strangest systems I've sent email from

John Willis chocolatejollis38 at
Thu Apr 21 12:42:12 CDT 2016

> 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..).
I loved being able to do finger @host and then use talk to chat with other
people. IMNSHO, the real promise of the Internet as envisioned by Cerf,
Postel, et. al. was in the purity of the end-to-end networking connectivity,
where your personal machine is a node equal in stature to minis, mid,
and mainframes also participating: i.e., you have a real, meaningful address
that can not only reach, but be reached. Of course, the prevalence of
connectivity in those days somewhat precluded this, but with a shell
you could get close. Once broadband took off, with always-on connectivity,
this should have been mitigated--but alas, IPv4 depletion and that demonic
invention called NAT screwed it up all over again. Of course, if class A
and B
address blocks weren't handed out like candy to children in the early days,
IPv4 might have lasted longer. But that's a whole other discussion.

IPv6 _should_ fix this, but trusting the telcos and tier 1 providers to not
up the transition is tantamount to an ardent belief in bigfoot, the Loch
monster, and cold fusion.

IMO, bandwidth should be bandwidth: it's none of the ISP's business which
direction it goes in or what I'm using it for (as long as it's legal). This
is why
I pay in excess of $300/month for a T1 line and a /27, as well as ADSL with
a /28 (from a local provider that doesn't care if I run "servers" or not).

I actually run a small neighborhood ISP that provides such a service, in
it's enthusiast-friendly, provides end-to-end connectivity, provides shell
a gopher server, a (text-only) USENET feed, has finger and talk enabled on
various old servers (SunOS, HP-UX, Solaris, 4.2BSD, etc.). I also block
content, Facebook, and all the rather cancerous bandwidth drains of the
commercial Internet.

I also miss: gopher, archie, veronica, and WAIS

> <rant>
> 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.
The downward spiral after the commercialization of the Internet was
and alarmingly rapid: the vapidity of online exchanges quickly reached fever
pitch as more and more blockheads flooded the network. Prior to that, the
of community and mutual trust was astonishing. We didn't have to worry about
security nearly as much, since most of us were incredibly grateful to have
to such a resource in the first place.

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.
Yep. And the programming manual would come with (gasp) BIOS source listings.
I remember even printers coming with a reference for all their escape
sequences, and
often royalty-free sample code in some combination of assembly language,
and Pascal. Sometimes C. Now, you get a kindergarten-level fold-out poster
showing you where to plug in the keyboard. Even serious programming tools
more text in the license agreement than they do in the printed docs.

> 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.

Heh... I dropped out of college because of this trend. My so-called "data
structures" course was in reality just "Modula-2 Programming 101". I found
that I
was better served by buying old textbooks and studying on my own time, and
mentored by seasoned veterans.

> 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.  :-)

Very true. Trumpet Winsock was an exercise in frustration: but I got turned
on to
UNIX very early on.

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