Obsolete Skills

This site makes me feel really old. It lists loads of skills that are now obsolete. For better or worse, I’ve done all but one thing listed on the home page, and I’m guessing many of you have as well.

* Dialing a rotary phone
* Putting a needle on a vinyl record
* Changing tracks on an eight-track tape
* Shorthand
* Using a slide rule
* Optimizing 640K-worth of memory
* Refilling a fountain pen
* Operating a dictaphone
* Using the eraser ribbon on a typewriter

Sometimes I lament that my kids don’t show an interest in learning a lot of the skills I’ve acquired. But maybe I have to face the reality that a lot of my so-called skills are just arcane bits of a world that no longer exists. Still, it’s good story fodder. It’s fun to watch their expressions as I talk about my 1st hard drive. It was 10MB (that’s about 7 floppy disks), and I remember thinking I’d never be able to fill it. They find it hard to imagine I used to write my programs on paper cards and carry the deck around wrapped by a rubber band. Then set the front panel switches on the computer, load the OS from paper tape, put my card deck in the hopper and wait for the printout. No monitor, no mouse, no disk drives. Ahhh… those were the good old days. The days when geeks actually wore pocket protectors.

Man… I am old.

New Comments Policy

Several readers have asked why I haven’t implemented a comments policy sooner. I’ve been taking this one step at a time. I didn’t require the scramble word verification until we started getting spam posts. And I didn’t enable comment moderation until we started getting abusive posts. Arguably I’ve let this one go longer than I should have, especially considering that there are kids that read this. But it’s time. It’s not fair to have a few people (ok, mostly one) change the tenor of the site.

I won’t go back and remove previous comments which had been allowed, but from this point forward the policy below will be enforced for all comments. (The policy now also appears in the pane at the right of each blog page.) This policy is consistent with many other commercial and private blogs. My expectation is that this will be no impact to most of you. The only difference you will see is that comments will not post immediately, but should generally post sometime that day. Comments will never be edited for content. If they don’t meet the policy they will simply be deleted.

Comments Policy — Comments will never be censored based on political or ideological point of view. However, comments will be deleted that are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks. Comments are pre-moderated, meaning they will not be posted immediately.

For those of you subjected to previous personal attacks, my apologies for not doing this sooner. We will now return to a more civil discussion.