Like many of his peers, Eric Shaffer's experience with computers goes back about as far as he can remember, to his pre-kindergarten years when he started playing games on a PC with a Windows 95 operating system.
But unlike most, Shaffer, 16, an incoming junior at Rancho Cotate High in Rohnert Park, needed to peek inside the thin metal box and get to know the processor, motherboard, hard drive and other components.
"I always wanted to figure out what made them tick," he said.
Shaffer's digital-world exploration hasn't stopped, and this summer he's assembling a custom-built desktop computer with a serial port to link with a 65-pound Sun Microsystems server he got for free from a cable company in his hometown of Evanston, Wyo.
"I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with it," Shaffer said. Most likely, he will use the server to host websites he intends to create.