A reporter asked me an interesting question a few years ago: “When did you first start using the internet? What for?” I wrote up my response, but then she ended up interviewing me on the phone, so I never sent it. While poking around in a folder on my Mac, I found it. It’s a good description of one of the most important moments in my life1, so here it is.

I started using the Net in 1995. I was teaching at Missouri Scholars Academy, and one of the speakers was a technologist named Alan November. He kept talking about this thing called “the Internet” that I had vaguely heard of, and the more he said, the more fascinating it sounded. At the time, I was also a grad student in English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and I knew that I had a free Internet account, so I decided to use that on my maiden voyage. 0,0,1440,900

This same issue arises with Airplay Mirroring. When you try to mirror your desktop/laptop computer to the TV through the Apple TV, your desktop/laptop computer senses that you are doing a type of screen sharing. As such, whenever you try to play anything through the Apple software (i.e. DVD player, iTunes, etc.), the result is that you get the grey and white checkerboard screen.

At this time, there doesn’t seem to be any type of workaround for this except to use third-party software when you mirror, as has been noted by other posters on this thread. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to play DRM protected material or not, the computer you are trying to mirror will sense the connection to another device and will automatically checkerboard all video you attempt to play.

When I got home from MSA, I scraped together about $200 for a 14.4 modem (screamin’ fast at the time) and gathered together another $200 for 2 MB of RAM, bringing my Mac LC up to a whopping 4 MB of RAM total, which I thought was an insane amount. How could I ever need more?

Finally, after the modem and the RAM arrived in the mail, I hooked everything up early one Saturday afternoon, read the printed out instructions next to me, typed oh-so-carefully into my computer what seemed like utter gibberish, pressed a button, and … I was connected to the Internet!

12 hours later—yes, 12 hours—I finally signed off. I had done everything possible: participated in online forums debating current events, surfed to Gopher (think pre-Web) sites in Africa and Europe, downloaded software, sent email to the one person I could think of who had email, read literary resources stored on machines in universities all across America, and waaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiitttttttted for that 14.4 modem to make all those connections. My head was spinning. This was incredible! Amazing! It was going to change everything! There was no doubt in my mind: the Internet was going to revolutionize how we all lived, learned, and communicated.

I was bursting with excitement, pacing back and forth in my apartment, and I had to share this utter certainty with someone. Who could I call at midnight? Who would let me babble nonsensically about something that only a relatively few people had experienced, or even understood? Who would patiently listen as I mounted my soapbox, declaiming my utter certainly that the rest of our lives would be completely rewired—literally—by this phenomenon of the Internet?

My Mom, of course.

So I called my technophobic Mom at midnight—don’t worry, I’m not a bad son, as I knew she’d be awake sewing—and began talking as fast as I could, syllables stuttering out in my almost-manic excitement. I rambled on like a street preacher stoked with the Spirit for at least five minutes without a breath, detailing all that I had seen and done, and prophesying global changes that would dwarf anything we’d experienced before. Finally I paused and took in a breath. My Mom waited a beat and made her reply:

“That sounds very nice.”

She didn’t get it, of course. Not then. Nor did the teachers at the high school at which I was an English teacher. My friends? No comprehension. My girlfriend? Shrugs. But I was now filled with an evangelical urge to spread the word about the Internet. And I still have that fire in me today, lit over a decade ago over the span of a marathon 12-hour introduction to the Internet.

  1. OK, granted, not nearly as important as my marriages or the birth of my son or the deaths of parents & family & friends. But still pretty important!