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I got my first computer for Christmas 1994, a PowerSpec from the just-opened Micro Center. To give you a reference point, that computer cost a bit under $2000, a huge investment at the time. An equal machine now would be considered a mainstream $600-range computer.

My first break into a computer case was a memory update - 8MB was at the unheard-of sale price of $112! That ought to make the machine scream along!

I taught myself some Visual Basic and database stuff and started automating things. This eventually led to a temp computer job that became my present job.

I am a Administrative Coordinator II at a nonprofit organization - a fancy title for a medium-grade worker bee position. Basically I am the tech support for my department, building user applications with the MS Office suite. I pull data from the servers, manipulate it, pretty it up and give user-filtered reports. Mostly in Access, but some stuff in Excel as well. The idea is to give the users a one-click solution.

Somewhere along the way the minor updates I did with refurbished systems changed into full builds. A new hobby was born. It seems I need to do a build every few years - just because...

I have built several computers, most of them just basic work machines. I generally use parts that are a year or two old, open box, wherever I can save money. Latest and greatest didn't matter on those.

Now my focus is a computer that will carry me for several years. I will soon have more time to play games and get deeper into the photo hobby so the machine specs have bumped up.

As with any hobby, you start basic and then get fancier. I did a learner custom cooling loop and a year later remodeled it into more of a showpiece. The computer I am now using my first ITX build. The hobby is evolving...