Monday, November 30, 2009

30 NOV 09: Web 10.0

Thanksgiving weekend marked a milestone for me. I've now been connected to the Internet at home for ten years. In a way, that's a troubling thought. Have I eaten more cookies in the past ten years than my computers have collected?

I wasn't really an Internet rookie in November 1999. A workplace in Atlanta introduced me to the web in 1995, and I've had my main e-mail address about that long. But outside of work, my only web access came at libraries - and in the mid-nineties, Georgia colleges actually could afford cutting-edge Internet computers.

(It was the Clayton County library which introduced me to Apple McIntosh computers. But they worked so slowly and had such limited memory that it's no wonder the "P.C." in those commercials seems so pompous and superior.)

My computer of choice throughout the Internet era has been an eMachines. Well, it was somewhat by choice. I chose to stay within a budget, and not empty my bank account....

My April 1999 eMachines met a BellSouth Internet start-up disc on Thanksgiving Friday, ten years ago. For several years I settled for what the commercials called "slooooow dial-up." With every call costing me money on my local phone bill, it was a sure way to avoid Internet addiction -- but I probably missed hundreds of annoying telemarketing calls.

One of the first things I did once the Internet connection was installed was set up a Microsoft Outlook e-mail account. These days, I never use it - because when I've been forced to change e-mail addresses by my I.S.P. or due to computer repairs, my saved Outlook messages would disappear. How else am I supposed to double-check which romantic appeals didn't work?

The scariest lesson I learned in my first hours of home Internet service involved proper web addresses. When I left one letter out of "," a web site appeared with pop-up pages and a cartoon of someone dressed like a Nazi. "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" was installed in library computers back then for good reason....

By and large, things settled down from there. The first online radio station I called up was a Christian station from Chicago. But without any Internet security software installed, demon programs crept onto my computer. When one of them turns your home page into a message of insults AND automatically opens your CD tray, it's time to do something.

Ten years later, my Internet arrangement is substantially better. I'm on only my second eMachines computer, which has run almost flawlessly for three-and-a-half years. The old eMachines would have needed two sticks of RAM and a couple of new cooling fans for the hard drive in that time.

And for about two years, I've been connected to the Internet through broadband. Yes, I now have security software to keep hackers away -- but if I don't turn up the security level when I play online poker, something occasionally can slip through and cause a disruption. Why would I want to take a consumer survey, in the middle of winning thousands of chips?

But in the last ten years, my Internet habits have changed in one significant way. In the mid-nineties, I made sure my e-mail InBox was kept as empty as possible. Now my account has items dating as far back as December 1999 - and since Yahoo has unlimited InBox space now, it's comforting to know I'm not the only computer user with a clutter problem.

Let's complete the round-trip from '99 to '09, and catch up on some Sunday news items:

+ WXTX "News at Ten" reported Groome Transportation is seeing more business this year than last year. At least the drivers are nice enough NOT to honk their horns and wave, when they drive past the Columbus Airport.

+ WTVM noted one of Billy Graham's sons will conduct a "Celebration Revival" in late March at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum in Auburn. I think many people will be celebrating the basketball teams' final home games there....

+ The Auburn Football Review showed Coach Gene Chizik's locker room comments moments after the Iron Bowl. Chizik assured his players, "Down the road, people are going to be nervous." Such as the Bowl Championship Series executives, who almost saw the real possibility of a title game between Texas and Cincinnati.

+ The Atlanta Falcons came from behind for a critical 20-17 win over Tampa Bay. Chris Redman threw the winning touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds - despite the fact that his team wore black uniforms.

(Redman had to relieve quarterback Matt Ryan, who left the game with some kind of toe injury. The way Jason Elam has been missing field goals, I hope he's not infecting the entire team.)

+ Former Auburn kicker Damon Duval won the Canadian Football League Grey Cup for Montreal, by making a last-second field goal. Duval actually missed a kick from 43 yards, but received a second chance when Saskatchewan had too many men on the field -- which seems impossible, since the Canadian league lets you have 12 in the first place.

+ Instant Message to Chef Lee's II on Bradley Park Drive: Your food was wonderful the other night. The atmosphere is among the most elegant in Columbus. But why do you have a little cooler near the front door, with bottles of soda and water? Do that many people feel they need to wash MSG out of their systems?

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