Posted by: GeekHiker | March 30, 2007

It gets intriguing…

This little blogging experiment is starting to intrigue me in ways that I hadn’t initially imagined.

I think it’s because it’s the first time I’ve really used the web as something more than just a tool.  More on that in a moment, but first a little backstory.

I’ve been using computers for most of my life.  My very first was an Apple II+back in, oh, about ’78.  Dad brought it home after paying God-knows-what for it and set it up for the family.  It had a green monochrome monitor, dual floppy drives and 64k of memory (he had the memory maxxed out, I come from geek genes).

I tried coding little programs in basic.  I discovered quickly that I completely suck as a programmer.  That personality trait has not changed to this day.

We also had the venerable Atari 2600.  That, of course, made us kind of cool, since Atari’s were one of those rare pieces of equipment that first managed to bridge the gap between “geek/nerd stuff” and “socially popular/acceptable stuff”.  And while, sure, the games I can play on my PC (hell, even a laptop) run rings around those Atari games with their life-like graphics and sophisticated plots and what not, there are times that I miss the simplicity of the old 2600.

Breakout was just, well, fun.  And on the Apple, Choplifter was pretty cool, especially when you decided “Aw, to hell with it” and flew around shooting all the prisoners you were supposed to rescue.

My first PC was an NCR PC4 with an 8086 chip.  We had a 10Mb hard drive and, boy, we never thought we’d fill that sucker up.

The first PC that was actually my own was a 386 clone.  I called her Big Bertha 2, because at the time, a 386 processor was baaaaaad ass (okay, nerdy baaaaaad ass, but still…).  Big Bertha 1 was a 286 that I’d used in a drafting class in high school, the one all of us geeks fought to use.  Bertha 2 went through a number of upgrades over the years, becoming a 486 later, and I remember her well.  You know what they say, you never forget your first.  (Sorry, just couldn’t resist…)

Later I had a 550 MHz Dell and finally a 3.2 GHz machine, plus a wide variety of machines at work.  No Apples since the II+  (No, I don’t avoid Apples on purpose.  As a computer guy, I’m constantly asked which I prefer.  My stock reply: a shrug and “Well, I’ve gotten them both to crash…”)

My first net experience was as a college student in San Francisco.  Well, no, wait… I do recall a Prodigy account in high school.  Eh, perhaps best to leave that memory safely buried.

I had an e-mail account on a UNIX VAX system the university ran.  Straight UNIX command line stuff, and when you got an e-mail, you felt pretty good about it because the community, even in the early 90’s, was still pretty small.  Plus, not so much with the spam in those days.

In fact, back in those days, I remember when the first AOL users were showing up.  And getting flamed mercilessly in the newsgroups.  Yeah, newsgroups, remember those?  (Okay, okay, there still around…)

So, what’s the point of this boring, decidedly-geeky history?

Over the years of working with computers, administering PCs, servers, networks, etc., I think I came to see the Internet as little more than a very effective tool.  The net was a place to download that random video driver you can’t find the CD for.  A place to find a directions to a restaurant.  A way to communicate with friends.  Heck, even a place to find dates.

But, ultimately, just a tool.

The blog, however, has shifted my perspective because, for the first time, I’m truly an active participant.

Ironically, I’m a bit of a technological Luddite: I don’t have a webpage (excepting this), a MySpace page, or an avatar running around in Second Life.  Frankly, I don’t mind making a living off of computers, but I don’t like the idea of making a life out of them.

Seeing people surf to the blog, however they came in, clicking on the links, leaving a comment (well, one so far)… that’s a new experience for me.  It’s simultaneously weird a cool.

Still, though, if I had my druthers, I’d be sleeping out under the stars tonight.

And blogging about it Monday.

Guess it’s a good thing I’m going hiking tomorrow.



  1. My friend, author of Freshly Brewed, mentioned the humor of your posts, but not your lack of depth in choosing Atari games – Pitfall was the bomb and I still remember that rainy day when my older brother “turned over” Asteroids. I don’t know if our Apple IIe predated or followed your II+ but I fully agree that Choplifter reined supreme! Good luck with Pink Sweatshirt.

  2. Oh, man, Pitfall! How could I forget? We never actually owned the game, but I borrowed it constantly from a friend of mine. When I was a kid I was a HUGE Superman fan and they had a game for the Atari where you could chase after a very blocky Lex Luthor and his henchmen and put them in jail. I wish I’d never let my parents sell it…

  3. […] remember when I started in computers, lo those many years ago (a history I detailed in a post here).  Back then, computers were new.  Not just the machines, but the very concept.  It’s easy to […]

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