Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sticking it to the Hard Drive

It's remarkable to think it's nearly 15 years since I first got a computer that had that miracle of communication  - internet access. In the late 1990s technology, although advancing, was some way from the rapid, mobile machine it is today. Back in 1998 I got a desktop computer - laptops were still way too expensive for my meagre income and mobiles were something that hung from a baby's cot - and it took pride and joy in my lounge (okay, I lived in Dalkeith at the time and for lounge read living room)

15 years ago, broadband was light years away from Midlothian and my first proper home computer had 'dial-up access'. As now, of course, it was connected to the telephone line but not only was dial-up notoriously slow it meant that when anyone was trying what is now considered to be an old-fashioned method of communicating i.e. talking to someone by telephone, all they got was the engaged tone. Which was quite infuriating when there was something worth surfing the net for e.g. reading webpage after webpage on Hearts glorious Scottish Cup win in 1998 and no one could get through on the telephone.

Dial-up was also temperamental and wholly unreliable. My daughters will tell you I frequently kicked my hard drive which sat under the table when I heard the dreaded 'click' sound when surfing the web - this meant I was being disconnected. It didn't do my computer much good but it made me feel a whole lot better. Naturally, treating my poor downtrodden computer like a technological punch bag didn't do it any good and I was soon looking at another expensive replacement. It would be another five years before broadband arrived in my area and computers could breath easy.

It's all so different today, of course. The nation now relies on broadband connection  - not only relies but expects and demands it. Companies such as BT, Sky and Virgin fall over themselves to offer you their products. It seems the UK, nay the world, can no longer function properly without broadband. With the rapid development of Wi-Fi the world is becoming a much smaller place particularly with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and products such as Skype where you can converse face to face with someone on the other side of the world - without leaving your living room.

Something almost unthinkable a decade and a half ago when RAM in the Smith household meant me sticking my right boot on the hard-pressed hard drive....

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