All posts in Philosophy

OldVersion.com Needs Your Help

I just received this incredible email from Luna. I wanted to post it below for our users to know that, yes, while we have taken a long hiatus — we are here. We care. We want to help and are seeking intelligent collaborators. If you want to help with the oldversion.com project, please email ov at oldversion dot com.

And thank you Luna — for inspiring this post!

“Yeah I just want to say hello, and as I’m here, I also want to thank you for this very site. (Thank you for emailing us. Your email was a pleasure to read.)

I don’t know if you’re still around here (we are a little consumed with the disease of busy-ness, but we are here), but as I speak we’re close to 2016 and the motto “Newer is not always better” had never been so true. I mean, softwares become heavier and heavier, so much than people are forced to upgrade their hardware more (we also have to upgrade our socks and jeans more frequently as they are intentionally designed with less quality so you keep buying more and more. Is more a disease?) and more frequently, even if this hardware is just fine. I realized that with windows 8 and now 10: I have been a Windows boy since my childhood, sticking to XP for a decade (a decade? you sound like us!) to reluctantly upgrade to 7 (64bit became mandatory, and I’m okay with that). But I know for sure 7 won’t last as long as XP. It revolted me enough to start looking at Linux (it was a pain for me, ever-windows lambda user having known nothing but GUIs, and absolute zero programming skill) because the pace of windows upgrades is fastening too much for no (other than financial) reasons.

I tell you this because I then realized writing software is not just about code technique, it’s also about philosophy and having a defined purpose (such as in life). As you said somewhere on your blog, soft updates are not always bad and are even good when they serve a certain purpose.
Philosophically, it’s obvious that not every change is good, and the “new” isn’t always for the better. But somehow, this real-life evidence isn’t considered in the world of softwares: “automatic upgrade” are default choices on an immense majority of software’s, and people skip the “why do I upgrade” question as if the new is always, automatically better. There is many reasons for it, one of which is the very famous “for your security”. Hell, who doesn’t want “security” ? With generalization of automatic upgrade we stopped thinking about the “why” and we just let the thing go: after all progress can’t be bad, and security prevails. (We can’t let security be an excuse for poor design – in life or in software).

I could go on but don’t want to wall of text you (please, don’t worry about it). I just wanted to say “newer is not always better” had never been so true, and with the “automatic update” thing going on, the need of archives like your site will be more and more needed. (Thank you, the automatic updates definitely make it harder for us to archive, but any ideas are welcome — send them to ov at old version dot com).

Anyway, if you read it all thank you (time is money so I owe you some - you can send us some ;) !). You must know you are not alone thinking the way you are, in fact every day we grow more and more, realizing this simple, yet easily forgettable fact: novelty must have a clear purpose ’cause it is not good or bad by itself. And corollary, the old must not disappear. You are a poet, kind sir. Thank you for putting this so eloquently.

Cheers, and I hope you will keep up the good work, and gather collaborators to help you in this time-consuming task, as there’s plenty of us who share your philosophy and crave to participate to an overall better world & Internet. Once again, the need have never been so big. If you’re a willing collaborator, please reach out. We are seeking ways to improve the site and help it serve the current community in search for old software. ov at old version dot com.

(And please pardon my broken english) Luna.”

10 Reasons Your Kids Need OldVersion.com

“You’re crazy!” a voice booms through the open water; it’s the high-pitched yell of a boy, no older than ten years old. I was venturing past the first swimming posts at Lake Erie at Beaver Island State Park, swimming fervently with motorboats racing by in the near-distance causing waves and currents for me to battle and endure. I thought about her words: what’s so crazy about swimming around in a Lake? Sure, it was past 7pm and all the life guards were gone. It was just me and the Lake with its weedy bottom, over-run by algae dirt, pollution and sewage. But, I felt free and self-reliant; swimming in the open water like an eagle gliding through the sky with no particular purpose but to enjoy wherever the wind current decided to take me. A wave crashes into my face and water starts filling up my throat as I reflexively cough. I start swimming back as I think of the year’s worth of mercury and lead I just swallowed.

As I made my way back to the beach, I walk past the boy who turns out to be a girl and am accosted by her curiosity: “Were there any holes back there? Were you bored? Were you scared?” If there were holes, I’m glad I didn’t fall into one.

I field more questions later, this time from someone closer to my age: “How is it out there man? Is there life? What’s the visibility like?” I can’t be the only person who decided to swim this far out.

I think back to my childhood in Russia when things seemed so carefree and exciting, where we swam in little ponds and then later fished in them; inadvertently catching creepy looking cages with dead fish trapped inside them.

 [At least all Russian women look like this]

Now people are afraid; fed into the fear-machine of the nightly news. Most people don’t swim. They don’t explore. They sit around, monotonously stuck in the same routine, their dreams extinguished, their wings broken; feathers half-plucked. They tune out after coming home from the same banal job they’ve been doing for twenty years, feeding their fear tubes with TV, food, drugs, distractions (average American watched 34 hours of TV per week in 2010, according to Nielsen). We’ve all been there. What other option is there? They need the health insurance for their families, while ironically their health gets beat down by the stress, fear and extinguished passion. Kids suffer when their parents are beat-down. They don’t learn to explore. They may become afraid of the world.

So what can one do? Teach your kids to treat life like an experiment. How do you do that? You can be an example for them. Another thing you can do is explore something with them. Demonstrate your own curiosity, excitement, wonder and awe of the world. If you are 60 years old and you’re still excited about picking and blowing a dandelion, your kids will pick up on that energy.

Why not explore our Games section with your kid? Kids are naturally drawn to video games. Why wouldn’t they be? It allows them to live the life of a hero, before they are heroes. It allows them to go on virtual adventures and become pirates, cowboys, even Kung-Fu Pandas.

Here is why your kids need older versions of software. (Disclosure: I run oldversion.com and want your kids to know about it):

1)      It will teach them the history of computing.

You may think, they can just watch Pirates of the Silicon Valley and learn the history of computing. You would think that, you lazy parent! Shame on you, putting your kids in front of the tube so you can go listen to your old Pink Floyd vinyls. No, you are going to spend some quality time downloading old versions from this site and not learn “Hollywood’s history of computing,” but instead experience with your kids the evolution of video game and software design. After all, old versions are cultural artifacts.

2)      It will be a fun exploratory journey for them without the risk of them drowning in the Lake.

Too chicken of a parent to let your kids swim out and handle the elements of nature? Indeed, why not opt for the safe journey by browsing around our site? You can read about the history of Winamp, analyze Firefox’s version progression with me, and then download the damn things and play with them! Play a game with your kids – go from the first released version to the last and see if your kids can spot the differences. What is your kids’ favorite version of Firefox? Oh and did I mention:

3)      It doesn’t cost any money.

Entry to the Beaver Island State Park is like $8. Not to mention the cost of gas of getting there. Did I mention the beach had cigarette butts on it? What if your kid got too curious and picked it up and ate it? You would have to hit that damn thing out of his/her hand and then he might sue you for child abuse once he gets old enough. You don’t want to take that risk!

 [Lawsuit kid is coming for yo' house!]

Instead you can download some software with your kids – without even leaving the house. Make it a family event, so that:

4)      You will be spending quality time with your kids.

Between the times you spend watching TV, browsing Reddit (or whatever news site you go to), mowing the lawn and going grocery shopping for your spouse, how much serious one-on-one time do you actually spend with your kids? The last time you probably even talked to your kids without pulling out your iPad and sending a Tweet was years ago. Its okay, I understand. But, now listen: you can kill two birds with one stone: feeding your technology obsession AND spending time with your kids like your wife always nicely asks you to. Bam!

5)      You can even introduce them to cool games like The Secret of Monkey Island.

Aren’t you curious what the secret of Monkey Island is? Well, damn. Now you can find out. This game is incredible; it follows the journey of an everyday guy who wants to change his life around and make a fortune by becoming a pirate.

You and your little loved one can download and play the game here.

6)      Your kids WILL learn a life lesson.

7)      They will appreciate the progression of technology.

Aren’t you tired of explaining to your kids “In my day we had rotor phones, we had old Atari games, we used AIM 5.9 with DeadAIM and Windows 95 and didn’t have any confabulated text messages – we just used AIM, BBS and Usenet AND we went skinny dipping with our coworkers after work in the 60s and then came home to our spouse and talked about washing machines all day. Well, listen…now you don’t have to tell them. You can show them. Show them Grand Theft Auto 1 and then the trailer for GTA5. Bam! Now your kids appreciate it more!

8)      They can imagine they are back in time.

Who doesn’t dream of having a time machine? You could be rich AND as creepy as Bill Murray in the Groundhog Day! So why not play a little game with your kids? Tell them you invented a time-machine! If they are young, they will get super excited and then you can deck out your computer to look like a time-machine and transport them back to 1986!

9)      They can learn new typing skills from Mario.

Learning how to type is a key-skill in today’s world. What if your kids could learn that now? I did. I learned how to type when I was 9 years old. Now, I’m a successful typer writing this article to you. You don’t want to deprive your kids of the same glory. May I recommend a personal favorite? Mario Teaches Typing. I remember playing this on my elementary schools Macintosh Plus. It was probably the highlight of elementary school career (that and Dinopark Tycoon).

10)   It will challenge them.

What if you wanted to up it a notch and teach your children how to hustle in business? No problem! Just download Theme Park. You and your kids will learn how to manage a theme park and run the fryer stands. In this game, you get to control how much salt and ice you put in your fries and drinks which directly impacts the amount of money you make. If you add more salt to your fries, people will buy more drinks, but if you add too much salt people will vomit and you will need to hire more janitors. So challenge your kids to figure out the perfect balance of salt and ice for maximum profit. They will be the next Bill Gates!

Take my word for it. You’re a bad parent if you don’t.

Being Human in the Age of Digital Obsession

104 year old grandma on Twitter

I can’t handle it sometimes. I hear my Skype, Gmail, Facebook and texting alerts all go off at once. I have dozens of tabs open in Chrome. Another email goes off as my inner calmness and serenity implode while I’m hungrily gulping down my second iced coffee of the day. I’m juggling twenty things at once. I want to make more money. I want to provide a nice retirement for my parents. I want to make the world a better place. I want to be a pilot, flying down 400 miles for a cup of coffee at the summit of an epic mountain; away from the dismal, banal and familiar. I want to be an author, self-indulgently writing about how I went from being a depressed, anxious teenager to a 23 year old rock-star.

This is actually a picture of me

I want everyone to read my book and have a cult following so that people pay $100,000 to hear me talk about the same stuff they read in the book.

I want to be the most-coveted, sexiest model first in Buffalo, NY and then the world. My modeling career taking off like no other; kick-starting my acting career and then I can finally get continent-loads of money to say a few words on camera. And everyone will love me.

I want to be the best salsa dancer in the world so that everyone sees power oozing out of me as I dance there on the floor. Sweat dripping down their sexy chins as I turn them and twirl them while their hearts throb to my assertive lead. They feel sexy in my arms. I am after all, a model.

If only I could avoid stepping on their feet, I’d look like that!

All the while, the GTalk, Skype and Facebook alerts continue to ask for my attention. All these distractions. All these dreams. Are these dreams just another distraction?

Meanwhile, people are starving. People can’t get access to clean drinking water. Babies are dying from diarrhea because of that. Cancer is rampant. The foods we are eating are coated with carcinogens because they preserve the food better and we can now make a higher profit of it.

Hold on, I need to pull out a notebook and generate some ideas to make more money. Maybe I can sell people an e-book: “The 7 foods they must eat to not get cancer” and write about broccoli and stuff. Organic broccoli and blueberries. That’s the cure! $19.95, please! Cha-ching. Now I can finally get that plane and pilot’s license, fly to the mountains and drink a nice cup of herbal tea and meditate at the top. I have to tweet about it, of course. It goes without saying I have to tweet while flying over the pretty sights and maybe upload an instagram picture.

This actually happened.

In an age so digitally-wired and connected that teenagers are falling down manholes while they are texting, why do so many of us feel so alone? How many of us text while walking, while at concerts, check our email at a red light? Flick on the iPad when we’re spending precious time with a loved one? Tune out the world around us to tune into something digital and perhaps less real?  Are we more connected or less? What are we truly connected to?

There are of course those moments when we can use an old version of Skype ;) to video chat with our grandparents living half a world away. During those moments I’m truly grateful for all this technology. Once, my grandmother asked me show her how to setup Twitter. She’s in Russia. Why do you need Twitter, grandma?

104 year old grandma on Twitter

I’m really in awe when technology is used to solve big problems. What if we built a huge spaceship; filled it up with all the world’s nuclear weapons, all of its landfill garbage, all the junk that poisons our air, crammed it all in that spaceship and then blasted it off to the edges of the Milky Way? How much would that cost? Could we get crowd-funding?

Do you ever long for simpler times? Even going back just seven years, before iPads existed and before the huge smart-phone boom? The days when we downloaded AIM 5.9, along with DeadAIM to get rid of the ads?

Back when we had an old flip-phone and could share a meal with a loved one and all of our attention was focused on them? Not on the fears of the future, when the next text-crack is going to arrive or what’s happening on our Facebook walls?

I can’t blame the technology. They are simply little addictive inanimate tools, swimming in the sea of the vast world around us; sending us waves of cares when our friends ping us on Twitter. When’s the last time you pinged a loved one with a hand-written letter or drawing? Or simply told them that you love them; not through texting, not through a digital screen of facades, but in-person from your heart?

On a daily basis, I need to remind myself to be more loving, more caring, simply being there for the world around me. Swami Kripalu once said: “Do not fight the dark. Just turn on the light. Let go, and breathe into the goodness that you are. “ I can’t fight the world around me and where it’s heading. I can only be the best version of myself for that world. Someone recently posted a comment on our FB page that made me smile: “How can I download the old version of my own life?” I don’t think you can, my friend. You can simply be here, as you are.

Resist the compulsion. Stay human in the age of digital obsession.