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Feeling retro (aka when you know you're an old fart)

A bloke came to work the other day. I met him in the changing room.
"I didn't get to sleep until 5 in the morning!" he said. It was half twelve.
"Oh?", I asked. Burning the midnight oil? is what I wanted to say, but I don't know how to say that in French, or even if the expression would be understood - they might say something like plucking a chicken by candlelight.

He explained, he was playing Call Of Duty with a friend. Shouting at his headset.
Headset? Don't you just each plug in a controller or something?
No, nothing like that. His friend was in Lyon. Or wait, he said to me, maybe the guy last night was the bloke from Toulouse.
I asked "Do you get any latency with that?".
He didn't know what I meant.
I explained, briefly.
No, he said, it is instantaneous. Voice, control, everything. You can set up a tag team with other players in other places, maybe even other countries, and go kick ass together while talking to each other. The voice part is essential for forming proper strategies, he explained.
I told him when I was younger, I played Quake via modem and it was interesting. If somebody had a bad connection, you could sneak up and kill them before they even noticed.
"Wow, that's slow", he said.
"Was this using the older Livebox?"
I smiled. I could see what was coming. "No, it is a serial port. Way slower than ADSL."
"Oh, then you must mean the original Livebox. That was painfully slow.", he said.
"Much much slower." I looked up "Serial port" on Wikipedia, selected the French language version, and showed him.
"Oh, there's one of those on the PS4".
"No, it is not the aux port. This port plugs into..." and I found a photo of a 28k8 Courier modem. (here's a photo of the front of mine)

"Oh, it is a network port."
"That's a router, right?"
"No, it is a modem." More Wiki, this time for modem.
"Yes, a router. Sort of."
"It only accepts information from one serial port, and transmits it down a phone line to one computer. If you want to network, you would need a computer with multiple modems and multiple phone lines and special software." I didn't bother mentioning about BBSs.
"How fast did it go?".
"About three kilobytes per second."
"Three megabytes per second is pretty fast, maybe the same sort of speed as my ADSL." (note: 24 megabit broadband works out to be around 2.9MiB/sec flat out)
"Not megabytes, KILOBYTES. It would take TWO entire WEEKS to download a 4GiB DVD-R ISO image."
He started laughing. "No, nothing is THAT slow!"
I decided it would not be worth telling him that France's famed Minitel service worked at 1200/75 baud.


For the record, Minitel, like Prestel, runs at 1200 baud (download) and 75 baud upload. The 1200 speed is about 140 bytes per second. At a rate of around 88 megabytes per week, you don't download anything... Well, you can, because back "in the day" home computers had specs like 16, 32 or 48 kilobytes onboard and functional software could be downloaded fairly quickly, and saved on cassette tape. Hell, we even used to get software transmitted via teletext - which is sort of like the "red button" text service only quicker. Oh... go talk to your parents. If they are at all geeky, they'll know. They might even dust off Jet Set Willy, Magic Miner, or Repton.
That was talking about the 1200 baud downlink. We are just not going to do the maths of the 75 baud uplink - do a quick divide by ten (for start/stop/data bits) and you might wonder if a fast typist would be able to outpace it.
Extra brownie points for thoroughly modern kids - go find out what an acoustic coupler is. Then, for the lulz, watch WarGames (Matthew Broderick, not the more recent sequel).



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VinceH, 20th June 2015, 11:19
Wait! There's a sequel to WarGames? When did this happen? Did I blink? 
[searches IMDB] 
Blimey - "WarGames: The Dead Code" - 2008, and I did indeed blink. 
And a quick search further shows that it's on Netflix, so I can find out just how bad it is later. (After I've watched the original first, of course - which I have on DVD.) 
VinceH, 21st June 2015, 20:37
Shall I tell you what the worst thing was about watching WarGames: The Dead Code? 
It was realising that I *had* seen it before. I think I must have mentally blocked out the memory of it.
Rick, 27th June 2015, 01:20
Hands up how many remakes/sequels were better? 
VinceH, 27th June 2015, 17:10
It does happen. Sometimes. 
A couple of examples OTTOMH: 
The Mad Max series: The Road Warrior was better than the first film; the post apocalyptic world was more defined - and made clear. I don't think it was in Mad Max, in which it's probably only explained in the blurb, not the film itself. (I similarly prefer Beyond Thunderdome to the first film - though it isn't as good as Road Warrior). And I'd put Fury Road on a par with Road Warrior. 
The Dark Knight versus Batman Begins. Begins is a great film, but Dark Knight is much better (helped in no small way by Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker). 
(And the reboot itself is a vast improvement over the films that began in 1989, not to mention older material). 
However, it's obviously entirely subjective, and YMMV. 
Rob, 26th August 2015, 00:57
If you want comparisons, my old BBC Micro hard disc came in a box about the size of a small PC these days. It had an massive 10MB capacity. Today, I have a 64GB Micro-SD card around here somewhere, about the size of my thumbnail... that's 6,400 times the capacity in something probably that many times smaller...

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