Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Yesterday we went to the computer shop. It looks like the laptop will be okay, but it will be a few days yet. I am suffering such hardships such as listening to radio programmes according to someone else's schedule, listening to entire albums with songs in the order they were designed to be played and watching films using a television set. But most of all I am missing being able to work and write and to read blogs and e-mails for more than a few minutes at a time.

At the computer shop, [...] and the computer chap got into a discussion about their early computers, reminiscent of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch, except with one Yorkshireman and one Lanacastrian, each trying to out-do the other with how large, cumbersome, expensive and inefficient their early computers had been. One expected it to conclude, “Luxury! When I were a lad, we had to put our e-mails on paper and place them in t’ letterbox at end of road.”

It actually concluded, “The very first computer I worked with were an IBM, the size o’ this room with 16K ferrite core memory, worth millions of pounds and ’twas that machine that we used to detect any incoming missiles from Russia.”

Honestly. And I unwisely joked that I remembered when they all worked through a system of levers and pulleys, inadvertently prompting a discussion of adding machines, which descended into despair about how young people can’t add VAT without a calculator. I wasn’t sure if I was a young person in this context as on all but the foggiest of days I can do VAT in my head (if you didn't know, you shift the decimal place to find ten percent, half that amount to find five, half it again to find two and a half percent and then add these three amounts together to make 17.5%).

The countryside was very colourful, the sea was very blue so I got a nice trip out by way of compensation for my laptoplessness (is that five this year? I think so). There were even surfers at Scarborough - or at least young men in wetsuits with surfboards, I think you need big waves for the activity to qualify as surfing. On the way home we saw half a dozen deer, the speckly type which I believe are fallow deer (the latin name for which is apparently dama dama dama - obviously one of them shat on a Roman’s sandal once over).


dotandcarryone said...

Tread softly for you tread on my memories. One library system I worked for in the 1970s went over to computer catalogues very early, when the beasts still had tiny memories.

They put all the books onto the compiter in alphabetical order of author, but to save memory space, some programmer decided to omit the first letter of every name in each alphabetical section.

So you had, under A, Usten, Jane, under D, Ickens, Charles, and under S, Hakespeare, William.

I am truly not making this up.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh brings back memories of my first job, Survey draftsperson! Hours on end using a mechanical calculator, so many turns of the handle one way to add and back the other to subtract and funny wee abacus like sliders to pick the numbers