Friday, April 10, 2009

The "Holy Shit!" factor

Rands, in is fabulous Holy Shit post lists, (I quote) "the list of technologies/software/hardware that blew my mind when I first understood them".

Since it’s Friday, I thought it would be fun to do the same, so here is my list.

  1. Zelda on NES
    I had played video games before, but never this kind of game. Suddenly, there was a world to explore. I could do what I wanted to do. I was roaming Hyrule with my sword. To me it was THE game that prefigured what modern gaming would be.

  2. The first game I saw running on a school calculator
    I remember so well when a friend showed me a game programmed on his calculator. It took me a bit of time to grasp what was going on. "You mean you coded that? Yup I did! I can do it to? Of course, let me show you!". A week later I had heavily customized a labyrinth game to add random encounters with monsters, and swords, and potions and stuff. Never even played it except to test it ;). It was the first time I actually understood that I could also program devices. I could do magic :)

  3. Internet
    I think everybody has this Holy Shit. Do I even need to explain? I first played a LAN game in 1994 on Silicon Graphics workstations at a research lab. When I heard from the other side of the lab "Who shot me down!" I was exhilarated. And then I played with somebody not of this country! And a few years later Netscape and the net arrived. And I could read articles about my favorite bands from all over the world. That was HUGE.

  4. MMORPGs
    That was a heck of an "Holy Shit". Take the Internet HS and the Zelda HS, and the HS factor blew the sky. A persistent world. The Matrix. 3D Avatars. Everything is online and IT DOESN’T EVEN LAG!!. Biggest "Holy Shit" ever for a gamer. I had played online games before but this! The concept of a persistent world was so massive in it's implications that it blew my mind.

  5. Gmail
    I tested Gmail for a while without liking the labels concept too much. And at one point I just gave it a try. And suddenly I saw the light. When I realized I could multi-label emails my jaw dropped. Not because it is that complex. Pretty much the opposite. I actually felt ASHAMED. I think every developer in the world should have felt the same. It was so simple. So elegant. Why nobody designing email programs ever thought of this, I wonder. It’s like we were pounding on nails with rocks and suddenly somebody invented the hammer. I really felt dumb.
What are your Holy Shits? :)


Antoine Larcher said...

In IT, maybe Cluster Computing.

In music, when I discover C-Lab Notator Sequencer on Atari one of the first software sequencer ever (I was 11 and amazed to play piano and see the score drawing on screen in real time... What is this holy, incredible, marvellous shit ???!!)

In 'real' life, when I'm in the country and look into the sky at night. I see plenty of stars and wonder holy shit what is this amazing machine ?

Antoine Larcher said...

I forgot one :

In IT, when Napster came out. I was litteraly stunt (that may be grouped in "Cluster computing"... almost).

Antoine Larcher said...

Concerning labels in GMail, I consider that it is THE way of modeling categorization within a software application.

Filesystemly speaking (sic) I think that today we clearly see the limits of Windows with its folder/file view, and the right approach is multi-metadata (they had planned to do it in Vista...).

At least, Google understood that.

Anonymous said...

My "Holy shits":

- The first time I wrote a little program on a real computer. I was 9 years old, it was mid-80's. Some day I had access to the Commodore 64 of a friend. I wrote 4 lines of BASIC (my very own "Hello World"), I got a "Syntax error" message, I debug it, and then it works. It was the first step ;-)

- The first time I had access to online services. It was in 1991, during hollidays in Quebec. My aunt has a computer with a modem (2400 bit/s, lightspeed !), and she was used to connect on BBS. It was slow, ugly, in text mode... but I knew it was the future. Being connected to a remote server, chatting with people I will never see, downloading freewares, playing online games, what a big "Holy shit" !
For the story, I came back in France with an illegal (no France Telecom agreement) 2400 b/s modem, and I used it during 5 years.

- When I saw the keynote presentation of the first iPhone. The interface was astonishing. I thought "Yes, this is how mobile phones should work".

- My last "Holy shit" was 2 weeks ago, during my wife's first ultrason scan. Hearing the beat of a one millimeter-long heart, it's very strange (but in a very cool way).
Well, it's out of the scope of this discussion. But still a big "Holy shit" for me ;-)

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