isolation (from some time in july)
So the wifi sucks and I want to figure out how to do a thing with filesystems.
Do you remember trying to solve a software problem without the Internet? Like really without the Internet?
We used to do this constantly. Like, constantly. A huge portion of my
adolescence was composed entirely of confronting things like which brutally
arcane permutation of
CONFIG.SYS would allow a game to
allocate enough memory to actually start, continue running, and play properly.
In a summer like this one 15 or 20 years ago, other people were out learning
how to play football, developing social skills, meeting their first
girlfriends, having jobs, etc. I was memorizing the AT command set so I could
play the shareware versions of first person shooters against the kid down the
It’s true that everything was harder then because the tools were limited and
the systems agonizingly unstable, but that’s not really the whole story. I
mean, some of the software widely used then was delightful in ways that have
very rarely been equaled (I think of
LIST.COM, the early adventure games, the
Mac’s Finder, ResEdit, HyperCard), and the hardware of the day had merits
too-little appreciated in the present climate. The problem was that when there
was something wrong with the system, the resources you had for solving it
amounted to the local folklore of computing, a manual if you were lucky, but
mostly just the system itself.
I guess that’s still true. It’s just that the system itself has become the entire web and all the people connected to it. The Computer is the Network. Except when the network sucks and there’s something I’d normally google. Then the Computer is a Terminal Window and a Filesystem Full of Crap I Only Sort of Remember.