The H.C.C. Days

(article in English by request...)

A slightly unusual and humourous look at the best 3 computerdays of the year

Unfortunatly since 2002/2003 when this article was written things have changed. The Testbank/Technische Vraagbaak is no more, terminated by the HCC management. The way this has happened is a sad and deceitfull tale which I will not put on this site out of respect for the people who still work for the HCC (This does NOT include HCC management).

So enjoy this article from the Golden age of one of the best groups of the HCC. The Testbank/Technische Vraagbaak.

An introduction...

Many, many people over the years have asked me this question.
"Okay..... So what are the H.C.C. Days?"

Three Days of complete computers madness organized by the H.C.C. the Hobby Computer Club. The biggest Computer Club in the world. More than 100.000 visitors a year making it one of the Biggest and Best computer fairs on the European continent. (held at the Jaarbeurs in the good city of Utrecht)

The HCC days are....
  • a 3 day shopping spree....
  • a 3 day gaming adventure...
  • a chance to upgrade your computer
  • time to repair your computer
  • time to get a new computer?
  • time to get a second hand computer?
  • time to find out about computers, the internet, hardware, software
  • time to join up with other people in the HCC groups
  • the place to be in the Netherlands
  • days you just don't want to miss
  • a good way to spend money and keep the economy working
  • a way to get that little piece of hardware you missed
  • a way to finally get rid of your girlfriend (when she sees how much you spent)
  • a good way to trade in your nerdy boyfriend
    (for a brand new more nerdy one, annorack sold seperatly)
  • more more more more and more computerstuff to get
  • a great way to find more people just like you (oh God, no...)
  • just there to find a bigger bigger monitor for those "educational" mpegs and avi movies
  • a way to get a DVD player for those "educational" DVD movies
  • a way to get a burner to burn those "educational" movies
What more could an IT specialist want?

Well you could be a volunteer for the HCC and make your HCC a whole lot better. Ok so the hours are long, but you get in for free, get to wear the Red Gear and to make things even better you can help other people out with there computer problems.
Sounds to good to be true?
Moah.... no not really, I've been a volunteer for several years and never regretted being a HCC volunteer.
Never? Nope, absolutely Never.

I'm a volunteer for the Technical Bench, people come and ask questions about their hardware. I try to solve their questions or point them in the right direction.

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Start of the Day

And now it begins...

Here is my spot, Computergroup Testbank. We provide a service, we check hardware, we take a look at your products. We answer questions about your hardware. See how quiet it is, is early now. Time is 8:30 in the morning. Friday morning, building on the stand is finished and most of the workmen have left. Its quiet now, far too quiet. I swear I saw some tumbleweed roll on by. But in the far distance I can hear a rumbling sound.

Soon now... they come....

It's fun walking around before it all begins, you make mental notes where all the good stands are. Where the fun stuff is, the cheap stuff and the guys who are asking way too much. I walked around with a couple of friends. People who know me know I carry a Zenit. Not this time. For this big event I took along a low form of camera, the infamous Lomo LC-A. Why? I wanted a nonintrusive, simple little camera. One that has an odd lens and gives funky colors :-)

Look Boss! A Plane! A Plane! Yes, once being a Lz39 Albatros in service of the Polish Airforce and now a fullscale flight simulator. You just gotta love it! You just want to take it home. Build it into your living room. Or in put it into you backyard! Heck, it is waterproof.

YES! You have to be CRAZY not to buy at these low prices! The halls and pathways are still empty. But all is in readiness. It all seems to be silent but yet there are sounds before the storm. You can hear the movement of boxes, clickity clacks of staplers, the humming of machines coming online and voices telling where what should go.

But in a far distance there still is the rumbling.
A rumbling of thousands of feet.

It's getting closer....

Soon now... they come...

Look it's a SMART! You can win this thing. You might think it is a nerdy little car at a nerdy convention but this little car is fast and can be parked almost anywhere. It even has room for a case of beer in the back! Unfortunatly they took it out, I checked.

Ah... the stand of the best provider of Holland. XS4all is in the house! That they are also my ISP has got nothing to do with it. They are just good! Thanks to them Tigers Lair is online since 1996. It might not be free but their quality and service is worth it.

Time to man our stations...
Please note the highly desirable and most excellent Red sweater. It makes you stand out in crowd and tells everyone that you are a HCC volunteer. In 2003 it will be the Even More Excellent Black Sweater. All is ready now...

It is Time. They've come.
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Full Swing...

They're here...

At 10:00 local time, the doors opened and they came. Tens of thousands of feet move in the halls and suddenly the Jaarbeurs in the good city of Utrecht becomes the place to be. It's a port of call, home away from home, for sellers, buyers, hustlers, nerds, morons, techs, hackers, crackers, phreakers, cops and robbers, weirdos, lardos, ICT people, businessmen and women, spammers, advertizers and wanderers. And many, many, many more. So don't be insulted if I left your little group out. For three days the Jaarbeurs becomes the biggest collection of hardware and software in Holland. All are here, from the humble DOS systems, to Microsofts finest and Linux. Even Clusterlinux is there. You can even get you own little Tux! I did :-)

Well, well... look at this, not so quiet now is it... It's pretty full. Seekers of knowledge? Or just looking for a good deal? Or are you just here for a good time at these nice gaming machines?

Who knows, you try to figure it out. I just go with the flow. Which is the best thing to do.
This year you can find me (as allways) at the Technical bench (Computergroep Testbank Technische Vraagbaak) so if you are there, come and say hello. I'm there on friday and saturday.

Finally you can meet Tom Tiger in the flesh, the creator of Tigers Lair and all out mad person who happens to love Russian Cameras. Or, now you know where he is, you can finally safely avoid him! Hurra! Good times will be had for all! More shots, thats me again in the first right shot trying to explain something for only the 31st time, Please note that beside the most excellent red sweaters we now also have the equally excellent white shirts that exactly display which group you belong to.

The Next shot, Yes we will get you the info you need! It must be somewhere on the web and we will find it, even if we have to search the entire web. And we will. We'll do anything to solve your hardwareproblems, including taking your PC and punishing it severly, no more games untill it resolves your msgsvr32 error!

Our counter, you can actually give us your hardware that you just bought and we will test it for you (HCC members only), look at that crowd... no wonder because it is FREE. Totally and absolutly FREE. Hard to find such a service nowadays. And it is an excellent service, we can test procs, mem, boards, drives. The Testbank has its own teststations, simtesters. AND knows about ESD (Electro Static Discharge). But only for HCC members ;-) Otherwise we would be overrun....

Are these guys really old age pensioners or are they something else I'm sure when I walked by I could hear them whisper,
"Tell me General. What do we need next to take over the world?"

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, something to eat. We've got the best hotdogs in town. Probably also the only hotdogs in town but still. Fortunatly HCC volunteers eat for free and even have their own place to eat. Which is good, lines ain't so long as they are here. But they don't have a good hotdog.

Whoo hoo... best deal of the day! Yes my friend, you bought a HP Net server PIII 700mhz 512 mb of ram in the original box with the original cd's and the thing is WORKING! Can you believe that this guy bought it for 100 euros! I can't, so here is photographic proof.

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Ah... the end of the day.... just lean back and take it easy... Don't let this mild mannered exterior fool you. Inside it is someone who uses a Russian Photogun, can do awfull impressions of the godfather and has a softspot for old westerns. Is also known to pop up suddenly with a camera. Or scare the heck out of everybody wearing a gasmask....

Taken after closing the doors at the end of the day.... And yes the person in the shot is me. Doing my impression of a sleeping, cameracrazed, mad person. This also happens when Tom does not get enough coffee to keep him going. Please notice the highly desirable and most excellent red sweater. It makes you stand out in crowd and tells everyone that you are a HCC volunteer. In 2003 I will be wearing the NEW and IMPROVED and more desirable Black Sweater. With the New logo.

A few final shots. Yes, it's me, I'm the man with the plan, it's just not your plan :-) Ever notice that photographers make lousy models? Well it is true... I look like a second hand car dealer in this shot. Do you want to buy a second hand slightly (mis)used ferarri?
Do you really want to buy it from this man?
Oh... it is slightly used, believe me, it was only driven by a little old lady who only used it on sundays to drive to church.... and just look at this clock, it only says a 1000 kilometers driven.
You see... You can trust me ....(stroking a white cat, not shown here and batteries are not included)
But seriously. In this shot the plan is simple, how do you get a Ferarri through 2 solid steel doors and about 15.000 people in one hall? Answer... I didn't... in the first place I couldn't find the keys.... and since the models of a modeling agency in the next hall were giving away cd's (and they were on it) and since they said that they were available for just about anything (remember that a dirty mind is a joy forever)...... well... eh... I kind of forgot about the car... shame though.. I never driven a ferarri before.

Well... at least I got a free cd ;-)

Well... its back to the real world for me... I'm going home... alone... sigh...
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Credit were credit is due. I would like to thank;
  • The H.C.C. for their excellent work around Holland and Belgium.
  • The ComputerGroup Testbank for letting me be a volunteer and for their great help to everyone who has a computerproblem.
  • Hinke Leipold for taking a few shots of me (including the very good sleeping one)
  • Ben Spee for taking the Ferarri Shot.
  • Dennis Schoone for taking the Lomo shot of me.
  • The unknown photographer who tooks shots of the Testbank team.
  • The Jaarbeurs for giving the H.C.C. Days a place to be to become THE place to be.
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Copyright Tom A.H. Piel

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