Internet Nostalgia

I had the advantage of seeing the internet and computing from two different eras because I had chosen a different path in life and that is to be a doctor. I took up the stethoscope and chose a career that is far from all this. I never thought that the past will catch up on me.

I destroyed the first PC I ever touched by being ignorant of the word “format.” I picked up a dictionary, and I was about nine then and I learned that format means to arrange things in a pretty manner. The geekish computer term has never been printed in a Webster’s before. I saw this machine, a big hunk of plastic compared to what I’m using now, and it had a screen and lots of text. One of the words or choices that came up on screen was FORMAT. “Are you sure you want to format Disk drive C:?” I clicked YES. And everything was history, including my friends files!

I had to learn all about the computer since then and its parts and everything. I eventually had my own and I tinkered with it. And I learned about LAN, WAN, and the wonderful internet. I learned BASIC and COBOL until my nose bled. And I was scripting HTML all way back 20 years ago! I was using mockup internet sites using Wordperfect and linking my documents and making it look like I had a supercomputer. Internet then was very costly. You can surf the net for 1 hour with 50 pesos. Factored to inflation (average of 5% per year) and converted to today’s Philippine peso, that’s about 132 pesos per hour. Back in those days I had a total of 1-2 hours of internet PER WEEK! Because that’s all I can afford.

Being very costly, most of the information was free then. RTFM was the code I learned from hackers! It’s all about getting information and saving most of it. mIRC was the dominant P2P platform. FTP sites abound where you can download pirated programs! I wasn’t able to access the BB’s but then it was haven to everybody involved in the world of computing. I would have been a programmer and I could have used my early gift to create websites and other cool stuff but the expense was way too much burden for a Filipino poor. I quit and hit the books instead even though most of the information from printed media is 2 years outdated from the time it hits the bookstands.

I caught a few glimpse of the internet’s rise and not of its fall. Even the dot com bubble escaped me and that was about a few years back already! I saw Napster, I saw Friendster’s birth, I saw eBay and Amazon’s meteoric rise but I just didn’t give a damn much about them. And then it slowly came back, Flash evolved from its 5.0 version to a now fully programmable platform. I got  hooked to it a little and then Facebook. The big geek who quit came back too and started making iMacs and now iPods!

What was once a text only free information network is now a bustling commerce driven engine and oh, all the colors of the internet got me on a high like I had a hallucinogen inserted up my spine. I missed it. It moved ahead without me as all things do. And now I feel like I just missed my bus. The ship has sailed and I only have a canoe to rush to it and get on it. Rough seas ahead. I almost got scammed once on the net but that’s another story.

Even though I am a general practitioner, I am also on the e-commerce bandwagon. I am relearning how to ride a bike again so to speak. All the sites I used to get information on are still there except for one. What ever happened to Hackers.com? Jolly Roger’s book of terrorism is now a classic on the internet. Most of the methods can still work but are now considered low tech. But I’ll choose to be an internet pacifist instead and try to earn an honest job on the net.

What sucks is that I got back the habit of spending more than 20 hours a day in front of a computer screen! I think DSM IV will have to call a name for that syndrome.

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