Americans, guard your internet

Hmmm. As an editor, I’m a stickler for style – and, if I may lay aside modesty for a moment, I was a driving force of Internet stylebooks in the early days of the Web. There weren’t many editors in the early to mid 1990s, and no established style at all until Wired put something down in electrons. I’ve stuck with my style, and I believe that headline above is the first time I’ve intentionally written “internet” without a capital letter. I do that because I mean the American portion of the capitalized global Internet.

But I digress.

American bandwidth providers and the politicians who nibble at their pockets have pushed for laws to promote tiered Internet traffic. To sum up what that means in one sentence, such a law would allow companies like AT&T; to favour traffic from some Web sites over others, and to charge differing rates for or even restrict access to different services.

Right now, the Internet more or less works with Net neutrality, even in the US. All Web traffic is equal to all other Web traffic. Some inequalities exist among different types of traffic – say, Web and VoIP – or for security concerns, but on the whole, everyone can get to everything equally.

Wikipedia discusses the situation in its Net Neutrality article.

So far, I’ve written what amounts to a dull Netsurfer Digest survey article – here comes the pizzazz!

Everyday users of the Web should favour Net neutrality. Eclectic folks with esoteric Web sites really should favour Net neutrality. I have a site like that. You might. Leslie Hall does. So do Peter Pan, and the Tron guy.

We are the Web, people. We Are the Web.

(Leslie, Peter, and Tron guy all previously featured in NSD. Of course.)

Health corrections

April, I mentioned my shoulder pain, and that I didn’t know how it started. The doctor had diagnosed an impingment based on the pain, stiffness, and history.

Not long after, what might be the genesis of the problem occurred to me. I was playing hockey last fall, and I remember something happening. What exactly happened, I don’t know – I may have collided with someone – but I explicitly remember the aftermath. I skated off the ice with a numb arm. On the bench, I tried to drop my stick, but my hand wouldn’t work. My fingers would not uncurl from around the stick, not at all. I had to use my left hand to knock the stick out out of my paralyzed right hand, then shook off the right gauntlet.

It hurt for a few minutes, but I was back on after missing maybe one shift, maybe none. There was no pain but as I related in the April post, the soreness grew worse as the months passed.

The Celebrex worked OK, but only as long as I kept taking them. As a result, I sought out a local orthopod, who saw me today. Armed with the knowledge above, he had a different diagnosis. He thinks I subluxed (a partial dislocation) my shoulder on the ice, and that it popped back in naturally. He’s prescribed physiotherapy to strengthen the joint – no needles, and a follow-up in six weeks.

As far as my eyes go, my new optometrist told me last week that I’m a marvelous candidate for hard contact lenses. He tried a sample on me and the visual aggravation almost completely disappeared as the lens corrected my keratoconus. I’ve ordered a pair. There goes the sexy intellectual professor look. It’s back to my plain old smoldering blue eyes.


I missed notifying the world that this blog has been in existence for a year on its anniversary, August 9.

But August 9 – give or take a day – also marks the tenth anniversary of my presence in WarBirds.

In August 1996, I attended ONE ISPCON in San Francisco to look for fodder for Netsurfer Digest. Cisco had a booth with WarBirds, because ICI used Cisco routers at WarBirds HQ. The Cisco folks had shirts to give away to anyone who scored a kill.

I had a long history with flight sims, from the wire-frame Fokker Triplane on the original Macs to Falcon to Red Baron. I wanted to test just how Sierra Hotel I was. Every other plane in the sky was a human at his own computer. Wow!

I grabbed the stick. The Cisco account started me at altitude in a P-38J. I tooled around briefly and spotted a furball below. I dove through it, shooting at anything that got in my way, and climbed out the other side after my pass. The guy at the booth told me I got a kill, which was news to me – I hadn’t thought I’d hit anything. I still have that shirt, although it’s a bit more snug than it used to be.

I raised an eyebrow at the Cisco guy and commented on how marvelous it was, but that it probably didn’t run on Macs. “Oh, no,” said Cisco guy, “there’s a Mac version.”

I downloaded it that night. Call signs were limited to four letters at that time, and I had to think of one for my account. I thought of Puck, which was a brief nickname bestowed upon me for my Strat-o-Matic Fanatics intramural softball team. It didn’t hit home with much oomph, so I kept looking. I’d been using “Webster” as a nickname in CompuServe chat rooms. I shortened it to Webs, which also seemed to apply to my job as a professional netsurfer.

Thus Webs was born, a couple of weeks more than ten years ago today, in the game as all-lower-case webs. Later on, when WarBirds expanded to six-letter call signs, I became -webs-. When the WarBirds Trainer Corps accepted me as a member, I earned my trainer’s equal-sign wings, like so: =webs=.

I haven’t flown very much in the last 18 months because the game has advanced beyond my computer’s ability to render it quickly enough, so I’m a trainer on leave of absence – but I keep my hand in outside the game proper. I skin the game’s aircraft once in a while. Here’s one:

Could you tell that was mine? Here’s another:

That’s Neville Duke, if that means something to you.

I told my WarBirds origins story to neighbour, screenwriter, and fellow airplane geek Shane Simmons, who met me for coffee and a chat this afternoon. Folks have been trying to set us up on a date forever. We’re similar souls. His wife is good friends with my father’s wife’s daughter (I feel funny calling her a step-sister since we were independent adults when our parents married). His backyard touches the backyard of a cousin of mine. I went to high school with his next-door neighbour. He lives two blocks away. We should have met years ago.

Shane gave me some good advice on finding work in Canadian animation. Other than that, we clued each other in on good airplane movies, told good airplane stories, and commiserated (why does that have two Ms?) over “Pearl Harbor”.

So now, in addition to spec features, I have animation to get to work on.

Just not this week.