Happy 20th birthday, Slashdot!

Slashdot is celebrating its 20th birthday.

Today we’re marking Slashdot’s 20th birthday. 20 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven’t had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 163,000th story, we’ve managed to keep track of almost all our old postings – all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we’ve held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward.

20 years is indeed a long time, and especially so on the Internet.  It’s pretty much impossible to imagine the Web without social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Without YouTube.  With no Wikipedia.  Without Gmail.  Heck, without even so much as Google search.  Well, it was around, but not many people knew about it yet.  Blogs weren’t invented yet.  Web 2.0 was years away.  There were no RSS feeds yet.  Heck, many people who can’t imagine their lives without the Internet today weren’t even born yet!

I was introduced to Slashdot back in 1997 or 1998 by my good friend and mentor – Vladimir Ivaschenko (aka hazard).  I think it was on the same day as he told me about Freshmeat.net, later re-branded as Freecode.com, the best resource at the time to find and learn about Linux applications (to which I haven’t been in years), and Linux Weekly News, which I am still a frequent reader of.

I’ve been reading Slashdot since then myself, and I have recommended it to every IT professional and technology enthusiast without exception.  IT industry in general, the Web, and the Open Source movement wouldn’t have been the same without Slashdot.  And neither would I.

I have learned a lot about a lot from Slashdot – new companies, new technologies, new ideas, different perspectives, influential people, and more.  I’ve linked to Slashdot posts and comments from this blog more times than I can remember.  (Google Search estimates 1,060 pages linking from this blog to Slashdot since I started posting here 17 years ago).

If I had to pick a single my most memorable moment about Slashdot, that would be without the doubt September 11, 2001.  I wasn’t anywhere near the United States that day, but it wasn’t about the USA.  The whole world has changed that day.  Nobody knew what was going on.  Everything just stopped, or slowed down to a crawl.  Everybody was trying to understand, or at least find more information about what happened.  All the news sites – from the major ones, like CNN, to the small local newspapers – were dead under the traffic spike.   Slashdot was pretty much the only one that could cope.  It was slow, but it was there.  Countless people in the comments were sharing bits and pieces of information.  People were sharing photos and videos and redistributing them across a number of FTP sites.

At the time I was working at PrimeTel.  There were quite a few people and everyone was desperate to know more.  I remember downloading the pictures at turtle crawling speeds, and sending them off to a huge TV I had next to my desk (I was working on project involving video walls and a network of window displays).  A crowd of people from the office were just standing nearby, staring at the TV with planes exploding into the towers, towers collapsing one by one, and all the havoc and rescue efforts afterwords.  This was something… A decade and a half later, I still get shivers remembering that day.

This was the most powerful moment.  But there were many more.  There were numerous times when I started researching something just because of a story or a comment posted on the site.  There were a few times when I changed my opinion after an insightful comment.  And there were plenty of moments when I burst into uncontrollable laughter.  Oh you guys in the comments, you are something!

I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to Slashdot in these last 20 years and who made it possible, and who kept it alive and kicking.  You rock!  Here’s to the next 20 years and more stories and insightful, interesting, and funny comments – Cheers!


Charlottesville: Race and Terror

Charlottesville was a lot in the news recently.  I didn’t pay much attention, but now I see why.  This is crazy.  It almost feels unreal, like a really long trailer or a promotion video to a new movie.  But it’s not.  It’s real life and it’s happening now.

It’s far from funny, but standup comedians are often some of the smartest people, with excellent observation skills and the unbeatable use of words.  So here’s Jim Jefferies take on this, with which I agree wholeheartedly.

Explosion at Cyprus naval base

I woke up earlier than usual today.  It was hot and my air condition wasn’t working for some reason.  It turns, the power was gone.   Not just my apartment or building.  Driving through the city to work, I saw a number of traffic lights not working.  People at work from all over Limassol confirmed that they experienced a power cut as well.  What happened?  Apparently, there was a huge explosion at Cyprus naval base.  People say there was an ammunition stock that exploded.  Rumor has it that 10 to 12 people are presumed dead.  There is extensive damage to the area, including the power station, where the fire broke down.

The news are scarce at the moment.  Here is a link I found that confirms some of the rumors I’ve heard around the office.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A Cyprus Defense Ministry spokeswoman says around 10 people are feared dead following a massive explosion at a naval base.

Aliki Stylianou could not immediately confirm the cause of the explosion which occured at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base on the Mediterranean island’s southern coast on Monday at around 6:00am (0300GMT).

State television CyBC is reporting that the explosion also caused numerous injuries and extensive damage to homes in villages near the naval base.

Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said that a fire at a nearby power station has been contained.


Update: Here is an article from Cyprus News.

Morning news and Cyprus technology

While having my morning cup of coffee and going through the Cyprus Mail articles, I caught myself pausing and thinking a few times.  That doesn’t happen that often (thinking, not pausing), so I thought I’d share the bits that halted me.

The first articles was titled “TEPAK goes Wi-Fi“.  WTF is TEPAK?  Not everyone knows, especially in the morning, with the full cup of coffee.  TEPAK is of course Cyprus Unviersity of Technology.  Once again, with proper use of capitals: cyprus University of TECHNOLOGY.  So, they have some Wi-Fi there now.  Good.  Welcome to the 21st century!  No, seriously.  Let’s read a bit of the article.

LIMASSOL’S technology university, TEPAK, yesterday went wireless. The Wi-Fi connection was inaugurated by Limassol mayor Andreas Christou, the president of TEPAK’s administrative committee Elipida Keravnou and the Vice President of the Electricity Authority (EAC) Loizos Papacharalambous.

Wow!  That sounds a bit odd.  Why do they need a whole mayor to inaugurate the launch of a commonplace technology?

On behalf of the EAC Papacharalambous said the network had 40 points of access and covered areas of historic importance in Limassol including Heroes Square, Anexartisisas Street and part of the beach front.

Here it gets a bit funny.  I understand that the university is located in the old part of town and things are tight in there.  But when I think of the students who scattered between the beach front, the Heroes Square, which is famous for all the cabarets and prostitution that goes on there, and Anexartisisas Street, which is a shopping center of sorts.  Anyway, that’s not important.  The important comes later and it actually puts the whole article in to perspective, so it makes sense.

Papacharalambous said all Cytanet users would also have free access through the Cytanet Wireless Zone service by using their own access codes while other users would be able to use the service by using access codes acquired through pre-paid cards, credit cards or by sending an SMS message.

So, all of that is just a publicity stunt for Cytanet – one of the island’s Internet Service Providers.  Now it all makes sense.  It wasn’t about the Cyprus Unviersity of Technology at all.  It was about Cytanet covering part of the old town with a Wi-Fi network. Which they will charge you for.

By now I obviously lost all interest in the article, even if it was almost over.  But the next one I came around puzzled me too.  It was about “Two officers injured directing traffic“.  In particular this bit:

One of the officers, who was hit while on his motorbike, escaped serious injuries after the airbag in his uniform deployed and broke his fall.

Say what?  An airbag in the uniform?  That’s the first time I hear about something like this.  Google search for “police uniform airbag” returned 53,000 results only and nothing looked interesting, not even the pictures.  Anyone can shed some light on this?  Cause I am all out of coffee by now.