View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 15 February 2010

Ten years on-line

This month, it will be 10 years ago since I set my first steps on the World Wide Web. My Hotmail account records my first email on 1 February 2000. I still have that account, and it is active. No longer active is my pharmolo account with AOL; any email that comes into that inbox is automatically redirected to my adb422006 account with gmail. An email account with Yahoo is only used because of its link to my Flickr photo accounts. I set it up whilst staying in a place which blocked the AOL website.

I joined AOL for its dial-up ISP service in April 2004, and brought me the first experiences of social networking on-line. The News Debate Chat was a rough and ready affair, invaded at times by the less appetising elements in British society. Following my relocation to Scotland in the summer of 2004, this fell by the wayside for a while, as I changed to blogging.

AOL Journals allowed me to record my travels in the north of Scotland in the summer and autumn of 2004. A year later, the much maligned VIVI awards introduced me to the circle of journalers; the untimely death of Pam (his1desire) at Easter 2006 turned me into a full member of Jland.

Jland ceased to exist in October 2008, after AOL decided to scuttle its journals division. A fair few of us migrated to Blogger, but many others abandoned the community.

My ten years on-line has seen a marked change in my personal circumstances, much of which I have decided not to discuss on here. Reading back through the emails from 2000 to 2010, I can see that quite clearly. The biggest shock, which I did share, was the death of my mother, now nearly 2 years ago. I tend to operate on a "live by the day" basis, which means I do not make a forecast for the next 10 years.

The Internet has proved an invaluable source of information to me, and a way of meeting new people, new friends. The Internet has also caused me a fair bit of distress, both directly and indirectly. Not all my friends understand the concept of social networking involving people you have not met, and are unlikely to ever meet. The Internet has an extremely unpleasant dark side to it, the least manifestations of which are the spam emails. However, it is here, and here to stay. 

Monday 15 February

Cold and at times wet today, with wintry showers this afternoon. After a period of milder weather in the Hebrides, air from the Arctic is presently moving south across northern Scotland and will bring snow to the mainland. I'm typing this just after 5.30pm, but it's still light outside. Due to the poor light conditions though, the Arnish Lighthouse has been operating since 4pm.

(Image courtesy Reuters) Two commuter trains have collided head-on south of Brussels, near the town of Buizingen. Eighteen people are now known to have died, with nearly 60 injured. The local service from Quiévrain to Liège crashed into the service from Louvain to Braine-le-Comte. Initial speculation suggested that one of the trains had ignored a red light, but that has been branded as premature. Weather conditions at the time of the accident, 8.30 am local time, were poor with falling snow, but snow is a common occurrence in winter in Belgium and does not normally pose major problems on the rail network.

The Eurostar service between London and Brussels has been suspended until further notice, although trains do run as far as Lille, in northern France. It will take a considerable period of time to clear the wreckage from the tracks. This accident is rated as one of the worst in the history of the Belgian railway NMBS; a crash in the Netherlands in 1962 claimed 92 lives.