More about me and this site

Ever since I started using the Internet, way back in 1995, I have always wanted to have a website, even if I didn’t have any useful content to put on it. The web interested me back then, and it still interests me right now, despite all the bad stuff that is out there. Because of this, I wanted to have my own personal space on this digital field, if only to learn about what goes into making a website.

The good ol’ days

The first sites I created were on the web space my ISP (who provided a dialup account at the time) provided, and on Geocities, back before Yahoo! acquired them. Back then, Geocities was much more community-oriented, and it actually felt nice to be a member – but those were perhaps the “good ol’ days” of the Internet. Admittedly, these sites were very amateur and immature in terms of design and content. I used all manner of annoying techniques, including animated GIFs, the blink tag, embedded MIDI files, frames, poor colours and the like. But hey, I was a kid, and I was learning, and most importantly, it was fun. I also had my first brush with programming, when I learnt of JavaScript.

Boy learns programming

A bit after this, I started to get more into programming, after taking some introductory high school courses. My search led to my PHP, a neat server-side scripting language designed for web servers in mind. This blended perfectly with my desire to learn more programming, and my interest in web technologies. I quickly downloaded a free web server, and set up my own test bed to play around with PHP. I quickly learned that while it’s useful, the true power of PHP was unleashed when it was paired with a database, so that web pages could be dynamically generated from database queries. All my previous experience had been with static pages, so this was literally a ground-breaking revelation to me, and I instantly saw the benefits it would offer. Thus, I outfitted my test bed with the MySQL database server and continued to play around, developing a few scripts here and there, eventually working towards my own website.

Design discovered

I soon began to get into real design, that is, wanting to design a site that a real person would like to use. My search led me to discover the art of standards-oriented web design. I finally dropped tables for use in layouts, and started to learn CSS, proper use of HTML/XHTML, in order to separate content and presentation – an ideal that was not only good in concept, but practically useful as well, since it allowed for easier site maintenance, and lower page sizes, and thus reduced load times.

The website is born

I finally started my own website using the dynamic DNS service DynDNS. This allowed me to host the site on my own server, even if it was off a dynamic IP address. While this was neat, it offered limited usefulness, since I would have to keep this computer running all the time to make the site accessible – not really possible when you’re going off to University and have other things to do. Thus, I lost interest for a while, and my site went dead. I sort of started it up again during the summer, but this time it was just a blog, hosted by Blogger. It didn’t really feature anything useful, rather it just contained my boring thoughts. (As do most blogs.)

Over the next year or two, my interest waxed and waned, mostly because school work and other priorities consumed most of my time. But finally in 2006 I decided I would “put my foot” down, and get something going. Thus, the idea that would become this site was born. I decided to go with a hosted solution, just because it would be easier, and finally got everything set up at the end of April, just as exams were finishing. I selected Site5 for a host, after reading many reviews.

The final incarnation?

The current setup is running WordPress on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) setup hosted by Site5. I chose WordPress because firstly, it’s a great blogging platform, and secondly, it’s written in PHP, which I’m familiar with, so tinkering with it should be easier for me. Thus, customization, which I love to do, shouldn’t be all that hard, and I should get a good return on any investment in time I spend in tweaking WordPress. I’m planning on making this site a fun learning experience.