I was somewhat stunned to hear yesterday that Marian Finucane had died suddenly.
Who is this woman, you ask? For many years she was one of Ireland’s top broadcasters on both radio and television. She was one of only two top “celebrities” that I became friendly with [the other was Gerry Ryan, also now deceased].
In the late eighties I finally escaped from my cable job I moved back to the RTE campus in Montose and became a computer programmer. Around that time PCs were beginning to appear around the campus and soon I changed job again and was given a job supporting those PCs. If I remember correctly, they had around 256K RAM and 40Mb hard drives. Some even had colour monitors!
Shortly after, people began to talk about this newfangled Interweb thing. The few computers on campus had been networked and some bright spark had hooked in a 128K modem so in theory the Interweb was available everywhere. The only problem was that all the PCs were running Windows 3.1 which was incapable of accessing the Interweb without special software. It became my job to install this software and a browser [Netscape, for the techies] and to show people how to use it all.
At the time, Marian Finucane was doing a very popular programme called “Liveline”. They had an office area in the Radio Centre were there was always great craic [the next area belonged to Pat The Plank Kenny and his area was always miserable as was he]. One researcher there had a PC and was always calling me up for help. I loved those calls as all the researchers were up for a laugh. Anyway it came time on my list to install the Interweb on the Liveline PC. Nearly everyone had heard about the Interweb but very few had seen it, so the excitement was intense.
I arrived and went through the process. First I had to install extra memory inside the PC and then some software [an IP stack, for the techies]. Then I installed the browser and fired it up. I gave a brief rundown on how to use the browser and search engines [anyone remember Dogpile?]. Every time I opened a new page the would be a loud “fuck!!” in amazement from the researcher. He then whispered in my ear to search for “naked women”.
I should maybe point out that there weren’t that many sites around then. No YouTube, no Twitter, no Farcebook or any of those. Happy days! The sites that did exist tended to be text heavy with few images.
Anyhows, I put in the search as requested with a warning to keep quiet about it, as he was the only male in an area of females. Up came a list of sites.
“Click on the first one.” says the researcher, all excited.
I clicked on it and the screen very slowly scanned up a picture of a young female just as Nature intended and leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination.
“Fuck me! Jeeeezus!!” shouts the researcher.
Of course everyone rushed over to see what the fuss was about and the rush was led by Marian. I quickly blanked the screen before they arrived.
“What was that about?” asked Marian.
“Nothing special” says the researcher.
“Go on” says Marian “Show me.”
I showed her.
She cracked up laughing. “More!” she exclaimed.
And that was Marian. She had a great sense of humour and devilment and was always ready for a chat. Her little area was my favourite spot in the Radio Centre.
May she rest n peace.
That sounds like the "High Speed" internet of the day! From my telecom experience, 56k was usually the best a standard dial-up line could manage – was yours a dedicated data link, or just very close to the exchange?
The exchange was actually at the corner of the campus, with a direct line into the computer room.
The other thing I forgot to mention was that I used to have to carry around a pocket full of memory chips and a box of 3.5 inch disks [two disks for the IP stack and another one for Netscape, with three more for Windows in case something went badly wrong]. Downloads didn't exist!
128k modem? You're in the butter zone now baby! (name the movie that line came from for extra points).
Oh gahd, IP stacks? Netscape? You bring back memories you do as I had to do the same thing including scrounging up old Ethernet cards that still worked to shove into derelict PCs I had to rebuild (the company I worked for was always on the brink of bankruptcy but they never threw anything away). Would you believe I actually found one old work station that had an 8086 chip in it?
And Marion sounds like a really great lady.
Actually, in retrospect I made a small error in my scribblings. She was actually a bit miffed at the nude photograph [she was a fierce supporter of women's rights] but was also intensely curious. Having gotten rid of the nude she just became very interested in this newfangled invention called the "Web", hence the demand for more…
Marian Finucane was always refreshing to hear. She was never afraid to ask hard questions and never deferential to anyone.
She had an instantly recognisable voice [she was a heavy smoker! ]. She was always busy in the office but always had time for a quick chat. A lovely person.