Dial-up Dilemmas in A World of Windows: The Saga of a Remote Town Tech Explorer

Act 3: Dial-up Dilemmas in A World of Windows

Sometime around 2006/7, my family and I relocated from a remote city to an even more remote town. With fewer distractions than ever, I plunged headfirst into the digital world (I imagine some kind of tron moment here but really I was a fat kid sitting in his boxers on a pre-reddit gaming forum). Although I yearned to play World of Warcraft, the subscription fee was a no-go. Undeterred, I found solace in private servers and savored my initiation into the realm of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). The experience was far from seamless, given that we had the worst dial-up connection money could buy, that is, the only dial-up money could buy.

But I saved, and I saved, and I probably begged, and annoyed, and eventually I bought a huge 200gb external hdd that would ferry files from the local grotto (read: internet cafe), home to inevitably clog up the barely desperately aging hand-me-down pc. I really wish those machines were still around so I could see what the hell i was even doing to ruin them!

I’d download Steam games so that I could play them back at home even though our computer could barely handle them. This harddrive bloat, coupled with some covert torrenting (or more likely dodgy direct downloads), meant our family computer was perpetually on the brink—of failure and with that my mom’s failing patience with me.

Somewhere along the way, I dismantled the now decade old hand-me-down PC and discovered a profound truth: a computer is essentially a collection of interconnected bits. Those bits even just slot in to eachother pretty easily, and if everything was hooked up right, it would run, even on the floor (my favourite place to pull things apart).

In an attempt to bridge the gap between my unplayable steam games, and the og xbox I’d got as one of those birthday+christmas+birthday gifts before we moved, I saved up for a Nintendo Wii. It quickly became my go-to source for gaming adventures, as I rented probably each and every title available at the local video shop and played them through in their entirety.

After the wii came along, the family computer was primarily used for the occasional WoW session, a bit Age of Mythology, and Warcraft 3 LAN games—As luck would have it that somewhere along the road we’d picked up a crossover cable which meant when one of my friends came round with their laptop, we could play things together. This was my first brush with networking, and it was ~excruciating~ exhilarating!