I got my first internet access account in 1992 when I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Believe it or not, the internet has changed somewhat in the past 17 years.
These days everyone and their grandmother, literally, has internet access. Getting online is as easy as turning on your smartphone or plugging your computer into your cable modem. In 1992 it wasn't quite so easy.
My first account was from a company called Studio X. It was a SLIP account and gave me access to all kinds of great search engines running on university servers. These search engines weren't quite like gooogle. WAIS, Archie and Veronica used Gopher to search FTP sites, mailing lists, and more all over the world.
My SLIP account was text based and required me to set up a painful little application called Winsock. Back then, Windows (which I no longer use as a Desktop platform) did not have a TCP/IP stack. In other words, Windows didn't know how to get onto the internet like it does now. Installing the cumbersome and buggy Winsock fixed this problem.
Once I was on the internet (back then it was capitalized: Internet) I found tons of interesting documents to read. I began to learn about various subjects the knowledge of which would later provide me the income I depend on to survive. The Internet was amazing. The internet is amazing.
One Wilshire Meet-Me-Room
Last year I took a tour of One Wilshire for a Wired.com gallery I shot. One Wilshire is an amazing place that has always fascinated me. Here is how I described it:
In the bowels of the world's most densely populated Meet-Me room -- a room where over 260 ISPs connect their networks to each other -- a phalanx of cabling spills out of its containers and silently pumps the world's information to your computer screen. One tends to think of the internet as a redundant system of remote carriers peppered throughout the world, but in order for the net to function the carriers have to physically connect somewhere. For the Pacific Rim, the main connection point is the One Wilshire building in downtown Los Angeles.
If this facility went down, most of California and parts of the rest of the world would not be able to connect to the internet. Tour one of the web's largest nerve centers, hidden in an otherwise nondescript office building.
I'm slowly going through my archives of Wired.com shoots and posting them on my blog/flickr in full resolution for your viewing pleasure. Here are a few selections from the shoot:
A giant twisting mass of cables spills out of an over-stuffed cable tray in the Meet-Me-Room at One Wilshire.
The roof of One Wilshire is covered with antennas of various sizes and shapes.
A technician works to untangle the mess in the Meet-Me-Room at One Wilshire in this shot from 2008.
Click here to view the other 21 photos from my One Wilshire Tour. Stay tuned for more cool photos from my Wired adventures.
I just recently recieved one of The Great Internet Migratory Box(es) of Electronics Junk (TGIMBOEJ). The TGIMBOEJ is an awesome box of random electronics that various geeks send to each other. The idea was started by Lenore over at Evil Mad Scientist Labs.
Basically you put your name and contact info on a Wiki page devoted to perspective TGIMBOEJ recipients. Then someone finds your name on said list, and either creates a new box to send you or forwards on the box they currently possess.
The rules are simple, take what you want from the box, add some cool stuff, and then send it on to someone else in the list. You can see the status of the various boxes on this wiki page.
I will be mailing the box off on monday to Logan from Binary Tide.
I picked out a few cool parts including some LEDs, a giant buzzer and some zip-ties. I added a giant LED, a potentiometer and some other cool parts including a 1GB SD card.
The TGIMBOEJ project is awesome, I'm looking forward to receiving another box some time soon!
One of the items I kept from the TGIMBOEJ was the big red buzzer (upper left). I haven't hooked it up yet, but I bet it's loud!
I've been a Vonage subscribe for over 5 years now and I've been very happy with their internet based telephone system. Basically if you get Vonage you don't need a phone line, just an internet connection. When you sign up they send you a little box you plug in to your network to which you connect any standard telephone. Once you plug everything in you get nation-wide long distance for free for about $25 a month or you can get a 500 minute plan for $15 a month.
You can transfer your existing telephone number to it or get a new one. It's just like your normal phone service, but has some other cool features like the ability to simultaneously ring your cell phone and your home. You can also get a soft phone that you can use on your laptop from anywhere that has internet access. Right now they are offering 2 month of free service for both you and me if you sign up [click here to do so].
Earlier this year my lovely wife and I took a trip to the Bay Area to visit family and check out some cool stuff which I also shot for WIRED. One of the tours that my sister-in-law took us on was to the Internet Archive headquarters as well as a book scanning facility. The gallery went up on WIRED today:
From http://www.fahrenheit911.com: "Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore's searing examination of the Bush administration's actions in the wake of the tragic events of 9/11. With his characteristic humor and dogged commitment to uncovering the facts, Moore considers the presidency of George W. Bush and where it has led us."Michael Moore says:"I don't agree with copyright laws, and I don't have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it...as long as they're not trying to make a profit off my labor.... I make these movies and books and TV shows because I want things to change, and so the more people who get to see them, the better."