Matthew Gatland

More on e-waste

May 03, 2017

I’m sorry I’m writing about e-waste again. Throwing out my old computer stuff has been surprisingly emotional. Especially this:

Photo of an Antec Lanboy computer case and Matthew sitting in the back seat of a car

Me and my Lanboy

I bought this case after I moved to Auckland. I wanted a gaming computer, and gaming laptops were much too expensive, so it had to be a desktop. But I also knew I would be moving it around a lot – back to my parents’ house in all my university breaks. I researched the best affordable lightweight PC case there was, and this was it:

Photo of an Antec Lanboy computer case

The mighty Antec Lanboy

They didn’t make them any more, but I found one second-hand on TradeMe. I picked it up from a fellow nerd and carried it home on foot and bus with its cute carry-handle.

Since then, me and my Lanboy had heaps of travel adventures. As well as holidays at my parents’ house, I moved flat at least once a year for many years.

By the time I built my next computer, life had settled down – and I had a laptop to take on shorter trips. I bought a heavier, more spacious case and Lanboy retired to the corner of my bedroom.

Today I took him to the e-waste place. I feel a little guilty. I could have continued the legacy by handing him on to a new young nerd. I doubt the e-waste people will appreciate his value, except as scrap aluminium.

But he wasn’t having much fun gathering dust in my room. I’m sure this is all for the best.

Antec Lanboy computer case atop a tower of e-waste

Off to the endless lan party in the sky.

Throwing Things Out is Hard

April 25, 2017

I’ve always wanted to make games with custom hardware – games like Robin Baumgarten’s Line Wobbler or Flat Earth Games’ Objects in Space.

Line Wobbler

Line Wobbler, in a photo that does not do it justice

Because I’ve always wanted to do this, I’ve always kept things that I thought would be useful: old computers, hard drives, power adaptors for long-lost devices, joysticks, broken game controllers, spare speakers, old keyboards.

This is aspirational hoarding. I keep these things not because I’ve ever needed them, but because I would like to be the kind of person who needs them.

I don’t make hardware games.

Tonight I’m trying to throw it all out.

My brain fights me every step of the way.

What if I get rid of this cable, then find out 6 months later that I need one? They’re overpriced at every store.

This old hard drive still works. It doesn’t hold as much as a new one, but it would be perfect if I was building a special-purpose PC for some kind of project.

Maybe I’ll make a location-specific game where every player needs earphones. Having these 5 pairs ready to go is a great start!

My life has felt unfocused this year, and I think it will help if I’m more clear about what I’m not. I’m not a hardware hacker. I might become one – I’ve been many things! – but I’m not one today. I should not collect parts for an imagined future.

My gun

August 18, 2016

everyone else in the office is playing overwatch
I haven’t been into multiplayer games for years…
but I have UT2004 installed hey there are still servers running!

I join a server it’s full of weird silly custom powerups
pick up a random weapon and OMG this is MY GUN

this weapon mod i made ten years ago
that i thought no-one even used
has survived like a cockroach while all the big mods died
and is live on a server in 2016

It’s not a prestigious mod collection. The server’s custom config is full of fart jokes and dick jokes, the maps are chaotic and tiny and far too frantic to use my gun the way it was meant to be used. But it’s amazing that this thing I made is still out there, long after I stopped paying attention.

What else is floating around the internet?