7 Users on 1 PC! – but is it legal?

How did a company in the mid 2000s figure out how to cut the cost of computing six times over, and why haven’t any of us heard of it? How did they work around Microsoft’s legal limitations? Can it run Crysis?

I found this product for $4.95 at the local junk store and, as usual, it caused me to discover an entire universe of capabilities I’d always wanted but believed were impossible. As a result, I spent three weeks figuring out how to demo it in a way that would communicate the scale of the whole thing, hence the extreme length of this video.

One style comment I would like to make: I realize that during a couple sequences you can’t make out the details on the monitor unless you’re on a full desktop screen. I could not find a graceful way to solve this problem, and I felt that my narration was sufficient to fill the gap.

00:00 The Plateau
05:05 The Problem
09:45 The Solution
14:17 The Demo (Apps)
20:36 The Demo (Games)
25:11 The Jank
33:35 The Hardware
40:19 The Software / The Theory
45:10 The Cheaters
49:50 The Demo (Prestige)
1:02:48 The Conclusion
1:06:29 The Genre
1:08:44 The Outro

Regarding NComputing:
I am such a doofus that it took me until the last hour to realize that this video could be construed as an ad, since this company still exists. I had kind of a moral crisis, because I detest the idea that someone might think I was shilling.

Eventually I realized I didn’t need to feel bad about it, because by all rights the problem shouldn’t still exist. I don’t think you should buy NComputing’s product – I think Microsoft should be nationalized and we should build this feature into every PC.

Microsoft has proven that they could do this and simply choose not to, even if you want to pay them for it. Linux has even less excuse – why is this feature not just a mode you can enable while installing Ubuntu? Instead you have to follow reams and reams of baffling instructions, assuming you even learn that this option exists (in 25 years, I never did), and I promise it’s going to be extremely fragile after you get it working.

If our world is going to be so stupid and broken that this company still has a reason to exist, then I guess I can’t blame myself. It’s not my fault that third parties are still the only game in town for a simple and bizarrely-unserved need.

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21 bình luận về “7 Users on 1 PC! – but is it legal?”

  1. There was an issue in the server 2003 terminal services audio stack where if you were running a bunch of concurrent audio streams it would get confused on where it was directing the audio and send little snippets of audio to the wrong seat. The terminal services environment I was running had upwards of 60 concurrent thin clients connected and there was always a few people listening to streaming audio, and one guy who REALLY liked watching porn at work. So almost every day when people were using them while listening to music there would be these tiny blips of audio of women moaning cutting in. Got fixed with 2008, I assume by properly threading the audio processing rather than whatever the hell they were doing in 2003.

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  2. Of course I ripped…
    But of course you did! Don't be ridiculous! lol
    My first time here.
    It's such a nice refreshing change, being able to listen to some guy talk about historical PCs, and I can just sit back and enjoy the lovely walk down memory lane. That is, without having to correct him every three sentences.

    You really know your shit. But I still think you were in diapers in the 80s. 🤓

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  3. I designed, built, and installed over 1000 PC's from the mid 80s to the end of the decade for all but two of the government contractors based in Southern California.. Including the world's first PC-based WAN in 1987.
    And I wasn't in diapers when I did that, like you must've been. What do you know about the 80s, Sonny? 👨‍🦳😏

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  4. Dude, I am so with you about Word updates in the last 20 years. But I hate to say it, it's much bigger than that. It is literally everything that Microsoft has done since Bill Gates left. Without exception everything, all their products, including the operating systems, have gotten worse. I'm still using basically the same features that I've been using in the MS office suite since the 80s. And I can't think of a single thing that's been added that has made a huge difference for me. And yes I agree Word 95 was awesome. But so is the version they came out with to support the 386. The original version, back in 1982 when I first started using it, was not all that great. But it sure was better than the alternative which required memorizing 100+ different hash key commands to perform the basic editing and formatting structures people used. Mind you, excel in 1982 was pretty solid. Even though it got swept under the rug when Lotus 1-2-3 came out. But it's still been a solid application from the beginning.
    Getting back on topic with your script, I built a full tower system in 2009 with 16 gig ram, an SLA bridged pair of GeForce GTX 660s driving a 3160-pixel wide desktop spread across 4 22-inch monitors in portrait orientation, and six hard drives spread across 2 RAID fives. And all built around AMD's second fastest CBU (it was $300 more for the fastest. Like what am I stupid?) There wasn't one system produced by any major any manufacture that could touch the performance of my rig for at least two years. And I was still using it in 2016 when in December I made the mistake of attempting to use Microsoft's own back up program that came with windows 10. And I only did that because it was one of like three that would restore the whole operating system configuration in addition to your data. That little system I had took months to get all of my little toys to play nice with each other and get rid of all the BSODs. But from that point on it was bulletproof. Until I ran Microsoft backup utility program. Which of course broke my entire set up.
    With 1.6 TB of data to back up, I had to erase the 1.6 TB backup file on my NAS to make room for the new back up. Of course it made me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, so the first thing I did after doing that was start the backup program. Only to have it crash… twice, after which I followed SOP and rebooted. And that was the last time I ever saw my files and eight years of data for my accounting firm. It literally put me out of business, since all of our clients are business owners and they pay us to keep all their important documents on file as we do their books and their taxes. Yes, thank you Microsoft. The end of that saga is after about five weeks, their best advice, bottom line, what to do now? Well simply reinstall windows 10. And yeah, I've been building high-end custom PCs since before you were an itch in your daddy's pants. But what about my data? I don't give a fuck about the operating system. "Oh yeah sorry of course it will be lost but your computer will be working just fine. All you have to do is install windows 10…" And flush the Half a million company that I started and spent eight years building down the toilet. But the good news is your computer will work again!
    So, were it not for Microsoft I'm quite certain I would still be using that System today.

    PS. When my top-of-the-line 15-inch touchscreen Dell laptop died earlier this year, I actually went and bit the bullet and bought a MacBook Air with the M1. First Apple I've owned since the Apple II in 1982. And I can honestly say that it is by far the most elegant and beautiful $1500 paperweight that I've ever owned. And it's also the slowest worst piece of shit computer I have ever had the misfortune to use, let alone own. Thanks again Microsoft.

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  5. I kept a dual-Opteron motion graphics workstation in front-line daily operation for 12 years! Despite the overall speed becoming a limitation eventually, it took a surprisingly long time for standard PCs to reach the sheer multitasking stability that thing had.

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  6. >How did a company in the mid 2000s figure out how to cut the cost of computing six times over,
    Easy, they just installed Linux and didn't buy into the corporate Microsoft scam.
    And yes, i've lived through the history.

    Nice clickbait, thanks to people like you the next generation will consider even owning a PC should be illegal 🙂

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  7. I expect you can't change resolution because the timing and sync pulses are only generated once and shared between all 3 video outputs, to save gates. That would mean you'd need to switch all 3 at the same time, which would be terrible — better to just keep the resolution fixed.

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  8. HP had a one PC muilti-user system too. It was marketed and sold in developing countries. It was offered over a decade ago. I can remember the name or the exact year.

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  9. And about windows…if I buy the software, I will use it on however many machines that I want. I do not have to agree to anything to use the software and it should be illegal to say I am just leasing software.

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  10. At the line “those are all the answers we can get from the card… let’s take a look at the terminal adapter“ my cat instantly flipped around to stare at the screen.

    …he’s smarter than I thought.

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