Archive for the ‘computers’ Category

The Internet That Was: 1981-82

August 20, 2010

I recently stumbled across an archive of Usenet posts, mostly from around 1981. They’re archived using the Gopher protocol, so you most likely have to use one of the Mozilla-based browsers like Firefox, Seamonkey, etc. to be able to access them. Many of them are incredibly amusing from a historical standpoint. For instance, in the NET.music archive, there’s the following from April 1982:

I came across a record a few months ago by BOW-WOW-WOW.
After an initial readjustment period I became quite
happy with it.  It's name was something like "See jungle,
go ape crazy" (I taped it and lost the title).  Anyone
else hear this album?  Do they have any other albums?
Any of them worth a listen?  I fear that this is the kind
of group that you could get tired of real fast.

I love the assessment of Bow-Wow-Wow as “the kind of group that you could get tired of real fast,” as well as the simple fact that someone once felt compelled to ask of the band, “Anyone else hear this?” Here’s a history lesson for you, kids: once upon a time (when we had to walk eight miles each way to school through ten foot high snowdrifts every day, even in May) we used to buy music on these 12″ diameter things called “record albums,” and then we would make copies of them on cassette tapes to share with people and listen to in our portable Walkmans and boom boxes. It was like the peer-to-peer file sharing network of its day.

There’s also a review of an Asia concert (!) by a Steve Howe fanboy (who wouldn’t be a “boy” anymore, because he’s now 28 years older than whatever age he was at the show), as well as the prices and information you needed back then to subscribe to the Computer Music Journal (Journals Department, The MIT Press, 28 Carleton Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142 — I dare you to send something there now and see what happens, since the address is different now).

The fact that everything’s archived on a Gopher server makes it even more awesome. I once attempted to explain to my sister, who’s about 10 years younger than me, how during my freshman year of college (1995-96), our whole campus computer network consisted of VAX terminals, and that the Internet as we had it was all text in the form of something called Gopher rather than the World Wide Web as we know it today. She couldn’t fathom how people managed to exist like that.

Random little side note: I still insist on using the Weather Underground website and iCal feed today to get weather forecasts and updates on conditions, mostly because that was what we had available at school through Gopher when I first started using the Internet as a college freshman, and even today getting weather information online through any other venue just doesn’t feel right for some bizarre reason.

Attributive legalese: The Usenet archive stuff linked to and quoted here is from The Usenet Oldnews Archive: Compilation Copyright (C) 1981, 1996 — Bruce Jones, Henry Spenser, David Wiseman

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Social Networking FAIL

December 17, 2009

The GnuCash logo.At the time of this posting, GnuCash, an open source accounting/bookkeeping program similar to QuickBooks or Quicken, has a grand total of one fan on Facebook. Awesome.

Well, We Had to Walk 10 Miles Through 7 Foot High Snowbanks to Get to School

June 30, 2009

This makes me feel older than dirt:

Giving up my iPod for a Walkman

When the Sony Walkman was launched, 30 years ago this week, it started a revolution in portable music. But how does it compare with its digital successors? The Magazine invited 13-year-old Scott Campbell to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week.

Technology and Free Speech

June 17, 2009

I’ve mocked things like Twitter and text messaging occasionally on this blog (in the case of Twitter, as recently as yesterday). However, these things do have the potential to do a lot of good as well as waste a lot of time.

We’re seeing examples of that potential now.

I’m not Iranian; I can’t speak one way or another about any given side in the current election crisis. Plus, we in the United States already have entirely too much to answer for when it comes to meddling in the internal affairs of that country.

However, as another blogger said, “I am very pro freedom of speech. Whether we agree or disagree with any given Iranian citizen, they ought to have the right to express their views.”

Here are some ways to help keep that expression going if you know how to do that newfangled techie stuff.

Also, here’s a list of sites to get some halfway decent news from that part of the world.

Random Weirdness Redux

February 18, 2009

Here is just a small sampling of the search engine queries that sent web surfers to this site yesterday:

  • stupid lancaster county tourist
  • how to satire hair removal
  • snorting desitin
  • inspirational catholic quotes
  • pa dutch bouva
  • liverpool are scum
  • funny chemistry

I want to know what the person who searched for “snorting desitin” was on at the time. Whatever it was, it mustn’t have been enough, because they were clearly craving the exquisite high that only Desitin huffing can deliver. All the cool kids are doing it!

I also love the fact that my site pops up on search engines if you enter “Liverpool are scum.” The fact that it’s also listed under “inspirational catholic quotes” is a tad unsettling, though.

Don’t They Have Anything Better to Do?

January 5, 2009

This question immediately popped into my head, too, when I saw the news on CNN that the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama and Britney Spears, among others, had been hacked.

A Triumph of “Citizen Journalism”

October 4, 2008

Please excuse the dripping sarcasm of the post title, but this is just astonishing. If you ever wanted to know how much damage one random doofus with a modem calling themselves a journalist and being granted a touch of legitimacy by a major news organization could inflict, you just had to look no further than yesterday morning, when CNN’s “iReport” ran the following “news” piece:

Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven’t seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.

Shares of Apple plummetted five percent or so before rebounding once people realized the story was a steaming load of B.S. Some people might have lost — or made — a nice bit of money in the brief moments of chaos. In fact, the SEC is investigating.

I’m still holding out for “Citizen Open Heart Surgery;” it might be one way out of this country’s health insurance mess.

Better yet, maybe I’ll call myself a “Citizen Electrician” and try to rewire somebody’s house for them; I’m sure that would be a public service.

Sorrow In The Tubes

July 30, 2008

A moment of silence, please, for the “honorable” and highly senior Senator from Alaska, Mr. Ted Stevens, who was indicted today on corruption charges for somehow forgetting to report a paltry quarter of a million dollars worth of gifts he allegedly received from the oil industry.

He holds a special place in this puny blogger’s heart, for he gifted us all with his deep knowledge that the Internet “is a series of tubes.” Thanks to him, we know it is not to be confused with “a big truck,” and it is not something that we “can just dump something on.”

Such wisdom is rare.

Excerpts From The Blog Of Robinson Crusoe

July 26, 2008

Archaeologists have recently uncovered a heretofore undiscovered blog of the “life and strange surprising adventures” of one “Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner.” The blog was found buried beneath a rubbish pile in the Internet consisting of Pets.com, OS/2, CDNow, WordPerfect for Macintosh, and several billion free hours of America Online. Here are several excerpts from that historically important blog:

Day 36: Why am I getting a WiFi signal on this island?

Day 642: It turns out the mysterious WiFi signal and electrical wiring comes from the cannibals who occasionally visit here to barbecue prisoners and look up porn on the Internet. I’ve adopted an escaped prisoner who tells me his lifelong ambition is to open up a chain of tacky restaurants featuring unremarkably pedestrian cuisine. I have the inexplicable urge to name him Friday.

Day 1574: Some guy with a funny accent calling himself J.M. Coetzee showed up yesterday. He keeps following Friday and me around and saying that he’s taking notes for a post-modern deconstruction of my life story, whatever the heck that’s supposed to mean. I should see if he’s brought some beer with him.

Meet Other Hamsters Online!

June 18, 2008

I’ve never completely understood the point of social networking web sites. Maybe it’s because I’m just not an absurdly social person, but I don’t see the need to socialize with people online that I might run into anytime anyway. And, if I don’t know someone to begin with, why would I want to socialize with them? I have a Myspace page, but I tend to forget it exists for extended periods of time, and when I do remember it I generally choose to ignore it.

For some reason, many other people are huge fans of social networking sites, though. My wife, for instance, recently spent the better part of one particular evening growing virtual plants, fending off werewolf attacks, and doing whatever the hell else it is people do on Facebook.

Online plant watering never struck me as being nearly so bizarre as creating social networking pages for one’s pets. I know a few people whose dogs have their own Myspace pages, some of whom have hundreds of online friends. I seriously doubt any dog pals about with hundreds of people and/or other animals, let alone knows how to type up a profile, upload photographs, and send email.

A hamster. However, if making a mere Myspace profile for your pet just isn’t enough online goofiness for you, there are apparently entire social networking sites devoted exclusively to dogs and cats. There’s, I kid you not, Dogster.com for dogs, Catster.com for cats, and the catch-all Petster.com. Thankfully there appears to be no sign of Ferretster online. If you want to go completely overboard, though, there is a Hamsterster.com out there, too (if you choose to spell it Hampsterster.com, it takes you to the same site as well).


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