Archive for the 'Personal' Category

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Near-Sighted Foresight (Part 1)

When I was in college, I think this was sometime in ’92 or ’93, I used to spend my spare time in the computer lab, which should come as no shock to regular readers. Our lab was equipped with Sun equipment (some form of Sparcs, I think), with nice (huge at the time) monitors (probably 17″). When I grew bored with programming class assignments, newsgroups, gopher, etc, I would sometimes poke around in other users’ home directories, looking for interesting stuff. I was looking for applications, not documents; I wanted to try out every app I could find, not pry into other people’s stuff. This got me in trouble once- I tried running a script I found in one of the lab assistant’s directories, and it turned out to be a password cracking program. That was unfun.

But this is the story of another occasion. While looking for interesting things to play with, I ran an X windows app that displayed a page of text in a graphical layout. Some of the words were blue and underlined, clicking them took you to another page. All of the text was seemed to be stored on some research server in Europe. I played with it for a while, but didn’t really get the point. As I seem to recall, there was the indication that these documents could link to others all over the network, but I could only find my way to documents on two or three servers, max. The information was mostly on the European server, and was uniformly uninteresting. After 15 or 20 minutes of playing with it, I moved on. Sure, it was graphical, but at least with gopher you could find stuff.

By now, most readers know that I was using a web browser. Possibly NCSA Mosaic, which would put this story in 1993. However, I’m pretty sure this was in 1992, I think the program was probably WorldWideWeb, Tim Berners-Lee’s original browser. The ‘European research server’ I remember is almost certainly the original web site of CERN.

Now, at this time, nobody knew what the web was. Version 1.0 of Mosaic was developed between December 1992 and April 1993. It would be a couple more years until the explosive growth of the web, and transformation of the web from academic curiosity to household name. I stumbled upon what would become one of the greatest revolutions in information technology in the history of the world, and I didn’t get it. Instead of inventing Amazon or Yahoo! (or even just envisioning them), I couldn’t see beyond the handful of pages I could access at the time. Instead, it would be 1996 before I had Internet access at home, and 1998 before I learned how to write a web page.

In my own defense, hind sight is always 20/20, and I really didn’t have much context to judge within. I had read no papers or newsgroup postings about what this was or what it aimed to do. On the other hand, I was a big BBS user back then, spending most of my time on a large, multiuser system, so I probably should have recognized at least the idea that this could be a platform for all kinds of communiction.

Email Outage

Due to battery problems with my aging powerbook, the fact that I’ve never gotten around to setting up my own mail server, lack of time, and general laziness, I haven’t checked my email for about a week. Today I finally broke down and transfered my mail setup to the iMac, and got caught up on my mail. If you’ve mailed me in the past week, sorry for the silence. I’ll try to reply to everything today or tommorow.

Believing the Hype

I said I wouldn’t do it again. Never again would I fall for the hype. Listen to the babble. Believe the wild conjecture. And yet, I fell for it. Again.

I woke up this morning before 7. I turned on the local news to get the latest. “Four to seven inches by 2 pm,” they claimed. “High winds, blizzard like conditions during the afternoon” they cried. Based on this, and all of the hype preceding the “Nor’easter” the last few days, I decided to burn a personal day and stay home today. I’ve been caught at work during heavy snows before, and I didn’t want to deal with the hour+ drive home (which usually takes a half hour) and chance being in one of the many accidents that happen during these things.

So, here it is, almost 4pm, and the roads are wet. Just wet. There was some heavy snow, but it must be too warm- the roads are wet and the grassy accumulation is only an inch or two.

Ratings-starved idiots.

Time

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Time, Pink Floyd

Coincidence is a funny thing. I was cleaning out my office here at home this evening, and ran across an unopened CD package of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. This package was unopened because it was a spare copy I picked up somewhere years ago; I already had a (well-used) copy at the time. That original is now long since misplaced (along with most of my CD’s from college), so I opened the package and ripped the CD into iTunes.

Even before listening to it, the lyrics to Time started rolling around in my head. It’s always been one of my favorite tracks from this album, but seemed especially apropos. For the reason I was cleaning my office was to make room for my birthday present.

Shorter of breath, and one day year closer to death.

Happy New Year!

A happy and healthy 2005 to you all.