(no subject)

You gotta see it to believe it. MS subscription management page: To unsubscribe, select the 'Subscribe' boxes then the unsubscribe button to unsubscribe...

(note comments now locked because this entry attracts spam all the time...)

(no subject)

Update on the Mac OSX Copying: after 2 days, I'm (already...) able to copy a file, and only one works. (If you need it: /Developer/Tools/CpMac is what cp should have been. Why it doesn't simple replace cp is beyond me however...)

And if anyone ever needs to set read-only etc. from the tcsh, you can use the standard chflags or there is something in developer tools as well (SetFile I believe).

Making sure I remember this

Just posting this in the hope that I think about it and can tell some tales when my daughter grows up, if perhaps I don't remember some of this... This will be a brain dump, with only as much structure as I can put in afterward.

Now that I'm writing this down forgetting it feels like a real possibility. Strange how fast something becomes common, like it's always been there, and how fast you forget when you first saw/had/used something. Anyway...

I was born in 1973, and just today it hit me that this means that I have personally experienced the gigantic take-off of (computer-)technology. It also means I can actually remember (although it's hard to imagine already) the days when some stuff I take for granted did not exist. I'll try to put this more or less chronologically. Ah memories memories. All this is as I remember it now, which may not be accurate!

I got my first computer around 12-14 years old, I think. It was a Commodore64, and it was used (and meant) primarily for games. You could attach a printer and have a very basic text processing program, but the printer was a 'dot matrix impact' printer. Since their dpi was very low (commonly something like 60dpi horizontal, 72dpi vertical), and mostly black and white only, they couldn't really produce 'graphics', and whatever came out of them was nowhere near what came of a printing press. So text processing was really only useful to print letters (for snail mail, no email yet! Although BBS's did exist. They had 2,3 or even 4 phone lines attached to them, so you can imagine how many people had a modem. Some of the BBS's cooperated to pass along the first form of email, in something called 'fidonet'). Simple spreadsheets were also a possibility.
Before that, no one had a computer. Letters were written by hand, or typed on a (mechanical) typewriter. Come to think of it, my parents had a mechanical typewriter. If you wanted your letter twice, you put in 2 pieces of paper with a 'carbon paper' in between (the origin of the term 'Carbon Copy'!). Children played outside, or indoors with blocks, lego, playmobil etc. We listened to music on the radio and taped shows/songs you liked. There were vinyl records, but since these were so sensitive to scratches, no one in their right mind let kids touch them. Typing was a strange art only typists had any use for.

Wikipedia lists the CD as being 'introduced' in 1982. For quite some time after that, CDs were uncommon, and vinyl records and cassette tapes were normal. Radio-cassette players were common for kids, vinyl records were restricted to stereo combinations, esp. because of their size, and non-portability that came with both their size and their fragility. Being able to record on a cassette was a feature not all radio-cassette players had!
I remember the heated discussions about the CD's to 'clean' sound, people somehow liked the slight variations the vinyl records caused, and the CD would never make it etc.
Copying CDs to a cassette was the big worry of the day, mostly because this copy would be just as good quality-wise as a pre-recorded cassette you'd buy would be. There seemed to be less worry about the then already very common practice of copying tapes (most radio cassette players came with 2 tape decks, one of which could only play back. No one complained that this could only be meant to copy tapes, or at least not that I remember. It's unlikely no one actually complained, but they probably lost out to the tidal wave of 'dual-deck' radio cassette players made pretty much only to copy tapes. Or maybe it wasn't a lawyers world yet at the time? I was to small then to know this.).

When I went to university, the Internet did not exist very long. The university was connected to it, and it was common on universities around the world, but not at home. Since the 'web' had not been invented yet, discussions groups were one of the most used features of it (discussions groups in email-lists or in 'nntp', aka 'netnews', aka 'news', aka 'Usenet'), and email of course. Because a university means students, 'games' also existed, in the form of text-only adventures called MUDs (Multi User Dungeons). Yes, text-only! (The connection speeds were to slow for graphics anyway.) You logged on with a user name and password, and got a text screen saying "You are in a small town on the main street. There is a knife on the street. There is a dark alley to the east, a door to a bar to the west, and the main street continues to the north. You can see a castle to the southwest in the distance. Gimli the dwarf is standing next to you. You can go [w]est, [n]orth and [e]ast." You could then type commands like 'look', 'take knife', 'west' (usually with shorthands n, e, s and w available for movement), 'say ...'. Each command would deliver a bit more text as a result. And you had better take the knife before going into the dark alley! In this environment, you could cooperate with others, go on quests etc. Students wasted whole weeks doing pretty much just that in the universities computer rooms (where terminals and later pc's were made available, since the ones you had at home, if you had one, generally were not connected to the internet)!

Pretty quickly this was followed by the first ISPs, which had several computers (note several, not many!) in a local network, to administer a pool of modems (a few dozen for smaller ISPs) connected to telephone lines. They were local only at first, so if you lived outside the area, you paid long distance (in Belgium the actual distance wasn't very long, but the extra charges were still considerable). You dialed into these (blocking the use of your home phone line...) paying the telephone charges (these were high and per minute in europe, but already very cheap in the US) and your ISP (usually you had a right of connecting x hours per month). Your connection died if someone in your house lifted the horn of the phone, or randomly if the line quality became to bad. And all this at an incredible 16kbps, later 34.4 kbps and in the end 56.6 kbps, although the quality of the line usually meant you never actually connected at 56kbps.
By that time netscape had invented the web, and the first websites appeared. Links to other sites were one of the more important features on any website, apart from actual content obviously. There was much discussion about the use of the 'blink' tag in html, about how many images you could put on a site before it became to slow, and how to get your images down to the smallest size. Even later, someone came up with the idea of a search engine, a revolutionary concept that changed the way the web worked.

The computer use of CDs, especially writing them yourself, wasn't commonly available at first. At first, someone bought a writer (incredibly expensive at the time, something like a months pay, IIRC) and wrote CDs (empty media equally expensive, think the price of 10 loafs of bread at first, 400fr in my local currency at first, IIRC. Went down to 200 in the first few years, again IIRC) for their friends for a price (this I can't remember for sure, but I think I paid a friend double the price of an empty CD for my first CD). Since a CD could hold the contents of an incredible 400 3 1/2 Inch Floppy disks (1.44MB fit on those), this wasn't much of a concern at first, since you weren't going to write many anyway. Windows 95 came on 12, count em 12 floppies!).

Even during all this GSMs did not exist. If you wanted to contact someone, you called their home phone, talked to their father/mother/.., who passed them the phone, and whoever you wanted to talk to sat in their living room talking to you with probably everyone in their family in the same room, like you were doing on your end. (Wireless phones fixed that part at least, when they were introduced.) As a kid, I didn't call other kids until I was 16, and even then it wasn't all that common. (Maybe this was just me however ;-)
If they did not answer, you simply called again later. Before GSMs, answering machines were not very common, and getting one if you called someone was always a bit unexpected. I remember I hated them and mostly just hung up and called again instead of leaving a message. You kept phone numbers in a paper list in a small book by the phone, and you actually knew important numbers (your home, your grand-parents) by heart.
If you went for a walk in the woods, you were unreachable. You could also not call anyone, if something went wrong. Strangely, nobody worried about this, in fact nobody even thought about this as a problem at all AFAIK. (This in particular hit me recently when walking somewhere worrying that we had no signal there, and thinking what if something went wrong now etc.) If something went wrong, you knocked on a door to call for help, or stopped a car and drove with them to the nearest house. (It was funny to go 'back' to this when we went to Canada a few years ago.) Highways had emergency 'phones' in a special stand every kilometer or so (do they still?).

Around the time of the first computers, some wealthy people or a few business men had a car-phone. This was a unit the size of a pack of cereals, build into the car somewhere, with a horn attached. A few years later, 'hands-free' was added as a feature. You could drive for hours with the horn held to your head, there were no rules about this since almost nobody had such a thing anyway.

GSMs were then introduced as a lighter version of this, but weren't common while I was at university, certainly not among students (meaning no one I knew had one. In fact, al through university, I was the only one to have a phone in my room. Some others had a phone in the house, shared amongst the rooms, most went to a phone boot to call their parents twice a week). GSMs only worked in a few cities at first, since their signals were so weak they had to create an entirely new network of masts for them. Nobody had one at first, and everyone hated the huge array of masts put up everywhere to support this "idiotic thing only the wannabe-hip people have". Those that did have it made a point of using it in public to show it off. The actual phones were LARGE and HEAVY and barely fit in the pocket of a pants, more likely kept in coat pockets. It took several years before I came round to the idea and bought one, at that time they were relatively common already amongst young people.

Science Fiction Book Club's list of the fifty most significant SF/Fantasy books

A very tempting meme, most of which I don't even read, but this... damn so much stuff I didn't read!

This is the Science Fiction Book Club's list of the fifty most significant science fiction/fantasy books published between 1953 and 2002. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson*
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

I did read some Asimov, no idea what the titles were however, so maybe I score a little better. And the one form Ursula Le Guin that I did read isn't on this list, I think. Plus I saw the movie for a few of the ones I did not read... does that count? ;-)

At least I can be happy I heard about many of the authors, that's a start already!

(no subject)

Originally found on dogsolitude's journal here.

Stolen from craigslist - Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian
10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.

Ads on LJ

So, it's finally happened, despite all the promises.

insomnia sums up many good points about it here: http://insomnia.livejournal.com/671251.html

2 things I want to highlight from his post:
- lj usages is not going up, in fact it seems to be going down. (from this comment http://insomnia.livejournal.com/671251.html?thread=4826387#t4826387, I did not verify his numbers)
- if his calculations are right, this won't bring lj much money (his point 11), which begs the question: why is this done? Are things really that desperate?

Only time will tell, but if things are like this makes them appear to be, we may all be looking for a new home in the future. And that would be very sad.