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Dinner with mystful

Last night, gnomi, farwing, and I had dinner with mystful at our local kosher Chinese restaurant, Taam China. (Tonight, gnomi and I are having dinner there again, this time with my former student moneypenny.) mystful was one of the students in the writing workshop we facilitated at Harvard last month, and since she was kind enough to get in touch before the workshop, we wanted to spend some time with her.

She's a fascinating person, who has accomplished a lot for someone so young. It turned out that as a high school student she had spent a year in Beijing. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, so we introduced her to the owner of the restaurant, and the two of them had an extended conversation in Mandarin. I have no idea what they talked about, but from context it was probably about her experiences in China.

We also talked about writing, of course, and why one shouldn't use too many adverbs as dialogue tags. (See gnomi's post here for a link to Tom Swifties.) But on a personal note, what got me was how much Harvard has changed since I've been there. I knew that they had wired the dorms for the Internet, but starting next year all the dorms are going wireless! < old man grumpy voice >In my day, we didn't have this "wireless" Internet in our dorms! If we wanted to check our e-mail, we had to shlep all the way to the Science Center, through the snow, uphill, both ways! And we didn't have any of these sissy front-end programs! We had to know how to use Unix or VMS!< /old man grumpy voice >.

Okay, I'm done now. :-)


When I was at BU, my dorm was "wired".

We had an ADM-3A in the basement, with a 1200bps modem attached.

I'm not kidding.

(Instead, I'd just use my Mac as a terminal from my room; for the years I had roommates, we negotiated the phone time issue; once I had a single, it was no longer a problem.)
Displaying my ignorance, what is an ADM-3A?
Classic text only (i.e. non-bitmapped) terminal in light blue.
Like the Tektronix terminal I used in Los Alamos in 1989?
Yes, but crappier. Like it would reset if it got a ^G.

Harvard WIFI

That means I can use my laptop in Harvard Square. Yay!

Re: Harvard WIFI

Don't be so sure. It's entirely possible the system will be password protected.

Re: Harvard WIFI

According to the Harvard (corporate) wireless info site, guest access "may be available" thorugh schools or admin offices. So general use is probably not happening, unlike MIT, where you can use it for 14 days per year.

For just checking email and light websurfing, though, T-Mobile's GPRS is adequate, and can be had with unlimited traffic for $20/mo on top of an existing voice plan.
Dude, in my day no one in the freakin' Computer Science department even had email. At least until sometime late in my second year when we got some machines running Unix and Bellovin, Truscott, and Wright were putting Usenet together. I mean, one reason I picked my dorm was that it was one of two which had card punches and a machine that'd read the cards and send the program over to TUCC for batch processing. And we had to know how to write at least enough JCL to get our batch jobs to run...

Related to that, MTV has a show starting July 5th called "The '70s House" were a bunch of teens/20somethings have to live in a house with only 1970s level of tech and decor. I find it amusing in that MTV only dates back to 1981.

Punchcards and paper tape anyone?

OK, while I never had to use punchcards, I saw people using them. I saw them drop boxes full of them while in line to feed them into the card reader. Ahh, those were the days.

The first modem I ever used was a 300 baud with acoustic coupler. You took the receiver of the phone and stuck in it a special container to communicate to the mainframe, that was across the room.

If they do "70s House," will the kitchen appliances be in avocado or gold?

Re: Punchcards and paper tape anyone?

A few years ago, gnomi and I were re-watching WarGames because it was on TV. My jaw dropped at the acoustic modem.
Nomi has a story about her father and email in the olden days...

I remember punch cards. My half-brother Danny used to program with them, or whatever it is one did with them.
the decor is the toughest part...have you seen this stuff?
And we didn't have any of these sissy front-end programs! We had to know how to use Unix or VMS!

I remember being introduced to PINE after I graduated and thinking it was really cool.
I stuck with Berkeley Mail for the longest time, even after learnng about PINE and Rmail. Now I use Eudora.
Actually, the owner of the restaurant was telling me how to tune into Communist television from Cambridge! I meant to share the joy, but somehow the conversation never got around to it.

Ahh, CCTV...

Thanks again for dinner and for editing my story!!!
If anyplace in Massachusetts has Communist TV, it'd be Cambridge.

You're welcome for the story edits. If you manage to do a rewrite I'd be interested in seeing it. And don't forget to check out the Turkey City Lexicon.
The Lexicon has been added to my favorites. Awesome resource!

December 2016

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