Monday, September 19, 2005

the internet as best as i remember it

April 6th, 1992. That's the first day I saw the internet. Not many people can say that they remember when they first saw the web. I was with my girlfriend at the time, one Holly Bender. We stopped at her uncle's house in Raleigh or one of the adjacent suburbs. We went up to his home office and he had some early service; CompuServe or something. When he connected it was like a modern day portal with scrolling windows and other craziness. It could have even had a blink tag. Maybe not. All this is through the haze of my memory which can be very fuzzy at times.

The second time I saw the web was in a second year astronomy course. I don't remember the date. I do remember the introduction we got to computers (some Sun boxes) and the professor asked if anyone knew what HTTP stood for. Why it stuck I'll never know but a kid sat up and said "hypertext transfer protocol." The "duh" was implied in his tone. Well, it did stick. Not just the memory of that moment but the definition of the acronym and I think it branded me as a bit of a geek.

Earlier in this remembrance I made it sound as though the sight of the internet impressed me so much it made an indelible imprint of the date in my head. Not so. What made me remember it was the fact that on one of the scrolling menus it was showing the current news. Isaac Asimov was dead. I didn't know the exact date until I went to the wikipedia article on Asimov.

Monday, September 12, 2005

space and humanity

Mankind's journey to the moon seems to be the noblest thing humanity has accomplished. There is much to be said for humanitarian aid, but enabling the genome to get offworld starts to ensure the continuation of the species. I appreciate NASA's effort in recent years to keep us circling the globe but it is difficult for me to believe that we landed on the moon before I was born and haven't maintained a presence there. How hard would it be to set up a permanent base on the moon? What benefits would it offer us? If only to preserve a segment of the population from extinction, it would be worth it. Currently humanity is subject to any catastrophe that occurs here, human engineered or otherwise. Our present economic status enables us to spend money on projects that have tremendous payoff like this. I fear disasters like Hurricane Katrina will affect the economy so that spending for space exploration might not be possible much less feasible. My greatest dream is that one day my children will be able to travel to space. Here's to them and hoping they have that opportunity.