Excited utterance of the day: "Holy Shit, I remember vi!" Muscle memory is a powerful thing.

As soon as I heard of the tilde resurgence of course I wanted one. A tilde-based website made me what I am today in a lot of ways.

I've used UNIX as recently as a year and a half ago before I got my most recent job - we used direct UNIX access to our file system to manipulate accounts. At the time it just seemed like the way to do things, though in hindsight it explains why so many people we tried to hire into the department would break down crying and quit. I never thought it was that hard - it was just the way I had initially leared to work with computers - telnet and ftp, talk instead of chat, pine for email, heck even gopher was something I had worked with when I first got online back in 1995 - so when I took at job in 1998 that used UNIX I was very proficient at the basics and ... we just never bothered to change it. Now that I'm in a place that makes all of those functions webpage driven I think how inefficient is but how it'll be easier to scale. I guess.

So I guess I shouldn't be so surprised that I can still do (some of) it but I'm excited and delighted nontheless to have an experimental space. To go back to basics and back to first principles.

I'm a bit old so it wasn't until I was in college that I first really encountered computers. I must have taken a basic computer class in high school (I can picture the room but nothing about what we might have learned except I think we got to keep a punchcard they handed out - not to use but just as a "this is from where this all comes" sort of exercise) but nothing registered, nothing was exciting. When I got to college we first wrote essays on typewriters that had little memory disks so you could erase about a line's worth of text at a time and it seemed revolutionary to be able to correct things that way. Then in my third year or so I got an actual computer. Some off brand x86 thing I think. It weighed a ton and all I could really do that was useful was to write essays on it. And play Leisure Suit Larry. I loved playing Leisure Suit Larry, a copy of which I got from a geek engineering boy I had a crush on.

One of my housemates had a better computer, with a color monitor and... a modem. We didn't really know what to do with the modem except we knew we could use it to login to the computers at the school's library which came in really handy at the end of the term when we'd inevitably all have forgotten to get some bibliographic element ('what year was this damn book published?') and could save ourselves a trip to campus. We also used to play mahjong like crazy-people. All. The. Time. Whatever pirated version she had came with this little edit program where we could edit - pixel by pixel - the default tilesets. One of the packaged tilesets was a "60's" theme and I recall one of my housemates (a graphic designer) painstakingly editing it with little pornographic easter eggs hidden in various tiles. Then when she played we'd all gather wondering how long it would take for her to discover them.

The computer I had beytrayed me, as they all do, during hardcore essay season one year. It just died and took with it several drafts. I carried it to the campus tech shop where they declared it a boat anchor and with it, to the bottom of the deep, went what I was sure were the best things I'd written. Or that's what I told myself as I spent hours recreating my work.

That computer was replaced by something that had, wait for it... a 386 chip and WORDPERFECT. It felt like the future.

~mlb