ASCII by Jason Scott

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The TEXTFILES.COM Information Cube 1.0 —

This Friday, I was at my brother’s compound helping oversee the installation of a secret project, now revealed: The Information Cube.

That’s my little brother and the driver, discussing the best way to offload this monster onto the property. At 40 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet, this is a storage container which has seen some world travel, and which, for at least a year or so, will be the official repository for the contents of PAPER.TEXTFILES.COM.

A 20′ storage container is much more manageable, but the difference between 20′ and 40′ was $10 a month, and that’s a little hard to pass up.

Once we dropped it down, things looked even more imposing:

For the record, a storage container makes a sound like BBBBBBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN when you drop it off the back of a truck. As you also might notice, it’s kind of just sitting out there in the middle of the lot, which isn’t the ideal place, so that’s when it came down to little bro to use one of his vehicles to fix things:

Yes, that’s right. A bulldozer. We have a bulldozer. And a backhoe. And a wide variety of other earth moving equipment. What I’m saying is, don’t fuck with us or you get a free moat one night.

Storage containers are neat. It’s one thing to see them stacked at docks when you drive by or to walk by one when you’re on your way somewhere else, but it’s another deal altogether when it’s yours. This one is mine, or, I should say, is mine thanks to all the generous donations of the sabbatical and some other money I had saved up. This is all part of making my computer history work real. This is the start of an empire, a huge, cubic, green empire. (More thank yous to my supporters, shortly.)

The side of a storage container gives you all sorts of crazy information:

For the folks at home who don’t own or operate a storage container, the “Tare Weight” is “Weight when there’s nothing in there”, in this case 8.470 pounds. As you can also see, it has 2,360 cubic feet of capacity, which is also nice and solid, an excellent amount to do work in. Here’s what it looks like inside, without stuff:

And here’s what it looked like after we loaded in the first 100 crates (!) of material or so:

There’s a bunch of computer equipment, additional material and such that needs to go in here, and then I’ll be resorting and better quantizing these crates, including which crate location various items are residing – in other words, running it like a real library. I will open it up for appointments as needed, although if people simply need a specific item listed in the collection for a reason, I’m up to discussing that as well. I think it’s the right thing to do, and this whole process is going to make it easier for me to do my work.

This is a big, crazy thing, and it had to be done, and I appreciate how it might surprise people I’d move so fast so broadly after the Sabbatical hit success, but that’s what it’s about, right? Showing what I’m up to? Well, there you go.

I just rented a massive metal box of computer history!

Categorised as: computer history | jason his own self |

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  1. Jay B says:

    Hell yes. Grats.

  2. Benj Edwards says:

    One thing I’m worried about, possibly erroneously: do you have any humidity management planned? I’m not sure how the weather is up in wherever your box is, but in NC it gets humid as crap, and I made the mistake of leaving magazines and various plastic stuff in my garage for one summer without a dehumidifier and it grew mold all over it. Now a dehumidifier hums away continuously.

    Also, my garage doesn’t get too hot because it’s attached to a house that gets AC in the summer, but your box might be different. Then again, in northern climes that might not be as much of an issue.

  3. Jason Scott says:

    We’re going into a winter right now so I have some slack, but proper environmentals are one of the priorities. Also, the unit will have humidity charts/alarms running as well.

  4. Shannon Nelson says:

    Also – watch out for leaks. Our local high school band has two of these for storage and they do require some periodic maintenance.

  5. Very cool. I’d imagine it poses some interesting organizational problems considering you can’t just pack it completely with crates, but instead you have to allow room for a human to be able to access each one.

  6. Stede says:

    Did you buy or rent this?

  7. Chris says:

    Someone is making an office building out of these shipping containers in Providence, RI. It is going to be called, appropriately enough, “Box Office”:

  8. jen says:

    There is a whole subculture surrounding the aftermarket uses of shipping containers. There have been a few books published, fringe culture ‘zines and blogs have discussed them and a few cyberpunkish SF authors have included them in their stories.

  9. If you end up living in there at some point, I want you to know you’ll be everyone’s hiro.

  10. Nate says:

    That’s not a cube – it’s a TARDIS!

    The inside… looks like it goes on forever. Do you have contingency plans for retrieving lost search parties?

  11. Ingvar says:

    That is AWESOME!

  12. Decius says:

    I second the concerns about water and humidity. Those containers are rarely watertight, especially if you used a bulldozer to push it around.

    If you end up buying it, consider installing permanent shelves. If you want to rent it indefinately, consider temporary shelves. The time you save stacking and unstacking will be worth it, and not having to worry about things falling should increase the effective capacity. Also, it gives you a place to put the indexing information and indicate where removed material goes back to.

  13. Jason Scott says:

    All concerns are being noted, and I assure everyone I will be doing The Right Thing!

  14. JudgeDeadd says:

    Looks good. But tell me: when you press a non-conspicuous button on its side, does it sprout gigantic, mechanical spider legs and proceed to rove around the countryside, bringing chaos, sorrow and destruction wherever it heads?

  15. JudgeDeadd says:

    Because if it doesn’t… then you wasted your money.

  16. Jason Scott says:

    Look outside your windowDUN DUN DUN

  17. chaz says:

    I enjoyed this article on the world service. Particularly interested in the economics of containers, and why it is that containers are so cheap to rent/buy in the US

  18. Stormgren says:

    “What I’m saying is, don’t fuck with us or you get a free moat one night.”

    But what if I *want* a moat?