Some wierd bloke spoke to me on the train

That would be me.

I’ve started speaking to strangers more. Here’s what’s happened so far.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a guy standing on the concourse at London Waterloo station. He was standing with an electrically powered bike. When I approached him and asked what it was, how it worked and so on, he seemed somewhat taken aback. After telling me all about the bike and his adventures on it we moved on to talk about Brookwood Cemetary and the special train that used to take the dead and mourners there from London. I learned that you had to buy a one-way ticket for the casket - which makes total sense, but I’d never thought about it.

The next day I was on the Docklands Light Railway coming back from having a horrid time working on the LUG server when I noticed the guy next to me was watching an episode of 24 on his laptop. I just looked over and smiled when I saw the window on his screen. I then did a double-take as I spotted an icon on his desktop for a program called AMEOL.

AMEOL stands for “A Most Excellent Off-Line (reader)” and is very popular amongst CiX (Compulink Information eXchange) subscribers. Cix was mainly a conferencing system which users called “Cixen” would connect to via a modem - and later the internet - to download messages for reading offline (in AMEOL). The messages were organised into topics a bit like people use discussion forums today. It was a great system in its day, with a large number of people subscribed the signal-to-noise ratio was generally excellent. If you want to know something or just wanted to shoot the breeze about a topic there’d be someone who could chat with you. It was kinda like usenet newsgroups without the crap.

Anyway, I asked the guy if he was a cixen (knowing the answer) and he told me his cix nickname which I’ve now forgotten. We sat shooting the breeze about old times on cix, the cix barbeque and some of the better conferences on cix until he realised we’d arrived at his stop, just as the doors were closing. He leapt up with a “nice to meet you” and away he went.

Today I was sat on the train on the way home listening to some podcasts on my iRiver, reading a copy of Linux Magazine I’d picked up at WHSmiths when I happened to notice the couple sitting opposite me. They both had white Nintendo DS Lites and were clearly engrossed in their games. When I’d finished listening to a podcast I put everything away in my bag, and got out my black Nintendo DS Lite in its carry case.

I waited for an opportune moment when the guy had stopped playing to look around and asked him what game he was playing. We chatted for a bit and he offered to play a 2-player game. For those that don’t know the Nintendo DS has a natty feature wherein some games can be sent wirelessly to other people who don’t have the game cart. That allows you to play head to head with two DSs but only one game. We played a 2-player game of Mario, and great fun it was too. It was a close match with a draw coming just as my train pulled into Farnborough station. I thanked the guy for letting me play and left the train.

This policy of talking to strangers more certainly is beneficial, even if I feel somewhat wierd doing it.