The Wiert Corner – irregular stream of stuff

Jeroen W. Pluimers on .NET, C#, Delphi, databases, and personal interests

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Archive for the ‘FidoNet’ Category

“You would make for a great computer programmer”

Posted by jpluimers on 2017/10/20

A while ago, Joe C. Hecht mentioned for the second time about his family joke along the lines that he had bad grades at school despite being good at the topics. He got tested which resulted in “You would make for a great computer programmer”.

I wonder how this happened with other people in the IT. Did you get yourself a degree in that direction, or teach yourself programming and such?

The reason is that I recognise what Joe wrote: I’m still a bad learner from books or theory as I learn by doing. I specifically didn’t try to get a Computer Science degree as in the late 1980s in The Netherlands it basically was a heavy math degree plus Computer Science topics. So it was basically doing two studies at once and I was only interested in the Computer Science parts.

So I chose studying Chemistry (one of the science topics I really liked at high school) at the closest university to my home so I kept living with my parents.

In 20-20 hindsight this was not the right choice. But at that time I didn’t know about the right choice.

In about 4 years, I finished like 2.5 years of studying, was a geek-prototype (good at computers, bad at people skills) and still did a lot of Computer Science topics (even though the exams would be worthless as back then individual exams didn’t count unless they were part of the main direction of your study). The last year was prepping for practice and advanced topics. I slowly attended less and less sessions and did more and more programming gigs as somehow that was way more fun before slowly bailing out. I also sold network equipment to the university department helping them to connect to the internet and helped a lot of co-students with their computing issues and assignments, learned my way in DOS/3com/Novell/EARN/BITNET/DECNet/SunOS and VAX/VMS based technologies.

I only found out why I bailed out more than a decade later: I was a pragmatic guy learning by doing, not suited for a university that tried educating theorists. Besides that the department I wanted to finish my studies has two four camps: a very theoretic camp (with nice guys: they were the ones wanting internet access very early on), two less theoretic camps fighting each other and a lazy camp filling their days basically with doing as little as possible. A very unproductive and depressing situation. I had worked at the research labs of the paint factory doing research close to my studies, but there was no way the university would allow me to do my research phase there. Even more depressing.

Now (as always, hindsight is 20/20 vision) I know I should have bailed out early on and go for a more pragmatic study maybe not even a university but a polytechnic. On the other hand it helped doing a truckload of Turbo Pascal work (which I started at High School with Turbo Pascal 1 on CP/M with Apple ][+ and //e machines), programming in assembler/prolog/FORTRAN/C, getting connected to the internet (BITNET RELAY chat, mailing lists, early newsgroups, uucp, TCP/IP basics, thick/thin ethernet converters, serial and modem communication with Kermit and FidoNET, gopher, FTP and truckloads more stuff).

It got me into the Delphi, .NET and open source worlds, doing a lot of travel and conference speaking and being an early adopter of many technologies and concepts (some even so early that they only got way popular decades later – like the 1980s “the network is the computer” mantra – or making sense – like the lock semantics topics really became useful when around the century turn  single processor machines got multi-processor siblings and a lustrum later multi-core and multi-threading processors became available and ubiquitous around 2010) and taught me that being able to search and find things is way more important than knowing things.

So I wonder about all my followers:

How did your education go and how did you end up in computing?

–jeroen

References via Joe C. Hecht:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in About, BBS, BITNET Relay, Chat, FidoNet, History, Opinions, Personal, SocialMedia | Leave a Comment »

Nostalgie: KPN zet inbelplatform uit en laat Xs4all inbelverkeer afhandelen – IT Pro – Nieuws – Tweakers

Posted by jpluimers on 2016/01/17

This Dutch caught my eye: “Dutch telecom operator KPN has turned off the inbound internet dial-up equipment. It keeps possible to dial the number, as dial-up traffic is now handled by provider xs4all”:

KPN heeft de apparatuur van zijn inbelplatform voor internet uitgezet. Het blijft nog wel mogelijk om in te bellen via het nummer 06760-12321, maar het inbelverkeer wordt voortaan afgehandeld door provider Xs4all.

Source: KPN zet inbelplatform uit en laat Xs4all inbelverkeer afhandelen – IT Pro – Nieuws – Tweakers

The thread is full of nostalgia on Dial-up Internet access, like:

I still have my original Courier HST Dual Standard modem from USRobotics I got around 1987. It’s looks like the second from the bottom at (image via: Do Modems Still Matter?) the picture below (one day I will make a picture when I’ve cleaned out the glass cabinet it is in; there are some more USRobotics, ZyXEL and DrayTek modems in it too).

There is a very interesting piece of USRobotics (in Russian, but Google Translate does a nice job on it): The history of the US Robotics.

I wrote mentioned the Courier HST Dual Standard before in Going to try PowerLine (next to CAT5, and having used 10Base2, 10Base-T, 100Base-TX and 1000Base-T), but never about the why, so here it is:

The Courier HST standard would train faster and at better speeds over Intercontinental lines than the Trailblazer and Hayes and later V.32bis technologies. In addition, they were also faster with firmware upgrades to support faster speeds than competing brands.

This mattered a lot to me, as initially CompuServe was only accessible by dial-up to the USA. The same for a lot of BBS and FidoNet uplinks.

For me, they weren’t any cheaper buying them (as the BBS discounts for them were not valid in Europe; I bought mine for a more than DM 1000 in Germany) but it was cheaper gaining knowledge (my motto always has been “a life long learning”).

Since the above article,

  • the Sportster magic string entry on Wikipedia vanished, but the info is still at USRobotics Sportster magic string – WOW.com,
  • I stopped using PowerLine as it wasn’t stable enough, so during the replacement of our solar panels with more modern equipment a few years ago, had CAT-6 pulled up to the utility closed on the bedroom floor.

More info about modem training and standards in this 1998 article:

Everything you wanted to know about modem and fax standards and software, but were afraid to ask is covered in this great overview article by Frank Gao from Gao Research. This article discusses all the functions that go into today’s modem products, but is not tied to any particular hardware implementation.

Source: Modem and Fax Standards and Software | EE Times

–jeroen

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BBS, FidoNet, History, Power User | 1 Comment »

Blast from the past: the digital highway as imagined circa 1995.

Posted by jpluimers on 2015/08/07

Blast from the past: the digital highway as imagined circa 1995 (thanks Kristian Köhntopp for sharing this a while ago).

Learned a new phrase too (handfeste Datenträger) for something a marching band friend of mine was involved in: before he suddenly passed away at 39 he was a “high bandwidth courier” giving meaning to the phrase by Tanenbaum “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway” by driving around magnetic tapes and optical media between various locations for about 600+ km a day.

Who could imagine in the age where ISDN at home (@ 64 kibit/s) was fast, that 20 years later you could have fiber (@ 500 Mibit/s) at home both for like EUR 50/month.

Like Steve Streeting posted: having high bandwidth (relative to the time you live in) makes you stop thinking about your internet speed

It allows you to find new usage patterns. Which is good for imagination, work, etc.

–jeroen

PS:

I lied a little. EUR 50/month is for the subscription only. Nowadays that means a permanent connection. In the ISDN days having a permanent connection to an ISP would set you down another EUR 50/month for the ISP, and about EUR 600/month of data usage to the telecom provider.

I did that for a couple of years until cable and ADSL became available. Why? Because it was the fastest way to stay informed (gopher, newsgroups, mailing lists, early forums and web-sites) and get the latest software (mainly over FTP).

Imagine this was only years after not even HCC being able to sustain the costs of a Fidonet transatlantic link, and now two decades later. I’ve posted about Fidonet before, and back-then it was the most affordable way to access information from across the world.

Now less than a century after the first transatlantic phone service was established in 1927, world wide communication is almost free (and there is even internet in space).

PPS:

Swets – where my friend worked for filed for bankruptcy last year. No more high bandwidth couriers…

via:

Posted in BBS, FidoNet, History, Infrastructure | Leave a Comment »

Where My Delphi Life Began – via David Millington and Simon Stuart #DelphiWeek

Posted by jpluimers on 2015/02/14

Marketing blast of the past via David Millington – Google+.

I got most of the Delphi versions from D2-D6 on PC Plus magazine cover CDs, an English magazine also published in Australia. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t had access to those free copies of Delphi when I was a kid.

and this one:

It came with a promotional copy of Borland Delphi… and unlike other “promotional” software often distributed on the cover disks of popular computer publications at that time, this one had absolutely no restrictions and was fully functional.

From a really nice article by Simon Stuart.

Who thought that he was ever at the Basic side of things (:

And of course it ends with correct Delph-ee pronunciation to be right: the community at large has spoken.

Given this week went very different than I anticipated, here is a much shorter story than I hoped for. I’ll focus on the early days, you can read on the later and current days here on my blog.

My own early Delphi life

For me, my Delphi life has been pretty straight forward. It started with the early days and Turbo Pascal leading to Delphi.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in BBS, Castalia, Delphi, Development, FidoNet, History, Software Development | 2 Comments »

Found back my WinImage license (still going strong: What is WinImage)

Posted by jpluimers on 2012/12/10

Every once in a while I need some disk imaging software. After all these years, WinImage is still my tool of choice.

This time, I needed it to create a Creating vSphere 5 ESXi embedded USB Stick.

Usually I only need it for a day or two, and most of the times I have reinstalled my system between uses. Not this time, so I needed to enter the license, which I knew I had, but had to search for it.

Luckily, I have installed the Lookout search tool for Outlook (which – even though you cannot officially get it any more – is so much better than the integrated search).

It found back the below message, from 1997.

1997! And the license is indeed perpetual: it still works on the most current WinImage build (which now supports x64 as well as x86, a lot more disk image formats and disk types, etc).

The WinImage site references some very old tools back from the days when you had BBS, FidonetARPANET, Simtel, and Compuserve (the latter both hosted on PDP-10 machines, 1970s based technologies still ruled many of the computing world).

But I digress.

Back then, the only disk image supported were floppy disks, and most tools were DOS based. Like the FDFormat tool from Christoph H. Hochstätter which allowed you to add 300 kilobyte of extra space on 3.5 inch 1.44 megabyte floppy disk.

You can still see that in the WinImage binaries: Bootsector from C.H. Hochstatter

The email:

From: Gilles Vollant [mailto:——@winimage.com]
Sent: 07 December 1997 13:02
To: ‘——@xs4all.nl’
Subject: WinImage registration notification

Thank you a lot for registering WinImage 4.00 Professional

Your code of registration is:
J——s
—————

Note there is now french, english, italian, portugese, spanish and german version of WinImage.
I send you a floppy with WinImage 4.00 and my freeware Extract. I hope you’ll be happy with WinImage !

Don ‘t hesitate to upload it on BBS and give to your friend !

Only two question : Where did you find WinImage and do you Windows 3.1, Win
95 or WinNT version, or both ? (you can answer in french or english)

For getting more information, you can connect on my web site at :
http://www.winimage.com/winimage.htm
and at http://www.winimage.com for information and downloading other tools (including related to WinImage)

Regards,

Gilles Vollant

–jeroen

via:

Posted in BBS, FidoNet, History, Power User, VMware, VMware ESXi, Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

 
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