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January 17, 2012

This is an introductory blog post.

I don’t really like beginnings or endings, so that was the best I could come up with for an opening. But I guess I could also explain my username. Johan Lackbeard is an imaginary Viking I made up when I was 8. Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I was 15. Like all cool, successful people, I spent a lot of my adolescence with a healthy interest in medieval history, Vikings in particular were captors of my imagination, but I’m not going to give background info about them in a blog that’s supposed to be about the Internet. If you want to know more, take a history class, or alternatively, listen to any metal album from the 80s. All Vikings had cool nicknames like Ivar the Boneless, Eric the Red, or Harald Fairhair. Actually, I guess none of those were cool, but neither is “lackbeard”. The name stems from my inability to grow a beard, which in theory would cause my Viking avatar to stand out amongst his brethren. I extracted the term “lackbeard” from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”. It remains the only thing I remember about it.

Enough about that. If I am correct, our first blog post was originally supposed to be about our background and experiences using the Internet. We have since kind of moved away from that idea, but I had already contemplated that at some length, so I want to write about it.

I owe my beginnings on the Internet to my uncle, an ex-Marine who specialized in cryptology. After he left the Corps he worked for AT&T until he retired. While he was doing so, he kept abreast of the latest computer technology, which at that time (early/mid 90s) was still the province of hardcore nerds. I was aware that personal computers existed, but I didn’t know anyone who had one. That all changed on the Christmas of my 7th year(circa 1994 C.E.), when he gave me one for my birthday. I certainly don’t remember asking Santa for one, but I quickly became fascinated with it.

I began my computer life using only MS-DOS (don’t ask me how to use it now, I don’t remember) and browsing bulletin boards and newsgroups. I certainly wasn’t old enough to have anything to contribute, but I found excitement simply in logging on. Soon came Windows 3.1 and AOL, and with that text-based RPGs and chat rooms. I played DOOM II against my uncle when the notion of playing a person in a different location in a computer game was enough to draw a crowd. My typing speed skyrocketed far above any other child or adult that I knew.

But soon, the world caught up to me. It wasn’t long before the Digital Age was in full swing and everybody had a computer. It didn’t help that my interest in technology waned somewhat as I grew into a teenager and was interested in other things. Despite my lack of passion for the machine, I still used it thoroughly as a means of communication, research, and entertainment.

After I enlisted in the Navy and found myself working as an Operations Specialist in the Combat Information Center (CIC) of a guided missile destroyer, I used the Internet for REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED and REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED then he REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED but the problem was REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED banana REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED Archbishop Desmond Tutu REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED soldering iron, and I was never quite the same after that.

 Coming soon, blogging about Pioneers’ Visions.


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  1. I didn’t come into this entry expecting a shout out to my homeboy Harald within the first paragraph. Made me giggle. (I’m Norwegian 🙂 )

    That’s pretty awesome that you have such a long history with computers, and that you started before most young people. I can barely remember a time without computers!

    • Your homeboy is my homeboy too….big ups to Hammerfest. I would love to make it to Norway someday, which probably makes you scratch your head because nobody understands why someone would want to visit their home country…except some people from the New Zealand Navy that I met once..

      • roundhouseslap permalink

        It’s awesome that you’re both into viking history! I used to be a Military History major and one of my favorite readings was about Harald Hardrada and the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Vikings were badasses.

  2. Was writing a part of your Navy training? If so, they should have promoted you to Commodore or something!

    Please dont’ take your writing prompts from you. I would have loved for to have developed any of the tantalizing threads you played with in this post – especially medieval history and vikings.

    Have you had a chance to register your blog at the ds106 main site yet?

  3. I promise I will register as soon as the SOPA protest is over!

  4. roundhouseslap permalink

    Sounds like we had similar internet and computer beginnings. I wonder if we ran into each other on any AOL chat rooms? I usually hung out around the Arts & Entertainment user created role-playing chats, like the Rhy’Din rooms and the like. Around Windows 3.1 is when I think I started getting active online. What sort of games would you run through MS DOS?

    • Oh sweet Lord, yes I remember Arts & Entertainment, and RhyDin. Except that I had forgotten it for many years until you just mentioned it. I hung around there a little bit, but if my memory doesn’t fail me (and it is quite fuzzy on this topic) me and my circle of friends were kind of snobbish towards it. //roll-dice1-sides8.

      The first game I ever played on a computer was Where In The World is Carmen Sandiego? I know for a fact that was on DOS. Other than that I played Doom II and the PC version of Mortal Kombat (despite also having it for Sega Genesis) but I’m not 100% sure if they were on DOS or not. I remember it took like 10 floppy disks to install them.

  5. Haha, current era.

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