# How amazing is the internet! - Some old dudes dreaming how it was in their childhood

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchcombe_meteorite
+1 on that.

I'm an old guy and I'm constantly amazed in a wonderfully pleasant way by the plethora of readily accessible information that we have today, and almost as equally amazed in a less pleasant way at the fact that there are still people who don't automatically take advantage of it. In my youth a question like that would have required a trip to the library and/or newspaper archives and finding an answer would not have been guaranteed. Now, it takes seconds to find out.

nsaspook, Fervent Freyja, russ_watters and 8 others

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+1 on that.

I'm an old guy and I'm constantly amazed in a wonderfully pleasant way by the plethora of readily accessible information that we have today, and almost as equally amazed in a less pleasant way at the fact that there are still people who don't automatically take advantage of it. In my youth a question like that would have required a trip to the library and/or newspaper archives and finding an answer would not have been guaranteed. Now, it takes seconds to find out.
Indeed. This archive is actually what I miss the most if off-line, and be it to help my parents with a crossword puzzle. It is incredibly convenient to look up things. Maybe not enough for a study of a certain field, but always to get a quick overview. And if Wikipedia doesn't help, then look for lecture notes! Many universities publish them on their servers nowadays.

Astronuc
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Indeed. This archive is actually what I miss the most if off-line, and be it to help my parents with a crossword puzzle. It is incredibly convenient to look up things. Maybe not enough for a study of a certain field, but always to get a quick overview. And if Wikipedia doesn't help, then look for lecture notes! Many universities publish them on their servers nowadays.

2milehi and phinds
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People who trade on the stock market would definitely add instantaneous stock quotes and stock information to that list.

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fresh_42 said:
In my youth a question like that would have required a trip to the library and/or newspaper archives and finding an answer would not have been guaranteed. Now, it takes seconds to find out.
In my local library, the research desk is staffed by a person with a degree in library science. She is professionally trained for the job. Sadly, day after day she is asked to do nothing more than collect fees, 10 cents per page, for use of the printers. Her training and her mental health must atrophy with time.

Stories like that are sad, but the world benefits. The Internet is highly disruptive. Frequently, the result is that the public benefits but a small minority suffers. We have no good system for compensating the victims. Andrew Yang says that job retraining has proven to be 0% up to 10% effective. Right now, post peak of the pandemic, very many employers have found that they can make record profits if they have fewer employees.

My daughter in law works in the back office for a big bank. She fears rumors that the bank is considering a transition from 250,000 employees to 25 employees. No doubt that is an exaggeration, but plausible in the modern world.

Edit: I quoted @fresh_42 's text but incorrectly and labeled it as @phinds . I just corrected that.

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Astronuc
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The Internet is highly disruptive. Frequently, the result is that the public benefits but a small minority suffers.
That is hardly unique to the internet. It IS, I believe, true in the aggregate that "a rising tide lifts all boats", but as systems change in areas of employment there are always winners and losers. Think of all those poor buggy whip manufacturers in 1910 in addition to the knowledge worker you mentioned in recent times. The list goes on and on.

Our society usually does not do a good job of alleviating the pain of such transitions for some (although modern unemployment insurance and such make things better than they used to be).

russ_watters
Gold Member
+1 on that.

I'm an old guy and I'm constantly amazed in a wonderfully pleasant way by the plethora of readily accessible information that we have today, and almost as equally amazed in a less pleasant way at the fact that there are still people who don't automatically take advantage of it. In my youth a question like that would have required a trip to the library and/or newspaper archives and finding an answer would not have been guaranteed. Now, it takes seconds to find out.
No worries; I will direct this comment back to meteors.

The access to so much information online, so easily obtained, may also lead to more credulous users. Having to track down published books in libraries and extract useful information probably helped us develop critical thinking and learning skills. Internet users face a daunting task to determine fact from fiction, standards from opinion, and useful information from popular nonsense.

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Some old dudes dreaming how it was in their childhood ...
Hey, I didn't even get started on the log cabin and stuff

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the log cabin and stuff
Thought it was cave.

atyy
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Thought it was cave.
Oh, come on. I'm not THAT old

It WAS a very primitive dirt-floor log cabin though.

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atyy
BWV
My mother had a summer job as a calculator for an insurance company in the early 60s - simple but intensive statistical computations that we take for granted were delegated to rooms of women (cheaper due to pay disparities) prior to mainframe computers becoming commercially available later in the 60s

Fervent Freyja
Jarvis323
This one is impressive. They filmed most of the build.

nsaspook and atyy
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I will never forget the first time I sent a message in binary.

I used a campfire and a wet blanket.

I have often thought back to the 2001 movie, AI. Even then it wasn't obvious that Dr. Know was just around the corner... and soon to be available on our phones.

Astronuc
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I will never forget the first time I sent a message in binary.

I used a campfire and a wet blanket.
Jeez, you had blankets? Lucky guy. We had to just wave our hand over the fire to create the zeroes.

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The thing I occasionally love to do is revisit places I have resided using Google Maps. In particular it is so astoundingly detailed that I can situate myself exactly on the back porch of the tenement on Eddy St overlooking downtown Ithaca, for instance, or the see the exact view of the Blue Ridge from our house on Pantops Mountain in Charlottesville. It transports me immediately back!
Of course today I also discovered the obit of yet another friend I hadn't seen in too long...to quote Vonnegut "so it goes".

Astronuc and russ_watters
NTL2009
I will never forget the first time I sent a message in binary.

I used a campfire and a wet blanket.

Jeez, you had blankets? Lucky guy. We had to just wave our hand over the fire to create the zeroes.

BillTre and Keith_McClary
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NTL2009
Yeah, I've seen that one several times. It's a classic.
I tend to think this classic was the inspiration for that comic:

hutchphd
Keith_McClary
there are still people who don't automatically take advantage of it
I usually do, but if everyone always did, we wouldn't have cool threads like this.

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True story: The first high-resolution image I downloaded on my computer was a photo of Saturn taken by the Hubble scope. I was using a 2400 baud modem and it was a long distance phone call. The download was a direct dial connection from a University and took over 4 hours. It may have been close to 6 hours. It cost me something like $40 in long distance charges - for ONE image. hutchphd Keith_McClary True story: The first high-resolution image I downloaded on my computer was a photo of Saturn taken by the Hubble scope. I was using a 2400 baud modem and it was a long distance phone call. The download was a direct dial connection from a University and took over 4 hours. It may have been close to 6 hours. It cost me something like$40 in long distance charges - for ONE image.
Our computer club finagled a connection to the University of Calgary, which had a 128k (=2 phone lines) to the UofA, and then to UBC. We were told to use the shared resource sparingly. I remember feeling guilty downloading 100k all the way from the UK when I probably had it on a floppy somewhere.
When other ISPs came to Calgary there was no local connection, so a "traceroute" to a Calgary site would go UofC>UofA>UBC>Denver>LA>NYC>Toronto>Calgary.

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Ivan Seeking
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Jeez, you guys had phones? Lucky guys. We had to use semaphores. Took freekin' FOREVER just for one fuzzy image.

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And the semaphore operators always hated sending binary: up down up down down up who could blame them?

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I was using a 2400 baud modem
2400 baud? You were lucky! The first modem I owned was a 300/1200, and I actually used an acoustic coupler.

Ivan Seeking, Klystron, phinds and 2 others
Hornbein
I can get scientific articles that in the old days I would have had to go to a good University library. Even then it would have taken 30 times longer. In short, I couldn't have done it.

Klystron and hutchphd
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In my youth a question like that would have required a trip to the library and/or newspaper archives and finding an answer would not have been guaranteed. Now, it takes seconds to find out.
My parents had an Encyclopedia Britanica, which I'm pretty sure cost $1000+ in 1980s money. Sitting around the dinner table, talking about...Pompeii - what year was that? Go grab volume P. That was our "Google it". BillTre and Klystron Science Advisor Gold Member 2022 Award My parents had an Encyclopedia Britanica, which I'm pretty sure cost$1000+ in 1980s money. Sitting around the dinner table, talking about...Pompeii - what year was that? Go grab volume P. That was our "Google it".
Just for nostalgia's sake I still have my own set that I bought in the late 1960's. Haven't opened it in lots of years.

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2400 baud? You were lucky! The first modem I owned was a 300/1200, and I actually used an acoustic coupler.
You had a coupler? Lucky guy. We had to just yell really loudly.

(Actually, yeah I had one of those too.)

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Mondayman, atyy and phinds
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Still cannot bring myself to pitch either them or the old N. Geos.; seems a waste of craftsmanship and pride in products/goods/services.

Astronuc, BillTre and russ_watters
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My parents downsized last year and offered them. No takers.

Astronuc and Bystander
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So, in the 2000’s, there were still salesman knocking door-to-door selling PC packages. One got my mom on an impulse buy. I think I was around 11. It was unusual that she made the down payment for me that day, because we never had much money and no one ever did anything for me. We had only just afforded a color TV. He probably hit up the impoverished neighborhoods right after income tax time. I recall begging her that day while the salesman was there. Begging, on my knees. She likely made the purchase because I never asked her for much- I cannot recall ever asking for even a single toy. We were very poor, and I always omitted my needs as to not be a burden, but in that moment I didn’t care. I wanted it. I needed information. Best thing she ever did for me- I had been so happy.

There were no real books in my home (and I had burned through the decor/readers digest early on) and the only books that were ever given to me had been an incomplete encyclopedia. I made deals with adults to drop me off at the library to get my fix during summers. My teachers always sent me to the library by myself for a few hours everyday and when I would get bored or frustrated with the material during class- that helped. But the information that the PC churned out was like a drug for me. What I wanted to know was immediately brought to me. I could investigate whatever topic I was on at the time. I did my chores and everyone’s homework as soon as I came in from school so that I could escape to that world.

From my understanding, the PC package had been bought with an installment plan. We were evicted not long after. Go figure.

Astronuc, Keith_McClary and BillTre