As is the practice of religious singles in the Katamon neighborhood, Shabbat is the time where we would get together for our social. Often on a Friday, if I had no plans, I would call up a bunch of friends and organise a meal by saying, “I have no plans, do you want to ‘Grill Plus-it’?” No this wasn’t a play on google plus but actually the similarities are striking, but rather to the ready-made Shabbat food available for purchase on Rechov HaPalmach.
It was at one of these meals that we were moaning the poor internet speeds at the time. I was lucky and had ISDN offering me 64kbit speeds but this was disappointingly slow. However, the main advantage over POTS was the ability to (almost) instantly connect and make a call at the same time. However, the concept of being always online was still far away.
You have to remember that amongst our motley crew we had some pretty cool computer guys. One of them, let’s call him “Rob” for the sake of this conversation, had actually worked on the very first visual internet browser that Explorer is based on – NCSA Mosaic (and his name was in the credits to prove it) and another, we’ll call him “Daniel” again to protect his (or her) identity had built the network cards in the new Apple iMac (you remember those iconic flavoured Macs?)
Anyway back to the plot. So one of the guys, I think it was “Chaim” if I recall correctly, informed us over lunch that there was this new ADSL experiment going on in Jerusalem. It took me a few minutes to get my head around super fast speeds of 1.5Mbit/sec and being always online. Well sure enough, I wasn’t the only one on the phone to Bezeq the next morning and the technicians were very confused when they came to install the technology that half of the 30 beta testers knew each other and spoke English…
It was at the beginning of 2002 that I started my own typesetting firm, Jerusalem Typesetting. I had my PC and borrowed a lime–flavoured iMac from my friend Daniel. I had ADSL connected to my PC, but Bezeq didn’t provide routers in those days so I needed a way to connect the iMac to the internet. My my friend Daniel yet again came to the rescue. All I had to do was install a small piece of software called AnalogX Proxy. It did two things: one, it allowed other computers, in my case the lime iMac, to use the internet connection on my PC and two, it placed a little green blob at the bottom in my system tray. If there was a problem, the green blob turned red (at least I think it did…well it wasn’t green any more).
Well as it turned out I actually found that I never used the Mac and was able to do everything on my Windows PC, so the iMac was returned but the blog remained.
It was a few years later that a friend of mine moved in upstairs to the block of flats that I lived in. He was moving in literally for one month in between one long-term rental and another. Problem was, he needed internet.
No problem, I said, I have my green blob. I told him to get his hands on some Ethernet cable and I would take care of the rest for him. It took us a few hours of configuring, but he had broadband on his computer. His phone mobile phone rang (and for those of you wandering, no he couldn’t tether his computer to his Nokia 5110) and a female voice spoke. He spoke for a few minutes. I decided it was time for me to speak for a few minutes. Needless to say, she was very impressed with my efforts to help her friend.
Well, as they say, the rest is history.