Like most kids, mine spent a lot of time on the Internet when they were growing up. As far as I could tell, it was the thing to do. Among their generation, computer geeks and gurus seem to have been held in the same sort of esteem that my generation once held rock stars. When kids disappeared into their rooms, chances were good that they were hacking on computers, not mastering guitar riffs (well, real ones, at least). It may or may not be healthier than some of the diversions of my own misspent youth, but that’s a topic for another kind of book.
Despite the rhetoric of techno-pundits about the Web’s potential to empower an upcoming generation in ways unimaginable by their predecessors, my kids seemed to spend most of their time playing games. To fetch new ones in my house at the time, they had to download to a shared computer which had Internet access and transfer those games to their own computers to install. (Their own machines did not have Internet access until later, for reasons that most parents in the crowd could probably expand upon.)
The problem with this scheme is that game files are not small.
They were usually much too big to fit on a floppy or memory stick of
the time, and burning a CD or DVD took away valuable game-playing
time. If all the machines in my house ran Linux, this would have been
a nonissue. There are standard command-line programs on Unix for
chopping a file into pieces small enough to fit on a transfer device
split), and others ...