O Shenandoah! Webbed Woes for July/August/September
Publisher's note: This bit of nostalgia is from the very early days of website and internet hardware and software development before the field had calmed and settled down somewhat to its present form and general ease of use for technician/users. There were no site development tools, capacity was low, speed slow, and "browser wars" afflicted one and all. Back in "the good old days" only 13 or so years ago, no one really knew for sure what a good, appealing, "user-friendly" site looked like except in the trial-and-error cyclic adventure of creation, production and feedback. "Webbed Woes," a pun on technology and nature, is a window into "the time that was," and to some extent the folks who populated it. Our new federal administration is very tech-savvy and will no doubt push and lead us through funding and encouragement toward ever greater marvels in this realm and many "clean" others like land, air and space exploration to the benefit of more rewarding economies for all. -- jh, 2009
Excerpts from Taped Interviews:
September 13 --
- What happened to your webbed woes?
- I don't have any.
- That's GREAT.
- Not really.
- I haven't been on the Web for a week.
- Why not?
- No phone service.
- Didn't pay your bill?
- NOooo, the river took the cable... and the pole holding it up.
- It's been VERY quiet at our house.
- What have you been doing? Watching tv?
- Nope. A power surge fried our satellite receiver.
- Watch a local channel.
- We only get one. Anyway, we don't have an antenna.
- Couldn't you make one?
- Sssshhhhhh. Don't tell my husband!
- Like I said, it's been QUIET at our house. No ball games.
- At least your computer survived.
- Sort of.
- When our electricity came back on, I booted it up and it said, "Oops, no hard drive. Lost the operating system. Resume? Enter Setup? Panic?"
- I know what you chose.
- A LITTLE bit of hysteria. Ran around the yard screaming, "I have NO hard drive, NO operating system, NO apps, NO data, the most IDIOSYNCRATIC AND DISORGANIZED backups on the PLANET. Help, HELP!"
- What happened?
- My husband said, "What's an operating system? Did you push the reset button?"
- Did you?
- Of course not. Then he said, "CALL someone."
- It was black humor week at our house. The phone had been out for nearly two days.
- So, what did you do?
- Jumped in the car and careened down the road to ask my techie neighbor how to find a lost operating system and missing hard drive. Banged on his door, ran around his yard.
- Did you find him?
- Yeah, he was watching a football game.
- Did he give you any advice?
- Well, I didn't have his total attention, but I think he said to reconfigure setup, reinstall DOS, and get back to him when the game was over and I had a better grip on what life's real priorities are.
- Did you?
- Uh-uh. I looked at setup, but it seemed pretty content the way it was, and, as I've said before, short of major end-of-the-world, do-this-or-else-the-planet-explodes kind of software attacks, I don't install or reinstall nothin.
- Obviously you fixed it though. You're here.
- Yeah. First, I booted from the boot disk. Actually that made no sense at all but panic is not the home of logical thought. Then, I booted from the system disk and magically all my files reappeared.
- Yeah, unfortunately I couldn't execute any of them.
- Why not?
- I have no idea. I rebooted again without the system disk and everything was back to normal.
- Well, I'm glad the story has a happy ending.
- Yeah, me too. Some of our Valley neighbors weren't so fortunate.
NOTE: On September 6th, tropical storm Fran dumped eight to twelve inches of rain within about twelve hours on Page County. Other Shenandoah Valley counties were similarly inundated. River-strewn, creek-ravaged roads transformed many communities and hollers, including the author's, into primitive self-contained and inner-dependent islands. Rampaging waters and wind-felled trees snarled and snapped lines delivering basic services. Some areas remain still without electricity or telephone. Throughout the Valley there is widespread livestock and crop loss, road and bridge destruction, and personal property damage.
August 16 --
- What's wrong?
- My nerves are jangly. I'm meeting someone I've been talking with by email back and forth for a few months.
- That's great! What's the problem?
- It just occurred to me I don't know them at all.
- WHAT are you talking about?
- You write when you feel like it, edit what you say, send it when you're satisfied with the thoughts and wording....
- Conversation's dynamic. On-the-fly editing. Instant reaction.
- It'll be okay.
- Maybe. Then there's looks.
- Well, you instinctively get a picture in your mind of what someone looks like. Nine times out of ten it's totally wrong.
- Ask for a snapshot.
- It doesn't help. People live in time and space and thought and emotion. Snapshots just steal your soul, as the Indians said. Freeze you in an instant that'll never repeat itself. Nobody's there anymore.
- Good grief. Aren't you making something very simple pretty complicated?
- No. Before computers, you met someone and got to know them in person. At the very least, you talked with them on the phone first. At least, you knew what their voices sounded like. You knew how an impromptu discussion might go.
- What about years ago before phones and electronics, when people used to write actual hardcopy letters to each other, sometimes across oceans, sometimes for years, before they ever met?
- You're saying the 21st century is like the 19th?
- Um....I didn't mean to. Yeah, I guess.
- Then technology has brought us two hundred years full circle in human relationships?
- If it calms you to think of it that way, okay.
- Paths our ancestors have walked.... Mmmm. Okay, I'm on firmer ground again. Thanks.
- Nothin' to it.
- Hey! How'd it go?
- Great. It was interesting and lots of fun.
- Did the snapshot help?
- Not a bit.
July 19 --
- Good grief, you've got an awful lot of books and files open...
- I'm trying to figure out how to say one simple thing to my computer.
- And that is?
- The mouse is not on the bus port anymore.
- My old mouse is sick. I installed a new one, but it won't wake up.
- The new mouse connects to a different port than the old one, but the setup program didn't notice.
- What port does the new mouse use?
- COM2, conveniently called COM B, in system BIOS.
- What's it set to now?
- It's a modem. So are COM1, COM3, and COM4.
- I didn't know one small computer could have that many modems.
- Me neither.
- Did you call computer tech support?
- They had me change a few settings and reboot less than fifty times.
- What happened?
- Finally, neither mouse worked.
- Uh-oh. What did you do?
- They suggested I call the mouse manufacturer, because it wasn't their fault that no one in their company knew how to reconfigure their system software settings on the computer they designed and built.
- Did you accept that?
- Heavens no. I insisted they help me fix it.
- What happened?
- We went up and down and in and out of Windows until I begged them to stop. I demanded they reinstall my old mouse.
- Have you checked the mouse manufacturer's website?
- Oh, yea. There's a bunch of messages from folks having compatibility problems and, maybe, thirty-two distinctly possible user-contributed setting and file solutions just in the little area I found.
- Well, there you go.
- Nope. It's a nerd thing.
- Only a real computer nerd could truly love this problem.
- She'll send messages, read newsgroups, talk to her friends, change various files and settings, disable her computer in dozens of exciting ways and if necessary take off the top and jiggle some chips. Three weeks later, when her mouse is finally working and her computer is totally restructured, she's a happy and satisfied person.
- Your average person, generally, would rather clean out the frig and wash the baby diapers by hand.
- Hey! Where are you going?
- I need to clean the toilets and haul all our trash to the dump.
- What about the mouse?
- Actually, my old mouse seems to be working much better. Maybe it just needed a good scare.
More ^#!%(*$@ Links:
Electronic Frontier Foundation -- Get your copy here of the infamous telecommunications bill and of the three-judge opinion staying enforcement of the "decency" provisions.
Electronic Freedom March on Washington info site -- Volunteers, questions or suggestions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Midi music file, "Every Breath You Take" by Sting
Where the heck am I? --
Whisk me away
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email email@example.com.
Original material © O Shenandoah! Country Rag April, 1996. All rights reserved.