jast@www Version 4.2a (archive)
translated from German version

Offline Pt. 1

There was a time when I didn't even know what the internet is. That may sound strange to you but the internet was built in the late twentieth century and not at the beginning of evolution, like many people say.

Another wide-spread myth says that the WWW existed only after the TCP/IP protocol suite. Of course this can't be right--when I saw an IP address for the first time in my life I had already seen dozens of web URLs. Only very reluctantly I admit that those URLs came from the inlet of a CD case with mainstream pop hits inside. One of the CDs of the "Bravo" series ("Bravo" is a German teen magazine and a rather bad one (like all of them), and they release pop charts samplers every so many months), if you must know. Of course, I immediately disposed of the CD itself and hid the case inlet but from time to time, I looked at it, and praised it, and memorised all the URLs on it, and it was good. Or so I thought.

Needless to say, I didn't have an internet connection back then. Nearly nobody had one. The internet was so impressive back then that the inlet explicitly mentioned that the server was located in Hamburg. Like anyone cares today.

Apart from an URL that pointed to the "Bravo" Homepage, the inlet contained URLs of some pop groups nobody can remember any longer, the NASA, the white house and some others. Impressive, huh?

Online (Prologue)

About three years later, I lived in England for a few months. The school I went to had about 200 computers and a broadband connection to the internet via the local university. During that time, I not only learned everything about e-mails (yes, I found Lycos and Yahoo! Freemail) but also about free webspace and things like that. The only problem was the school's firewall, a HTTP proxy based one, that wouldn't let me use anything except HTTP. I had to use webspace providers that offered upload via web interface and I couldn't use any of the more interesting services on the internet, like Usenet, IRC, FTP, instant messengers. But: my first website went online after a month or so. It didn't have the best design of all or even remotely useful content but it was mine, and it was my first personal website ever. Not the first website I've ever written, though, as I'd started working in my German school's internet working group before going to England. Anyway, my achievements from that period are not worth mentioning except for the interesting detail that everyone who'd look at them would instantly become incurably insane. Anyway, I've made sure that can't ever happen, because they don't exist any longer. No harm done.

Offline Pt. 2

Back home and back offline again. I could only use the internet from the magnificent internet room at school, featuring a 64kbit ISDN connection shared by two computers, open 0.75 hours per week and used by the entire school. On top of that, a slightly weird teacher who at least knew nearly everything about computers (and who I've seen having fun installing Windows 95). I guess you can imagine the joy. In case you, Mr S., are reading this, I apologise for the comment about you. It mirrors the opinion I had about you back then, not the current.

Later, much later, a new internet room was added (and the old one was closed), upping the number of internet-connected computer to eight. Again, all those computers shared one 64kbit ISDN line, thanks to an ISDN router installed by competent technical personal. In other words, it was nearly impossible to use more than three computers at the same time before the QoS algorithms of said router totally messed up and dropped most of the incoming packets.

Online (Prologue, continued)

Next change was an internet connection at home. A large German technical company agreed (unknowingly, but I promise I didn't do anything illegal!) to sponsor my dialup connection. The joy was somewhat reduced by another proxy-based firewall. I knew about the HTTP proxy right from the start but it took me a few months until I found a SOCKS proxy that also let through internet connections. The whole of the internet became available for me. Or almost.

Like it always happens when someone gets full access to the internet, I gradually stopped doing sensible things with my computer and reduced myself to re-designing my personal website every so often and publishing new useless articles on it, and idly staring at IRC channels for hours. I didn't have many other possibilities to waste my time on the internet. File sharing via SOCKS4 is nearly impossible. Or was... I haven't tried again since.

Online Pt. 1

And then, on a beautiful and sunny day, I managed to convince my mother of the necessity of a DSL line. Two days later our new monthly telephone fee was about 80 Euro higher than the previous one, and our telephone was out of order for almost a week thanks to incompetence on behalf of the Telekom shop at which we had ordered our ISDN/DSL package. They had forgotten to have a NTBA box sent to us, effectively rendering all the new and expensive hardware useless.

Another five days later, everything was set up and working, and I had broadband internet access 24/7. Gone were the annoying proxies and low bandwidth--I was delighted. And I started wasting even more time on the internet. My website slowly settled down to longer re-design cycles, as you can see from the current version, v4.0. This is counted from the moment I started using DSL. The first version was a single white-on-black profile which I started working on on my 18th birthday, the second was white-on-teal with a profile and some articles, the third one was black-on-white with a profile and some articles and the fourth one was dark teal on white with teal header/footer and an own PHP backend.

The next two changes in my "internet life" were the new Wireless Network internet connection at university and my own webserver, shared with a few other people to keep the individual costs down. And boy... 100mbits are fun.

Offline (Interlude)

Then, something terrible happened. My DSL modem died. Opening and examining it showed that it had overheated and a connection had melted. Another unidentifiable component had even soldered itself off the circuit board (I still haven't got my connection back so I'm stuck with my 1967 dictionary and can't look up the right word for it). After some investigations I found out that the Telekom would send me a free replacement. I called them and they sent it.

Two days later, it arrived, just as they had promised. Unfortunately it was addressed to my mother who was on holidays at that time so I couldn't retrieve the packet from the post office. No problem, I thought, and I spent the next few days upgrading my website to version 4.1, adding among other stuff a lot of CSS and design candy and support for multiple languages, and some additional content (yay).

At the time of writing this my internet connection still isn't working. I hope the modem will arrive in two weeks or so, I want to upload my new website, and do quite a lot of other stuff (for example, retrieve the results of the exam I took last week). Wish me luck.

To be continued...

This article was last updated on 2004-12-21.


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