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.