Hello and welcome once again, everybody. As I write this, I’m in a whirlwind of scheduling conflicts, homework assignments, Swing Choir contests and practices, speech contests and practices, band and vocal solo practices and contests, school play practice (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – I’m Prince Charming), track practices, and newspaper delivering in the wee hours of the morning. Through it all I have become a master in the art of surviving with six hours of sleep, and have successfully kept my straight A average, made the varsity track team as a shot putter, made All-State in the speech contest, and did excellent at the music contests. OK, so our Swing Choir got a II rating at contest, but nobody’s perfect. 🙂 On top of all of this I’m
trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, and I’m finding that having a girlfriend (of roughly two months now) takes up more time than I ever imagined.
Now that you all know ten times more about my life then you cared to, I’d like to use the above paragraph as my excuse for this month’s article. It’s already three days late, Tim’s probably ready to torture me so I die a slow, painful death, and I’m afraid it might have to be a bit rushed. So, my apologies in advance. (Let’s see, the last time I apologized for a column was February, and to date that’s the one I’ve received the most positive mail for. Hmm… 😉
Anyway, as I mentioned last month, this March marked the one-year anniversary
of my getting wired and becoming part of cyberspace. As I approach 13 months of Web surfing, mail sending, and file transferring, I’m going to take the time here to reflect on it all. Who knows, maybe I’ll say something worthwhile…
HELLO, MY NAME’S MIKE…
and I’m an online addict. I openly realize the fact. My parents complain that every spare moment I have is spent staring at the monitor on our LC 575, and maybe they’re more right than I’d like to admit. And the one thing that keeps me glued to the screen, is my modem. More then the snazzy interface, more then typing reports in ClarisWorks, more than DOOM, more than anything else. Now, I’m not online 24/7 or anything like that. I rarely spend more then 7 hours a month online, and I only sign on for an extended period of time about twice a week, with a quick email-retrieval session thrown in once or twice a week also. But it’s everything in between that takes up so much time.
NO PAPER CUTS
First and foremost, the thing I enjoy about the online world is email. I’m not big on conferences or chat rooms or real-time, online one-on-one conversations because they chew up time and money much too quickly. But regular, almost daily emailing is a thing of beauty. I have roughly half a dozen people I correspond with very regularly, and it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I think I know these people better then half of the people in my school. But I love it.
With email I can also write and send stuff that for some reason I never bothered with before. For example, sending letters to the editor or to a favorite magazine, or writing an author and telling them that I really enjoyed their work. I never did that with letters through the post office, and I still don’t. But with email it’s so easy.
I could mention the numerous mailing lists and digests that I get in my box everyday, too, but I won’t bore you. Simply put, I love email. It’s wonderful. You know what one of the biggest advantages of email is? I found that, unlike postal mail, you don’t get paper cuts on your lip from licking envelopes. 🙂
MY OWN DIGITAL LIBRARY
Next on my list of things I love is e-zine’s. Call them online magazines, e-zines, electronic publications, whatever you want, but I love ’em. I subscribe to over half a dozen, and I’m always on the lookout for more. There’s roughly ten or so that I look over each month. They can be in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, or simply be a text file, or a DOCMaker file, or even a Macromedia Director application, I don’t care. Just let me read it! I’m a ‘zine freak.
I recently got myself a new Zip drive, and one of the first things I did was clear some of internal hard drive space by putting all of my back issues and archives of e-zines on a Zip disk. The disk now has about 80 Megs of information on it. In one year I have downloaded almost 80 Megs of ‘zines, including the complete collections of My Mac, About This Particular Macintosh, TidBITS, and MacNet Journal. You know you are crazy when you are willing to download 250 back issues of TidBITS just to complete your collection. But I love it. 🙂
My library doesn’t stop there, though. Online you can find digital versions of novels and books and other cool stuff. I’ve got a French tutorial book and a collection of some of Shakespeare’s plays on my drive, too. I’ve got stuff about computers, classical literature, nonfiction, modern fiction, sports, Star Trek, you name it. I really do have my very own library here, and it only takes two Zip disks. And I got it all (or, at least 90% of it) from being online.
GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!
I used to think that there weren’t any games for the Mac. That I had picked a “boring” machine. Wow, was I wrong! Only recently have many game companies, like LucasArts and Interplay, brought such great games like Rebel Assault and Descent to the Mac platform, and now many other companies look like they’re going to join in. That’s great! But what I didn’t realize was that the Mac had such a large number of quality programmers and companies, such as Ambrosia, putting out great Mac games and distributing them online. I was astounded at what I found the first time I signed online. Now, almost 70% of the stuff on my hard drive is entertainment-related. Once again, only because of the Internet.
WILD, CRAZY, FUN!
That more or less sums up the rest of my online experiences. The people I meet are great, eclectic, fun-loving folks for the most part. There’s always something happening, and there’s never a dull moment if you know where to look. Some of my friends say they don’t think being online is all it’s cracked up to be. They spend all their time in solitude, downloading files or visiting Web pages. Web pages are cool, and I’ve already talked about downloading stuff, but if that’s all they do they haven’t lived. I’ve already mentioned I’m not big on chat rooms, but they’re still fun to take part in, in moderation. There’s other stuff that you can do to communicate, anyway, like post to news groups or message boards.
Sure, I use the Internet to look up stuff, too. Just the other I day I visited a Web page and got the up-to-the-minute delegate count for all the presidential candidates for government class. But that takes a back seat to fun. 🙂
END OF THE ROAD?
That’s why I like being online. But what now? I’m losing my home. eWorld’s closing its doors, and it’s the only online home I’ve ever known. I’m proud to say that I stuck with eWorld to the end, that my name was still there on March 31, but life goes on. An America Online account for now, maybe an ISP later, who knows? One thing is for sure, though, and that’s that I will be online somewhere. I could never give this up. I hate it when my parents are right.
Yep. I’m gonna cut it a little short this month. I really wanted to talk about a few of my BBS experiences, and maybe even give my thoughts on the future of the Net, sort of my own version of Bill Gates’ new book (which I have NOT read, by the way). Maybe next month.
Or, on the other hand, I could review some products next month. I just splurged for a Zip drive and RAM Doubler, and I’ll tell you now that they both live up to the hype. Quite possibly the best investment I’ve made concerning my computer since I bought my modem 13 months ago. I know there’s already been a lot said about these two, but hey, they really deserve all the praise they get. I’ll leave it at that for now.
Have a Happy Easter everyone. See you in thirty!