Sunday, July 20, 2008

Side by Side Computing
When I moved in with Rob, I brought my Commodore 64 computer with me. I used it to work from home, to visit my favorite BBS sites and to check out this new thing called the internet. It only had a 300 baud modem and although my workplace had moved up to 9600 baud, it was the best I could do at the time. Rob hadn't been bit by the computer bug yet and when I upgraded to a laptop (DOS based) he started to get curious, but it was still not so easy to get online (command prompt based and all) and he pretty much just ignored it. But all that changed when we went out and bought the Packard Bell. Windows 3.1 made getting on the internet a bit easier and JPEGS had started to appear on the 'net, plus there was a game called Doom. It got to the point where one computer and one phone line just wasn't cutting it so we bought a second computer and got a second phone line and a second internet account and side-by-side computing was created. And that's been the case now for well over ten years. Whether in the back addition, the extra bedroom or the living room, our computers have always been in the same room together. Interestingly enough, our computing was much more collaborative in the past either playing online games together (Acrophobia was a favorite) or jointly surfing to the same sites. These days we go our own way, but still being side-by-side we frequently look at each others finds. But recently we've discovered a problem with side-by-side computing. Maybe you've noticed that a lot of what is out there on the web these days has audio content - news reports, clips from TV shows, You-Tube videos, etc. Two computers, next to each other in the same room, both trying to play a different clip at the same time ... a bit of a problem. Now we could move the computers into separate rooms, but that would suck - we wouldn't be together, it wouldn't be the same... no, separate rooms just won't do. Headphones aren't a good compromise either, maybe once and a while, but they are too isolating - we want to talk to each other, can't do that with headphones on though I suppose we could take them on and off... not sure what the answer is here, but I do know that if Rob plays those Luka videos one more time, I'm likely to run screaming for the hills. So here's a bit to his ears from me - Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden:

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