I scored a (at least mostly) working Point of Sale terminal from the trash at the nearby location of a fast-food sandwich chain named for a mode of mass transit. It’s a pretty nifty little piece of hardware, a Micros Eclipse 400498, based on a 1Ghz Pentium 3, 512Mb of RAM, and normal (ish) PC-BIOS. It has a broken WinXP install on it now, I think it shipped with an older NT version, because the drivers are all fucked up. The fun part is the attached goodies: a 3-track magnetic stripe reader (credit cards, etc.), 2-line VFD display, and a 12” touchscreen (only 800×600, but pretty crisp and good colors).
I’m thinking it will make a bitchin’ jukebox. Scroll the track information on the VFD, put a touch-flow-esque interface on the touchscreen, hook up some speakers, etc. One of the housemates suggested a barmonkey (it could even process payments), but that is a WAY more involved project because of the valve rigs, and I have plenty of unfinished involved projects right now.
It is however being obstinate about drivers and alternative boot devices, and the manufacturer (micros) seems to believe that not providing any drivers/manuals/support of any kind will enforce support plans/upgrades/create security by obscurity or something, because their website is supremely unforthcoming. There don’t appear to be any WinXP compatible drivers for the various hardware, so the best choice is probably to try for Linux. Its not wanting to boot off USB devices (despite the BIOS’ claims that it will), doesn’t seem to like having a 2-channel ATA cable attached, has no CD drive, and has repeatedly failed on the wubi-install-from-USB trick, so it will be exciting to get going. Maybe some sort of netboot stunt.