Alunissage (alunissage) wrote,


Every time I feel like writing something the site is down or I'm nowhere near a computer (or am near one but have more vital things to do, like work or sleep). Fortunately, as both my readers have figured out, I'm currently seeing this as a place to semi-archive my knitting projects so I don't have to unravel them to figure out what the heck I did. As such my time limit is merely whenever I forget what I've done...which in most cases has happened immediately or isn't going to happen. Which kind of makes that whole initial premise moot.

From an offhand comment in another LJ I was impelled to look for something, I don't even remember what, in the Internet Archive. Thanks to a certain amount of compulsiveness and a fear of being left out or missing something I've consequently spent most of my weekend reading through four years of archived copies of the site I was looking at...actually, no, I'm still only about halfway in. Groan. The earlier stuff is perhaps more interesting to me, though, as I didn't start reading the site itself regularly until a couple of years ago. What prompted me to make this particular update is the realization that I was reading updates originally posted before I knew the Internet existed. Well, more or less; I'd been using email since 1991-2 but somehow the only knowledge I had in May 1999 of the 'net's existence came from Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg.

A great read, by the way; I seem to read it every few years and get a bit out of it each time. I first read it in high school, late 80s, when I was taking AP CompSci (in Pascal) and got the story while the vast majority of it when over my head, including the locations. Using computers in a fairly desultory fashion since 1981 bore no resemblance to the subject matter of the books; I was to computer geeks what people who buy sports games and nothing else are to hardcore gamers (and still am, pretty much).

Then I read it during one of my many college years, and by then knew what a few more things were: Unix, C, some of the campus buildings, possibly Berkeley Bowl. I got a uclink account (a shell account, then) in 1992 and I remember seeing that stoll was a user on uclink and using the finger command to possibly verify that he was the same one; the result was the single word "cuckoo!", but I don't know if that was before or after this second reading. There's also a mention of Richard Stallman and Gnu-Emacs in the book; I wouldn't encounter RMS's name again for several years but Emacs had crossed my path in the form of JOVE (Jonathan's Own Version of Emacs). For which I probably still have a photocopied manual somewhere, despite having forgotten every single command, while inexplicably retaining enough of vi to enable me to write my notebook entries in it for several months when I joined the lab.

Then I read it again around early 2001, by which time I definitely knew most of the locations, and subsequently got into an argument with I-Gene about hacking; since Cuckoo's Egg had been the first mention of it to me most of my viewpoints were shaped by it. And most recently I reread it sometime in 2003 or early 2004, now as a guest/employee of LBL, in which most of the book takes place. (Bonus: recognizing Robert Morris in a staff list for AIR(??) and thinking from the bio that he's the Robert Morris Jr at the end of Cuckoo's Egg.)

Logically, by the next time I read the book I should be a systems administrator. Perish the thought; my initial seeming aptitude for computers (when I was 8) has given way to a shameful hopelessness made worse by my otherwise-evident intelligence which is completely discounted in this era of measuring IQ by computer competence.

Which reminds me of my initial topic, which I've pretty much already gone through. Besides, I have something else to do now. When I started I was also attempting to make breakfast without burning the house down, with a first-quarter score of Oatmeal 1, Robin 0. However, the oatmeal which didn't boil over is now done and reasonably tasty, so I should get to it before I start meditating on the incongruity of my personal use of a sports metaphor for anything. Besides, I have two more years of archive to read.
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