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Blog : Posts tagged with 'Apple Mac'

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Woolies

In which we lament the demise of vinyl


Ah, farewell then, Woolworths. Well … maybe. Certainly my local shop is still soldiering on, as I assume the rest are.*

It’s maybe a sign of how the chain’s going, though. I last shopped there a few weeks ago – picking up a gift voucher for K’s niece – and it was a strange experience. Because my local Woolworths doesn’t seem to have changed for a long, long time. Everyone else on the high street has shiny displays; Woolworth’s here is a step back in time. Slightly worn shelving that wouldn’t have looked out of place in my grandfather’s newsagents twenty-five years ago; everything piled up on it without much thought. Worn linoleum. No fancy ceiling or light fittings: bare plaster and unshaded fluorescent tubes are fine for Woolworths. If the shelves had been emptier, I’d have thought maybe a wormhole had decanted me into Moscow, circa the Andropov years. I almost expected to find carrier bags bearing the 70s coil-of-wool logo that I remember from childhood.

Personally, I still have a little bit of affection for the place. I’d never shop there, not any more, but once upon a time I did. Back when I was a teenager, it was the first place I ever bought music from; my first port of call at first; and then, as I knew more, the place I would come to flick through the 7″ singles and buy ones that had just dropped out of the charts. When they stopped selling vinyl, in about ’95 or so, I stopped going.

I almost typed there: “if you told a teenager today that Woolworths…” – and then I stopped and deleted it, because it made me feel old. Strange to think, though, that people today have completely forgotten Woolworths was once the best place to buy singles, back when Apple were a failing computer company** and portable music meant songs taped off the radio. Nowadays, it isn’t the best place to buy anything. Still stocking vinyl would hardly help, in this decade, but looking a bit smarter might. If they didn’t look like they’d furnished the place with other people’s cast-off shelves, it would be a start.

* A bit different to when the Fopp/Music Zone chain fell over: one day they stopped taking card payments, the next the shops didn’t open, and that, then, was that. Or, indeed, the Dutch ISP Aramiska, which gave its customers a few hour’s warning before they ceased operating with no explanation.

** People forget today that the first Apple Mac was a commercial disaster, so much so that its champion, Steve Jobs, got fired from the company partly as a result. I recommend reading any of the many books about the development of the Mac and the Apple company in the early 80s.

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Why do holidays always end too soon

In which FP checks in from Devon


Right now I’m sitting on a quayside in Plymouth, in front of some white fluffy clouds, lots of yachts, various “rustic” harbourside buildings, and an Apple Mac. The Mac is nearly as much a holiday as the rest of it: I keep forgetting that British Macs have American-style keyboards, with the ” and @ keys the wrong way around.*

Next week I’m going to be back in the office again, but for now, I’m making the most of the sunshine (by burning slightly) and the free time (by doing nothing much of any importance). Lots of photos when I get back – I really should start using my Flickr account properly.

* to say nothing of ยง, ~ and |

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Years and years

In which we remember early days on the Internet


Hello to internet friend Angeldust, who starts at university today as a mature student. How she’ll cope with having to be mature, I really have no idea.

It reminded me, though, that it’s ten years this month since I started at university myself. Ten years, and it feels like no time at all. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve grown up at all in that time, although I almost certainly have without realising it. And ten years since starting university also means ten years since I got my first email address, and ten years since I first went on the web,* using university public labs with Apple Macs running Mac OS 7.5. I did even, occasionally in that first year or so, browse the web in black and white, because some of the university Macs only had monochrome screens. It wasn’t very impressive, partly because given the state of the university computer network at the time, the effective download speed in a busy lab was about the same as the 56k home dialup connections which were starting to appear around then too.

I didn’t get my own PC until I was in my second year at university, and didn’t get internet access until late in that year. Even when I did, the university was my ISP – I applied for, and was given, access to one of the university dial-in lines, available to any student who was good enough at navigating the university bureaucracy to find and fill in the right form. Somehow I doubt that universities offer that service now – but, then again, offering full network access to hall bedrooms was unheard of ten years ago too.

It really doesn’t feel like ten years that I’ve been on the net – but then again, I couldn’t imagine life without it now. In the past ten years, it’s gone from being exotic and new, to being an everyday part of life.

* Using Pegasus Mail over a Netware network for email, and Netscape Navigator 2 for the web

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