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Caught up in the web

Caught up in the web
Australian Society of Anaesthetists Newsletter Volume 95, Issue 1, April 1995

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I am hopelessly tangled in the World Wide Web (WWW). Another lost soul, thumb out, pockets empty, hitching a ride down the embryonic information super-highway. Destination unknown. Hi-tech Zen, the journey IS the destination.

Some members of my family have suggested my time would be better spent flower arranging. But that is only because they want to use the phone. THE phone. MY phone. My umbilical cord to the university and hence the NET. How can they ever understand? My therapist does not even understand! Addictive personality. Obsessive compulsive neurosis. Just empty words, hanging in a void.

Information is the only reality. As brain cells form the matrix of the individual consciousness so it follows that our minds only exist to sustain the super helix of knowledge that rises above and beyond our collective consciousness. That twisting, shining web of data, reaching out beyond infinity. The little yellow tablets don’t seem to be helping either.

How did it begin

You may have followed my discussion on the NET. (The NET is an interconnection of university computers that spans the globe.) My access to the net was via a laptop computer acting as a dumb terminal to a university computer. As a result I had to use the Unix operating system and programs on the university computer. These programs have been created by misanthropic dwarfs intent on turning innately simple tasks into indecipherable chains of arcane hieroglyphics. But then I discovered PPP.

PPP (Point to Point Protocol) and its older brother SLIP (Serial Line Interface Protocol) are programs that allow personal computers to attach directly to the internet. Forget the middle-person. You become a fully functional node on the net. Now you can use your own Mac or Windows programs to “Surf the Web”, send Email, read News or Chat with friends. Friendly programs written by caring human beings who want to shield you from the subterranean horrors of the operating system.

Getting on…Plan A

There are two methods of getting your PPP connection. The first is inexpensive but personally degrading. First of all you have to get an ‘account’ on a university computer. This will require a prepared text featuring your vast academic contribution to the professorial department you occasionally visit. In my case it consisted of a 15 minute lecture to residents on the art and science of venous cannulation. “Visualise the needle inside the vein and then simply realise your vision”.

Then you have to demonstrate a need for the connection. Down-loading pictures of surface anatomy from Penthouse magazine is not a good argument. In my case I needed “on-line access to the rapidly expanding data on the biological response to the synthetic polymers employed in the construction of short term intra-vascular implants.”

Finally you have to get your PPP connection to work. This will require a set of coded numbers that are arbitrarily selected at each institution. They have names like “IP address” and “Domain Name Server”.

The afore-mentioned gnomes do not want to help you get your PPP connection working for 2 reasons. When you have PPP working you will no longer need them. They will be isolated forever in the Gothic nightmare of their own creation. Secondly you will show all your friends how your 5 year old can access the net without touching the keyboard. They will all want to be on the net as well. This will create even more administrative work for the gnomes.

Gain a gnome’s confidence by feigning an interest in an obscure Unix command. Express your disbelief that anyone with a brain smaller than a planet could ever get PPP to function. He will explain how it works. Do not try to understand the explanation, just copy down the numbers. Buy him a pen set as a sign of appreciation. You will need him again when an anonymous system administrator changes the numbers without reason, explanation or warning.

Getting on…Plan B

Subscribe to a public access network like “ozemail” or “Aus Net Services”. They send you a disk. Turn on your modem then turn on your computer, run the program they sent you, end of story. Don’t people make life easy when there is a dollar in it for them? (Less than your ASA subscription and twice as much fun!).

The FAQ’s

Last month I was seeking the elusive acronym to help us out when things go wrong. It is found in many FAQ sheets on the net. (Frequently Asked Questions). The acronym is RTFM. (Read The … Manual).

Addendum

This page is supposed to include anything related to research methods and or computing. I am still waiting for someone else to write something. I am still waiting for generous financial support from our industrial colleagues. To console myself I have been playing “Under a Killing Moon”. On a 5 star rating this is a 6. It is a good interactive movie/adventure game. It has a complete help system from novice to expert . This makes it an excellent choice for the novice adventurer.

Till next time, keep surfing dudes.

Dave Sainsbury

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EMAIL: david.sainsbury”AT”adelaide.edu.au  Last Update:02/05/2005

 

 

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