The Gopher Revival Is Upon Us

A maxim for anyone writing a web page in the mid 1990s was that it was good practice to bring the whole thing (including graphics) in at around 30 kB in size. It was a time when the protocol still had some pretence of efficient information delivery, when information was self-published, before huge corporations brought everything under their umbrellas.

Recently, this idea of the small web has been experiencing something of a quiet comeback. [Serge Zaitsev]’s essay takes us back to a time before the Internet as we know it was born, and reminds us of a few protocols that have fallen by the wayside. Finger or Gopher, both things we remember from our student days, but neither of which was a match for the browser.

All is not lost though, because the Gemini protocol is a more modern take on minimalist Internet information sharing. It’s something like the web, but intentionally without the layer upon layer of extraneous stuff, and it’s been slowly gathering some steam. Every time we look at its software list it becomes more extensive, and we live in hope that it might catch on for use with internet-connected microcontroller-based computing. The essay is a reminder that the internet doesn’t have to be the web, and doesn’t have to be bloated either.

A Fossil Wrist PDA running the Overbite Gopher browser

Mobile Gopher Client Brings Fossil Wrist PDA Online

Like many new technologies, smartwatches needed a few iterations before they became useful enough for the average person. Early examples were too clunky and limited to be of use to anyone but geeks who wanted to show off their “next big thing”. The 2005 Fossil Wrist PDA was a prime example: although impressively compact for its time, its limited battery life and poor feature set made it obsolete as soon as it was released. But since it ran on Palm OS, it offered plenty of opportunity for hacking: Palm expert [Cameron Kaiser] has upgraded his Wrist with internet access.

While Palm OS 4 natively supports TCP/IP networking, this component was deleted from the Wrist version to save memory. In any case, the only viable network interface would have been the USB port, which isn’t too convenient for a watch. Not to be deterred, [Cameron] worked out a way to add network support back into the Wrist: he used the IR port on a Palm m505 to send a copy of its own network drivers to the watch. This works because both devices run the same basic OS version on the same CPU type; the only drawback is that the network setup dialog doesn’t respond correctly to the Wrist’s different set of buttons. Continue reading “Mobile Gopher Client Brings Fossil Wrist PDA Online”