Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Well, I got my WiFi card in the mail yeterday and stuck it in my trusty old IBM 765L Pentium II laptop. Works fine and I can almost get the hotspot at the courthouse to work from here. 12%... not enough for a good connection but enough to encourage me to use the thing. Come ride with me my dear and I'll show you the sights of the City Beautiful... and many a lonely spot in between. Leaping from hotspot to hotspot.

I've got a feeling that WiFi is the next big wave to roll over all of us. I've been wanting it for a while because I spend so much time on my boat and I've lusted after the wireless capacity for quite a while. I have a couple of cruising buddies who have a webside (Bumfuzzled) that you might have checked out if you've ever wandered around in my blogroll. They're a young couple making a circumnavigation in their catamaran. They're over in Australia now. My daughter and I (the elderly mother of my young grandson Matt) made the same trip ten years ago and I recall what a struggle it was to stay in touch then. We did it... lots of email through single sideband and cacheing of mail. The stuff would accumulate and then I'd send it in a burst about once a week. Nothing like what Pat and Ali are able to do now. Pat actually massages his website while onboard boat while traveling as if he was sitting in his apartment in Chicago or back home in St. Paul... nothing like what Katie had to deal with just to stay in touch with her school chums and her teachers back here in the world.Anyhow, wireless is the cat's bannana and I like the idea of dispensing with the damned phone or Brighthouse cable DSL. Freedom is what it's all about, right?

The struggle is in staying current. So much of the computer world is driven by planned obsolesence. This laptop is a perfect example. My friends on the Bumfuzzle have a very nice new IBM Thinkpad, brand new with all kinds of bells and whistles. Powerful enough to contain their entire website and faster than most anything imaginable. Wireless, multiple ports, a DVD player that is better than most of the home units that lowly folks have in their apartments. But the damned thing cost them several thousand dollars (like 5K$!). Well... I have a Thinkpad too and I really like it. But it is an older one and runs on a 16 bit bus. That just about puts me out of the high speed world. No DVDs for Bob, or streaming videos over the cable for me. But I still really like my laptop because of this thing that I'm doing right now -- typing. The IBM keypad is so comfortable to use that I'm spoiled rotten and don't want to type on anything else. Of course, you realize that I still have my old IBM Selectric "ball" electric typewriter underneath my desk... in storage. I don't need a new laptop computer because the old one works OK and I like the feel of the keyboard of the 765L.

I have this struggle all the time. The machine I've got does the job but it isn't fast enough or powerful enough to load and run the latest gizmo. Naturally, I want the latest gizmo so I kludge the thing into sort of running then I bitch about how slow things are running. Mostly, the problem is in managing the size of the throughput. I'm one of those antiques who remembers writing code that had to pass through a 8-bit bus even on a mainframe. Remember the good old days of writing assembler for the 370? How 'bout Cobol? Pascal? Why, yes... there is quite a bit of grey in my beard. Like I said, my daughter (the one who needed communications during our circumnavigation a decade ago) is now a mother which makes me a doting grandfather. I honestly never thought that I'd live this long! Fortran? Hell, I used to teach the stuff at a university that didn't even have a college of computer science yet. Ah, the good old days.

So I had to go hunt for a 16 bit WiFi card. Believe it or not, there is such a creature... a Wireless LAN Card GN-WLM01 from Gigabyte Technology. Works fine. I can't see any throughput issues rearing their ugly little heads to bite me yet... but we'll see. Truth be known, I want the wireless capacity so that I can check my email while on the boat, just like my younger friends on the Bumfuzzle. And, I'm willing to go a little slower getting there. At least until I win the Lottery and get one of the brand new laptops from IBM like Pat and Ali.

Just trying to stay alive. That's all I can hope to do in this Brave New World.

By the way, the inteview down in Bartow went very well yesteday. The big question is do I want to go down there and be a Child Protective Investigator for DCF. More cop stuff, eh?