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Older Than The Internet…Or How I Became 23 Again

July 13, 2017

It was like I never left. Just like that, I was back to being 23 and all it took was a kick start.

Do you know what a DOS prompt is? DOS stands for Disk Operating System. It hasn’t been used for about 20 years. It used to be what your PC needed to boot up. If you are on a Windows machine, try this. Go to the start menu and type CMD. You will get a rather bland looking window with some white text. 

In Windows parlance, this is called a Command Prompt. (That’s why you typed But, most old folks call it a “DOS Window.” You can do a lot of interesting things from the command prompt. Try typing


and press ENTER. The information in that window is your computers IP or network address as well as information about how your computer gets to the internet. In addition to IP configuration information, you can use a DOS Window to move and delete files, copy to a thumbdrive, completely destroy your hard drive. Yes, that functionality is in there. No, I’m not going to tell you the command, that’s what Google is for.

When I started in IT, I worked for WordPerfect corporation. Most of my time there was as a support engineer. People called and asked questions about WordPerfect’s email product. Later, I went to Microsoft and did the same thing for Microsoft’s email products.

When people would call in, my computer was limited to DOS. There was no Windows. There were no background apps. In fact, there was no internet. Yup, DOS (and me are older than the web.) I was really good at my job. We all had to be. We couldn’t remote into a customer’s computer. We had to rely on them to tell us exactly what they were seeing on the screen. I spent a lot of years staring at the DOS screen and imagining what the customer was seeing.

But, it gave me an apprecition for DOS that has stayed with me. If you need to delete a file, Windows can do that easily. If you need to delete 100 files, Windows can do manage that. If you need to delete 10,000 files in a folder (DOS calls them directories) Windows is no longer your friend. But, in DOS, that command prompt you opened you can type

DEL *.*

and press ENTER and the files will be gone. Okay, actually, you should type

DEL *.* /Q/F/S

Please don’t try this at home. I’m a trained professional. That command string will delete all files in the current folder without asking your permission (/Q.) It will also delete all READ ONLY files (/F.) And it will do the same for all subfolders (/S).

When I’m presented with an issue that lets me break out my DOS skills, it takes me back to being a brand new operator at WordPerfect. I fell 23 again.

I didn’t use DOS to accomplish some cool feat today. But, I didn’t get to feel 23 again. I got on a motorcyle for the first time in decades. Okay, truthfully it was a moped. It didn’t matter that it was a 200cc scooter. I got on an open road and opened it up and I was right back to being a young twenty-something.

A family friend gave us the moped. 

His kids have all grown and he no longer needs it. Our kids are begging to be allowed to ride it. Today, I got a helmet, got my motorcycle endorsement renewed, and got the scooter registered. And then, I spent an hour just riding around the neighborhood. The thing won’t go faster than about 40 mph. This makes it perfect for the kids. I experienced the joy of riding. Not of going somewhere, but the sheer joy of literally having no where to go and then going there anyway.

I started riding minibikes when I was about five years old. I road them off and on into my twenties. At 23 I got married and we started a family. I decided motorcycles were a risk I wasn’t willing to take. Not while we had young kids at home. I understand the danger. I explained to my son,

You must ALWAYS assume the cars cannot see you. And assume that those that do see you are actively trying to kill you.

My kids are growing up. My youngest will be out of the house in a few years and I’ll buy another bike. I road offroad bikes most of my life. But, I’ll probably buy a Harley Davidson in a few years, when the kids are out of the house.

As I cruised around our little town at 30 mph, I found that the reactions, the training, the experience came right back. It really is just like riding a bike. And I realized that I missed this. It has been over twenty years since I drove anything that didn’t have a door.

It felt good to be 23 again. Even if it was just for an afternoon.

The end

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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