It seems as though the Internet has been around forever, so much have we come to depend on it. If we want to know something about a particular subject, we google it. Email has replaced, to a large extent, surface mail. We text or tweet rather than call. We do our banking on-line. And for anyone born since 1985 or so, the net has been around forever, for all practical purposes.
But for those of us born in the ’50s, we lived most of our lives without it. What did we do? I don’t remember. But somehow, we muddled our way through life. I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into computers when I was in my 30s. I remember the first time I did any online communication with my old 300-baud acoustic modem. It was something like this: “I’m typing. Can you see what I’m writing?” “Yes! Can you see this?” “Yes!” What hath God wrought? Mr. Watson! Come here! I want to see you!
And on my old TRS-80 Model 2, there were no graphics, just text. What a machine that was! There was no hard-drive; programs were loaded from, and saved to big floppy disks the size of LPs. For you younguns, LPs were vinyl disks which, when a needle was placed near the edge, played a rudimentary form of music we liked to listen to in our cave homes. The TRS-80 Model 2 also had an expansion drive the size of a coffee table. The whole assembly weighed as much as an AMC Pacer. I pretty much taught myself how to use it, so it’s a wonder I ever touched another computer again.
Anyway, now that we’re all technological sophisticates, it’s amazing to me that there’s still so much crap floating around on-line that people still believe. You’ve seen them: The impassioned pleas to text a message to all your friends so that AT&T (or Verizon or Sprint or NexTel) will donate 45 cents to a boy who was shot trying to save his sister… Or the emails containing some sort of sappy poem, with several hundred animated .gifs of kittens and/or angels. The sender implores you to send this on to all of the friends in your address book, so they will have a happy day. And then, to make sure you have a happy day, they add something like, “If you can’t take just a few seconds to make sure that all your friends have a happy day, then you are one mean, sick, Nazi SOB, and I hope you die.” Or if you don’t forward this email to at least ten people in the next 24 hours Bill Gates will eat a kitten. Or that if Google doesn’t get at least 2 gazillion signatures on this petition by Wednesday, they’ll start beating up their interns.
I just made those last two up, but there are so many variations out there, I’m reasonably sure they exist somewhere. Now if you’re on Facebook (and who isn’t?) the annoyances include Farmville, Mafia Wars, Farm Wars, Mafiaville, quizzes like “What rotting animal carcass are you?” and nice folks sending you a virtual (that is to say ‘non-existant’) beer. A virtual beer fulfills its purpose as much as a virtual heart transplant would. I am proud to say that I’ve resisted the siren song of Farmville and all those other Facebook things. Oh, look! I found a helpless little Platypus on my… uh… never mind.
Seems as though I’ve slipped into curmudgeon mode again and started to ramble. Besides, I have to get this check sent off to a nice widow in Nigeria. Apparently her husband was murdered, and she has honored me with her trust to help her get 300 million dollars out of the country. And for just mailing her a check to cover some bribes and expenses, she’s going to send me 30 million dollars. Retirement, here I come!
- If you want a real picture of unemployment in the US, take a look at this animated map. Press play and you will see how the jobless rate has spread across this country like gathering storm clouds from December of 2007 until January of 2010. By the way, even at the end of this, you’ll see one bright red county in Pennsylvania defiantly standing out against the rest of the region. This is Centre County Pennsylvania, to which I will be returning next month. Now you know why.
- A handy guide on how to tell if your food is spoiled.
- Updated daily: Hundreds of front pages of current newspapers from around the country and around the world. Fascinating.
- And here’s another installment of our series of educational films to help you to be a better person. Today, Good Table Manners, from 1951:
Have a marvelous day! -Steve