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General

Why don’t internet chat rooms exist anymore like in the 90s?

They still sorta exist but its pretty much in the form of applications and games now. Any multiplayer online game is essentially a chat room. Matchmaking lobbies have always been chat rooms. VR apps like Big Screen, Altspace, Sansar, VRChat, Facebook Spaces are all virtual chat rooms. One of the first avatar based chat rooms I used was Habbo Hotel and that’s still there, remarkably! And Second Life is also still there. So is mIRC and other IRC clients. Discord and Telegram can also be used to find ‘chat rooms’.

But the same kind of chat rooms, the ones that used to exist on random websites on the internet i.e Yahoo Chat, Java applets that had chat rooms, etc those are mostly gone, and that’s a shame. I made some of my first online friends using online chat rooms (I think it was a website called iSketch).

I think the reason random websites with chat rooms no longer exist is I think as an online population we’ve gotten more cautious than we did before. In the 1990s and early 2000s the internet held a sense of wonder for most people, and we went to various websites, we didn’t care so much about security, we wanted to meet and discover new people, talking to strangers online was kind of cool! the popular phrase A/S/L came about because we were all meeting random people online. I remember when webmasters and webmistresses would just leave their AIM/MSN handle on their contact page, and I would add them randomly and start talking to them. Imagine that! It was definitely a more innocent time.

And then social media came. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram etc and with that we shifted the way we used the internet. Talking to strangers was now a ‘dangerous’ activity because we don’t know who they might be, they might be a pedophile, they might be a stalker, etc. We only talk to friends and people we trust now! 

Another problem is these chat rooms were often filled with spambots. That made it very annoying to use these rooms sometimes as these bots would have to be manually kicked by the host of the room (who is sometimes afk).

And that’s kind of sad. That sense of wonder and discovery that the early internet brought has largely disappeared as people became more wary of meeting people they didn’t know online. Can you imagine in today’s world giving people your age/sex/location? that used to be such a common thing at one time.

RIP internet chat rooms.

Yahoo Chat

SharedTalk by Rosetta Stone (I remember using this in 2014 before they shut down)

Java Chat applets (used to be everywhere on early websites)

Categories
General

San Francisco vs Toronto, California life vs Canadian life

So it’s been over a year that I’ve been living in California now and I’m really loving it. San Francisco is definitely a nice change of pace from Canada, and I feel the city is much more alive and there’s much more to do and see. Here is a summary of what I think.

Things that San Francisco has that Toronto doesn’t
-Beautiful sunny, sometimes foggy weather all year round
-Slightly cheaper gas (yes even in Cali)
-Mild temperature (15-25 degrees C) all year round
-Rarely rains here
-No snow, no snow shoveling, no freezing in the cold
-MUNI/BART system is vastly superior to TTC, including telling you when the next bus / train arrives, and speaking in multiple languages, all at a lower price (TTC doesn’t have any of that and charges $3.50 per adult). It also takes you around the metro area (Toronto’s TTC doesn’t take you to Richmond Hill or Vaughan or Brampton, etc).
-10% sales tax (Toronto’s is at 13%)
-A bigger Chinatown
-Japantown
-Surrounded by the Ocean
-A park as big as Golden Gate Park
-Wide variety of fauna, including palm trees
-Availability of stores such as Quicksilver and J.Crew, restaurants such as In and Out and Carl Jr’s, and faster availability of items such as the Macbook and iPhone (which often get released months later in Canada)
-A top marginal tax rate of 35% as of the Bush tax cuts (Toronto has 47% top MTR)
-Cheaper fast food (a dollar menu item in SF is $1.40 in Canada, chicken nuggets are 8 for $10 there too)
-Generally cheaper everything, clothing, electronics, cars, etc (Canadians get hit with import taxes and duties on everything)
-Free shipping on a lot of items (a lot of merchants don’t ship to Canada at all)
-Generally a higher salary for Software Engineers and IT people
-Houses that reside on mountains
-Booze gets sold in grocery stores (this may be a shock to Canadians, who have to deal with LCBO all the time).
-Numerous scenic views of mountains, lakes, beaches, forests, bridges, sloping hills, and the drives are never boring because of this. (Toronto has flat land around it)
-Lots of tourist destinations within a few hours away like Napa Valley, Marin County, Monterey, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Silicon Valley, etc (Toronto doesn’t have such a variety of scenic places around it).
-Everywhere is walkable by foot (You have to drive everywhere in Toronto)
-Numerous online services you can get in the US but not in Canada, such as Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, LivingSocial, + many startup apps.
-LOTS of job / networking / conference opportunities for tech people.

Things I miss about Toronto
-My Friends and Family (obviously)
-Less homeless/crazy people (SF has too many of those)
-Poutine and Sausage snacks
-Less demonstrations/protests
-Free walk in clinics and generally simpler healthcare system (Americans have a very complex healthcare system)
-Cheaper rent (getting closer to SF’s rate tho)
– ketchup potato chips
-Tim Hortons
-A higher minimum wage (Sf’s is around $10/hr)
-Driving (it’s much easier in Toronto than SF)
-Places close later ( Starbucks closes at 6pm in SF which is crazy)

And that’s about it. In general I find SF to be a much better place to live, despite not having a green card here. If my family and friends were in the Bay Area then it would be perfect. I hope my family/friends can come visit me around Christmas!

Here are some pictures expressing the beauty of SF and California:

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Napa Valley
Napa Valley

Big Sur
Big Sur

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe

Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Valley

Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica Beach

17 Mile Drive, Carmel by the Sea
17 Mile Drive, Carmel by the Sea

Bay Bridge from Treasure Island
Bay Bridge from Treasure Island

La Jolla
La Jolla

Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks

Los Angeles Sunset
City of Angels

Point Reyes
Point Reyes

Stanford University
Stanford University

I think these pictures highlight why I’m not keen on going back to Canada anytime soon :).