Progress!

So I was on the bus this morning and for some reason couldn’t remember the difference between MNP4 and MNP5.

Don’t ask me why I was thinking of this. It was raining, and I think it’s a scientific fact that being on a bus in the rain causes truly random neurons to fire.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the first high speed modem I had, and how I had to swap out the 16450 UART on my PC’s serial card for a 16550 in order to get it to run at full speed, and how this wasn’t a big deal because the chips were socketed and there were instructions in the manual.

Let me emphasize that. A normal and anticipated thing an average early-90s computer user might do consisted of opening his or her own PC, pulling out an expansion card, pulling a chip off that card, and replacing it with a new chip – and these were DIP-style chips, mind you, not nice friendly card-edge style modules like modern RAM.

And that pales in comparison to the process of adding a second floppy drive to a Commodore 64, arguably the first really mainstream personal computer. To do that, you had to open up the case of the second floppy drive, find the appropriate set of traces on the main board, and actually cut it, physically, with a razor blade or something similar – and if you then wanted to undo this, you had to solder the trace closed. Again, this was in the manual as something you might legitimately have reason to do.

For the record, slightly more sane computers used dip switches to perform the same task.

I guess all I’m saying is, we’ve come a long ways.

Also, the difference between MNP4 and MNP5:  MNP5 offered on-the-fly data compression, which was theoretically an advantage, but if you were already transferring compressed files it actually slowed things down.  So everyone with any sense turned off MNP5 and just used MNP4, which was error correction. Kind of like the difference between v.32 and v.32bis, only v.32bis didn’t suck.

Oh, also: Lack of posts lately I’m blaming squarely on finals, getting ready to move, and playing Dark Age of Camelot, which is simply bizarre to me as an example of an MMO that should, by all rights, be dead, and yet lives on due to getting just enough money from die hard subscribers to keep the lights on.

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