Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What's this new-fangled Web?

Facebook is "celebrating 25 years of connecting people", in other words the creation of the World Wide Web.  While true, the statement irks me.

Numerous applications preceded the web to connect people across various international networks:
  • ARPANet mail dates from the 1970's; Clarkson had it by the mid-1980's.
  • Usenet connected people 12 years earlier than the web, in 1979.
  • BitNET RELAY sprang to life 7 years earlier, in 1985.
  • IRC rolled out three years earlier, 1988
For that matter, kew.com was registered before the web existed.

And there's the small matter of an email I received before I even set up kew.com:

Header lines of the first email I ever received from +Katherine Derbyshire,
(in response to a mundane Usenet post I had made; click for a larger version).
Who needs the web?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Second Verse (almost) the Same as the First

This is not exactly a news flash, but worthy of note ...

After 10 and half years, our BRG 2006 MINI Cooper S with 93,000 miles on it is officially no more. One need not be sad; it has a new life that you can get hints on if you head over to the PS MINI group on Facebook.

As you can see below, we have not strayed far in replacing it -- once again we ordered a rag top MINI Cooper S with a manual transmission, and we checked almost all the boxes.

Our 2006 MINI Next to its 2016 Replacement
Our 2006 MINI Cooper S next to its 2016 Replacement
(click for  a better view)
What happened ... back in May we set out one evening in the 2006 MINI for a Mariners game, and a hundred yard out of the driveway, most of the idiot lights on dash lit up and the car stalled. It restarted, so we retreated to the garage and switched to the Audi for the ballgame. The following day I gently took the MINI into the dealer to get it fixed.

Once it was fixed, Katherine and I sat down and had The Talk about how maintenance costs (and irritation) were going keep climbing, balanced against the cost of a new MINI and how people talk about the 2006 MINI being best year of them. And so we looked around, didn't come up with anything else we wanted (the current Miata came close, but we like that a MINI Cooper S is taller), and ended up ordering a new MINI Cooper S to get it configured as we wanted. +Katherine Derbyshire picked the color; I had gotten to pick the British Racing Green last time.

The new MINI hit our shores about July 17, and it was at Seattle MINI a fast four days later. We got organized and picked up the car that Saturday afternoon. Katherine posted a FOR SALE notice on the PS MINI FB group, got an immediate reply, and the 2006 MINI's new owner was happily driving it away a few minutes after we snapped this picture on July 24th.

Today, its permanent registration arrived, so we'll get our "We Love Our Pets" vanity plates on it by the weekend.

Here's to another ten years of top down motoring ...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hello Old Friend

Back at Christmas 2012, I asked for and received a new keyboard based on an old PC favorite, customized for a Mac OS X environment. Sadly, it turned out to be neither a true Mac keyboard nor a true PC keyboard, and that made it quirky in some ways that were hard to work around. It's also almost as big and loud as the classic IBM Model M units, which are not their strong suits.

So after couple of years I tried a different direction, this time ordering a compact keyboard from WASD Keyboards, which used Cherry MX Blue switches. Favored by some gamers, Cherry MX switches of all flavors are tough and have good feedback. At the same time, they are lighter and quieter than the classic IBM keyboards, and the compact versions (sans numeric keypad) are quite bit smaller. Mine (with the help of some keyboard mapping software) has been excellent.

I had my last employer buy a duplicate for the office, and when I departed I bequeathed it to an officemate who was interested in Cherry MX-based keyboards. Now that I'm starting a new position, I'll need a new one at the office; for now, I'll take my personal one in when I start I Monday.

This in turn led me to haul one of my original Model M units out of the closet for temporary duty:

My 1996 IBM Model M keyboard, in active service to type this post.
I didn't realize how far I've moved away from that design in the past few years. It's still got its great feedback, but after years of other brands, I feel a bit of a shock to see the huge footprint, arch fingers to the height of the keys, push down that extra bit to get the keys to activate, and hear the unmuffled buckling spring action rattle the windows.

At the end of the day, it's still a classic that does its job beautifully after 20 years.

Retro computing. I haz it.