books random

The tangled web we weave

Is there anything more amusing than reading old books, in which technology we take for granted today was barely embyronic? Recently I found a couple of young adult fiction titles which were a spin-off of the rad TV show Press Gang. #2 in the series, Public Exposure, has our good old news team at the Junior Gazette win a whizz bang computer complete with modem in a mysterious competition.

The book was first published in 1989, published in Australia in 1994, so I was suprised the internet was well-enough known territory for a book of that era. I still recall what a big deal it was in 1997, when I was in my first year of high school, that we had a single computer connected to “the web”. You had to put your name down ages in advance to get 15 minutes on this mystical machine in the school library – rumour had it some girls in grade 10 had found naked pictures of Brad Pitt on there. Ooh la la!

Anyway. Back to Public Exposure:

It hadn’t taken too long to set up the computer and run some of the basic programmes which came with it. The word processor was straight-forward enough, though for the really clever tricks they’d have to study the manual. The same thing applied to the spreadsheet and database.

“The spreadsheet”! Read the manual!! Let’s get to the juicy part where the Junior Gazette team test out a link-up with their school, Norbridge High:

In the school Danny McColl, Staff Photographer on the Gazette team, sat in front of a computer console. He was speaking on the phone to Lynda, back at the newsroom. He confirmed that he was ready and set the modem at his end ready for use. Preparations were completed at the newsroom too. Lynda crossed her fingers and breathed rather than spoke the words, “OK. Here goes!”

Danny, in the school, echoed Lynda’s tension with his own “Here goes!” He struck the first key. Anxious eyes in the newsroom watched the blank screen for what seemed like an age. Suddenly, and marked by a sharp intake of collective breath, the words MESSAGE BEING RECIEVED flowed, letter by letter, across the screen. A pause and then came THIS IS A SMALL STEP FOR MANKIND BUT IT IS A BIG ONE FOR THE JUNIOR GAZETTE! Another pause and MESSAGE ENDS….

1989, punks! I had just started primary school… I believe they may have had an Apple Mac at St Pat’s at that point – the kind that took the original, actually floppy, discs.

OK, fine. You’ve seen through me. This was just another thinly veiled excuse to blog about Press Gang. It’s just so well written and clever and kids somehow put out a newspaper and Spike is a total dreamboat! Lynda 4 Spike 4 eva….

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