When I started playing there was no internet. Books here were only about brazilian music so like Malmsteen, I(we) had to learn by ear whatever I(we) wanted to play. But Malmsteen had a tape player with adjustable speed, he could turn speed down and learn fast songs easier, my tape player hadn't it so I had to learn Malmsteen leads in the same velocity = nightmare.
With the internet finally I could spend my time playing and not learning a song by ear for hours and hours, it was paradise.
Then tabs......it's just like plug and play, you just google for a tab and start playing whatever you want, how could it be easier?!
These days people have everything at the touch of their mouses still so many are so lazy, like an USA friend of mine said, it's the spoon-feed generation, everything is so easy that they became lazy as hell.
I'm so grateful for being able to learn songs by ear, I can identify chords, toms, scales etc so practicing/studying is NEVER a waste of time