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Obsolete Skills
February 20, 2008 4:47 AM   Subscribe

What do making a poultice out of deer fat, IDDQD & IDKFA, and balancing the tonearm on a turntable have in common? They are obsolete skills.
posted by shiu mai baby (49 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dialing a rotary phone is a "skill"?
posted by Wolfdog at 4:51 AM on February 20, 2008


That's a peculiar list. I like the idea a lot, sort of Foxfire-y, but possibly they should have a little more of guidelines there to shape the content a little better.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:54 AM on February 20, 2008


Assembly Language Programming is obsolete? Someone tell compiler writers.
posted by DU at 4:56 AM on February 20, 2008


Balancing a checkbook??

Next.
posted by DU at 4:57 AM on February 20, 2008


Id software cheat codes will never be obsolete. Never, I say!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:02 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I own and use a rotary phone.

*polishes fingernails on lapel*
posted by From Bklyn at 5:02 AM on February 20, 2008


The website's not coming up, but I would add "properly queueing up a vinyl record". I think I was one of the last "generations" of radio DJs that did this for normal airplay rotation music, back in the early 90s (before we moved to all-CDs and automated jukebox players).

I think the turntables I used were older than I was at the time.

I've not touched a record player since '93, but I bet if I had one in front of me it would be muscle memory, like riding a bike.
posted by mrbill at 5:02 AM on February 20, 2008


I'd have to say that 50% of the skills on that list are not obsolete, and the other 50% are not skills.

It's a pretty shitty list.
posted by popcassady at 5:10 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


That website is a mess.
posted by signal at 5:16 AM on February 20, 2008


Editing AUTOEXEC-BAT And CONFIG-SYS To Get As Close As Possible To 640 K Of Free Memory

*nostalgia-induced tears*

Also, what the fuck? IDDQD, IDKFA and IDCLIP were all present in the original Doom and not introduced in Doom 2!
posted by slimepuppy at 5:16 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thinking that long division is obsolete is exactly why I pull my hair out tutoring math in college.
posted by notsnot at 5:20 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doom 1 didn't have IDCLIP. Instead, it had IDSPISPOPD after the fake-rumored* game "Smashing Pumpkins Into Small Piles Of Putrid Debris."

*As it happens, someone did eventually write a real SPISPOPD.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:20 AM on February 20, 2008


Fighting for your civil liberties

Punchline?
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 5:44 AM on February 20, 2008


Things from the list from A-F that I have done in the last WEEK:

Adjusting the rabbit ears on your TV set
Booting off a floppy disk
Building a computer from individual components
Editing AUTOEXEC-BAT and CONFIG-SYS to get as close as possible to 640K of free memory
fdisk mbr
Focusing a camera
Fixing a Disk using a hex editor

Fuck you, obsoleteskills.com.

posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 5:46 AM on February 20, 2008


What the Young People have to say about dial phones. I work with young people in the heritage sector. I keep this picture by my desk as a little reality check.
posted by Helga-woo at 5:57 AM on February 20, 2008


g=c800:5 is burned into my brain the way, say, a D chord is burned into the brain of Your Favorite Guitarist. I still remember the agony of typing in the list of bad sectors on a Seagate ST-225. Then, when IDEs came out, we were amazed that we no longer had to LL format them. This was back when "PS-2" wasn't a game console, but a plastic, snap-together pile of shit from IBM that required something called a Reference Disk any time the battery died. I still have a 5 1/4 inch 360K floppy with IBM XT diagnostics on it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there are kids on my lawn and I am frightened.
posted by bondcliff at 6:01 AM on February 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's not perfect, and the word "obsolete" isn't exactly spot-on -- but it's still sorta fun. I used a rotary phone about three years ago -- it was in a furniture store -- and it felt like it took SOOOOOOO long to dial a standard 7-digit number. But it felt "fun" to drag the dial around and feel that long-ago sensation.
posted by davidmsc at 6:05 AM on February 20, 2008


MetaFilter: there are kids on my lawn and I am frightened.
posted by mrbill at 6:23 AM on February 20, 2008


Everyone here knows how to use a sliderule, right?
posted by Class Goat at 6:29 AM on February 20, 2008


"handwriting"
Do not get me started.
I'm convinced that I could write more legibly with my feet than most of my coworkers do with their dominant hands.

I also adjust my rabbit ears daily.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:30 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This one made me laugh, mostly for the reason he gives for cash becoming obsolete. Sub-prime lending? Seems to me the whole sub-prime debacle would be a reason why credit would become obsolete. If anything, the situation would make cash even stronger.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:38 AM on February 20, 2008


"handwriting"

What about putting down a nice neat row of Letraset dry-transfer text?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:45 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Local Grocery Store

I don't understand.
posted by frobozz at 6:57 AM on February 20, 2008


I have so many of those skills, it frightens me.
posted by pjern at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2008


Everyone here knows how to use a sliderule, right?

I only have a rotary sliderule. Though I think I did receive a regular one once as a hand-me-down.

Has anone tried getting free payphone calls by tapping out the rotary dial pattern on the receiver? Does that still work?

And I too have rabbit-ears. Until the dog chewed them, I also had a set of rabbit ears connected to the TV-in on my video capture card. That's right folks - a computer with rabbit ears.

I also have an actual rabbit who enjoys having rabbit ears.
posted by GuyZero at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2008


I have so many of those skills, it frightens me.

Ninja skills... bowhunting skills...
posted by GuyZero at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2008


IDKFA has been replaced by 'impulse 101'.

And typing IDDQD into a deleted thread on Metafilter reactivates the img tag
posted by Pastabagel at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2008


Frobozz, I think they're talking about the good ole days when the neighborhood grocery store was owned by a local family, instead of being the mega-conglomerates that they are today.

(Unlike in the larger cities, where family-run bodegas are still commonplace.)
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:06 AM on February 20, 2008


Things from the list from A-F that I have done in the last WEEK:

I think it's time to buy a new computer.
posted by smackfu at 7:07 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


*nostalgia-induced tears*

Also, what the fuck? IDDQD, IDKFA and IDCLIP were all present in the original Doom and not introduced in Doom 2!
posted by slimepuppy at 8:16 AM on February 20



Not only were they in the original doom, but clipping (or no clipping) was activated by IDSPISPOPD in the early versions of Doom 1. And there was something magical about typing IDBEHOLDA to turn the lights on.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2008


Enh... just goes to show that any time someone wants to bury a particular thought scheme it just proves that he hasn't done his research very well. Or he's trying to appear hip and cool.

Goddamn you Tom McBride.

(no... really... he was one of my profs in college. I thought he was excellent, but the mindset list is as obsolete as hacking arrowheads from pieces of flint.)
posted by Sam.Burdick at 7:10 AM on February 20, 2008


I dunno. IDBEHOLDA ain't that magical at all.


> LEARN IDBEHOLDA

I don't know the word 'IDBEHOLDA'.

> IDBEHOLDA SELF

I don't know the word 'IDBEHOLDA'.

> LEARN FROTZ

Using your best study habits, you learn the frotz spell yet another time.

> FROTZ SELF

You are bathed in a sickly yellow light, bright enough to read by.


Now THAT is magical, boy.
posted by suckerpunch at 7:15 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll surrender my VCR when you pry the remote from my cold, dead fingers. Mad tracking skillz!
posted by VicNebulous at 7:22 AM on February 20, 2008


Focusing a camera

I have to manually focus my D40x when I use my 50mm/f1.8 lens that doesn't have a built-in AF motor.
posted by mike3k at 7:25 AM on February 20, 2008


Oh, the one I miss is editing a music track on 1/4" tape. 45° al edit block, razor blade, tape, no undo: musical goodness.
posted by Pliskie at 7:39 AM on February 20, 2008


Goddamn you Tom McBride.

Whoa! Tom McBride was one of my professors in college, too. IT'S LIKE WE KNOW EACH OTHER.

I've always hated the mindset list. Mostly it offers up a good opportunity for students to be smug about all-the-things-we-know-that-you-don't-think-we-know. And feel indignant all at the same time.

As for the link, it was a nice idea. I just wish it would have been done better.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:43 AM on February 20, 2008


Everyone here knows how to use a sliderule, right?

I actually bought one off eBay a couple of months ago so I could learn.
posted by mrbill at 7:55 AM on February 20, 2008


writing a print driver
loading a Kodak slide carousel
threading a movie projector
making a mix tape
retouching negatives
posted by Gungho at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2008


yeah, knitting's real obsolete.

FAIL.
posted by Lucinda at 8:17 AM on February 20, 2008


Dammit, beaten to IDSPISPOPD.

Double-declutching impresses your passengers and saves your synchros.

Using a fountain pen isn't an obsolete skill you philistines.

All in all I'm horrified/proud at how many of these I'm knowledgeable of.
posted by Skorgu at 8:23 AM on February 20, 2008


What might be interesting could be "obsolete skills that produce better results than the modern shortcut", as a few of these already fall into that category. (No, I don't mean vinyl :-).
posted by -harlequin- at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2008


what popcassady said. (that BBC slide show was pretty fun, though.)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2008


Making a poultice out of deer fat is only an obsolete skill until you're lost in the woods.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2008


A lot of these skills are obsolete only if you live and work in a relatively affluent society that can easily replace old tech. Go to some other part of the world and many skills on this list are definitely still used- timing lights, threading a needle, using a compass, map reading, lighting lamps and trimming wicks. Just last week I saw a slide show with real slides- it happens all the time in the horticultural field, because no one has the time or money to replace their thousands of slides of botanic specimens.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2008


Things from the list from A-F that I have done in the last WEEK:

I think it's time to buy a new computer.


Naw, it works fine on Amish Internet.
posted by forrest at 1:38 PM on February 20, 2008


Yeah, it seems like many if not most of these aren't actually obsolete, but someone assumed they must be. One was "AS/400". Um, you had better tell that to large businesses running off mainframe-class IBM hardware. I'm sure they'll be surprised. AS/400 has simply been renamed to iSystem or something like that. Another one is "burning EPROMs". Again, fail. Electronics hobbyists do it all the time. I can go buy blank EPROMs and a burner from Fry's right now. Another one is COBOL. Bwahahahahahaha. Something like 95% of all the code ever written was written in COBOL. You think all of that has been replaced? You think no one maintains the old code? The major airlines' reservation systems were written in COBOL in the 60s and still run today. They have Windows frontends, but the backend is still pure COBOL. They don't teach it in university anymore, but it hasn't ceased to exist.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:07 PM on February 20, 2008


These people are clearly unfamiliar with the real world. I use a fountain pen more often than anything else for writing, the 2008 model year car I bought last summer has "manual" windows, and who would ever think that fax machines were obsolete? This list was clearly written by a 17-year old.

Oh, and get the hell off my lawn
posted by djfiander at 5:24 PM on February 20, 2008


I just remembered this, too: a while back I had a bill of materials for a project I was building with Home Depot UPCs. The guy I asked to look them up got on a brand new Windows XP PC and logged into a HP-UX server to access a text-based application that certainly appeared to be written in COBOL (it could have been C, but I've seen several COBOL apps with the same kind of text-based UI). This application was probably written in the 80s. COBOL is freakin' everywhere. When a large corporation shells out for an application to run an important part of their business and it's rock-solid and works, they don't change it unless they absolutely, positively have to.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:33 PM on February 20, 2008


Heh. I actually used a slide rule a few weeks ago for some real work — I was rummaging around for a calculator, couldn't find one (normally I use my laptop for incidental math, but it wasn't nearby) and came across my dad's old slide rule. It took surprisingly little time to remember how to use it. I could have used the PalmPilot I found in the same box, but it had no batteries, of course.

DecemberBoy: Really? It's been maybe fifteen years since I've seen an EPROM in a hobbyist context (the real, quartz-windowed kind). Everyone uses EEPROMs or flash memory now.
posted by hattifattener at 11:53 AM on February 21, 2008


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