Posted on: May 6, 2005 6:36 PM
You probably don't know that I do a very popular radio call-in show (KSAW, Denton TX, Sundays at 2:00 a.m.) called "Tech Talk," in which I lend my expertise in the realm of computers to those suffering from confusion in that same realm. In the beginning, I used the pseudonym "Sarah McDoogan" in order to keep fans and stalkers from ruining my life, although in later years my real identity became known and, strangely, my life remained un-disrupted. For this blog entry, I thought I'd post a few excerpts from my very first show, interspersed with my fond memories of Yesteryear. "Tech Talk" premiered in 1984. Back then, computers were made of wood and steel, and we didn't even have the internet (an early version of the intraweb had only recently been discovered by Steve Job at Microsoft (who you probably know mainly as the man who invented Google).)! Some of you are probably too young to remember, but before we had the internet, if we wanted to put data into our computer we had to type it with our hands! Looking back through old episodes of Tech Talk brought me quite a few chuckles, and I thought I'd share those chuckles with you. So put on your hard hats, and let's travel together back to the magical land of 1984--the year of cabbage patch kids, Michael Jackson's Thriller, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and of course, the timelessly functional MBX system.
SM: "Thank you for tuning in to Tech Talk--KSAW's very first computer-related call-in show. I'm your host, Sarah McDoogan, and I'm here to help you with all those pesky problems you may be having with your machine! We go now to Jonas, out in Feinburg. Jonas?"
J: "Hi, Sarah, nice to have you on the air!"
SM: (laughs) "Thanks, Jonas. What can I do for you?"
J: "Well, here goes: I'm using the Milton Bradley Expansion System (MBX) (ed. featured on the right!) with my TI 99/4A, primarily for my kids, Lawrence and Teri, who love to play 'I'm Hiding'. On occasion, however, the voice recognition system seems to 'glitch up', forgetting all of our programmed voice commands. Is there an easy fix?"
SM: "I'm really glad you asked this question, Jonas. I've been getting a lot of complaints from friends and family about the MBX. Here's what I've learned: When trying to glitch up your voice recognition, the best possible course of action is to drastically meg the amount of cookies you're storing in your external hardfile. It sounds like your kids are playing a computer game on the MBX, which is going to use up a lot of your software and create a serious backlog in your RAM-flow. To be honest, I don't understand why you're not amping up your mainframe by enabling AppleTalk (you can get an AppleTalk for $3.50 down at Radio Shack), but I guess we can't all be computer experts! To compensate, I suggest uplinking one of your security nodes to the folder just to the left of the "tab" key, and pressing "pound." Your voice recognition hardware should be bug-free now!"
J: "Thanks, Sarah, I'll give that a shot!"
Oh, those were the days. I remember another turning point in my career as a technophile was the invention of Windows in the late 80's. The station was flooded with anxious callers - how do I use it? Where should I plug it in? Do I need to increase the megabits on my maindrive? Naturally, I had to investigate this new techonological discovery for myself. One night in my apartment, I began downlining the new Macintosh Windows version -0.1 onto my motherboard (at the time, I was using a Sony-Genesis instead of a mega-drive). But the downline was taking forever. Back then, you could buy these little nodes that would just stick to the side of your processor and amp up its RAM capabilities using magnetics. It seems sort of barbaric, now, but remember how well they worked? You could go from, like, 8 megs of RAM all the way up to 10 or 12, just from investing five bucks. So, I was in such a hurry to get the new Windows and start using Adobe, I ran down to the Radio Shack and bought TWO of those nodes. When I stuck them onto the side of my S-G, the floppy disk suddenly became overloaded with excess e-frags! And that's why I upgraded to my first laptop, which was an early Pentium i-book with an external giga-drive. So I guess it was a blessing in disguise.
Let's see one more excerpt from 1984 before I go back to my workstation (I'm trying to firewire Mozilla, but there's a really tenacious mailer-daemon that won't let me through):
C: "My Timex Sinclair ZX80 seems to be 'crashing' when I use the 16K RAM module, even though it never does when I use the computer alone. What do you suppose is wrong?"
SM: "Well, Christina, the people at Timex will tell you that you should clean the contacts by vigorously rubbing the electrical contacts on the printed circuit board with a pencil eraser, and to tape the RAM pack to the computer to prevent loss of contact due to accidental movement. But Christina, the people at Timex just want to rip you off. They want you to fry your Sinclair by using too much fragging. This is something I DON'T want, Christina. Are you listening to me?"
C: "Yes, I--"
SM: "Christina, what I want you to do is this: take that 16K RAM module and throw it in the garbage. Then run down to Radio Shack and get one of those new de-fraggers that Magnavox is making. The pink one, Christina! Not the red one--the red ones are being recalled because they exhibit a lot of mega-inhibitors. Take the de-fragger home, plug its unit into your ZX80, and then point your mouse onto the "finder" button. Now restart your computer, and everything should be just cherry."
We live in an amazing time, what with advances in e-technologies and those cell phones that you can use to find your remote control, but I sure do have fond memories of bygone days--surfing the intranet without a mouse, graphing calculators, and those crazy robot digital watches that could do your laundry. They sure don't make 'em like they used to!