My Computing History

In my birthday post a few months ago (eek!) I mentioned how I struggle to blog when things are going okay. Spoiler alert: things still are, however I feel this place has been neglected.

One of my favourite social platforms at the moment is Mastodon (follow me there) – because I enjoy the nerdy conversations there. From a toot by Jack McConnell I found a blog post by Kev Quirk called “My Computing History“, which details all the system Kev’s had over the years.

Brilliant. I’m nicking it. Here’s my computing history.

~1991: Commodore 64

The first system I owned was this beautiful Commodore 64. This version (the “Playful Intelligence” one) was a fascinating release – it was a re-hash of the ill-fated Commodore 64GS, with the keyboard stuck back on, a cartridge bundled in with 4 games (Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top o’ Fun, Flimbo’s Quest, International Soccer and Klax), and flogged in Tandy for about £65.

I bloody loved this. Although I really wanted a Commodore Amiga 500, I became a huge Commodore 64 gamer (suck it, Spectrum owners). I still have it – the header image is my machine. I still have the cartridge now, as well as 2 of the 3 budget games I got with it (American 3D Pool, Agent X II* and Rollaround) and Decembers’ Zzap! 64 Magazine I also got that year.

I got better and more powerful machines, even for Christmas from my parents, but I grew to love this beautiful machine.

~ 1995: Atari STe 520

My second computer was a hand-me-down from my uncle, which took residence at my grandparents house. The Atari STe 520. Although I craved it mainly for a game I played occasionally – Lemmings – a lot of franchises I love and still love to this day come from this machine. It had Civilization, The Secret of Monkey Island, Championship Manager, Populous, and many more. As you can tell there were a lot more cerebral and slower games – with good reason: a lot of arcade conversions were not great. More known for it’s music, ST Format did champion the computer long past it’s lifespan. Late games that haven’t got their flowers include the excellent Obsession, the “fuck me they’ve done a Doom clone on the ST” Substation and Super STario Land. All three were games I played long after the commercial lifespan of the machine had ended.

Also, fun fact – this was the first machine I dabbled with HTML in. Creating documents and putting them on disk, viewing them using the Crystal Atomic Browser. I wonder how that ended up for me?

~ 1997-1998: Olivetti PCS P/75n Pentium 75 (I think)

My first PC was a bit of a surprise. My grandad – who was probably born a generation or two too early – picked up a PC when the local Radio Rentals was closing and they were selling off stock. A great machine, I spent my mid teenage years playing some fantastic big box MS-DOS games that were a bugger to get loading. Theme Park, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Magic Carpet were all played and loved. All played for hours. Also I had a lot of fun with early Windows 95 games, particularly Shareware compilations became the order of the day, with CDs full of them and played with. Happy times with my grandparents.

It was used as a work machine though, so did used to type up my homework on it as well. It was an absolute timesaver as occasionally we had to repeat our homework, so being able to restore from a saved document rather than rewrite it saved hours. No need to rewrite in my best handwriting** the development of characters in The Mayor of Casterbridge anymore!

~ 1999: AMD (Something or other) with a Voodoo 3 2000 Graphics Card

I remember the graphics card. That’s all. What a beast this was.

Bought locally, this was the first computer at my parents house. A gorgeous machine, with an amazing graphics card, it was pretty much the PC I discovered a lot of later era FPS’ on, with Half Life, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena being the order of the day on this machine. Sadly it was an AMD machine that’s chips – for whatever reason – didn’t quite work with the motherboard so I had to have a version of Windows 95 that was cloned on it. Odd. Anyway, it kind of worked, but every so often we had to wipe the machine clean and restore it from a CD.

Online for the First Time

This was eventually the first computer I had with the internet. It was expensive at the time (1p/minute, which racked up pretty sharpish), originally I connected with Ezesurf (if you want a rabbit hole, how that company went to the wall is a read), then with Freeserve, it was just about affordable at that point before we got broadband. After having a summer or two in Yahoo! Chat Rooms (which looking back may not have been the best idea as a 16 year old kid), I did discover a couple of interests.

One was programming. I ended up messing around in Blitz Basic and making and releasing a few games. I still occasionally run in to people from that forum. Sadly all but one of the games have been lost to time, as the forum that hosted it is no longer around. Even the game that still works, can’t run on modern PC’s.

With 56k I also discovered the world of serious online gaming, I mentioned Jase a few posts back. This was where he comes onto the scene as part of me getting quite addicted (and quite good) at online Team Fortress Classic. Less action focussed games that were a game called Cosmic Consensus – a family fortunes style game that was great fun, and Acrophobia – which involved created Backronyms. Both games were precursors to what became the Jackbox Party Pack. Bring back Cosmic Consensus I say.

Sadly, something was always wrong with how it was built, as it exploded with a glorious electrical smell some point a few years later.

~ 2002: Pentium P133

A slight bit of a downstep in quality, as I went to Liverpool University to got another hand me down, this time a mid range Pentium P133. Sadly, this was pretty much a work and general browsing of the internet, but thankfully the beauty was being super connected to the internet meaning I was revisiting Doom, Quake and Command & Conquer in multiplayer when I wasn’t out causing mischief on the streets of Liverpool.

I think I did spend the three years upgrading it, so by the end of my time in university it could run Counter Strike very comfortably. Which probably explained the 2:1. I also began my first ever blog (on Blogger, yeah WordPress wasn’t a thing just yet), which at the time I think I may have blogged every day 😬. I can’t have been that interesting?

2008: Isys Elite – Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 2048mb DDR2 667Mhz 250GB SATAII nVidia 8500GT 512MB PCI-E Graphics DVDRW

You will notice this is the first PC with full stats, as in the process of writing this email I found the Novatech order I made to acquire this machine. From reading between the lines I’d have been working for a couple of years at this point, so had a wage, and also noticed that it seemed to have been ordered after I failed my driving test.

It took me two more years to finally pass.

Oddly, I cannot remember much of this PC as I was well into making websites at this point so I imagine some early WordPress development was done on this machine. One game in particular I remember playing quite heavily is Team Fortress 2.

This PC was stored in the shed at my parents until fairly recently, and went in a clear out.

~ 2012: Acer Aspire 5749

I cannot find the email about this, but apparently I bought my first laptop from Tesco. Primarily used for work (this is when I became rather boring), it was the first laptop I used to drag around to places. I believe it was what I used to contribute to WordPress for the first time. Oh my fresh face so excited to be helpful. Where did that person go?

I still have it. It’s covered in stickers and in a draw in my office. But occasionally I use it if I need a Windows XP machine to do something. The last time was to try and Nike Football Scorpion Knockout running – the free game based around that classic Nike advert. It has a CD drive which is unique as no other computers I own do.

2014: Apple Macbook Pro (2.6GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5)

This was a gorgeous machine.

From being a bit vocal supporter of Windows machines, I took the plunge and got a MacBook when being a Windows user became a bit of a barrier for contributing to WordPress (and that’s a statement I expect to be tore apart on podcasts), when all the documentation was written in Mac’s in mind. I loved the power with this machine – was powerful and allowed me to do some heavy duty coding, so much so that I had to rewrite a contract to use it for work.

A great machine, it’s since become a “Zoom Calls in my Lounge” and “Ordering off of Just Eat” laptop. It’s what Steve Jobs would have wanted. I also launched Dwi’n Rhys from Frankfurt Airport there, so saw me through my first two years of freelancing.

I also used it for Twitch Streaming as well. That wasn’t so good and begun to struggle.

The most expensive computer I think I bought, but the one that paid for itself many times over.

2020: Apple Macbook Pro (1.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5)

And finally to the machine I type these words on whilst sat in the City Tavern in Chester. A bit of a fluke really. 6 years after working on a Macbook it has been my pretty much my workflow now and I couldn’t imagine working with much else. However I needed to get a bit more power – it was the pandemic, and sure enough people were going online. I was juggling projects and it was taking up so much space on my laptop.

So – cue some good fortune.

My hosting company – 34SP – was celebrating 20 years and as part of it were giving away 20 prizes of increasing perceived value. The top prize was a MacBook Pro.

Which I won.

Truth be told I missed the fact I won (it went into spam) and even when I did win I begun to spun into working class guilt that always manifests itself with good fortune (said working class exists as I got my tax refund today). Three months later when I actually began to use it I discovered it was a great machine. Rarely do I hear a fan go on it. Probably need to clean the screen, mind.

2020: ASUS ROG Strix GA15 G15DH-UK041T Gaming Desktop

I had a solid pandemic really. Which feels wrong to say. I managed with my clients and people coming online and needing web presences to muster two years worth of accounts and a deposit for a house. In October, I moved out of Manchester to Newton-le-Willows to my first home.

With that came a room I could dedicate to an office, as well as room for a proper gaming/streaming rig. I bought this machine, which I use for more high end stuff. Mainly streaming, but also for training videos for clients. I’ve discovered the wonderful world of Steam gaming with this. Many of the games from the “Video Games I Fell in Love With” series in the past 2 years have been on this machine.

Not top of the range, but good enough for what I want to do.

And Next….?

Honestly, where is next? I don’t know. Both machines I own are powerful enough for what I want to do. As such, an upgrade is not on the cards at the moment. But you never know. But by writing this I’m reminded on how much technology is linked with me. As the machines have upgraded, so have I. The memory on the machines have gotten bigger but the memories with the machines have become stronger.

I genuinely didn’t expect to write as much as I have. I hope it’s not too self indulgent!

* Fun fact: There isn’t an Agent X 1, despite the name of the game suggesting there was…
** Which – if you ever received a Christmas Card from me would know – is terrible.

Race to 100 err…103 grounds complete

Bloody England.

And Bloody Wales.

And Bloody Worcester City.

So I have been embarking on a trip to see as many football teams play in as many stadiums as possible. I had hoped to reach 100 by the end of the season, and I did! I thought I’d did it on a Tuesday in mid April when I went through the turnstiles at Deepdale (home of Preston North End), ticking off my 100th ground.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, like all brilliant minds do every now and again, I had miscalculated. I had seen 100 different teams playing at various stadiums. However, I’d actually ticked off a fair few already.

Let me explain using my beloved Wales.

Ask me if I seen Wales play at home, then I would say “Yes”. I had. However I’d seen them play in two different venues that they call “Home”: The Millenium Stadium & Cardiff City Stadium. Same applies to England (Old Trafford & Wembley) and Worcester City (St George’s Lane & Aggborough). Like Phileas Fogg, I’d well and truly screwed up my calculations and actually achieved more than I thought.

So in actual fact, my 100th ground – Ramsbottom United vs Colwyn Bay – was completed on a cold Spring evening in Late March, making Preston, Blackpool, and my trip to bloody Genoa rather redundant.

Oh well.

All in all, I feel a weird sense of pride with my achievement. It’s means nothing, didn’t make me healthier, didn’t raise money for a charity or even do something for somebody. It was selfish, it was selfish bloody minded stubbornness for something that impressed only me and a few other people. I don’t think I’d even put it on my Tinder bio.

But I don’t care, as for this journey, there has been a weird solace for me within a WhatsApp group. Two of my friends from university heard about the challenge and decided to go for their own challenge related to it. One of which was to hit 100, another was to hit 50. If absolutely nothing else, as I hurtle to my mid 30’s, I’m glad that I’ve managed to reclaim and spend some quality time with two great friends. That has been what has made the last 6 or so month’s special.

I’ve not decided if I’m continuing to 200, or 250, or whatever. This isn’t swimming: the next 100 will probably be harder, but I’ve paired with one of my friends and we’ve started a little instagram account for groundhopping. You can see it here at @ystbah. Please give us a follow!

Anyway, now onto some stats!

  • Most Northerly ground – Firhill, Glasgow (Partick Thistle)
  • Most Easterly & Southerly ground – GSP Stadium, Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • Most Westerly ground – Giants Stadium, New York (New York Red Bulls)
  • I’ve watched football matches in 13 different countries: Andorra, Belgium, Cyprus, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, United States and Wales.
  • I’ve watched football at 59% of the teams in the Evostik Divison 1 North, my most populous league.
  • I’ve seen football played in 23 competitions: European Championships, World Cup Qualifications, European Championship Qualifications, Champions League, Europa League, Premier League, Championship, League 1, League 2, Conference North, Evostik Premiership, Evostik Division 1 North, Evostik Division 1 South, North West Counties Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, FA Trophy, League of Wales, Cymru Alliance, League of Ireland, Scottish Premiership, Bundesliga & Serie A.

Anyway, here’s a map!

Anyway, if you have any questions or anything, I’m opening the comments up to an unofficial AMA, if you have any questions for my escapades, leave them in the comments!


This weekend I turn thirty-four.

It’s been quite a weird year. Thirty-three wasn’t a great year, starting off incredibly rubbish due to losing Bonnie and going through a breakup. July was when things started improving, thanks to some cool people coming into my life, and also reconnecting with some old ones (mainly the Manchester SEO crowd thanks to events like Media Poker), and although since about October 2017 I was pretty much waiting for the year to be over.

2018 has started well, I feel more focused, and more driven. I think the waiting for the year to end wasn’t necessarily the best course of action, but I’ve definitely got a plan for 2018 going forward. It’s going well so far too. Yes, this is vagueblogging. More will hopefully be revealed soon.

Regarding the things I love, I travelled to a new country for the first time whilst being 33 (Ireland). My Germanophile nature was fed further as a long weekend in Köln was spent following my love of professional wrestling, as well as falling in love with Berlin in November. I also took my main holiday in the UK for the first time since 2012 with a week spent in London and Brighton. I played a bunch of new games and my time playing video games has creeped up. Gym has taken a hit, but I’m walking a lot more these days. I also think I drink less, and eat slightly better.

Now, suggested by Nichola Stott, here is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series, here is my life-by-life comparison with Reese Witherspoon.

Rhys (With a Spoon)
Rhys (With a Spoon)

Reese Witherspoon
Age Nearly 34 Nearly 42
Oscars (Nominated) 0 1
Books Written 1 0
Marriages 0 2
Children 0 3
WordPress Plugins Written 10 0

I'm not sure how much further I can compare my life to Reese Witherspoon, so if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Previous Versions: 30

Thoughts of a Pisshead on Dryathlon

So, it’s October, and I’m delighted to announce I successfully completed my Dryathlon. I had a few challenges, but overall it was fairly straightforward, and I had a few wobbles.

I surprised many people, but mainly I surprised myself. Last year’s dryathlon I managed about 15-20 days. Whilst I raised a decent sum for charity, I did notice a few things at my end. Here are some things I noticed during my Dryathlon.

I’m £300 Better Off

It is so scary how little money I spent this past month. I wouldn’t say I drank a huge amount recently, but this month the £20 on drinks, £15 on food, and an Uber home sure adds up, and they were gone this month. Instead of going out, I stayed in – and that saved me a small fortune (I worked out it was about £300). Hopefully in the months that follow I won’t go out as much as I did beforehand.

I Wouldn’t Say I’ve More Energy

One thing when people say they give up alcohol is “You’ll have more energy going forward!”. That I can say is bullshit, at least in my case.

Sure I’m waking up a lot easier and it’s nice not to feel like crap, but I don’t have quite as much energy as I thought I would.

That being said, it’s been so long since a hangover, I cannot remember what one feels like.

I Don’t Think I’ve Lost Weight

“You’ll lose weight!” they also say. I’m not convinced I have. I think because in the past month I’ve eaten a fair bit of crap (I’ve been so busy, and my diet has suffered), so whilst I’ve been exercising okay, I’ve been eating a lot of rubbish. So I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, I just think it didn’t happen to me.

It’s something I’m keen on fixing though, I’m going to buy a slow cooker for the winter so I can prepare lovely stews and warm hearty meals for the winter (I love warmer meals in the winter).

My Belly Is Smaller

With that said, I feel my belly is a bit smaller now than it was at the beginning of the month. My guess is that I’m not as bloated as usually am.

Friday’s Are The Worst

Saturdays and the week were incredibly easy to keep, after about half way through the month. The worst has been Fridays, as the post work drinks have become not much fun. Being the butt of jokes for not drinking gets tiresome, and also often being limited to coke, after a hard week in work isn’t great either. Furthermore this month I have been to a lot of free bars.

Never Drink San Miguel 0.0%, but Nanny State is Lovely

Of course, after the first weekend of Diet Coke, I decided to embrace the wide world of alcohol free beers. I drank 6 different non-alcoholic beers in total, and notes on what they tasted like:-

  1. Nanny State – Literally way ahead of the rest in terms of quality. Incredibly drinkable, tastes exactly like beer, and I can see myself drinking this when I return to drinking.
  2. Schneider Weisse Alcohol Free – Again, a really nice beer. Doesn’t have the sharp “yeah I’m not drinking beer” taste as the others.
  3. Erdinger Alkoholfrei – Was nearly 2nd, the aftertaste and the fact that it kept me wired made me not enjoy this as much. But tastes quite nice.
  4. Tesco Bavaria Non-Alcoholic Beer – A bit of a gap between 3rd and 4th. This was served to me in a couple of pubs in London. Drinkable, but a little less beer-tasting put it down the list.
  5. Becks Blue – Again, a huge gap from this to Tesco. This tasted bland with a slight lemony taste. Again, not unpleasant, but definitely not beer. May as well drink water.
  6. San Miguel 0.0% – Urgh. Utter dreadful. Served in a can that you get premixed drinks in. This tasted premixed. Long bitter lemon taste made this horribly unpleasant to drink. Avoid.

(secretly) Want To Continue

Here is the scary thing, after about day 22 of the Dryathlon I wasn’t missing alcohol. It was nice waking up without a hangover, and the social requirement of drinking beer disappeared. I’m curious to know how long I could go. Admittedly I’m probably will be drinking soon, probably by the time you read this, but as somebody who feels like I’ve never achieved anything, this has been a nice thing to achieve.

You can donate to my Dryathlon here.

Dryathlong Way Gone and Lifestyle Changes



Behold my to-do list. It’s been one of my constants on how to manage things in my life. Whilst Remember the Milk doesn’t have a fancy API (which displeases me so), it is one piece of software I pay for regularly.

Anyway, you may notice some things on my to-do list. including my monthly reminder to watch Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal against Belgium. One thing you don’t notice is one task – go to the gym.

On 1st July of last year I contemplated a lifestyle change. Basically lifestyle changes are more successful than diets in my eyes as, whilst more permanent – they are often smaller. They sound scary, but are actually minor. A diet means don’t you eat chocolate. A lifestyle change means you don’t eat chocolate on Wednesday.

Which one are you more likely to stick to, and which one seems easier?

So my lifestyle change was to aim to go to the gym at least once every 3 days. I love swimming, so my gym is usually going for a swim for half an hour to 45 minutes. I switched to the gym near work. And if it’s lovely weather my exercise is a brisk 3 mile walk home.

In short, I had planned to write this blog post in July, celebrating one year of hitting the gym. But I was behind. Going to Wrestlemania, seeing Wales in The Euros and my brother’s wedding does that to you. But as of the 15th September, I’ve caught up. I’ve now been to the gym at least once every 3 days.

I don’t know if this has got anything to do with my Dryathlon, but I know I’m not skipping the gym to go to the pub now. Even post September, it’s something I really want to continue.