I have a story to tell. A true story.
It began about 40 years ago, on the State University College at Oneonta campus, up on the hill. It's not about technology itself, but rather about how I used technology to bring about what I consider to be a happy ending.
Back then, I was a student at the college. Of course I had met many friends there, but like everyone, certain people become closer friends.
I had a roommate like that, Bob.
We were put in the same "quad" when we showed up as freshmen, and eventually roomed together for almost all the four years we were there.
In this case, the college did a good job matching up people to be roommates. We had a lot of common interests.
We did a lot of things together, and shared many friends. He was a swimmer on the college swim team, and I was the swim team manager, the term "manager" being generous ("gofer" would be more like it).
We had a lot of fun, and all kinds of experiences together. At one time or another we both traveled to each others' homes and met parents. You know, we were pretty much best friends. He was even the best man at my wedding.
Of course, college comes to an end at some point, and that happened to us. We went our separate ways after that, and over the years, we didn't keep in touch. Neither of us were letter-writers, and we were both pretty much busy with the activities of beginning our "real" lives.
Remember, this was before the Internet existed. People didn't even have personal computers back then. Heck, most businesses didn't even have computers back then. Hard to believe, but true.
Once in a while, I would get a call from one of our common friends, and they might ask, "Have you heard anything from Bob?" The answer was almost always "no."
Mostly, I knew that he had gone to grad school, got a public administration degree, and went to work for the state.
A couple of times in the early years after college, we did get together to go fishing, but as time went on, contact with him faded and then disappeared.
So that's the way it was, until a few months ago.
Now, I mentioned we were both on the college swim team. During that era, the team was really, really good. We had meets against the other state colleges, and we always won. As a matter of fact, I was "undefeated" in my whole four-year swim team management career.
One night, I got a call from the head coach of the old team. The college had asked some of the swimmers back to Oneonta to honor them for their accomplishments. Guys came from all over, even a couple of them who now live in Alaska.
The coach, who still lives in Oneonta, invited me over to his house, where they were getting together. I had already made a prior commitment, and couldn't go, but I did, of course, talk to him for a while.
During the course of the conversation, I asked if Bob was going to be there. His answer was no, that no one knew how to contact Bob, knew where he was, or anything like that.
Now, in all modesty, I consider myself to be pretty good at searching the Internet.
When someone comes up with a question about something, almost anything, I can usually whip up a search and come up with an answer.
So, I made up my mind to see if I could find out about Bob, and mentioned it to the coach.
Later that night, I began. I started with a simple Google search for his name. Not much of anything of real value showed up. As is often the case, he was not the only person in the world with his name.
Bob was a "junior," and I found reference to his father, in Florida, but nothing about him.
Next, I tried his brother's name. Found some reference to him, near Buffalo, which was Bob's home town. Close, but no cigar. Not yet, at least.
Of course, a Google search usually results in loads of result links. Thousands, and sometimes millions. I kept looking further down the result lists of my searches on his name. Nothing which seemed right.
Then I tried a search with his name in combination with "NYS," for New York state, as I knew he worked for the state.
This time, among the results, I found a link to a document that listed names of state workers who had retired. Keep in mind that we're both old guys, after all, and I have already retired once (from The Daily Star).
I found his name on the list, and it was from a state facility out near Buffalo. And the best part was, it listed an address.
Now, I could feel I was getting close. I began searching phone number websites, for his name in conjunction with the name of the town where he lived.
Bingo! One came up. I couldn't help but smile. "Google knows everything," as my son Josh says.
Uncertainty about what may have happened in his life over the course of so many years made making the call kind of a jittery thing. But I was resolved to see this through, so I had a beer, and dialed the phone.
A woman answered. I asked if Bob was there, and used his last name, of course. She said, "Yes, who's calling?" I gave her my name and heard her repeat it to him, with a question in her voice.
I could hear him say in the background, "Yeah, I'll talk to him," and he answered.
After that we were almost giddy. We both were so tickled to be talking to each other again. It was great.
I told him about the swimmers getting together, and we did some quick comparing of notes about the last 30 years.
He told me he hadn't been into computers or technology much over that time, as I suspected after the difficulty of the search.
He is one of those people who are lucky enough to live out in the country (he has a grape farm now), but unlucky enough to not have any decent Internet connection.
But he did have a cell number and a Gmail address, which I got.
After that, I called the coach and told him I found Bob, and gave him the phone number.
Since then, we've been in contact, and I went out and visited him and his wife on his farm. We've decided to keep in touch, and he's looking forward to going on my annual fishing trip to the Adirondacks this year.
All this is entirely true. I've not used Bob's last name, just for privacy purposes. There may be a few of you out there who can figure it out, and that's OK, too.
Really, I just wanted to relate a story I consider to be a very good example of one of the Internet's great strengths. It's not all about malware, advertising and pornography, after all.
The Internet has its good points, too.
Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/techgp.
I have a story to tell. A true story.
Why did you serve?
Numerous local residents have spent time in service to our country in the military. Some joined out of a duty to our county, others were pressed into service through the draft, still others wanted to take advantage of the G.I. Bill. In honor of their service and Armed Forces Day on Saturday, we asked our readers why they served and what they took away from their service.Continued ...
Fitness key during pregnancy
Women have been having babies since well before time has been recorded by humans.Continued ...
Beyond the stacks: Local libraries offer everything from history to technology
The local libraries within the Four County Library System still make information available to their patrons in the traditional way -- books. They are also storehouses of local history: old photos, newspapers, genealogy records, diaries and letters.Continued ...
Romantic times at Fenimore
When one thinks of the romantic, usually one ponders wistfully the early days of a courtship and marriage.Continued ...
Prom fashions bright, blingy, different
Prom night can be one of the biggest events of a high school student's life. It is the last bash before college for many, and the memories are often recorded. That is why prom fashion is so important to high school seniors.Continued ...
- Why did you serve?
- Around The Arts
Local programs help children's creativity grow
I am not a stage mom. But, the other day I ended up in the middle of a discussion with a stage dad who, for many years, has designated a great deal of his time and resources to support his teenage sonâ€™s performing career. The cry of the stage parent: chauffeuring from one rehearsal to the next, scouting costumes, building sets, selling tickets and program ads, and, of course, sitting in the audience for the entire production run. Then, without a breath, off to the next one!Continued ...
An artist label can be placed on many types of people
"You are such an artist."Continued ...
Dip your toe in the art world through Pinterest
I am a magazine ripper. I always have been. I have shoesboxes and file folders filled with decorating ideas, recipes and other miscellaneous projects. No matter how hard I've tried, I can never seem to organize or tame the scraps of inspiration floating around my house.Continued ...
Arts encompasses so much more than visual, performing, musical things
This column was due when I was in the throes of our season at The Glimmerglass Festival, when all we are thinking about is the arts -- how to make people more aware of the arts, to engage in the arts. And -- what exactly do "the arts" entail?Continued ...
School may be out, but there's lots to do to keep kids busy
By June Dzialo Now that school's out for the summer, my daughter is proclaiming that we are, "the most boring family on Earth."Continued ...
- Local programs help children's creativity grow
- Music Beat
Music Industry Tips About Professional Musicians
Musicians know that every performance they play is an audition for their next engagement.Continued ...
Practice really does make perfect for professionals
Shortly after I was hired at the age of 25 to work in the Music Department at State University College at Oneonta, I played a concert for members of this community. At the end of the concert, a young audience member said to me, â€œHow many years have you been playing the cello and do you still have to practice?â€�Continued ...
Stepping on the flag, and other memories
If we are to be defined all our lives by our high school mascots, then I suppose I am a Viking. But I'm also a Panther, having transferred schools after my freshman year.Continued ...
From SUNY Oneonta to CBS Sports
Some people say the music business is failing, but I don’t agree with that point of view. Neither does Joseph Miller.Continued ...
- 12 Music Industry Tips from Joseph Miller
- Music Industry Tips About Professional Musicians
- Parenting Imperfect
I'm relieved it's not just me
For the last few years, I've been convinced that I'm just harder on things than other people are.Continued ...
A tactical error in the handoff
My kids are lucky enough to have half of their grandparents within a three-hour drive.Continued ...
A potentially quiet afternoon interrupted by a dog and a balloon
The kids spent most of Martin Luther King Jr. Day bickering.Continued ...
The dog is a getting to be an expert at training
This sentence took 20 minutes to type.Continued ...
Bad things can happen when trends are no longer trendy
When I was a kid, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom didn't know anything about the most important things in my world. She had no idea what a friendship pin was or how you'd make one. She couldn't name any good band, i.e., the ones a pre-teen would listen to like Duran Duran or Wham. And she didn't find Robert Downey Jr. nearly as dreamy as I did.Continued ...
- I'm relieved it's not just me
- Senior scene
Looking Back: A sad ending for adorable, sweet Taffy-toes
Another unwanted drop-off? Yes and so I must write this.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: Dealing with side effect of pills can really be a pain
At age 76, I find myself incontinent. Actually the problem started well before that date but now it has gone beyond "a problem," to "holy smoke the dam broke."Continued ...
- From the Office: Try spring cleaning, organizing for stress release
Looking Back: Take your time, think ahead before making decisions
A lifetime may seem forever for some, especially when we were young and couldn't wait to grow up and get to do all things we saw the adults do. Come to think of it, perhaps that wasn't too good.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: Getting sick in the southern sun
I went and did it - I have heard about southern hospitality so much that I thought I would see if it extended to the hospitals as well.Continued ...
- Looking Back: A sad ending for adorable, sweet Taffy-toes
- Tech, GP
Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
Well, I'm almost ready to let out a cheer.Continued ...
Businesses need backups for their computer people, systems
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I have taken a new position, professionally. I recently joined Eastman Associates, a local general contractor, to do its IT work, as well as taking care of some other functions of the business.Continued ...
Windows 8 seems to be made for the good of Microsoft, not the user
By Bruce Endries The software company everybody loves to hate, Microsoft, recently released what it calls a "consumer preview" of their next operating system, Windows 8.Continued ...
The Granite State got it right on software purchases
Believe it or not, I have found a bright spot in the political landscape, amid all the vitriolic partisan fighting.Continued ...
Visit a construction site and you'll probably find an iPad
It was just about two years ago now, that the iPad came out, and I wrote a column about it. At that time, I went out on a limb and said that thought it was a product which would fill certain niches very well, but that it wasn't very likely to fill in for what is normally considered a computer.Continued ...
- Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
- Teen Talk
On the Go: Patriotism doesn't mean keeping status quo
I've been labeled many things, but when anti-American and unpatriotic came into the picture recently I was surprised. I know I have some controversial opinions, but since when does that equate to not loving America? I'm a born and raised American kid, and I love America.Continued ...
Luhrmann brings Gatsby new life
Sure, you would think that being a college student and having finals rapidly approaching would equate to my growing anticipation for the summer and being done with my first year of college.Continued ...
Teenhood Today: Only you can determine your impact
The question I am most often asked is, "What do you want to do with your life?"Continued ...
A Word of Advice: Just do something
If you're not going upward, the only direction you can go is down. To stagnate is to surrender; to do nothing for yourself; to give up on a better day completely. If we sit around feeling good enough in all aspects of life, or just too lazy to fix them, well, as Albert Einstein put it, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."Continued ...
On the Go: Life is like the Cliff Walk
Over spring break, my family and I spent time in Newport, R.I. While we were there, we walked a path known as the Cliff Walk. This walk is nestled between some Newport mansions and some cliffs overlooking the ocean. While we were walking, my sister and I noticed how this path was a perfect metaphor for life and the journey it is.Continued ...
- On the Go: Patriotism doesn't mean keeping status quo