strangest systems I've sent email from

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Thu Apr 21 11:11:22 CDT 2016

On Thu, 21 Apr 2016, John Willis wrote:
> I think I remember slirp...  didn't that somewhat emulate a SLIP link
> through a shell account?

Yes.  It was (and kinda still is) awesome.  The coolest thing about it is
that, unlike using PPP or SLIP, you don't need valid IPs as endpoints. 
Slirp was like a poor mans dynamic one-to-many NAT before there was such a
beast.  That was a great thing when you were a college student without any
juice to get an IP from the IT beast that ran the school.

> That's another thing I remember and miss from those days...  your average
> ISP would provide NNTP and UNIX shell accounts, as well as a few megs of
> space to put up a personal web site in ~/public_html.

Yep.  I miss that too.  I used to run such an ISP in the 90's and we did 
exactly as you say.  We also ran a finger servers everywhere (and no, not 
one with a bunch of security problems).  People used to use that in cool 
ways, too (bots, cool services, vending machine interfaces, etc..).


The simple fact is that most folks are too apathetic and ignorant to care 
about such things anymore.  The Internet is a large, but still textbook 
case of what happens when you let business-weasels in on something good.  
They "monetize" it and turn it into a combination strip-mall, casino, 
theatre, porn-shop.  Of course, the Internet wouldn't be what it is 
without said weasels, (certainly not as large) but I think I'd be pretty 
okay with that.  I'd be okay without 80% of Internet traffic being video, 
too.  I guess that makes me a curmudgeon (but I've always hated TV and I 
resent the forces trying to morph the Internet into on-demand cable 
television). Yea yeah, I know I'm just peeing in the wind to say it, but 
there it is.

I remember when computers used to come with a programming manual and 
schematics for the machine, too.  Even mid-level stereo equipment would 
often come with schematics.  That's because those folks (the generation 
before me, I'm a gen-X unit) had a significant population of people who 
cared about such things and could run a soldering iron.

Just like there didn't used to be any such thing as Computer Science.  
Ie.. you learned electrical engineering (ie..  how the darn chips 
themselves worked, first) or some other technical discipline then applied 
that to computing.  Now, most colleges want to teach you Java and call you 
a computer scientist.  We get college grads all the time and I'm shocked 
to see how little they've actually been taught relating to computing.  
They are marginally more useful than high school kids and that's only 
because they don't show up quite as late for work.

I'm not saying everything was perfect in the 80's or 90's.  I mean, some 
CS professors in the 90's were teaching Oberon, LISP dialects, or 
Smalltalk. Then if you ever uttered the (completely true) phrase "not 
commercially viable" they'd launch into some diatribe about how these 
languages taught you some kind of special spiritual meta-programming 
that'd ultimately path the path for you to become some kind of code-God 
(like them?).  That is, as long as you bought their 18th edition $160 book 
(only at the college bookstore).  So, no, things were never perfect, and 
people had to try and do work with Windows for Workgroups 3.11.  :-)

Point is, I don't have blinders on, but there are *reasons* why I'm 
nostalgic.  Just like I'm nostalgic for the days (before my time) when a 
person could earn interest on their savings.  I'm not saying things were 
perfect, but some aspects of the past were definitely better.



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