real life


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I’d better get it out of my system.

It’s 15 years, near enough, since I got my first domain. (OK – sub-domain of I’m still paying £11.75 a month for it, which is frankly ludicrous, but goddamit, I’m emotionally attached to it now. I still get mail on it – from spambots, from ex-colleagues, from friends I’d lost touch with (intentionally and unintentionally). So I fork out £10+VAT a month for Internet nostalgia. As it’s a demon sub-domain, I have no alternative but to keep paying them.

It’s 20 years since I started communicating with people digitally.

I wrote BBS software for the Acorn BBC B. It was fun, and threw me in the deep end of dealing with customers and users. I ran a BBS, on a “Ringback” service on my parents’ phone line. I squeezed the code into about 25k of RAM, playing lots of memory tricks. I hacked up old 1200/75 baud modems. We had backdoors for friends (the cassette tape relay), and trapdoors for abusers. I ran a little business (XFS) with Dan Mills and Chris England, and it was OK.

My two favourite functionalities in XFS were “gatewaying”, which allowed us to create nested microsites within the main site (sub-domains anyone?); and mail exchanging where many of the boards running XFS would dial each other up and exchange mail with each other (SMTP?!) twice a night. One day I’ll suck the XFS source code off a 3.5″ disk (on one of my existing Arcs) and give myself a good solid dose of nostalgia and sit there rocking gently and raging at today’s bloatware. 25k of RAM.

Simple code is beautiful code; simple code is functional code; simple code is reliable and easy to maintain. Maybe by over-extending the object/property/method model, and relying so much on libraries and modules, we’ve lost sight of that simplicity?

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