A Great Night

Years ago I tried to interest my older son in amateur radio.  There was no way in the world that he was going to be interested in my hobby, no matter how I begged, bribed or cajoled.  I love to see my kids share my interests and take on academic or technical hobbies but it was not to be.  However, one day his best friend stopped over to our home and came downstairs to where my ham station was located.  He was fascinated!  It turned out that he and his father had both been interested for quite some time but didn’t know how to get started.  I gave them some suggestions as to how to learn about the hobby and in record time both father and son had prepared for and taken their first ham tests.

Suddenly my 13 year old son was interested.  Not interested, obsessed.  There was no way his friend was going to succeed and leave him behind.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

It’s un-cool to be interested in what your father likes, but totally cool to share interests with your best friend.

My younger son got his ham radio license when he was 11.  At that point, doing things with Dad was cool.  He’s a little reticent about letting anyone know that he is “geeky”; this from the kid who’s an all A student who plays 3 musical instruments, plays upper level soccer and took high school algebra in 7th grade.

His current interests are with some video games and exchanging experiences on the internet.  In order to do that in the way he wanted, he needed a computer.  Now we have several, including one that is only minimally used because it started out as a laptop but the screen stopped working.  It’s now a sort-of, kind-of desktop – a role which it performs admirably.  However, that was not the direction he wanted to take.

I always tease his older brother about saving his computer “hand-me-ups” for me.  As a fixer, I love making things work that otherwise would be discarded.  As a matter of fact that is where the laptop that became the desktop originated.  This time around he mentioned that he had a motherboard and a CPU that he had never used.

Suddenly his younger brother began a quest to which I was recruited.  We had two key parts toward achieving a greater good.  There was a challenge to be addressed.

We salvaged an old case and power supply from the storage shed in the back yard.  We have extra keyboards and mouses (mice?) and there’s a monitor or two upstairs.  There was also a hard drive that could be dedicated to the task.  I did mention that the laptop cum desktop might meet his needs, but that was not what he wanted.

He wanted to know what pieces did what; where the CPU and RAM interfaced.  How the BIOS worked.  What the operating system provided.  What the MHz of the processor meant in comparison to the Mb of the memory.

We built most of a computer tonight.  It needs a disk power cable and some RAM, which eBay will provide.

All in all it was the type of night that fathers live for.

If your night was half as good, it was a great night.  I hope you enjoyed it.

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