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Life without an Internet connection is not the end of the world

The Tao of Questy -


What can we do using the computer without an Internet connection?For the most part I stay away from questions about politics and religion because the conversations get too emotional and irrational. I am starting to feel the same way about the recent rash of questions about net neutrality

I am not saying that regulations regarding net neutrality are not important, but they are not so important that anyone should consider leaving the country because of them. Any regulations surrounding net neutrality are not life and death issues.

If you are scratching your head right now, wondering what net neutrality is, I have a few links at the end of this that explain the topic. I am interested in net neutrality because I have worked in the fields of technology and telecommunications for many years. I feel pretty confident in saying that the world will not end if the internet shuts down tomorrow. I can live a normal healthy life without a broadband connection to my home.

Maybe I feel this way because I grew up in an era where the commercial internet did not exist. Yea, the internet technically existed in the 1960s and 1970s, but it did not became a commercial entity until the 1990s. Even in the 1990s the internet was so expensive to use, it was a small part of our lives.

What can we do using the computer without an Internet connection?

I can use a computer to do many of the things I did without a computer years ago. I really feel old when I answer questions about life before the internet went commercial.

Playing games

The obvious answer of using a computer not connected to the internet is playing games, but I have never been much of a gamer. I buy an old version of a game that is reduced in price because it has gone out of style or no longer the latest and greatest version.

I love music

I can listen to music all day long that is stored on my computer. I have a cassette player as well as a vinyl record turntable connected to my computer that allow me to take music from old analog sources and convert them to computer files. Yes, most of the songs are available somewhere as digital downloads. But I enjoy taking an occasional Saturday afternoon to convert files.

I love old movies

Just like with my music library, I can take old video files from tapes and DVDs and rip them as files stored on my computer. I have tons of old movies on an external hard drive.

I love restoring old photographs

I have boxes of old photographs, and just like with the movies and the music I get the urge to digitize old photographs from time to time. Not only does digitizing old photos give me a better way to store them, I can take old faded photos and try to restore the color. I can take different photos and edit them together. I currently have three different versions of PaintShop Pro on my computer, I update it to the latest and greatest version every few years.

I love to write

From days before I owned a personal computer I have pages of notes for stories, and various reference books. Over the years I have downloaded many books and movies that are now files on my hard drive that I use as reference material for when I write. I always have notepad open on my computer, and as ideas come to me, I jot them down in notepad. If I really wanted to be lazy, I have a laptop computer set up to take notes that I dictate to it verbally.

Who needs the internet?

As I am writing the draft of this blog post in notepad, and think about all the ways I use my computer, I realize all the many ways I use a computer without needing an internet connection. This answer is off the top of my head, and is just relating to my personal computer at home. I could write another chapter on various business and productivity applications I could use at work without an internet connection.

The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

If the internet gets shut down tomorrow, I have plenty of things to do on my computer that do not require an internet connection. I guess I am ready for the apocalypse, the end of the internet, or whatever comes my way.

Learn more:

Internet equality and net neutrality explained in simple terms

Internet censorship and net neutrality is not a simple matter

Net Neutrality anxiety high over proposed changes by FCC Chairman


Was Thomas Edison more of a business man rather than an inventor

GeekHistory II -

GeekHistory explores the legacy of Thomas EdisonPeople often make remarks about Thomas Edison such as, "he was primarily a businessman." The attitude would seem to lack the understanding that being successful in business is not mutually exclusive from being a successful inventor.

Many successful inventors realize that experimentation and research takes money. That is why some inventors hold on to certain patent rights, but sell others. They keep the ones they intent to develop and sell off others to raise money to continue their research.

The light bulb was not a single invention, but an ongoing improvement of one idea over another to create a finished product. There were many versions of the light bulb before Edison’s, and there were many versions after Edison. In 1879, Edison was first to devise a lamp that would last in long-term commercial use.

It is also not unusual for inventors to purchase patents to other inventions similar to their own. Sometimes in the larger scope of a project inventors will purchase the rights to similar projects so they have ownership of all the parts to their finished product.

It takes the work of many individuals and many patents (and inventions) coming together to reach a goal. George Westinghouse believed that AC (alternating current) was a better method of power distribution than Edison’s DC (direct current). George Westinghouse was himself an inventor and innovator, as well as a visionary businessman.

In 1885 Westinghouse became interested in the inventions of European Inventors Gaulard and Gibbs and purchased the American rights to their patents for AC current transformers. In 1888 Westinghouse heard of Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Polyphase System. Westinghouse purchased Tesla's alternating current patents on the electric systems and paid Tesla to work with him until they were fully implemented. Westinghouse also had his own team of engineers, such as William Stanley Jr., adding their own inventions in combination with the others to create the finished product. In the case of Westinghouse it was Alternating Current (AC) power transmission.

While Edison was wrong about direct current (DC) becoming the preferred way to deliver electricity to our homes, Edison's ideas to bring electricity to our homes launched the modern electric utility industry. . In 1892 Thomas Edison lost control of Edison Electric, because of his stubbornness to back down on preferring DC over AC. Notorious financier J.P. Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric.

If Tesla and Westinghouse had not teamed up to win the war of currents, perhaps General Electric, the off shoot of Edison Electric would have won the war of currents, and would have still moved forward on producing AC generating power plant.

The mythical idea of an inventor

Many people have a mythical picture of an inventor as a scientist who works in a lab with a vision of a finished product in his mind. The mythical inventor tinkers with things until one day, eureka, his vision becomes a reality.

This idea of the inventor reminds me of Dr. Frankenstein from the Mary Shelley horror novel. The mad scientist pieces together his monster, and one day with a flash of lightning, eureka, he has created his monster.

To address the comment that Edison was a business man rather than an inventor, Thomas Edison was an inventor in every sense of the word. He had a passion for trying to understand how things worked. He had a passion for taking existing ideas and making them better.

The Edison Papers

If you really want to learn what Edison invented, I highly recommend you explore The Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University. The Edison Papers were established under a Board of Oversight which consists of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the National Park Service, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Thomas Alva Edison Biography | Edison's Inventions | Edison's Patents

Learn more about Thomas Edison

If you are looking to learn more about Thomas Edison the Guru42 Universe and GeekHistory has a lot of information to get you started. You will find Thomas Edison mentioned in the pages listed below.

Thomas Alva Edison prolific inventor and legendary lunatic

You don't need to be a genius to know why Thomas Edison was popular

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

The myths and legends of evil villains Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison

In search of the greatest inventors and technology innovators

Henry Ford creates ultimate history museum of Industrial Revolution

Debunking the Nikola Tesla myths by way of defending Thomas Edison

The mythical rivalry between Edison and Tesla full of misinformation

From the War of Currents to the history of electricity in homes

Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry

In researching Geek History we have been asked many questions related to Thomas Edison and the War of Currents. Bookmark this page and check back from time to time as we update it with answers to frequently asked questions and additional resources on Thomas Edison.


The mythical rivalry between Edison and Tesla full of misinformation

GeekHistory II -

The mythical rivalry between Edison and Tesla full of misinformationThe myth that Edison stole Tesla's ideas is rooted in Edison's legacy of creating an invention factory where Edison used his staff to develop ideas and turn them into patents. Some point to the concept of the invention factory as the reason for his success, critics say Edison took his invention factory too far, and Edison took credit for any individual creativity by his employees.

Many successful inventors realize that experimentation and research takes money. Edison's first invention was the Universal Stock Ticker in 1869. Edison used the money he earned from the stock ticker to start his "invention factory." Edison had the reputation of a hard driving businessman, but he was also passionate about creating an invention factory. Edison paid workers to conduct numerous tedious experiments so he did not have to do the boring manual tasks himself.

How many inventions and innovations made in the name of Apple or Microsoft were not the direct work of Gates or Jobs? How is Edison's invention factory any different that the large number of engineers, designers, and programmers working for Microsoft or Apple, but all we hear about is the success of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

It's funny when someone asks, "Has Apple ever invented anything original?" the answers that say that Apple is an innovator not an inventor are widely accepted. People praise Apple for picking the right set of existing ideas and combining them in a new ways to make better products. When Thomas Edison takes existing ideas and combines them in new ways to make better products, he is called a thief.

Did Edison try to ruin Tesla's career?

The fable that is often told that Edison promised Tesla $50,000 and did not keep his promise. Take a minute and think about that story logically.

In the 1880s $50,000 would easily be the equivalent of over $1 million on modern money. (Based on numerous calculators I used $1 million would be on the low end of the calculation.) Telsa literally just got off the boat from Europe, and arrived in America. Tesla was recommended to Edison from a colleague of Edison's in Europe, but still Telsa was relatively unknown to him. Also consider the legend that Edison was a shrewd business man. Do you seriously think that Edison would have offered Tesla a $50,000 bonus for completing one project?

Tesla said how can I prove to you Mr. Edison than my ideas are worth something, Edison gave Tesla a project of something to fix. (The exact nature of project differs with each telling of the story.) The fable says that Tesla completed the project, and Edison offered Tesla a raise in pay, but not the big $50,000 bonus. Edison claimed that was a misunderstanding, it was only a joke.

Many people have raised questions as to the validity of the myth. Why would Edison, known to be a very shrewd businessman, offer $50,000 (equivalent to over $1 million dollars in modern purchasing power) to a rookie engineer.

Edison was successful before he met Tesla. It was Tesla who went to Edison in search of a change to prove his value as an inventor. Tesla thought AC (alternating current) would be the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Edison believed DC (direct current) was the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Edison thought he had all the answers, and did not value Telsa's ideas much. Feeling unappreciated by Edison, Tesla moved on.

Are Edison's inventions mostly Tesla's work?

During the time Tesla worked for Edison they were on different sides of the argument. Tesla hoped to show Edison his ideas on AC (alternating current) but Edison refused to look at them because he was pushing for DC (direct current) as the preferred method of electrical power distribution.

Another inventor and innovator, George Westinghouse, believed AC (alternating current) would be the best method to deliver electricity to homes. Westinghouse paid Tesla for some of his patents that fit into Westinghouse's system. Tesla also worked for Westinghouse in putting some of his inventions into practical use to defeat Edison in the War of Currents.

The generally accepted story states that Westinghouse paid Tesla around $60,000 for his patents for AC motors and generators, that's roughly the equivalent of $1.4 million in today's dollars. Tesla was also given a $2000 a month salary to work for Westinghouse, the equivalent of $48,000 per month today.

One condition of the Tesla and Westinghouse partnership was that Tesla received royalties of $2.50 per horsepower of electrical capacity sold. As AC power slowly became more widely adopted, Westinghouse paid Tesla hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties each year. By 1890, one year before his 35th birthday, Tesla had become a millionaire.

Another part of the financial arrangement of the Tesla and Westinghouse partnership that often gets skewed when the story is told is Tesla's agreement to terminate the ongoing royalties on the power being generated. Westinghouse was having some cash flow issues and he asked Tesla if he could suspend payments for a while. As the story goes Tesla was grateful for the opportunities that Westinghouse had given him, and tore up the contract for the ongoing royalties.

Tesla did not simply walk away from the contract and get nothing in return. According to the book "Tesla: Man Out of Time" by Margaret Cheney, the Westinghouse Company's annual report of 1897 states that Tesla was paid $216,600 for outright purchase of his patents. The relative value of $216,000.00 from 1897 in current purchasing power is over $6 million dollars.

When Tesla walked away from his partnership with Westinghouse, he had built up a nice nest egg.

How much truth is there to the Tesla versus Edison rivalry?

The battle for the method to deliver electricity to our homes is often hyped as the "War of Currents" between Tesla and Edison. It was actually a battle between Edison Electric and Westinghouse Electric. Edison got a bit crazy during the War of Currents, but his craziness was directed at Westinghouse, more so than Tesla. In backing the electric chair as a method of putting someone to death, Edison was happy to call the process of killing someone using electricity as being "Westinghoused."

In order for a rivalry to exist, there is typically two different sides that are competing against each other. The only time that Tesla and Edison were directly competing against each other was when Tesla was working for Westinghouse in the 1890s. After the War of Currents Tesla and Edison went their separate ways.

Edison lost control of his own company during the War of Currents, and Edison Electric merged with Thomson-Houston to become General Electric. During the early part of the 20th century Thomas Edison was one of the most celebrated celebrities and kept company with fellow famous geeks such as Henry Ford, the auto innovator, and Harvey Firestone, one of the first global makers of automobile tires. Edison continued to stay active and popular in the public view until his death in 1931.

After the War of Currents Tesla went off on his own experimenting with his theories of wireless electricity. Tesla's last big project to impress the world was Wardenclyffe Tower. The project was abandoned in 1906, and Tesla had a breakdown and began to withdraw from the world. During the last few decades of his life Tesla turned his legacy from that of an accomplished inventor, to a wild a crazy mad scientist. Nikola Tesla lived until 1943. The last years of his life he was more or less a loner, occasionally stirring up things by offering to sell his death beam to foreign countries.

Learn more, the truth is out there:

Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth

George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War



The glorification of the legendary geek inventor Nikola Tesla

GeekPast -

The glorification of the legendary geek inventor Nikola TeslaNikola Tesla is the poster child for the story of the little guy who takes on the world. He came to America with just a few cents in his pocket, looking to find a better life, and prove his point to the world. What adds extra energy to the story is that Tesla just didn't go up against the world, he went up against the greatest inventor of all times, Thomas Edison.

While there is a current coolness to loving Tesla for being the unsung hero, there is also a coolness for bashing Thomas Edison. It is almost impossible to get the words Edison and light bulb out of your mouth without someone shouting, "Edison didn't invent the light bulb!" There is a boastful gloating by some in calling Edison evil, and contrasting Tesla as the good that defeated the evil.

But Tesla didn't stop with just defeating Edison, he took on the other giants of his day. I remember when I was growing up reading that Marconi invented the radio. Ah, how wrong, say the Tesla fans, "Marconi didn't invent the radio!" They claim Marconi stole all his ideas from Tesla!

Tesla defeated the mighty Edison, his ideas were stolen by the great Marconi. But Tesla went after another giant of his day, he took on Einstein, the greatest scientist of his day, and dared to call Einstein, a long haired crank.

Beyond the character of good versus evil, there is the mystical Tesla, who went to the mountain tops of Colorado to harness lightning for the good of mankind, and communicate with other worlds along the way. The final battle of Tesla versus the world are the stories of the mythical free energy that Tesla promised he could create, but was stopped, and silenced by the evil corporate America.

The War of Currents was a battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, but the internet has changed it to a battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Telsa, it makes for a better story.

Westinghouse spent most of his life running his businesses from the smoke stack city of Pittsburgh. Westinghouse was a quiet man who did not seek the spotlight. For as much as I have studied the late industrial age, I have not found many photos of Westinghouse. Compared to Tesla, Westinghouse was a pretty boring character.

Tesla rubbed elbows with the rich and famous as he frequented the best restaurants in New York City. Tesla was good friends with many famous people such as Mark Twain and loved to share his party tricks and experiments with his famous friends. Edison was called the Wizard of Menlo Park, but Tesla was really the wizard. Nikola Tesla was a handsome well dressed fellow. Tesla was an entertaining guy, he had cool party tricks, he invited the rich and famous back to his lab so he could shoot lighting bolts at them.

Every great epic story needs a hero and a villain. In the romanticized story known as the War of Currents, Edison is the villain. He is the guy everyone loves to hate. Tesla represents the hero we can identify with, the dreamer in all of us. It is the ultimate battle of good versus evil, and all the forces of evil, against that well meaning immigrant, who took them all on, representing every man with a dream who felt dumped on by the world.

People overrate the inventions and accomplishments of Nikola Tesla because they get so wrapped up in the myths and legends of a very interesting character.

The Cult of Nikola Tesla

Sadly, people get so passionate about Nikola Tesla they lose perspective of his accomplishments. If you study the times of Tesla, the late 1800s and early 1900s, you will find many inventors working on similar inventions. Tesla was not a hermit with a secret lab in a case. He was learning the ideas and inventions of others.

Some people get mad when I refer to The Cult of Nikola Tesla, but the followers of Tesla have a religious fervor to their devotion to the man. They take one small bit of information and turn it into a sermon for their beliefs.

But Edison didn't invent the light bulb!

That's right, Edison didn't invent the concept of lighting and electrical distribution systems. But neither did Tesla. The concept of lighting and electrical distribution systems was being developed in Europe before Edison and Tesla.

Tesla invented Alternating Current!

No, he didn't. Michael Faraday and Hippolyte Pixii were working with Alternating Current and electric motors in the early 1800s, years before Tesla was born.

But Tesla invented the AC induction motor!

Maybe, maybe not. Some sources name Galileo Ferraris as the inventor of induction motors. Some sources name Nikola Tesla as the inventor. Not taking any chances on patent issues, Westinghouse purchased a U.S. patent option on induction motors from Galileo Ferraris, along with Tesla's patents.

Marconi didn't invent the radio!

For years I was content with the common story that radio was primarily the work of Marconi. The Tesla fans are pretty persistent in their message that Marconi was a thief, and point to a 1943 US Supreme Court decision as "proof" that Tesla, not Marconi, was the real inventor of radio.

The 1943 US Supreme Court decision does not change the original radio patent of Marconi, but the decision overturns patents for many of the advanced features of radio, affirming prior work and patents that were held by Sir Oliver Lodge and John Stone Stone.

Marconi does not deserve credit for inventing radio, but neither does Tesla. There are many names that add to that list such as Reginald Fessenden.

Fessenden had many striking similarities to Tesla, working early in his career with Thomas Edison, but later teamed up with George Westinghouse to defeat Edison in the famous "War of Currents.

The forgotten geek that everyone knows

You hear the phrase of a "perfect storm" to describe a rare combination of circumstances coming together to make an event much larger that it would be otherwise. With Nikola Tesla there is a "perfect storm" of events which take him beyond just a cool geek to super hero status.

Learn more, the truth is out there:

Who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power

Who is responsible for electricity and AC power in our homes

Geekhistory explores who invented radio



Net Neutrality anxiety high over proposed changes by FCC Chairman

Guru 42 Blog -

FCC Chairman Ajit PaiMany new questions are popping up regarding FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposing to reverse the FCC classification of home and mobile ISPs as common carriers.

There is panic and paranoia over what these changes might mean. I am not getting excited.

I have written quite a bit about proposed internet regulations over the years.  Here is a little historic perspective on the fight for control over telecommunications.

Government controls radio

The Radio Act of 1912 mandated that all radio stations in the United States be licensed by the federal government.

The government took over full control of all radio service for the good of the cause when the United States entered into WWI. All amateur and commercial use of radio ended in the U.S. on April 7, 1917. It became illegal for private U.S. citizens to own an operational radio transmitter or receiver.

The Radio Act of 1927 created The Federal Radio Commission (FRC) to regulate radio use "as the public interest, convenience, or necessity" requires.

Expanding power and control beyond radio, to all forms of telecommunications, now falls under The Federal Communications Commission which was created in 1934.

The Federal Communications Commission battles starting in 1934

The Communications Act of 1934 established the basic regulations of communication by wire and radio. The internet went commercial in the mid 1990s and The Telecommunications Act of 1996 addressed the new and emerging technologies.

Since 1996 the categories of Telecommunications Service, Broadcast Services, and Cable Services have become muddied together, rather than being distinctly different services. In 2015, the FCC classified Internet Service Providers as common carriers under The Communications Act of 1934 Title II, for the purpose of enforcing net neutrality.

The term "Net neutrality" was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003. The concept is based on legal concept of common carrier which became popular in the United States with the late 1800s with the railroad barons controlling the flow of goods and services.

Any FCC ruling can be challenged in the courts, as it has been in the past.

Telecommunications and Federal Trade Commission antitrust suits

Government antitrust suits have been a part of telecommunications dating back to the early 20th century. In 1913 Kingsbury Commitment was an out-of-court settlement of the government's antitrust challenge of AT&T's monopoly of the phone industry. In 1949 an antitrust lawsuit alleged that AT&T and the Bell System operating companies were using their near-monopoly in telecommunications to attempt to establish unfair advantages.

The government forced the breakup of the Bell System in 1982 into seven different holding companies. Through mergers and acquisitions over the years, four of the seven "Baby Bells" are now part of AT&T and two are part of Verizon.

Any actions by a telecommunications company can be challenged in the courts and the Federal Trade Commission as they have been in the past.

It's nothing new

Any changes made to Net Neutrality regulations in December 2017 will only be one event in an ongoing battle for control of telecommunications that has been waged on many fronts since the early development of radio and telephone services in the early 20th century.

Any changes made will be challenged, and changed again.

Learn more:

Net Neutrality and the myth that the internet is free



Photo: FCC Chairman Genachowski swears in Ajit Pai as a new Commissioner at the FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.
May 14, 2012. [Federal Communications Commission Photo]



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