Memories of testing past

In 1998 I had moved to Farmingdale Long Island and was working at a computer shop in Massapequa, NY building PCs and figuring out what had been done to break the PCs that came into/back into the shop. These were the days of 133mHz processors and I think the Pentium 3 was just about to come out. One thing that computers could not do at that time was play a DVD without a decoder card.

Everyone at that time seemed to want a PC that could play a DVD, so we ordered decoder cards, DVD players and writers, and the like. The problem with this setup however was that the decoder cards had an extremely high rate of failure, and they’d fail in weird but expected ways such as just pausing for a minute or two before resuming, or speckles on the video, or the picture just going black.

Every card we sent out had to be tested because half of them were coming back in. We discovered that if they played one DVD flawlessly they weren’t going to break. However If they had any delay whatsoever in playing a DVD, or any scene was speckled, that card was going to be coming back in. This was the era of some crap manufacturing and the two manufacturers we could get these cards from were more than willing to put their names on untested buggy product.

I had a timer, and a station devoted to testing, and over the course of somewhere around 8 months while we were dealing with PCs that were not powerful enough to decrypt DVDs with a software solution, I would watch one of two DVDs over and over and over again. Every day from around 8am until builds were done for the day (anywhere between 1pm and 5pm,) I would have on Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

Now here’s the thing – I had to have the audio on to hear if it stopped or the words started sounding slow, but I could be working on other things checking in occasionally to see if there was the dreaded speckling that indicated the card was going to fail.

I suspect I watched that movie on average three times a day for somewhere in the neighborhood of five months. For work purposes. We had one other DVD in the shop, but it didn’t have constant audio (Blair Witch Project) and neither I nor the other tech used it.

Anyway, that’s how I watched Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery somewhere around 480 times in 1998/99.

It seems like only 150…

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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