Monthly Archives: June 2013

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

The Good Ole, Bad Ole Days of the ‘Net in ’94

InternetWorldAs I was cleaning out my office in preparation for a move to our new house, I ran across some old magazines my nerd self had been keeping:  “Internet World,” “On the Internet,” “Internet Society News”, and “Online.” 

One of the oldest issues is the January 1995 issue of “Internet World” featuring “The Best and Worst of 1994.”  My oh my, how things have changed in 19 years!  There were fewer mentions of the World Wide Web than I had expected; it was a relatively new protocol, and not very widely used at that.

The organization of the World Wide Web: I love the Web, but finding something specific on it is a nightmare. And because the Web is growing by leaps and bounds I just don’t see things getting easier anytime soon.” [Internet World, Vol. 8, No.1, p. 30.]

Finding information on the Web might certainly have remained a nightmare, were it not for the debut of Yahoo! in 1994 (incorporated in 1995) and Google in 1996/97 (incorporated in 2008).  In addition to Google and Yahoo!, a plethora of search engines and hierarchical web directories sprang up in the mid-90’s to help alleviate the difficulties.  I’ve written about some of them here.

As noted above, there was very little mention in the article of the Web or Web “addresses.  In fact, one Best/Worst list contributor noted: “I remember the first time I saw a URL address [My note: That phrase in itself has become somewhat of a redundancy.] http://www.something.something.something.’ ‘Ugh,’ I moaned. ‘A whole new language I have to learn? I was just getting the hang of Unix!” I immediately resigned myself to the fact that this might be the end of my days in cyberspace.”

And now for some of the resources cited as Best of the Internet for 1994:

  • Nethack – a dungeon exploration game to which even non-D&D accicts can become addicted.
  • “This Just In” – a Listserv™ mailing list.
  • Jeopardy – on the IRC gaming channel #jeopardy.
  • A sub-list of “niftiest Gopher menu/sites.”
  • SLIP, PPP, and the Web.  Yeah, back then we’d do anything to get a faster connection.
  • The Power Macintosh.
  • New providers, more products, and more books. “The Internet is proof that capitalism works.”

And some of the worst.  (Not surprisingly, there were quite a few mentions of Usenet news groups; anyone who has used them knows why.  But, truth be told, there were quite a few high-quality newsgroups.)

  • The Green Card Lottery (This was also mentioned in someone else’s list.  They note: “Worst event: Canter & Siegel spam the Net. Not what they did but the fact that anyone still cares to talk about it.”)
  • America Online.  Remember how early adopters of the Net use to mock AOL users as “not really being on the Internet.” (In all fairness, AOL subsequently remedied this .]
  • Net.sociopaths spammers, disbarred lawyers (See Green Card Lottery above], and others who want to (Yes, you can safely click on the link; it’s a Wikipedia page.)

While I’m at it, I’ll add one of my own “worst”: Chain-letter email.  Just tell your mom or granddad that no, nothing bad will happen if they DON’T forward that email to everyone on her or his Address Book.

So, things really have changed.  My first web experience was definitely NOT geographic; I used the text-based Lynx to navigate the Web.  Later on, I used NCSA’s Mosaic, and a whole new world opened up!  Some people think the Internet began with the introduction of the World Wide Web and graphical browsers. Well, I beg to differ; there was much, much more before the web.  We just had to learn to find it.

What are your best and worst of the early Internet?

Paintin’ Da House Red (Well, Not Really)

We visited the house in West Virginia Friday and were greeted with the whirr of an air compressor that the painters were using to spray  primer on the walls and ceilings.  Next step: PAINTING!

This is a huge state-change in the process.  The house has moved from studs and drywall (new addition) or painted and mural-ed walls (old part) to brand new Benjamin Moore white primer.

One wall in the living room has transformed from this:

Not just a mural, but bright yellow walls...

Not just a mural, but bright yellow walls… [see note]

To this:

Look! A white wall!

Look! A white wall!

The new white walls really make the room look much bigger.  We had the old gas fireplace enclosure and surrounding cabinets ripped out.  We will be putting in a vent-free propane fireplace and custom bookshelves in that space later on.  Both will be less deep than the cabinets were. They took up valuable space…and weren’t very attractive either.

When we began this project our building team said that as the process unfolded the size of the house would feel larger, then smaller, then larger. (And so on.)  When the footers were poured, the dimensions felt small. After the walls went up, the rooms felt large,  After the drywall, some rooms felt smaller, others larger.  As I noted above, the living room looks much larger with white paint over that mural and the cabinets removed. In the case of the sun room, the addition of white paint has made it look a bit smaller.

Now that the priming is almost done I’ll be looking forward to seeing some (some) color on the walls.

After the painting, the flooring and tiling team will come in.  And, after at least ndthe kitchen floor is laid, the cabinets, counter top, and appliances will be installed.

Things are really taking shape at the West Virginia house!

[NOTE: some people like that mural; but really, it doesn’t “fit” with our decor; and, now that the cabinets are gone, it would be floating in midair. And that’s just not right.]

Follow our progress on Flickr or our other posts here on Patchwork Jumble.

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

The Rise (and Fall) of Search Engines

Some months ago* I read an article in The Washington Post about  the demise of  It got me remembering all the different search engines I used throughout my 20+ years on the Internet.  The ones I remember are listed below.  How many do you remember?

  • Dog Pile
  • HotWired
  • Excite
  • Alta Vista
  • Archie—but that was just for FTP searching
  •  Veronica & Jughead
  • Excite (1993)
  • AskJeeves
  • Yahoo (started out as a directory, actually)
  • Lycos
  • Infoseek
  • Open Directory
  • HotBot
  • LookSmart

Check out this page for more information about the evolution of search engines.

[* “Some months ago” is actually over 2 years ago. I drafted this blog post and forgot about it. Got distracted. Oh well.]

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Je Ne Suis Pas Amusé

[I drafted this on 4/23/13 during the manhunt for the Boston bomber.  The

A couple of years ago I read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Niel Postman.  Here is Wikipedia’s Summary of the book.)

I’m seeing more and more formerly serious topics treated as entertainment now.

This article decries the new practice by the once-sober Weather Channel of naming snowstormns.

Even the serious business of the nation’s economy has taken on a game-like nature:  The President, Defense Secretary, and assorted other government officials– one after the other — took a 5% salary cut in solidarity with Department of Defense workers and others facing furloughs or pay cuts because of sequestration.

The immediate aftermath of the Boston bombing took on a surreal note of being part of the nightly entertainment on our screens, small and smaller (television and mobile devices).   This article notes “the sorry collusion of news and showbiz” that is all but taken for granted nowadays.  (Yes, I realize it’s from The Daily News; but admit it, you can see evidence of this phenomenon all the time.)

The next time you’re drawn to a news story, hanging on every word, unable to stop, consider this: Are  reacting to the entertainment value of the issue?  Could you turn off your TV (or mobile device) for a few hours and check in later to hear the developments.  The facts of the stories (murder, mayhem, weather, finance) are fairly boring, actually.  It’s up to the media to infuse these facts with breathless proclamations and the promise of “breaking news” that keeps you hooked.

Try this:  During the next cri-du-jour that garners wall-to-wall coverage by the media, try disconnecting for a few hours each day. You might be surprised to realize that your world has kept turning during the hiatus.  You might also feel some relief at not having succumbed to the siren call of entertainment. You resisted getting sucked in!

Try to discern this subtle shift from news to entertainment.  It starts with naming snowstorms Who knows where it will end?


It’s Like Part of My Nerdnik Self Is Dying…

… or will on July 1, 2013.  That is the date that Google has set for turning off it’s much-beloved (by me) Google Reader.

broken rssIt seems as if I’ve used it since it’s debut in 2005.  It it is a great way to keep abreast of new posts from web sites…without having to actually GO to the website in question.

This appeals not only to my tendency toward laziness, but also to my slight case of FOMO (at least as it pertains to information).

Somehow, there’s a bit of subversion to the action of using an RSS feed to access the media and other web sites.  It allows me to bypass the ads that are present on the sites and still read the articles.  How un-American. How un-Capitalist. How liberating!

Perhaps that is really why Google is ditching this tool.  They’re all about advertising,  you know; and there’s no way to insert ads in Google Reader, is there? It can’t be “monetized” (gawd, I hate that word!).

So I guess I’ll just use Feedly, or some such RSS feed reader. I’ll probably continue to use the Google Readers apps that are on my smartphone and tablet…at least until Google pulls those from action.

I wonder if the RSS dominoes will fall and web publishers will no longer use the Site Summary (the “SS” in RSS) that really makes RSS work.

Ah the golden age of Internet information sharing. Now it’s all about paywalls, monetization, and other ways to keep information at arm’s length.

Are we about to look at information through the rear-view mirror?

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.

Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned

And now, for the latest update of Pinworthy Stuff I Pinned.

The new ones are at the top.  Enjoy!

Want to know why I’m doing this? Click this link.