Good ol’ 56k…

Firstly, apologies. I should have been displaying lovely colourful screenshots in this post, but I’m not. Tomorrow, promise.

I decided to write a little bit about 56k modems, one of whice I am currently using to connect to the internet (a Pace Micro internal PCI one, no less). They are great. or rather, they were great – 56k modems I mean. A few years ago I remember being mightily impressed by how fast the web seemed when I moved from a 28k modem to the wonder of 56k. Oh, how happy I was. And it lasted a long time. many is the night I would download perhaps even a dozen MP3 files from (alas, no more) whilst watching a film. I could time a standard MP3 file to download in about 15 minutes, so that gave me enough time to get about 8 before the ISP kicked me off. NTL and the old “kick uses off every 2 hours because we want to” routine. Happy days.

Then along came broadband, and things weren’t quite as innocent any more. I was an “early adopter”, having a 500k cable modem installed way back in March 2001. While in some ways I haven’t looked back since (apart from a few months without cable, where 56k had to be my lot at home), but in other ways I miss the old days. Forexample, when you can download an MP3 in less that 30 seconds, it seems taste gopes out the winow. The same for websites. I often find a really good website when browsing, but because a minute later I am 6-10 sites further on, it gets lost in the melĂ©e of dross. When we were all shackled by 56k we were all a lot more careful about what we did online, at least I was.

But, saying that, it’s not all bad. Online gaming for one thing has been, at times over the last year, my favourite passtime. Imagine trying to play Black Hawk Down on 56k. Blimey, even network soltaire would be taxing for that. And the music thing is pretty good as well, for instance I found two whole albums for download earlier tonight, so, after a quick email to a place with broadband, I prepared the way for a couple of hours of listening pleasure. And that’s not to mention the frankly amazing things I’m doing at work with hugely complicated database driven sites, all thanks to fast, always-on connections.

So hurrah for broadband, but let’s not forget what brought us to this point. Let us all, with one voice, sing the Ode to the 56k Modem:

Weeeeeep diddlediddleclickclickclick weeep weep drrrrrrrrr ditdit dit dit click click

A confession…

I must admit to being influenced by blog templates greatly at the moment. Which is why I’m having great fun with a new work intranet system I’m developing. Picks yer style, makes yer smile. I may even put some ‘hidden’ extras (easter eggs, I think they’re called) for those that want them, involving people from work … hmm, ideas ahoy.

This also links in with my general excitement about web applications. How many other programs do you use where you can “skin” it with a single click, and even develop your own skins very easily? OK, OK, Winamp, Firefox etc. But they are all freeware/open source things (we open source people tend to be interested in making the whole of a program a positive user experience) so have thousands, perhaps millions, of potential developers and beta testers. Still, it’s an exciting area to be working in. Do you want screenshots? OK, they’ll be here in the next post…

The future is bright…

Every now and again I get really excited about something. My heart gave a little flutter just now when I read this article because, in a nutshell, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of years. Proper web-based applications. Websites that Do Things.

So the fact that this stuff is now beginning to really hit the world in a big way is quite exciting. The cutting edge is quite a nice place to be.

I’m in love…

With an Apache extension. Don’t worry, it’s nothing to do with Native American Indians and the amazing results available through spam emails. It’s the wonderful mod_rewrite extension, available at all good website hosting companies. It really is wonderful, and you may be seeing a lot more of it very near here in the not too distant future.

However, as is my way, I may be trying to go beyond my abilities too soon. Which is fine, as long as it’s not for an important client, and as long as the site doesn’t crash (see the “Don’t rush it” entry below).

Actually, I was talking about that entry with the inamorata the other day, and she described me as “unconciously incompetant”. It must be love.