About This Site
A Brief History
This is the latest incarnation of my internet presence. I started back in the mid-1990s with a static website, hand-crafted in HTML3.2 and hosted on my personal computer. The URL for the website was the address of my dialup connection – from memory it was something like this:
It was, of course, only available when my computer was connected via dialup. I would arrange with my friends to make sure my internet was connected at certain times so they could see the site. Surely it was a novelty, but it was a beginning.
Later at uni I had a more permanent home on the web as part of my research lab – that site was at
http://ciips.ee.uwa.edu.au/~johnsons/. The pinnacle for that site was a set of scripts I wrote that would take photos from the webcam in the lab, compile them each day into a time-lapse video of the day, and then host it on my site.
I’ve been through just about every self-hosted blogging engine and blogging service at some stage since then, but that never lasted more than a year or so in any incarnation. I think the problem is that I was never particularly certain of my audience – I was writing and posting photos for my local and remote friends, but also conscious of a lurking audience of random strangers. It’s been a long learning curve.
I’m more clear on my audience now. I host this site mostly to share my various projects so that I may inspire, entertain, and frighten others. I also post the occasional thought that I find worthy of public consumption, though there aren’t many of those.
In 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns I did a stocktake of my internet presence and how I was engaging with all the tools, resources & websites provided by the internet. As a result of that I stripped back my accounts on many websites – especially the ‘social’ sites – and removed a lot of personal content from the web. My objective now is that any information about me for public consumption is hosted here, and nowhere else.
I speak only for myself on this site – I don’t expect there’s anything controversial, but it is clearly my own personal view and does not reflect the view of my employer or anyone else with whom I have an association.
I’ve really gone back-and-forth on comments. My first few sites were hand-crafted and static and had no commenting, so most of my interaction with the public was through emails. Once I started using content engines (MovableType, Wordpress, Textpattern) I was able to receive comments and trackbacks, and at first that was great. I lived through that initial rise of comment spam, but eventually disabled all comments and trackbacks when it just got too much. I look back now at the Comment Spam Manifesto from 2003, and it seems so quaint and naïve.
Speaking of spam: it seems weird now, but I remember a time before spam. When I got my first email address back in the early 90s, the mail server at my university had a completely open sendmail port. We used to prank each other all the time by telnetting to port 25 and faking the From: address because you could type in whatever you wanted. If that port was open today on a university mail server it would be absolutely hammered with spam!
Tracking & Analytics
I don’t do any tracking of visitors to this site. This site is hosted on Apache but I have general logging off – I’m only logging errors so I can debug any issues and detect bad actors. Knowing who visits this site or how many people isn’t information I need to know, so I keep logging off to align with my views on how technology should serve internet users.
Prior to this version, I have used a wide variety of technologies and platforms:
- Static Markdown files and the middleman ruby gem to translate them into a static set of HTML files that I hosted on Amazon S3.
- A Rails site hosted on Heroku
- Hand-crafted HTML files
Who knows what’s next. 🤷🏻♂️