September 19th, 2008


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jimbojones
02:02 am - schmoopy stuff and musings and things
I can't quite get to sleep yet - my mind just keeps spinning and spinning around (with good things) - so I snuck out of bed to type for a while. I am unfortunately way more of a night owl than Janis is, and it took me way too long to realize that I was leaving her to fall asleep alone all too often. Obviously, that sucks. Sucked. Hopefully, occasionally sneaking out after she's asleep - and tucking the covers around her on my way out, and listening to make sure her breathing is still slow and sleepy - will be better. 'Cause, you know... night owl. It's kinda in the blood.

I wonder if I need to invest in a silent-ish keyboard.

Anyway, we had our second baby appointment this week. And I heard the baby's heartbeat! Our midwife put the mic embarrassingly low on it's-not-really-her-belly-when-it's-that-far-south, and the baby kicked about irritably at being prodded, and there was the heartbeat. Fast, and strong, and unmistakably a very human heartbeat. And I got the biggest, stupidest grin on my face that you couldn't have removed with a team of surgeons.

Tonight, cuddling before sleep, Janis sleepily told me "the baby says hello." "Do you mean it moved on its own?" "Yes." And there's that stupid grin again. Don't get me wrong, I knew we were having a baby, and that was already very real to me... but it's hard to express how much more real, and how much more awesome, it is when you can hear, and feel, the baby growing in there. And when it's moving all on its own, even without somebody poking it with a mic and pissing it off.

And that extra reality is a lot of what has my wheels spinning at two o'clock in the morning. It makes me think about how much I don't know about my grandfather, or really even my parents. A lot of people's lives just...disappears. And I think about how different things are, or can be, now - everybody's got a blog, and with a little care, it documents their lives so much more thoroughly than was ever practical before.

Maybe this is a dumb idea, but it occurred to me that it might be cool to start writing something specifically to document part of my life for the kid-to-be. Specifically, for one thing, my own passage through the computer era. There's a lot of information about the various stages of computing out there, but the more I thought about it, the more I don't really remember encountering anything specifically from a personal perspective.

And, geeky as it might be, computing has shaped my life in an extremely tangible way. So I thought, you know, there's a distinct possibility that a kidlet possessed of a chunk of my genes might turn out noticeably geeky in a lot of the ways that I am. And I thought, how cool would I have found something like that from one of my parents?

I might not have been the average kid, but... I think I would have found it pretty cool.

So the idea is something along the lines of a children's primer on the history of computing, as I experienced it. I have the somewhat unusual perspective of having been at the very forefront of personal computing, in the sense that I am about as old as you can possibly be, while still having been involved in computing from the very start of your thinking life. From about age six, my father would take me into the radio stations he worked at on "working weekends." And to keep me occupied, he'd set me up on the station computers, playing the old Scott Adams text adventure games and such while he worked. Not so long after that - about age 8 for me - he got a TRS-80 Model I to play with at the house. Which I also loved.

As I grew up, computers did as well, and I managed to stay pretty deeply involved in them throughout their growth and mine. I either had or at least fairly heavily used nearly every one of the riot of makes and models of personal and business computers available in the 80s. I think that influenced me pretty heavily, beyond simply teaching me how to use and program computers.

I rather like the idea of documenting that, mostly from the perspective of the technology, partly from the perspective of its influence on me. My thought is to write it at about an early high school reading level (according to the standardized tests back then, my 4th or 5th grade reading level). I envision such a thing as simple and engaging enough for a geekishly inclined kid, but not so juvenile as to explicitly turn off more adult readers. And I thought, you never know, maybe such a thing could even end up interesting enough to be worthwhile for someone who isn't directly related to me.

It could start out with a chapter or two devoted to the earliest (before my time) computing, and to what degree it did (and didn't!) affect people in general and their expectations, and then move throughout my childhood, and young adulthood, and on to my professional life. From the old incredibly primitive room-filling mainframes, to the merely very primitive stuff I started on, and up to our present society-pervading Everything Machines.

What do you think?


 
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Comments:



 
[User Picture] From: discogravy
Date: September 19th, 2008 - 02:10 pm
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you'll want to invest in those glasses that act as up-close-and-personal monitors too. the mrs finds the light of a laptop incredibly obnoxious (possibly if it were on the TV it wouldn't bother her as much).

the personal touch is part of the reason I have such a soft spot for Cliff Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg"; technically he doesn't get into the details of unix (although he gets into it enough that a non-tech can kinda understand) and of course, it's laughably outdated, but there's more of a focus on dealing with people and how they react to computers and networks (a particular scene where he gets into an argument with his hippy-dippy berkley anarchomoron friends about trust-vs-"anyone against the government is a friend of mine" is priceless.

cf http://discogravy.blogspot.com/2008/09/heathen.html
and the link directly to the stoll book: http://vx.netlux.org/lib/mcs00.html


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: September 20th, 2008 - 05:59 am
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Yes... Mrs. Clem can sleep with the TV on, but the laptop screen seems to bother her. Of course if I'm typing I better just leave the room. Apparently the sound on the TV is less annoying than the clicking of the chiclet keys.

I suffer the same issue though... I go to sleep later and sleep less than my wife. I have to make a point to go to bed at the same time most of the week, even if I do get back up and fuck around the house for three more hours.



 
[User Picture] From: jimbojones
Date: September 20th, 2008 - 04:49 pm
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Yeah, I'm familiar with the Cliff Stoll book. Really liked it.


 
[User Picture] From: tawnyleona
Date: September 19th, 2008 - 04:47 pm
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I think it's a wonderful idea. Any communication with your kids from a non-judging, giving standpoint is awesome.

I would love to find some stuff my mom wrote when she was growing up, or even my age now, about things through her eyes. And if you had the idea, chances are, your kid is going to like it....at some point. Maybe not when he's 16 and you're in your wheelchair, trying to connect (smirk...I make these comments because if and when I get pregnant, I'll be an older parent, too), but at some point in his life he will treasure it as the priceless thing it is.

And I'm using the generic "he" here...:P


 
[User Picture] From: clme
Date: September 20th, 2008 - 07:21 am
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I find those stories of 'the way things used to be' a lot more interesting now than I did when I was growing up, but I still found them interesting. Of course it really lends perspective now to why different generations think about certain things in different ways.

If my parents had written something like that I'd read it. Hell, if you were to publish something for general consumption not directly aimed at your progeny I think many of us would read it. Nostalgia is becoming a big business again. (You wont make any money, but it could be satisfying).

It almost makes me want to type something similar up... only I cant type a story that long. I get a few paragraphs of connected statements and then I either end up focusing on one thing for way too long or I drift off to something completely unconnected.

I like cake.


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