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Blog : Posts tagged with 'university'

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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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Warm welcome

In which we go self-catering


I’ve gone back to university.

No, not like that, I’ve not suddenly gone all intellectual again. This week, though, I’m staying in one.

When I was planning this trip down to London, an internet acquaintance known as D R contacted me and said: “why don’t you stay at a university? It’ll be cheaper than a hotel.” So, I went and booked a room at Shoreditch University’s Ripper Hall,* to relive my university days.

Of course, I never actually stayed in a hall at university, so I’m not really reliving anything. There’s something common to all university accomodation, though. The cheap, cheerful decor, designed to be easily replaced or cleaned at the end of the year. The slightly broken fittings. The dubious stains on the carpet. All very familiar from my university days. There’s a couple of slight concessions to tourism: free soap and shampoo in the bathroom,** and coffee-making equipment: a small tray with a built-in kettle, a single cup, and little sachets of instant coffee and sugar. If you have any visitors, they have to be signed in and out at the front desk – full name and address on the form, please – and definitely have to be out by 11pm at the latest. It’s not bad, as accomodation goes, but it does feel a little blank and soulless compared to most hotels I’ve visited. And given the level of hotel I usually stay in, but that’s saying something.

* No, it’s not really called that.

** “Complimentary toiletries are not replaced during your stay”, the visitor instructions warn.

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