The Way Back Machine

Digital Island website, December 22, 1996 The Way Back Machine is one of the coolest web applications I’ve come across. The site is an archive, at selected points in history, of sites on the web; it claims to contain “over 100 terabytes and 10 billion web pages archived from 1996 to the present.”

Pictured here is a thumbnail of our website from December 22, 1996, back before Digital Island Inc. got reinvented as Reinvented.

You can use their site to read the entire archived page.

One of the things I linked to back in 1996 was this CBC Morningside Log for November 13, 1995. One of the log entries is for a debate that I (credited oddly as “owner of Island Media” — I don’t know where they got that) had with William Burrill, and Scott Goodfellow, moderated by Peter Gzowski, about the future of the CD-ROM.

Although the original audio is now missing from the CBC website, I managed to grab a copy and archived it here [MP3, 3.2MB] for perpetuity. My role, as you will hear if you listen, was the wry techno-sceptic. In other words, I was the jackass.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Notes: Scott Goodfellow is still with Good Media in Ontario; William Burrill is now entertainment columnist for The Toronto Star. Our company is no longer called Digital Island, and the use of the words Digital Island on this page should not be taken to imply any association or endorsement by Digital Island, a Cable & Wireless company.

Apple Store

Me! Well, here I am at the Apple Store in Peabody, MA. That’s a picture of me that I just took with a camera that’s hooked up to this computer.

The coolest thing about this store is that everything is set up for customers to use. You can take pictures, shoot videos, run software. And all of the machines are connected to really fast Internet.

This approach to retail makes all other computer stores look like car dealers who won’t let you take the cars for a test drive (little mac shoppe excepted, of course).

Maybe I’ll go shoot a video now…

Okay, I’m back now. I’ve you’ve got QuickTime then you can watch my first iMovie.

It’s amazing how amazing this all is; it represents the de-geekification of computing, taking their sales from the back alleys and grotty sweat-soaked dork-brothels into the modern age. Computers as towels. Or hammers. Or cartons of milk. Bravo, Apple.

Gotta go check out the iPod and then start the long ride home to Canada.

Down, Up

Our Reinvented server went off the air today for about 5 hours. This fact was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that I am in New Hampshire and Catherine and Oliver (who, admitedly, is too small to be able to reboot a server just yet) are in Stanley Bridge (note to criminal element: alarm system is armed).

I initially thought the problem might be server related, but when I couldn’t ping any of the machines on our network, it appeared then to be a network problem.

Thanks to the good efforts of my friend and colleague Dave, who braved the depths of our underground server vault and reset the Newbridge DSL device, we’re now back on the air.

The 4 or 5 times in two years that my DSL service has gone away, this has been the fix. It’s not a great advertisement for Newbridge equipment, but at least there’s a simple fix.

Note to other DSL customers: after this episode I checked with Island Tel and found that they can, in fact, do a remote reboot from their end. SO next time I can bother them, and not Dave.

Police Blotter

From today’s Monadnock Ledger:

Tuesday, Oct. 16
Animal complaint: A Granite Street man told police he saw a lynx around 4:13 a.m.
Suspicious person: At 9:30 a.m., a Scott-Farrar Home official told police a woman opened the door of the home, looked in, and ran away when she saw home employees. Police did not find a woman matching the description provided.
A snapshot of life in America.

Biodynamic Farming

I had the opportunity to chat today with Judd Hale Sr., Editor in Chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He told me about his family’s connection to the Biodynamic Farming movement, a “method of agriculture which seeks to actively work with the health-giving forces of nature.”

Judd grew up in the small community of Vanceboro, ME — ” We are not quite the end of the earth, but it is visible occasionally.” — which, in Judd’s parents’ day, became a centre of biodynamics in America.

Reading the Biodynamics literature, it becomes obvious that, at least if the “cosmic life force” stuff is stripped away, the centre of the philosophy is the direction in which PEI agriculture must inevitably head.

In other words, everything old is new again.

Life through Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniels is a Tennessee Whiskey is made and mellowed in Lynchburg, Tennessee. It is also the name of the hotel where I’m staying here in southern New Hampshire.

I’ve been coming down here to work with Yankee for 6 years now, and have, until this trip, somehow avoided staying at the Jack Daniel’s Motor Inn. Partially this was a result of circumstances conspiring to give me other places to stay, partially it was a feeling, somewhere in the back of my mind, that a hotel named after a whisky wouldn’t be the best place for me, a weakling alcophobe.

This being something of a “new horizons” sort of trip, however, I decided the time had finally come.

And it’s actually quite pleasant.

It turns out that Jack and Daniel were two brothers who decided to start a hotel. And they named it after themselves. So there are not, assumptions to the contrary, whisky taps installed in the halls.

It would appear that Jack and Daniel had a sort of Scandanavian aethetic, as the Motor Inn is quite spartan: rooms have a bed, a washroom, a TV and bureau and two chairs. And nothing else. There’s no money wasted on adornments like paintings, or, in fact, decoration of any sort. It’s all quite clean and pleasant. But coming off 3 days in a frilly B&B in Camden, it’s a dramatic change.

And, in the end, in this heady afterglow that I find myself in post-Pop!Tech, I can think of no better place to write a novel or an essay or a treatise on life, than while sitting in the Jack Daniel’s Motor Inn, in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Stay tuned.

John Perry Barlow

I you haven’t paid attention to John Perry Barlow, you should. The archive of his Pop!Tech session will be on the Pop!Tech website shortly. Watch it twice. Then find what he’s read and read it. There can be no better operating system to install on the Prince Edward Island machine.

No wires, Part II

It seems that wireless is following me around. On Friday night I had dinner at the same table as the folks from Downeast.net, an ISP in Ellsworth, ME that’s rolling out 802.11a wireless to their customers as we speak. Then, last night, I had a great chat with an Australian Croat investor who’s been seconded to work at SkyPilot, which, on the surface, looks like it might have the right combination of technologies to make “roll your own neighbourhood ISPs” viable. Conference is over in 3 hours and I’ll be leaving the pleasant wireless womb I’ve been in for 3 days; I will be hard to plug in a modem and fiddle with calling cards after this.

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