May 28, 2005 | Category:

Holy Shit

Via an indirect link, I came across an old (2002) post someone made about Holy Shit moments and got to wondering what constituted my list. While this is nowhere near comprehensive, I stand by it.

  • Napster – I don’t recall exactly who first told me about Napster, but I remember I had spent the previous few weeks trying to find mp3s that worked and were of decent quality. The selection available was poor and the amount of searching needed was silly. Then Napster happened. You typed in the name of whatever you wanted and it would appear, ready to download. Wow.
  • Pipes (Unix) – It took a while for this to hit home, but the really rather simple idea of pipes was a definite Holy Shit. That one command could be used as the input for another, and that used as an argument for another (and so on) was a very useful realisation.
  • Design Patterns – I admit that I was extremely sceptical about the usefulness of patterns, and I also admit that it usually takes me a while to really get any given pattern but when I finally see the light, it’s a Holy Shit moment.
  • Super Mario 64 – I remember going into Glasgow on the N64 launch day and playing the latest Mario iteration for an hour. It was stunning from the start: the world seemed so complete and well realised, the goals so clear, and the controls were perfect (yet to be beaten). You were Mario. If you edged the analogue stick, he tip-toed passed piranha plants. If you hammered forward, snapped backwards and pressed jump, he’d do a backflip. For the first time, a character did exactly what you expected. Still stunning/
  • Broadcatching – Stupid fucking name, but a bloody good idea. RSS and Bittorent almost made my list on their own, but this has got to be the smartest bit of fusion I’ve seen on the net. You pick a torrent site, you get a decent client, and you tell it what you like watching. It downloads any new episodes that appear. This is the way that TV should work in the future, but likely won’t because of copyright fear.
  • The Usual Suspects – If you have seen it, you know why. If you haven’t, I’m not telling you.
  • The Matrix – Regardless of what you think of the wooden Mr. Reeves or the somewhat lacking sequels, the opening sequence of this alone changed the cinematic world. From the call to Trinity, the arrival of the agents, the first bit of bullettime, the rooftop chase, all the way to the escape through the phone line: wow!

I’ve purposefully left a few out for relative brevity (and because I can’t remember everything), but what are your holy shit moments?