04/08/2001

The Kansas City press is already talking about how much they miss Johnny Damon since the Royals got off to their 0-4 start. ‘Scuse me? Am I the only one who remembers how Johnny Damon normally hits under .200 the first month of the season? And am I the only one who checked and saw that he’s hitting .133 for Oakland at the moment?

Johnny Damon is a non-factor until June. Meanwhile, his trade got the Royals a proven closer and a throw-in backup catcher that it turned out they need. And they needed Roberto Hernandez yesterday when they got their first win.

How far we’ve come… While I was hunting down tax paperwork yesterday (found it!), I ran across a stash of ancient computer magazines. For grins, I pulled out the May 1992 issue of Compute, which celebrated the release of Windows 3.1. I would have received this magazine nine years ago this month.

Some tidbits I liked:

“Windows 3.0… entered a hostile world. OS/2 loomed on the horizon like a dragon ready to devour us, and MS-DOS, stuck in version 4.0, had lost its momentum. It looked as if Digital Research…was the only company trying to make DOS better.” –Clifton Karnes, pg 4

That’s what happens when there’s no strong competition. I don’t get the OS/2 and dragon metaphor though. What, people didn’t want a computer that worked right? I didn’t get it at the time. I had an Amiga, which at the time offered OS/2 features and a good software library.

“Some people even started talking about Unix.” Ibid.

Some things never change.

“The masses are happy, and nobody talks about Unix much anymore.” Ibid.

That certainly changed.

“You can now buy a 200 MB drive for just $500.” –Mark Minasi, pg 58

I’ve got some 200-meg hard drives that I’d absolutely love to get $500 for. You’ve got my e-mail address. And while we’re at it, would you like some snake oil? That now-laughable line was from a Mark Minasi column talked about strategies for getting drives larger than 512 MB working. Strangely, that problem still rears its ugly head more often than it should, and its descendant problem, getting a drive bigger than 8 gigs working, is even more common.

“A 286-based notebook is a very capable machine; with a decent-size hard disk and a portable mouse, you could even run Windows applications on one (except for those requiring enhanced mode performance such as Excel).” –Peter Scisco, pg 72

Don’t let any of the end users I support read that line. That’s funny. Later in the same article, Scisco discusses the problem of battery life, a struggle we still live with.

“The last dozen modems I’ve installed here at Compute have been compact models. It’s almost like the manufacturers are trying to get better mileage by leaving out parts and making the cards smaller. These modems don’t reject line noise very well.” –Richard Leinecker, pg. 106

Now there’s a problem that only got worse with time.

An ad from Computer Direct on page 53 offered a 16 MHz 386SX with a meg of RAM and dual floppy drives (no hard drive) for $399. Your $399 gets you a lot more these days, but that was an incredible deal at the time. A complete system with a 14-inch VGA monitor and 40-meg HD ran $939. The same vendor offered an external CD-ROM drive (everything was a 1X in these days) for $399.

An ad on page 63 proclaimed the availability of the epic game Civilization, for “IBM-PC/Tandy/Compatibles.” Yes, these were the days when you could still buy a PC at Radio Shack and expect to be taken seriously.

Weird week. On Tuesday, cold season gave way to allergy season, and it happened over the course of a couple of hours. Winter’s attempted comeback fell flat on its face, and spring arrived, bringing with it temperatures in the 70s, and the two things St. Louis is known for more than anything else: humidity and pollen.

In recent years pollen hasn’t bothered me much, but whatever’s in the air this time around bothered me enough to think the cold I shook last week had relapsed on me. But then I figured out that when I stayed in my air-conditioned office, I had no problems. At home, where I haven’t turned on the AC yet, I do. So I finally broke down and got some antihistamines, which never used to make me drowsy. They do this year. Go figure.

Last week I still had the heater going because it was cool enough at night that my apartment would drop to 60 degrees by morning if I didn’t. Normally I refuse to turn on my AC before mid-May out of principle, so turning on the AC less than a week after I was running the heat is ridiculous.

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