Friday, November 07, 2003

A spiel: l'Internet et moi, online strangers… and a birthday cake (Vol. 1)

Warning : This would be very long, thus Vol. 1 and Vol.2.

I’ve been Internet-crazy, have you?

I’ve been through the Internet-crazy phase way back during the early part of my university years, thanks to the free Internet access at the lab while I was staying at the student hostel. Later when I moved out and rented a house nearby with my coursemates, everybody else (8 of them) shared a common phone line, but I installed one of my own, for Internet connection purposes, what else? I volunteered to take the smallest room (which nobody else wanted) so I wouldn’t be disturbing anyone with the late night tapping. The room was the equivalent to the maid’s room (it was beside the kitchen downstairs), which barely fit the single bed, the basic cupboard and a small desk. The cupboard at the head side of the bed, the desk at the feet (sometimes I’d just sit at the end of the bed to use the PC and do away with the chair, that’s how small it was – but I wasn’t complaining). Unsurprisingly, my room was dubbed 'the Internet Room', and they would gladly pay me by the hour (I charge only what Telekom and TMNet charged me lah!) to use my PC for Internet connection.

At that time, I’d happily describe myself as a ‘multi-tasking, self-confessed Internet addict’. Nights in would be filled with simultaneous websurfing, downloading songs and chatting on IRC channels, ICQ (there were no MSN and Yahoo! Messenger yet) and Yahoo! Chatrooms. Being a naturally curious person, the Internet satisfied me with its offer of bits and pieces of information on anything and everything. With any question that came to mind, I’d turn to the trusty PC (bought on student loan) and do a search on Webcrawler and Altavista (later on to Google and Dogpile). The answers that the sites churn out never cease to amaze and amuse me till this day. And songs, oh glory, all those freely-downloadable songs waiting for me (#mp3z and #mp3search on Undernet were my favorite).

As for the online friendships –names on the screen became faces, faces became persons, and persons became friends. Blind dates and group gatherings, even weekend trips – been there, done that. A fling or two? Yeah… that too. A lot of those friendships were short-lived, and some good ones also ‘fade out’ after some time, but I’ve also met a lot of great people who still remain in my circle of friends today. Ah… the times we had. I wouldn’t have enjoyed those years as much as I did if it wasn’t for them. And my housemates weren’t spared from the crazy bunch, I merged the two and made them know each other.

Being online took a lot of time, not to mention the going-out sessions and stuff, and at one point I discovered that my studies were suffering a bit. Just a bit, mind you, not the whole shebang or that I failed a paper or anything, but enough to made me realize that although the Internet is a fun place, I needed to get my priorities straight. So gradually the aimless websurfing became mainly searches for assignment stuff, and visits to chatrooms became less and less, and finally stopped altogether. Downloading songs? That went on since it can be done in the background, until Malaysian IPs were banned from #mp3z and #mp3search. Then that too, ceased (I have yet to introduce myself to Kazaa and Napster 2.0).

I graduated (with 1st class honors, heh heh), started working and life got into a comfortable routine. New friends and acquaintances made were mainly work-related. My forays into the online world were for emails, the latest news, general information and also some company registration business. The Internet has become my postbox, newspaper and encyclopedia. ( be continued in Vol. 2)

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