up and play around with the hardware, finally learning how to reseat RAM and install new drives. My university dorm had just introduced LAN connections for each room, so I was able to get on the net and research all the hardware I now owned. I eventually figured out what RAM I had (PC 133) and over time maxed the RAM in that PC to 1GB, also sticking in a 128MB video card in as well. I also picked up a Logitech Wireless Desktop set that made my life so much easier.
My friends over there, like me, were obsessed with downloading tv shows and movies. The net speeds in the computer labs were way faster than what we got in our rooms so we’d spend time in the labs downloading stuff. Everyone always told me to buy an external hard drive so I could stop burning everything to dvds. I was pretty broke at the time so cheap dvds were all I could afford for a time. After saving up some money I finally made my first purchase of something that wasn’t second hand, an ATMT Media Tank. It was basically an external hard drive, but had a dvd writer and card reader built into it. There were different capacities available, but I got the smallest, 80GB. It was perfect for me, as I’d download stuff in the lab to it, then would burn it to disc in my room. My dvd collection eventually surpassed all the combined storage space of all my friends external drives, put together, and I was vindicated in my choice of not spending on multiple external drives. The dvd writer did fail eventually (I had used it way past its expected life) and I simply bought a new one and replaced it in the Media Tank. I eventually got a 250GB drive and replaced the 80GB one with it. Worked out much cheaper than if I’d bought a higher capacity Media Tank.