Apr 19, 2010

Feeling Old

Over the weekend I had a conversation with a 5th grader. The topic of our discussion was the classic "hacker" talk. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to pick his brain to see where 5th graders are now as opposed to where I was at back in 1995 when I was in the 5th grade. Whenever I hear a kid say "hacker" I immediately think of the girl from Jurassic Park that hacks into fat Dennis Nedry's computer and saves the world from becoming Dino snacks.

"A Linux system...I know this...ZOMG I am leetzorz I'm about to pwn this fat bastard! Mom! Bathroom!"

So I went on to explain how things were back in the day. Aside from walking to school in the snow, up hill both ways, circa 1995 was the time of the computer. We got our first 486 turbo the year before. The coolest thing ever was booting up in DOS and type C:\win to log into Windows 3.1. And don't even get me started on the glory of the Windows 95 release. AOL was the norm. And that was assuming you could connect to it via modem. I dreamed of the day a second phone line would be installed in the house so that I could enjoy my slow ass AOL experience without the hassle of having to get off so someone could make a phone call. Cell phones did not exist.

Gaming consisted of Nintendo, Sega, and Super Nintendo. If one was lucky, they could go to the movie theatre and pump quarters into the Mortal Kombat 2 arcade 'til next week's milk money ran dry. When it came to playing games on the computer, they were installed with multiple 3 1/2 inch floppy disks. You knew it was a sweet game if it came with a billion disks to load. The game of choice for me was Duke Nukem. The alternatives were Doom and Wolf 3D. All beaten several times. Countless hours spent mastering the first person blow em up experience. The era of online gaming began. It blew the brains out of the back of my head about how badass it was to connect with my friend a few miles down the street and slug it out for a few hours with a little Duke Nukem action. C:\duke3d\duke3d - "Come get some!" If a typical gaming session last 3 hours, 2.5 of those hours would be spent trying to get the connection to work. "Hey, I'm going to get this shit going, so on the count of three hang of the phone and hit ok? 1...2...3...GO!"

That was 1995 in a nutshell for me. So I asked the 5th grader if he had ever heard of Duke Nukem, Doom, or Wolfenstein. In response, I got a blank stare. Flabbergasted, I might as well have asked him something in another language. I asked him if he had heard of Halo, which to my delight he had, but stated that it was "old." I guess that makes me ::gulp:: old too. WTF?! Even though I'm 26, I still feel like I have the mentality of a mature 18 year old. I was scared to ask him if he knew who He-Man, the Thundercats, or TMNT were. The conversation drifted from the unknown to talking about the difference between iPods and iPhones. He had an iPod. I have both. And I made sure he knew that. Win?