Day by Day by Chris Muir



Thursday, February 21, 2008

Anybody know how to trim the wick on a whale oil lamp?

Anybody remember how to use a slide rule? Do you even know what a slide rule is? Back in the days of rotary telephones, manual typewriters, and choke controls to help start cars on cold mornings, slide rules were essential tools in the physics classroom.

Today they are obsolete, as are these:
1. Dialing a rotary phone
2. Putting a needle on a vinyl record
3. Changing tracks on an eight-track tape
4. Shorthand
5. Using carbon paper to make copies
6. Basking in the lilting aroma of freshly "run-off" mimeograph paper
7. Changing the ball or ribbon on your Selectric Typewriter
8. Getting off the couch to change channels or adjust the rabbit ears on your TV set
9. Popping popcorn over the stove in a pot with oil
10. Changing the gas mixture on your car's carburetor

I recall them all, and had those mad skills (except for the shorthand, although many people thought my
handwriting looked like shorthand) back in the day. Some other obsolete skills are of more recent vintage.

Do you recall:
11. Editing an autoexec.bat or config.sys file
12. Calling "collect" and/or "person to person" on a payphone
13. Transferring files with Zmodem
14. Parking a hard disk
15. Cleaning the head of a VCR
16. Aiming a C-band satellite dish
17. Degaussing a CRT monitor
18. Lotus 1-2-3
19. WordStar 2000
20. Winding a watch

The point of all this is to illustrate not only how much things have changed over the past couple of decades, but
how much the velocity of change is increasing. I shamelessly "borrowed" these from the obsolete skills wiki and
a posting by Robert Scobel.

Now I feel old. Guess I'll brush up on my DOS command line syntax before saddling up the mule for the ride home.