Once upon a time in a land (before Google)...

Once upon a time in a land (before Google)...

So what were we all doing 10 years ago? For a starter, I wasn’t writing for
Reseller News – that didn’t happen for another two years. On the legal and practical front, we were just starting to think about the Year 2000 bug, although with typical speed governments (ours was not alone) did nothing much until 1999. I’ve never understood those people who said “what a waste of effort – nothing happened”. Precisely. Because everyone got onto it and took proper precautions.

We were cranking up for changes to the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act 1975 and its first revision bill had come out of Parliament. It was so awful I felt motivated to go into “kill the bill” mode, with some success – it was canned, substantially revised, passed and is now being reviewed to see if it can be improved further. That’s lightning speed in lawmaking terms.

On the business front, I had just started out in practice on my own, and had spent a few happy days giving you resellers lectures on the Commerce Act and the Fair Trading Act, courtesy of HP and Tech Pacific. They don’t go away, those acts – but if you read these columns regularly, you’ll know that. I was using a desktop Pentium 2 that was state of the art (640 Mhz?), and still using Word Perfect because Microsoft Word was so clunky. Eventually, in 2003, the difficulties in communicating with clients forced me to change to Word, and some day I hope it will catch up. I did my daily backups on floppy disks and big backups on an Iomega zip drive that eventually died, conveniently at about the time CD-ROM writers became common. My pride and joy was a one megapixel Sony Mavica digital camera. I took some wonderful photos with that camera. It has a 14X optical zoom lens and wrote files to floppy disk. I still have it – why pay for an electronic whiteboard when you can have an ordinary one in each room and photograph your work? Yes I am your favourite type of customer – an early adopter of technology.

We’ve had a lot of changes since then. It’s hard to believe, but 10 years ago Google wasn’t even on the horizon. Now I don’t know about you, but I regard Google as an essential business tool – or possibly life tool. After I first came out of university, I trained as a librarian and I worked in libraries for several years. Computers were still programmed in Algol and Cobol, and data was entered using punch cards (yes, I know it dates me). But we had farsighted teachers who knew that databases were just around the corner, and taught us how they worked and how to access them even though we couldn’t get any hands-on experience. A few years later, I was the first librarian in New Zealand to use database searches – we had to run them through the CSIRO computers in Australia. Now the world’s data is on the other side of our computer screens, and we don’t stop to think how it gets there. I breathe, I use Google (please note that doesn’t like you using their trademark as a verb).

I’m on holiday in the South Island at present, writing to you on my laptop, picking up my emails, taking photos and checking the weather forecasts on my cellphone, driving around in our campervan with its computer-controlled, diesel turbo engine and 12 volt outlets that we can plug the notebooks into. But column deadlines wait for no-one, so I’m pleased to be able to take time out to write a happy birthday Reseller News article. And who knows: my pagemate Greg Adams and I may even get to meet some day! Maybe in the next 10 years...

(Editor’s Note: We tried to set up a meeting between Rae Nield and Greg Adams in May, but alas they were BOTH on holiday.)

This article is intended for general information, and should not be relied on as specific legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for advice relating to your own specific legal problems. Rae Nield can be contacted at

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