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A Prescription for Technology
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by Kass Johns (June 1995, for WWWiz Magazine )
I just knew it was going to be a techie day (but then, every day is techie for me!). I was to have a web-focused lunch that day with Kyle. Then a doctor's appointment after lunch. So I prepped my PowerBook with MacHTTP and my morning download of email from CompuServe and the Internet. Kyle is one of my tech friends (of course, all my friends are tech friends!). We were going to talk about web page creation and web server setups.
We met at the local TGI Friday's and began to rapidly turn my PB into its own Web server via MacHTTP. I had the PB up on an 8" wide booth divider to provide us table space. I soon began to realize that many eyes in the place were turned toward us. You have to understand, this is not Silicon Valley or even California--this is Colorado. Things like that just don't happen here that often. The Internet (and computers, for that matter) are still the subject of "in-depth reports" on the local evening news during sweeps month!
It reminded me of a lunch I had with a former Apple Engineer friend of mine here a couple of years ago. We both brought our PowerBooks and PhoneNet cables. We networked across the table as I gave him an updated QuickTime extension via AppleShare. No big deal to us, sitting there in our jeans, sneakers and polo shirts. But, you would have thought we were the new stage show at The Olive Garden that day! Business men in their ordinary dark suits with their power ties gawked at the vision of files flying across our little 'net.' We barely had a chance to talk as people repeatedly came to our table to see the big event. The wait and kitchen staff all stopped by. Everybody in our eating section made the stop, it was a traffic jam! We left that lunch a little smugger, realizing we didn't need power suits, we had PowerBooks!
So, back at TGI Friday's this day, Kyle and I were happily winding our way through some Web source pages I had downloaded earlier. (Hey, just where are those booth-side phone access jacks anyway?!) The waitress came and went with barely our notice. We were so busy geeking out, we hardly had time to eat. Good thing those delicious fries that Friday's does so well are finger food--stuff fries in the mouth with one hand, keyboard with the other. We said our goodbyes and I ran off to my doctor's appointment. I had planned to go directly from lunch to the doctor's office as they are both on the same end of town.
I arrived for at the appointment about 45 minutes in early. I instinctively spotted a power outlet in the waiting room and got set up. I settled in to read and respond to my mail. If there was time, I would read the HTML docs that came with MacHTTP. I was in to the reading of the HTML docs when I realized that an hour had come and gone.
I don't know why I realized that, because if you are like me, you know that time passing on a computer does not correlate with real-time movement. You never realize that sitting down for 'just a moment' at the computer always turns into several hours (if not days!) in 'real time.' Just like the calendars for the computer industry have absolutely no correlation to the calendars of 'the real world! I call those "Ship-date Calendars"! "According to our ship-date calendar, we will ship that product 'real soon now.'" Yep, heard that one before! (Been there, done that!)
But, I digress again...
Realizing my appointment time had come and gone, I asked at the counter if they had, perhaps, forgotten me over in the corner. "Oh no!" The apologies came quickly (and often) when they realized they had slipped up. I was so quiet and not bothering them, I had slipped from their memories! They quickly ushered me in to the examining room to prepare for the doctor. I was there only for a regular followup visit to check on my medication.
I propped the PB up on the exam table and continued my reading from the patient chair beside the table. A few minutes later, in came Dr. O. Upon opening the door, he gave a childlike look of amazement as he saw the PB aglow with the warm fuzziness of a web page!
"Wow, what's that!", as he pointed to the page on the screen. I replied that it was a page from the Internet. He came back with a trying-to-fit-in-geeky-reply, "I just upgraded my computer at home. It ran out of memory and got slower, so I took it back so they could 'fix' it." He then began to describe how his computer had gotten so slow because the 'memory' was full, so they gave him a new one with "one gigabyte of memory!." I immediately found myself instructing him in some basic computer terminology: his memory is RAM, but the 1GB was his hard disk storage space which functioned like a file cabinet. He bragged about his ability to talk the seller into giving him a Pentium instead of the same 486, "And all I had to do, was give them a little more money." When you're a doctor, how much is "a little more"? You have to realize that this is the same doctor who, two weeks earlier, when I told him of a minor accident involving me sticking my (very long) thumbnail into my eye, replied. "Ewwww! Gross!" Eww, gross? Hey, where's your medical degree? Are you sure you went to college?
He wanted to know more about "this Internet thing." I showed him some more source pages. I found myself explaining how the Web works in the most basic of terms, "Think of it as a big spider web. Each strand connects to another. Where the strands come together, is a computer page that has a connection to the other connected pages." We were in there, elbows propped on the examining table in front of the PB with our faces in our hands, fannies toward the door, 'browsing' through my little Web site!
About fifteen minutes into this little tour, he finally remembered why I was there. "So, how are you doing?" I replied that I was fine and that I believe we had finally found the magic combination of medications that did not conflict or cause me unusual side effects. He replied, "Great! Now what's this thing over here!", as he pointed to, yet another button on the screen. We went on for another ten minutes or so on the PB. We left the room together laughing about how we had spent the time "webbing." I could see his excitement at realizing he was going to go home that day with an 'interesting' story from work. None of that 'matter of life and death' medical stuff today! No, today he had seen 'The Web'!
© Copyright 1996-2001 by Kass Johns, all rights reserved world wide.
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