Pre-Internet Asiatic Era

Circa 1990 – Our computer teacher took 30 of us to a room and in the middle, seated on a lonely wooden stiff back chair is a single computer. She pressed buttons and it played tones from its beeper, and based on lots, kids got chances to shoot down planes using the space bar. That was the first time i saw a computer. I still remember those white spots flying across the screen on that greenish crt monitor.

Jump to Circa 1992 . Junior school (10 years) was over & high school and life beyond was looming up in front of me and my parents. Anything that would help me avoid the infamous unemployment model of development practiced in our lovely little communist state* was welcome.

So the decision was made that i should join a government sponsored IT course to keep me busy learning something useful before the big bang came along. The course ran for 2 months with a little bit of computer history (vacuum tubes -> LSI -> VLSI -> gasp micro processor) & BASIC programming and boy was I hooked. This experience, pushed me towards selecting the options for high school to include 2 years of PASCAL and basic algorithms. Thanks to comp and math classes I was able to turn in a higher grade than might have been possible given the state of my understanding of organic chemistry.

Thus it came to be that i was able to make up my mind about doing my bit in computers and ended up finding a place in a 4 year Btech course.

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Information thirst?

Circa 1996 – I had just finished creating a half baked editor in C, making some boring packages in Foxpro and writings bits and pieces of DOS TSR screen savers. The geek aspect of being cool and lab-bing away for hours was just happening and the guys were in search of the next cool thing possible.

The only information we could still find about computers came from dusty old library books, dealing in esoteric theoretical subjects. Magazines were the only other source of info, so much so that I ended up tearing out pages out of them (some times even stealing them from the public library) and keeping them binded for future reference. The local lending library too had some collections of ooooold second hand PC magazines (they were really thick at that time) and such, which i was told they collected from ships coming into our ports. Unfortunately being unable to rent or steal them, i could only read them as much as i could, one sitting a time, before being chased away.

A general thirst for cooler things to attempt and newer insights to expand our knowledge, characterized those exciting late nights and sleepy afternoons.

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Internet

Circa 1997 was when those 19 kbps (with an actual throughput of3-5 kbps) dialup links finally debuted in our city. You had either the choice of text only linking or a fully graphics account. However, the connectivity was expensive, with server accounts being way expensive beyond the reach of the students, apart from having to pay for the dial out charges for the telephone lines. Internet at college was restricted to a single machine on which mails could be checked. No one really used that or hacked the lonely machine, it being kept under lock and key in a separate room.

Soon a trickle of stolen dial up passwords (leaked by people working part time in companies or gifts of stupid girl friends) started leaking in. Once that was available, we started conduct late night (better bandwidth and obscure reduced dial rate policies) Internet sessions in homes which had company paid free telephone connections (only 1 guy had that – rest of us stood our houses, those that had a comp of-course, round robin fashion one week at a time)

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Bandwidth & wanna-be hackers

Now, did you imagine the group of us Nerdy kids watching porn? No sir. The sessions were all about saving as much as possible out of the Yahoo internet directory, according to personal tastes of each of us present. No one would attempt to read those pages that were opened. Instead we concentrated in opening as many pages as possible and saving them away for later consumption. We collected all the pages thus saved into one collection, and kept saving them, adding to it in small increments. I have kept up the practice and the data i now have, runs into GBs of quality information about all things imaginable regarding computing. (Unfortunately i do not know how this could be hosted or how much of a violation of copy right this could be)

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Content


The content that we where able to dig out, in between our regular classes and other day time activities was extremely far and few in between. More than turning us into any notable hackers, we ended up having so many night outs and hardware parties with the attendees coming in with multiple hard drives in their pockets.

The experience later turned a couple of the guys into businessmen, assembling and selling computers later on, the money driving many of them out of the true love for creating any more cool stuff in C. The ones that remain interested, ended up chasing many divergent topics like chat, databases, Unix, Novell, sockets and even game programming. I guess we had chosen to be database administrators and system and game programmers from even back then. But we never knew at that time.

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Exposure

Our progress, was slow and painful, full of self doubt and periods of stalemate and diverted attention. Not once during all this did we ever get to meet a real, flesh and blood hacker or computer engineer or anyone who made their living doing this stuff. We hung on to every words of the odd engineer or two, who had ever been fooled into giving talks to this rag tag crowd. The god-mode worship of actual engineers therefore continued, to much later into our careers and left a lasting lacking in the sense of our hacker-ability.

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So why do i blog?

Given this history i assume you might understand the gratification with which i view my ability to create my own content, on the gr8 INFO-HIGHWAY !!!!!

The childishness apart, this blog is an attempt at collecting my exposure and collating some quality information for the benefit of the other wannabe’s who might be out there, suffering for lack of sufficient exposure.

I want to say what it is like, how it feels and what we do and what the learnings have been.In some meager way, this is also returning the good Karma received from all those kind souls who have done the same in countless forums and internet pages over the years.

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* kerala alternates every 5 years to a capitalistic regime, democratically, like clockwork

2 Responses to “Why do you write this blog? (warning – story)”

  1. Mukesh Says:

    I was going thru my mails looking for the blogs which you have sent me sometime ago and happend to notice this one…Your delivery is amazing with no jargons and sophastication yet extremely capturing:)..Way to go buddy..Keep going you will soon get to write a book….In case you get time off to read this while honeymooning ,though i do not think u are that stupid ,but i wld like to know if the flood gates opened and did the swan fly off;)


  2. well the swans i had with me flew away – i’m not so sure of other swans though – lol – ur recollection is amazing
    ps : thanks for the kind comments too

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