My First Love: Computers and the Internet, and Why Do People Neglect Internet Laws?
Recently, I experienced the unfortunate loss of my internet connection for an entire day. This unexpected downtime prompted me to ponder what activities I could engage in without the omnipresence of the internet. After much contemplation, I realized that a significant portion of my favourite pastimes and, more importantly, my productivity relied heavily on having access to the online realm. So thought of writing a blog about my first love.
Embracing the Digital Frontier: A Love Affair Begins
Since childhood, I have always been that curious kid who relishes disassembling and reassembling toys, seeking out complexity and new discoveries. When I was around 12 years old, my brother and I were fortunate enough to acquire a Nintendo gaming console. We immersed ourselves in a plethora of games, but I must save that topic for another dedicated blog post for gaming. At 14 years old, we purchased a computer for my mother's job, which, let me tell you, came with an exorbitant price tag. We're talking about the year 2007-2008, when the cost of computers alone was staggering, not to mention those bulky CRT monitors we all remember.
My brother and I were not granted unlimited access during the initial years of owning the computer. Occasionally, our parents would allow us to indulge in some gaming sessions. I still recall the excitement of playing those 500 mini-games that came bundled in an HP CD box. The vibrant colours and lively characters brought joy to our young minds. However, our usage was closely monitored, with only a couple of CDs, leaving us with limited exploration opportunities—or so I thought—until I grew tired of that games, mostly trial versions, and yearned for more.
Seeds of Curiosity: The Genesis of My Tech Journey
We were strictly prohibited from installing anything on the computer, as doing so risked disrupting my mother's vital SAP software running on Windows 96. But as you might have guessed, I couldn't resist breaking the rules. I covertly installed games from that CD, playing them for days without my mom ever suspecting a thing. Surprisingly, the software remained unscathed despite the computer repair technician blaming the games for its corruption. If only I had known back then that the so-called computer tech, who specialized in installing Windows and SAP, lacked expertise beyond those realms. I would have retorted, "Don't pin the blame on me; you should know better!" But I digress. Eventually, we ended up with dual operating systems: one for SAP and the other for our personal use. This marked the beginning of my quest to install all the games and explore the vast array of content hidden within the CDs that accompanied our computer.
We even started renting movie CDs from a nearby store. One day, the thought struck me: "What if I could burn these CDs and watch the movies anytime I wanted?" Equipped with the Nero software that came with the computer, I embarked on my mission. After some trial and error, I successfully burned a CD, which, to be fair, seems like a trivial achievement now. But at that time, it was a revelation—I had discovered the power of software without any resources like the internet. Although I could have easily made direct copies instead by copying and pasting, I don't know why it never occurred to me. Consequently, my friends and I began borrowing game and movie CDs, burning copies, and slyly returning them, claiming incompatibility with our machines. Looking back, I realize it may have been a bit of a thieving act.
Unleashing the Power of Connectivity: Embracing the Internet's Embrace
During my diploma years, I became the go-to guy for repairing computers, diagnosing issues, and installing software or hardware for friends. I excelled in tasks ranging from Windows installations to minor photo editing. I can't forget the time when I shed tears for wanting the internet at home. After scoring 80% in my SSC exams, I yearned for a special reward. Surprisingly, it wasn't toys or gadgets that caught my attention, but rather, the desire for internet access. As a child in that era, my aspirations differed from my peers. While others may have wanted toys or outings, all I wanted was the gateway to the digital world: the internet. In 2010, when I first gained access to the internet, my connection speed was 128kb/sec. When we upgraded after some years to 512kb/sec, the increase was monumental, propelling my online experience into the realm of lightning-fast speeds.
My brother and I would visit internet cafes, attempting to download games (not those flash games we had moved on from). Harry Potter movies captivated me, despite the games not being particularly impressive. I eagerly watched the first four films on Pogo and anxiously awaited the fifth instalment's release at my local CD store. I had played the first three games and had been attempting to download the fourth game during my visits to the internet cafe. Unfortunately, the download was always riddled with errors, and time constraints prevented me from completing it. I yearned for the internet to fulfil my desire. Ironically, when I finally managed to download the game, after countless failed attempts at the internet cafe, it turned out to be just a trial version. Nevertheless, having the internet opened up a world of possibilities, and I was determined to explore it.
I downloaded and played an extensive collection of games, immersing myself in virtual worlds. If a game didn't work, I would tinker with various tools, analyzing why it failed, adjusting Windows configurations, upgrading graphics cards, exchanging games and movies with friends—anything to make them run smoothly. Back then, Windows didn't come preloaded with a multitude of applications as it does now. You had to scour the internet for software that suited your needs. Consequently, my hard drive was filled with a vast library of games and programs. As the saying goes, "With great power comes great responsibility," and in my case, it also meant encountering numerous viruses. I quickly learned not to trust low-level antivirus software, an experience that has still stuck with me.
During my time in BTech, one of my friends laughed at my constantly pointing out outdated systems and insisting on installing antivirus software to improve their PCs. Surprisingly, this behaviour still holds true today. After my Diploma, some of my friends took up part-time roles as computer technicians, tackling software and hardware issues while installing software or hardware tailored to meet customer needs. Whenever they encounter difficulties and require assistance, guess who they call? Yes, they turn to me. It's been a fun experience, offering my expertise and dealing with computer problems just for the sheer enjoyment of it.
The internet has played a pivotal role in expanding my knowledge beyond just technology. Without it, I might have spent my time solely indulging in superhero movies and blockbusters, remaining unaware of legendary directors like Scorsese, Spielberg, Buster Keaton, and countless films worldwide. If you're curious about my film preferences, you can find them listed on TopBestMovie.com. Furthermore, without the internet, I might have been susceptible to believing illogical and baseless claims that circulate among my friends and relatives. I vividly recall instances during my early college days when my friends insisted that mermaids were real or when my parents argued that consuming curd with fish causes diseases. More recently, with the proliferation of false information surrounding COVID and vaccines, I observed how easily some people believe and propagate such misinformation. Thankfully, my favourite channel, Nat Geo (which I watched avidly as a teenager), and the internet have allowed me to explore and gather information from trusted sources. I delve into articles, debunk myths, and combat misinformation, even if it occasionally lands me in trouble. It's all part of my journey as a critical thinker, unafraid to challenge the norm and embrace my unique perspective.
Lessons Learned: My Most Memorable Misstep
During my BTech years, one of my friends humorously nicknamed me the "CS guy" despite my civil engineering background. I harboured a secret wish that someone had introduced me to programming earlier or enlightened me about its challenging nature and potential for building incredible things. However, years flew by, and my civil engineering studies consumed my time. I did find some solace in design software like AutoCAD and ETABS.
Nonetheless, there is still so much I don't know. Scouring the internet, I come across code snippets written by brilliant individuals that sometimes make me feel a twinge of apprehension. Can I keep up with these programming wizards? But I've grown accustomed to being the "best guy" when it comes to problem-solving. I was the go-to tech expert for my childhood friends, the best CAD designer in the civil field, and the quickest and most proficient individual when it came to writing formulas in Excel and cracking projects with data analysis. I'm accustomed to these titles and strive to excel in the world of computers. Perhaps one day, I will become a top-notch programmer myself—who knows? All I need as a computer enthusiast like me is a computer and an internet connection.
A Small Addition
They say that if you control water, you control everything. I would argue that the internet holds immense power next to the water. Those who possess control over the internet are bestowed with great influence, which explains why governments, politicians, and tech giants are continually vying for control. Unfortunately, the internet we have today is far from perfect. I've always been aware that everyone wants to obtain users' data, manipulating them for personal gain, from politicians exploiting the internet for their agenda to greedy tech companies. Lawsuits and debates surrounding privacy and data theft have become commonplace, yet most people seem indifferent to these issues.
When news broke about WhatsApp's lack of security a few years ago, I shared messages urging others to shift to Signal. Remember Elon Musk's tweet endorsing Signal? I had hoped that, finally, everyone would prioritize privacy. Yet here I am in 2023, using Signal, but no one else in my circle does. Numerous internet laws attempt to regulate the online landscape. For instance, some countries' demand for VPN user logs and activity information or the legal battles between WhatsApp and governments over internet laws. Additionally, certain governments have issued orders to Twitter and other platforms, further tightening control. These developments break my heart because people seem unaware of what they are losing. If this trend continues, we may become like the very countries we once ridiculed for lacking freedom, living under oppressive and dictatorial regimes.
Let me be clear; I am not an expert on this matter. However, I believe having open conversations about internet laws and data privacy is crucial. I highly recommend reading the book "Permanent Record" by Edward Snowden. He is a true expert and a hero who fought to protect what he loves: his people and the internet.