National Young Writers’ Month – Day 19

My internet, I’ve decided, is about as consistent as used noodle water. You’d drink it if you absolutely had to stop yourself from suffering from dehydration, but you kind of know that all that starch simply cannot be good for you.

Cloudy, starchy noodle water = my internet. It’s working again all of a sudden, but odds are I’ll be booted off within the hour.

Things have been happening as they seem to in most people’s lives. At the moment my chief concern is studying for exams. It’s coming along nicely, but I’m approaching my next exam rapidly. Too rapidly, some might say.

I believe that in my first post I made some general comments about how much I enjoy weddings. Well, I was fortunate enough to be invited to one that was a hell of a lot of fun. The Lovely Dinosaur and the Other Lovely Dinosaur sincerely deserve one another.

Highlights include – a Hedonism Bot cake (of Futurama fame), catching up with an old work colleague, getting severely wasted (more to come on that) and just generally having a really good old time of it. And holy shit this couple knows a lot of amazing and attractive people.

Lowlight – when your introduction to someone’s uncle consists of being asked the question, “Who here has clean hands?” To which I respond, “I do.” At which point he says, “Well, you can help me go to the toilet then.” I obviously didn’t follow through and help him, but as soon as he was about to step out of the door, his pants dropped to his ankles, forcing me and a person I’d just met (even though both parties had been told it was the world’s greatest bromance that had yet to be realised) to help him hitch his pants back up. Hell of a story, though.

Back to getting drunk. I mean, the last time I had time to get drunk was much earlier this year. The very start of April, I believe. Now, I didn’t quite reach the epic proportion of drunkenness that I did that time, but by gum was I close. I can recall most of last night and I didn’t wake up with a hangover – score! There was a time where getting drunk was an almost weekly occurrence. I have to admit I don’t miss those days. These days I don’t have the spare time/energy to commit to letting my body recover from big drinking nights.

There was a time that I never even used to drink. I was discussing this at the wedding yesterday with an ex-coworker. I never drank. The co-founder of Sake Night also never drank. It was almost like one of those mathematical equations whereby two negatives somehow equals a raging pair of alcoholics. I still blame Europe for my shift towards drinking. The continent that is, not the band. How could the creators of ‘The Final Countdown’ be responsible for my sudden interest in all things alcohol-related?

Regarding NYWM – as I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to set aside a whole bunch of time for that last story I started. I figure if I set aside 1,500 words for each day (the story lasting a grand total of a week) I’ll have quite a nice lengthy story on my hands. (I have added to it, FYI)

So instead of writing a story for NYWM today, I decided to write my own personal history about me and the internet (or interwebs, whichever you prefer) since this is probably the longest time I’ve gone without the internet since I had it as a teenager.

The year was 1996. My parents had just purchased us our first ‘new’ computer. It was a Pentium 120mhz with 32 megabytes of ram and 2 gigabytes of hard drive space. It also contained a 33.6kbps internal modem, which my Dad and I had the greatest of trouble setting up the actual connection properties for. We had signed up with Alphalink, who offered a very competitive rate of $100 per year for 8 hours a day (6 off-peak and 2 on-peak with 3-hour connection limits).

Once we figured it all out, I double-clicked on the cursor labelled ‘Netscape Navigator 3.11’ with my ball mouse. Remember when mice had balls in them? – I swear, that had better not link this site to some site about mice testicles – and you actually had to open them up to clean them to make sure that the ball was clean of lint and fluff (OK, there’s a joke about being a shaver/fluffer in there somewhere, but I’ll let you make it, you sick person you) so that you could actually use a mouse effectively?

Oh! And you had a serial mouse port instead of a USB mouse… Those were the days!

Back to the internet. So, Netscape Navigator opened up and there we were, with all the wonders of the internet at our very fingertips – a blank page. The first website I ever visited – – I kid you not. I was basketball-mad back then, heck, I still am.

This is what the website looked like in those days…

If you’re curious to see what it looks like now… NBA

But I remember sitting there and thinking I’d just encountered the greatest thing since sliced bread was reinvented, revolutionised and reconfigured into a robot that would toast itself for you. It was just so… Futuristic.

Then later that year, a game called Diablo was released. Included in this hack’n’slash RPG was a system called Battle.Net. The amount of times my sister and I fought over who got to use Battle.Net and for how long was probably the only thing we fought over growing up together. The thing is, my sister wouldn’t even actually play the game, she’d just sit in the chat rooms talking to people for however long it was that she was sitting on there. I remember one of the first times I played Diablo online and I got killed by some hacker who was able to kill you in town, which was meant to be the generic safe-haven for everyone. But no, this guy managed to have a hack so that he could fireball you to certain death. I remember this being my first instance of feeling complete and utter rage at another person on the internet.

Then something strange happened. I stopped playing Diablo online, and I started socialising online via a chat room that my sister used. Of course, the biggest thing at the time was Hanson, who I fucking hated with a passion because I was a teenage boy and I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be attracted to Taylor Hanson or not. Was he a guy? Was he a girl? Why you confuse me for?!

But the upside of Hanson being popular was that you could drop in to just about any Hanson chat room and have anywhere between 40-50 teenage girls sitting there chatting away. I was quite the smooth talker. I’m not quite sure how that skill diminished over time, but it did, sort of like an inverted Pantene commercial. Sure enough, I met my first and only girlfriend (to date – I could write a thesis on how to royally screw up potential relationships at this stage, though) online and in a Hanson chat room. If that isn’t the saddest thing you’ve ever read in your life, go searching for stories about puppies and kittens committing suicide. That’s about the only thing I can think of that would be sadder.

Anyhow, I had set up my first and only Hotmail account also (which I still have to this day), because I had always gone around with handle Bountyhunter – because the coolest thing I had encountered up to that stage of my life was Star Wars.

I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention ICQ. Holy shit. That program was freakin’ awesome. I can even remember my ICQ# – 7591766. But then ICQ was replaced with MSN Messenger. And now MSN Messenger has been replaced with Facebook Chat (which is an inferior product, if you ask me) and I must say that I prefer to use Gmail chat these days. Such is the ongoing corruption of online communication. I sometimes wonder about what’s next, but considering that just about everyone buys products with a lowercase ‘i’ in front of them, it seems like the writing is already on the wall.

Then I got into playing Quake online. And when I say got into it, I mean I was going crazy – running around fragging mofos left right and centre with the rocket launcher or nail gun. I even used to manually do rocket jumps – I could never be bothered with scripts and hotkeys, etc. Flick aim all the way down, jump, fire rocket – launch oneself into the air. Then I tried playing Quake 2 online and my skills just didn’t transfer. So I decided to move onto Half-Life (Still, to this day – one of the greatest single player FPS experiences I’ve ever had), yet I could never bring myself to play Counter-Strike online. I fucking loathed that game and still do. Go on, hordes of the interwebs, come at me with all you’ve got!

And of course, the EA Sports addictions. NBA Live series – 1997 through to 2001, which were played almost to the point of no return. A special mention goes out to a game in which I scored 51 points with Gheorghe Muresan – the 7’7″ Romanian spud who somehow managed to hit 9 3pt shots in this particular game. This infuriated my best friend to no end. The Fifa series was played religiously from 1998 to 2003. This included nights hanging with my Bundoora Secondary crew, learning how to put the perfect curve on the ball so we could score from halfway down the pitch.

After Quake and Half-Life online, I stepped away from playing games online until I got my hands on Diablo II. I’m almost certain my life expectancy is shorter due to that game. So many all-nighters spent at home hooking up a LAN between our desktop PC and my brother’s laptop. Ridiculous amounts of online hours went into that game.

And to think, this only really covers the first several years that I have used the internet. I had a LiveJournal for a while (2002 – 2007-ish) that was all sorts of levels of suck, but for most of the time that I was writing that I was still trying to figure out exactly where I fit in the world. I still don’t exactly know where it is that I fit, but I’m a much happier person these days than I was then. So I guess that I’m at least on the right path.

I guess the latest phase of my internet addiction is downloading. I’m pretty sure that it’s just about everyone’s addiction these days. I’m convinced that some of my friends are trying to download everything on the internet ever. It’s just the evolution of information sharing, I guess.

So there you have it, a brief anecdotal history of my involvement with the internet. I hope you enjoyed it.

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