Monday, December 26, 2011

Prescient

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W
Anyone who claims to label hem/her self as prescient is way out on thin ice.  In this case though, I can't avoid it.  Here's the story.

I got a Kindle for Christmas.  Hooray!  It is the newest touch model, sans all buttons except on/off and Home.  I also go the insurance policy that covers breakage and loss including liquid spills.  I wouldn't have dared without it.

Now flash back.  It was 1998.  I was between jobs and had some time on my hands.  The Internet was just approaching puberty. I had my own personal web page since 1994, but now there were very many sites online.  We had browsers, but GOPHER and USENET were still the major tools.  I took advantage of the circumstances.  I found a program called NAPSTER.  It was a neat tool for locating and downloading free music in MP3 format.  Those were the days before the music industry noticed and got defensive.

I used NAPSTER to download more than 600 of our favorite musical pieces.   Of course, we didn't have any way to use those MP3 files.  Playing music on the PC wasn't useful.  There was no such thing as portable MP3 players in 1998.  Still, I collected them and archived them.

I also found a place on USENET with ebooks.  They were downloaded in a klunky hexadecimal ASCII text format; each in part A, B, C, ... partial pieced.  It was a lot less slick than NAPSTER, but it worked.  I downloaded 105 books that were on my wish list to read.   Of course, I didn't have any way to use the files.  Reading on a PC screen, (or later a laptop screen, or even a Droid screen) was uncomfortable and useless.  Still, I collected them and archived them.

Over the years, I carefully archived those files and transferred them to each new computer.  I stored the books in several file formats to assure compatibility with future needs.

When the iPod came along, and later the first Kindle.  I eschewed buying them.  I did not want to pay for a device that did nothing until I went to their online store (iTunes) and spent a lo  ore money.  They were walled gardens, and I refuse to play that way.

Yesterday, I was able to take advantage of my nearly 14 year old preparations.  I put all those books and all that music on my Kindle.  It took only 15 minutes.  Everything works fine.  I can read my books while listening to my music in the background, all on one device.  Amazing.

I can't really say that I specifically visualized the Kindle in 1998.  Nor could I specifically foresee the bruising battles over online downloads.   Nevertheless, my preparations seem prescient if I do say so myself.


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