Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE JOY OF DIAL-UP....It had never occurred to me that there might be an advantage to the long connection times and slow download speeds of dial-up internet access, but I guess I was wrong. Gives a new meaning to "world without end."

Kevin Drum 8:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Hmm. What do you know.

Having worked with many phone techs, let me just say that they could get around the intercom, but they have no desire to do the extensive rewiring it would require.

And the folks couldn't afford it anyway (the rewiring).

Posted by: teece on February 8, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Breaking News: Elmo Farted in Capital Building

Posted by: elmo on February 8, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Not That!!

Posted by: Den on February 8, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

elmo: Breaking News: Elmo Farted in Capital Building

But I thought that Texas chili didn't have beans.

Posted by: alex on February 8, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

That's a false and ultimately deadly stereotype alex.

Posted by: elmo on February 8, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hey -- I run a 14.4 baud modem with a pure-text interface.

DSL and cable modems can go die.

Bells 'n' wheesles ... we don't need no steenkeng bells 'n' wheesles ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

When I see my dad, a retired comuter illiterate who spent hundreds of dollars in consultants' fees to set up a firewall and malware protection and all the guy wants to do is email (he doesn't even read the paper online) -- then the Universe is seriously unbalanced.

Hey Kevster -- WTF's wrong with appropriate technology?

I've gotten off the upgrade treadmill by opting out. And I'll never get anywhere near reading all there is out there of interest on the net -- even without access to frames, HTTPS and JavaScript pages.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 8, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Back in the old dialup days, I knew a ballet dancer (not the Windsor kind) who set up her computer next to her barre. She'd do her barre work while pages loaded.

Posted by: shortstop on February 8, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

If the computer is on that restricted a use regime, I wonder if the Lynx browser might not be appropriate. Any tech comments ?

Posted by: opit on February 9, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK
Hey -- I run a 14.4 baud modem with a pure-text interface.

I sincerely hope you mean 14.4 kilobaud. Otherwise, I am impressed you manage to post at all.

DSL and cable modems can go die.

I'd rather they didn't, really, given that I'm kind of dependent on the bandwidth for a number of purposes, including law school.

When I see my dad, a retired comuter illiterate who spent hundreds of dollars in consultants' fees to set up a firewall and malware protection and all the guy wants to do is email (he doesn't even read the paper online) -- then the Universe is seriously unbalanced.

?? Unless he's running a business, most home cable/DSL routers, combined with a decent internet security suite will do all that any home user would ever need in that regard, with minimal configuration. Hundreds of dollars in consultant fees sounds like getting taken for a ride.

I've gotten off the upgrade treadmill by opting out. And I'll never get anywhere near reading all there is out there of interest on the net -- even without access to frames, HTTPS and JavaScript pages.

Well, yeah, with that 14.4 baud modem though, its gotta take you hours to load even the main page of Political Animal, though, so that's probably your biggest barrier :)

(Though, more seriously, JavaScript and HTTPS aren't mostly technologies related to more interesting reading as they are to interactive -- and in the latter case secure -- web applications, which are entirely different domain of web use.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

I knew a ballet dancer (not the Windsor kind) who set up her computer next to her barre.

Why do I think there is some latent titillation in this statement?

Posted by: craigie on February 9, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Two rather large brainfarts (maybe elmo inspired me on this thread?):

Obviously I meant a 14.4 KB modem -- but you knew that, of course :) Although I *do* have a friend whose first modem was 300 baud, and we both have acquaintences who posted on BBSs with Commodore 64s.

Secondly, you're correct -- my Dad doesn't have a firewall; he has a dialup connection. But he *does* have a suite of virus/malware protection as part of his bootup routine that he assuredly didn't install. His computer got so contaminated with viruses that he took it in and spent money on a fix, though truthfully I don't know how much. Knowing my Dad, though, it's a fair bet that he didn't shop around or get the services of a tech friend but rather paid the full retail price at a downtown computer shop.

So I sure they extracted a C out of his wallet, at the very least.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 9, 2006 at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK

"world without end" takes me back to my mom's weekly rosary sessions with the other Catholic women in the neighborhood. Sometimes I got to go and participate though at that time I erroneously thought that the phrase, as they recited it, was "world without men, amen." Dunno, could've been--there were no men saying the rosary with 'em and I thought boys were worthless at that age. Maybe they did too....

Just sayin.

Posted by: hrc on February 9, 2006 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

I erroneously thought that the phrase, as they recited it, was "world without men, amen."

Do I dare say it.......???......nah.

Posted by: jcricket on February 9, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

hrc:

"World without men, Amen." LOL !

"The chair is not my son." --Michael Jackson

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 9, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

jcricket:

Oh, c'mon ... now you *have* to say it, cuz you brought it up!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 9, 2006 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously I meant a 14.4 KB modem -- but you knew that, of course :) Although I *do* have a friend whose first modem was 300 baud, and we both have acquaintences who posted on BBSs with Commodore 64s.

Being, I suspect, slightly later on the scene, my first modem was a 300/1200 baud modem which I ran up enormous bills with one summer (between, as I recall, 6th and 7th grades) spending hours online to San Francisco Bay Area BBS's -- from Fresno. I remember getting in more than a wee bit of trouble for that.

I never actually posted on BBS's with a Commodore 64, though I did learn to program first on a Commodore Pet, and then a TI 99/4A, in elementary school. But my first computer with a modem at home was an early PC clone (A Sperry -- my father worked for New Holland, a farm machinery outfit that was, at the time, a division of Sperry Corporation -- now Unisys -- and got an enormous employee discount, paying, as I recall, around $2,000 for a 10 MHz 8088 PC with two floppy drives, 640K Ram, a monochrome text monitor, and dot matrix printer that would, at retail, have sold for, as I recall, somewhere between $4,000 to $5,000.) We got the modem later, I think about the same time we got the color (CGA) monitor upgrade.

Sigh. Memories.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

i don't know. there's a comfort to dial-up in that all your phone calls are blocked, whether you want them to be or not.

your hermitic pal,
blake

Posted by: blake on February 9, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

A good reason for a high speed link:

Sigh. Mammaries.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on February 9, 2006 at 2:30 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

> Being, I suspect, slightly later on the scene, my first modem was a
> 300/1200 baud modem which I ran up enormous bills with one summer
> (between, as I recall, 6th and 7th grades) spending hours online to
> San Francisco Bay Area BBS's -- from Fresno. I remember getting in
> more than a wee bit of trouble for that.

Hehehe ... speaking of, you know, the joys of dialup :) Hell, it's
late, I can't sleep, and this is "memories" thread if ever there was
one, so lemme go off a bit about down that tree-lined avenue ...

I suspect I'm in the vicinty of 20 years older than you, but I was
computerized much later in the game. When I went back to school,
my first experience with PCs was in the all-night computer lab,
using them to write papers. ATT 2600s (IIRC) and first-generation
Macs. You used to go up to the desk and check out program discs;
you'd have your own 360k floppy for data. And the discs would often
have viruses on them -- but it wouldn't matter so much, because few
people had hard drives, let alone used networks. Then the lab got
an AppleTalk LAN to run both the IBM-clone ATTs and the Macs. It
used to take a good three minutes to load WordPerfect 4.2 from the
network. By that time I decided I need to invest in my own box.

So in '88, I spent $860 on a Fountain XT clone (turbo -- 4 and 8
mHz), two 360k floppies, Amdek amber TTL mono monitor with a glare
screen. That's all I had for three years until somebody chucked me
a 2400 baud modem. My first experience posting was during Gulf War
1. I was fiercely against that war (a position I realize now was
wrong) and I used the expression "No shit, Sherlock!" and a local
SysOp banned me for it. But then my modem burned out and I got
into composing using my music software, with a mouse I had finally
installed after vowing never to commune with the evils of Windows.

And I still don't. DOS 5.0, baby :)

And you know what? That Fountain box is sitting right next to me
on a filing cabinet (another power supply, new floppies, a HD and
several motherboards later) and I'm still using the very same Amdek
Hercules monitor. I've taken it apart to clean off "monitor phlegm"
(I smoke) I can't tell you how many times. My music software uses
Herc graphics to slap a stave system on the screen, and I use the
text-only Lynx browser. My friends, of course, think I'm a fanatic
Luddite and give me tons of grief. I have several Pentiums in
my closet people have *forced* me to take. Bob! Enter the 90s!

No :)

Speaking of friends, I met a crew of AP highschool kids a few towns
over in my next incarnation as a poster, after a friend chucked me
another extra modem (after the initial HW investment and the music
software, aside from the occasional new keyboard and mice I've spent
not one thin dime on HW or SW, nor shall I; surfing the trailing
edge of technology is nothing if not free :) on a BBS. I couldn't
believe what a crew of little snot-nosed anarchist-wannabes they
were, and I fought with them daily with a hair-pulling passion
that fortunately I quickly outgrew. We all wound up meeting at
BBS gatherings and despite the age difference, eventually became
tight friends; several of them are in grad school locally. They've
all been indoctrinated in the quirky 70s progrock I grew up with.

Good thing about living in central NJ is that population density
rivals Tokyo, and there were scores of BBSs that were in my local
calling area. Never ran up phone bills with the computer. In
the twilight of the FidoNet BBS era, our board did hook up with a
national free speech network out of San Fran, NirvanaNet. Finally
no goofball middle-aged local SysOps who'd have a cow if you used a
curseword or made an off-color joke, and who read all your private
email just because they could. Really interesting discussions with
Western radical right-wingers (Libertarians, passionate gun nuts,
common law zealots -- people who used terms like FedGov and JBGTs
-- Jackbooted Government Thugs) in the immediate aftermath of
the OKC bombing when the militia movement was still au courant.

I am not a tech guy (heh), but I downloaded all the textfiles I
could on DOS and the xx8x processor, trying to at least learn my
generation of gear so I can keep it maintained, if not constantly
upgraded. To this day, my beloved text editor and most of the
utilities I use are shareware downloaded from BBSs a decade ago.

It's not piracy if the commercial software you copied is
at least three generations old -- not that I use much of it.

> I never actually posted on BBS's with a Commodore 64, though I
> did learn to program first on a Commodore Pet, and then a TI
> 99/4A, in elementary school. But my first computer with a modem
> at home was an early PC clone (A Sperry -- my father worked for
> New Holland, a farm machinery outfit that was, at the time, a
> division of Sperry Corporation -- now Unisys -- and got an
> enormous employee discount, paying, as I recall, around $2,000
> for a 10 MHz 8088 PC with two floppy drives, 640K Ram, a
> monochrome text monitor, and dot matrix printer that would,
> at retail, have sold for, as I recall, somewhere between
> $4,000 to $5,000.) We got the modem later, I think about
> the same time we got the color (CGA) monitor upgrade.

My processor's a 386 SX20, and I feel no need nor desire to upgrade.
Believe me, when the time comes and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
plies its inevitable handiwork on my gear, I'll be moving to Linux.

But why hasten the inevitable, y'know what I mean?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 9, 2006 at 6:20 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, get your poor Dad a Mac.

Posted by: Ace Franze on February 9, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

Bob, get your poor Dad a Mac.
Posted by: Ace Franze

But hold off on the Intel Macs for a bit. Won't run older or legacy programs at all. Going to be a severe shortage of goodies to run on one of these baabies.

Nice stable G4 (My eMac has had one 'blue screen' crash in 2 1/2 years) if you can find one or snazzy new G5 iMac

Posted by: CFShep on February 9, 2006 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I sincerely hope you mean 14.4 kilobaud.

Sigh. He probably meant to say 14.4 K baud, but that would be incorrect. Despite what everybody seems to think, in the modem world baud does *not* mean bits per second. It means "signal changes per second," and with modems faster than about 4800 bps they pack more than one bit in a baud.

So technically a 14.4 K bps modem is probably running 4.8 K baud.

But nobody seems to care. Still, some day I'm gonna win the million dollar question with this one.

For example I knew the original computer bug and who documented it.

Posted by: Tripp on February 9, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK
He probably meant to say 14.4 K baud, but that would be incorrect. Despite what everybody seems to think, in the modem world baud does *not* mean bits per second. It means "signal changes per second," and with modems faster than about 4800 bps they pack more than one bit in a baud.

Well, that certainly explains why I've never seen anything rated in baud rather than bps since 2400 baud modems were top of the line; all the use I've seen has been informal and probably from people, like me, whose exposure to proper use was limited to the time when baud = bps was a valid equivalence.

For example I knew the original computer bug and who documented it.

I knew that, too, though I forget it now (it was, as I recall, some form of literal insect, and I want to say it was documented by Grace Hopper.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 9, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Admiral Grace Hopper, the first female Admiral. It was a moth in a relay in an Eniac machine, I think.

I think you are right about 2400 baud being the top. I think 4800 hertz is the maximum frequency a normal phone line can send, and the baud rate would be half that.

Posted by: Tripp on February 9, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Why do I think there is some latent titillation in this statement?

Because you're a big old horndog?

Not that there's anything wrong with that. On our side of the aisle, anyway.

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief! Why the complaining about dialup
service?
I pay only $9.95 a month for my dial up service and that's all I want to pay.
You can keep the faster stuff. If you have
a little paitience it all comes to you in just
a few moments longer.
If on the other hand you LIKE paying the higher rates then go ahead and pay them. I see no
real advantage to the other services that charge
more. I'll stay with the slower service. For that matter I will stay with a regular land line
phone instead of an obscenely expensive ( and not
too great to use ) cell phone.
Sometimes fast isn't better just more costly.

Posted by: anthony v. cuccia on February 10, 2006 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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