I have a story to tell. A true story.
It began about 40 years ago, on the State University College at Oneonta campus, up on the hill. It's not about technology itself, but rather about how I used technology to bring about what I consider to be a happy ending.
Back then, I was a student at the college. Of course I had met many friends there, but like everyone, certain people become closer friends.
I had a roommate like that, Bob.
We were put in the same "quad" when we showed up as freshmen, and eventually roomed together for almost all the four years we were there.
In this case, the college did a good job matching up people to be roommates. We had a lot of common interests.
We did a lot of things together, and shared many friends. He was a swimmer on the college swim team, and I was the swim team manager, the term "manager" being generous ("gofer" would be more like it).
We had a lot of fun, and all kinds of experiences together. At one time or another we both traveled to each others' homes and met parents. You know, we were pretty much best friends. He was even the best man at my wedding.
Of course, college comes to an end at some point, and that happened to us. We went our separate ways after that, and over the years, we didn't keep in touch. Neither of us were letter-writers, and we were both pretty much busy with the activities of beginning our "real" lives.
Remember, this was before the Internet existed. People didn't even have personal computers back then. Heck, most businesses didn't even have computers back then. Hard to believe, but true.
Once in a while, I would get a call from one of our common friends, and they might ask, "Have you heard anything from Bob?" The answer was almost always "no."
Mostly, I knew that he had gone to grad school, got a public administration degree, and went to work for the state.
A couple of times in the early years after college, we did get together to go fishing, but as time went on, contact with him faded and then disappeared.
So that's the way it was, until a few months ago.
Now, I mentioned we were both on the college swim team. During that era, the team was really, really good. We had meets against the other state colleges, and we always won. As a matter of fact, I was "undefeated" in my whole four-year swim team management career.
One night, I got a call from the head coach of the old team. The college had asked some of the swimmers back to Oneonta to honor them for their accomplishments. Guys came from all over, even a couple of them who now live in Alaska.
The coach, who still lives in Oneonta, invited me over to his house, where they were getting together. I had already made a prior commitment, and couldn't go, but I did, of course, talk to him for a while.
During the course of the conversation, I asked if Bob was going to be there. His answer was no, that no one knew how to contact Bob, knew where he was, or anything like that.
Now, in all modesty, I consider myself to be pretty good at searching the Internet.
When someone comes up with a question about something, almost anything, I can usually whip up a search and come up with an answer.
So, I made up my mind to see if I could find out about Bob, and mentioned it to the coach.
Later that night, I began. I started with a simple Google search for his name. Not much of anything of real value showed up. As is often the case, he was not the only person in the world with his name.
Bob was a "junior," and I found reference to his father, in Florida, but nothing about him.
Next, I tried his brother's name. Found some reference to him, near Buffalo, which was Bob's home town. Close, but no cigar. Not yet, at least.
Of course, a Google search usually results in loads of result links. Thousands, and sometimes millions. I kept looking further down the result lists of my searches on his name. Nothing which seemed right.
Then I tried a search with his name in combination with "NYS," for New York state, as I knew he worked for the state.
This time, among the results, I found a link to a document that listed names of state workers who had retired. Keep in mind that we're both old guys, after all, and I have already retired once (from The Daily Star).
I found his name on the list, and it was from a state facility out near Buffalo. And the best part was, it listed an address.
Now, I could feel I was getting close. I began searching phone number websites, for his name in conjunction with the name of the town where he lived.
Bingo! One came up. I couldn't help but smile. "Google knows everything," as my son Josh says.
Uncertainty about what may have happened in his life over the course of so many years made making the call kind of a jittery thing. But I was resolved to see this through, so I had a beer, and dialed the phone.
A woman answered. I asked if Bob was there, and used his last name, of course. She said, "Yes, who's calling?" I gave her my name and heard her repeat it to him, with a question in her voice.
I could hear him say in the background, "Yeah, I'll talk to him," and he answered.
After that we were almost giddy. We both were so tickled to be talking to each other again. It was great.
I told him about the swimmers getting together, and we did some quick comparing of notes about the last 30 years.
He told me he hadn't been into computers or technology much over that time, as I suspected after the difficulty of the search.
He is one of those people who are lucky enough to live out in the country (he has a grape farm now), but unlucky enough to not have any decent Internet connection.
But he did have a cell number and a Gmail address, which I got.
After that, I called the coach and told him I found Bob, and gave him the phone number.
Since then, we've been in contact, and I went out and visited him and his wife on his farm. We've decided to keep in touch, and he's looking forward to going on my annual fishing trip to the Adirondacks this year.
All this is entirely true. I've not used Bob's last name, just for privacy purposes. There may be a few of you out there who can figure it out, and that's OK, too.
Really, I just wanted to relate a story I consider to be a very good example of one of the Internet's great strengths. It's not all about malware, advertising and pornography, after all.
The Internet has its good points, too.
Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/techgp.
I have a story to tell. A true story.
Carving a new Thankgiving tradition: Readers share holiday recipes
The menu of the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is much different than that of the traditional meal today.Continued ...
It takes a village
Amid the rural setting snuggled in scenic beauty bustles the Hobart Book Village.Continued ...
Stories to be told: Experts offer tips to capture veterans' tales
Veterans Day is a time to honor all those who have served our nation. Take time on Monday to honor them by learning from their experiences.Continued ...
Get creative with costumes
Halloween is right around the corner. As the leaves dry to a crunch and spooky decorations spring up around the neighborhoods, many people begin to imagine what they can become for that one night.Continued ...
The romance of a good rivalry brings butterflies to the stomach. During the football season, intense loyalty and equal skill levels make for exciting games. For players and spectators alike, adrenaline flows and interest heightens. Sometimes bringing about unforeseen results.Continued ...
- Carving a new Thankgiving tradition: Readers share holiday recipes
- Around The Arts
Opportunities abound for career in the arts
I was recently asked to speak at a local high school about my career path and how I came to work in the arts. It was interesting speaking with these seniors, and discussing their hopes for life after high school.Continued ...
The art of the appraisal explained by one who knows
So often in this column my co-writer, Brittany, and I talk about how art is everywhere and can be appreciated by all. Perhaps because of my passion for everyday art, there is one part of the art world I just cannot grasp -- art appraisal. How can you put a value on something so seemingly subjective? So, I set out to learn more about this industry.Continued ...
Flash mobs more theatrical production than dance
Most people are familiar with the term "flash mob." It's associated with groups of people congregating briefly to the surprise of the surrounding public, and often incorporates a choreographed dance. You've probably been witness to one, or you've probably seen one online, as they are extensively documented -- there are more than 10,000 results on YouTube if you search for flash mobs.Continued ...
Art found in the foods at local road stands, markets
Artisanal foods have become quite popular in recent years, with some abuse of the term by mass-retailers and fast food restaurants.Continued ...
'Record Breaker' exhibit to be at Orphic Gallery
"Record Breaker," featuring the work of Greg Frederick, will open Saturday at the Orphic Gallery in Roxubry.Continued ...
- Opportunities abound for career in the arts
- Music Beat
Hairstylist finds balance through playing cello
Catch 22 is a successful American ska/punk band that has released several albums and has a record deal with the Chicago-based label, Victory Records. Although the band has its roots in New Jersey, founding member Ryan Eldred has friends with whom he produces recordings in Walton During one of Eldred's visits to Walton, he met Ann Jones, a home-schooled native of Walton, an enthusiastic cellist and successful professional hairstylist.Continued ...
Music Industry Tips
Here are some of Ann Jones' guiding principles:Continued ...
Do everything you can to show your support of all arts
Last week, a small woman of modest demeanor and appearance walked quietly on stage at the Glimmerglass Festival Theatre and seemed pleased but genuinely surprised when the standing room only audience rose spontaneously to its feet, expressing their respect with thunderous applause.Continued ...
Many things go into choosing, protecting a band's name
Musicians who are trying to build the popularity of their band have an almost unending list of responsibilities. They need to keep their musical skills strong, take care of musical equipment, and if they are really thinking about a future career, they should also write their own music.Continued ...
Music Industry Tips About Professional Musicians
Musicians know that every performance they play is an audition for their next engagement.Continued ...
- Hairstylist finds balance through playing cello
- Parenting Imperfect
A Halloween message to my future self
I'm writing this column a few days before Halloween. And I'm writing this mostly for my future self, as a reminder of the lessons learned this particular last week in October.Continued ...
My brain is losing its connection to eyes, teeth
I'm beginning to have grave doubts about my brain's ability to remember things.Continued ...
Celebrate small accomplishments of best laid plans
My summer plans always seem so reasonable when I make them in May. Come late-August, I wonder what the heck past-me was thinking.Continued ...
Vacation was great ... until today
Up until today, our family vacation has gone much better than expected. Today, however, was a high entropy day.Continued ...
Eight simple goals for summer
After a spastic end to the academic year, summer is finally here.Continued ...
- A Halloween message to my future self
- Senior scene
Looking Back: Pinch your pennies, especially by reading the fine print
Penny pinching is just that -- pinching pennies. The worsening economy is something that is reflected on so many, many faces: Unhappiness, irritability and just plain "I don't know what to do … what's next? All is so unbelievable!!Continued ...
Social Security: Start an online holiday tradition at www.socialsecurity.gov
As we approach this holiday season, I want to share an informative article written by a fellow Social Security employee. I hope you enjoy it.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: Fuggedabout 'tempus fugit' in not-so-fun times
Someone recently asked me if I had one wish, what it would be?Continued ...
From the Office: Don't put off getting ready for winter any longer
We've had a beautiful fall and I, for one, have been tempted to put off thinking about winter.Continued ...
Looking Back: Focus on the positives to help overcome limitations
"It's great to be young and energetic," I was thinking out loud as I fondly watched several youngsters enjoying the bight sunny and still warm day. There they go scooting down the sidewalk on their skateboards. Remember when? Whoops … no skateboards "back when" much less smooth cement sidewalks to zoom down.Continued ...
- Looking Back: Pinch your pennies, especially by reading the fine print
- Tech, GP
Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
Well, I'm almost ready to let out a cheer.Continued ...
Businesses need backups for their computer people, systems
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I have taken a new position, professionally. I recently joined Eastman Associates, a local general contractor, to do its IT work, as well as taking care of some other functions of the business.Continued ...
Windows 8 seems to be made for the good of Microsoft, not the user
By Bruce Endries The software company everybody loves to hate, Microsoft, recently released what it calls a "consumer preview" of their next operating system, Windows 8.Continued ...
The Granite State got it right on software purchases
Believe it or not, I have found a bright spot in the political landscape, amid all the vitriolic partisan fighting.Continued ...
Visit a construction site and you'll probably find an iPad
It was just about two years ago now, that the iPad came out, and I wrote a column about it. At that time, I went out on a limb and said that thought it was a product which would fill certain niches very well, but that it wasn't very likely to fill in for what is normally considered a computer.Continued ...
- Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
- Teen Talk
On the Go: We need to rethink holidays' meaning
The end of November smells like comfort. Our bellies are full and our wallets are empty.Continued ...
Weekend Reviews: 'My So-Called Life' mirrors real teen life
I think that everybody has that one thing, whether itâ€™s a book or a movie or a band or anything else, that they are so deeply infatuated with they simply canâ€™t contain themselves.Continued ...
Teenhood Today: We can take message of 'The Wizard of Oz' to heart
As I'm writing this, I'm about to get ready for opening night of our school's production of "The Wizard of Oz." By the time you read this, the play will have been over for about two weeks. So it will be ancient history. But for the time being, it's a pretty big part of my life. I am, or was, Dorothy.Continued ...
A Word of Advice: Used properly, the power of persuasion is strong
Persuasion is often viewed as a dirty thing in our modern-day society, like you’re being unhonorably sly by trying to get someone to do something or think a certain way. However, in the modern, world it’s typically the best and most efficient way of getting what you want. There are do’s and don’ts to persuasion and coercion just like anything; lines you can’t cross and whatnot.Continued ...
On the Go: Don't be afraid of the 'what ifs'
You've heard all the sayings, from "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" or "you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take" to "just do it."Continued ...
- On the Go: We need to rethink holidays' meaning