Thursday, February 18, 2016
Twenty years ago this year, I made the first version of this website. Though it has changed hosts a few times over the years, it has always more or less been based on the same core file structure that I started with in June of 1996, when I first uploaded it to bedford.net. I then got a job at pennswoods.net in August of 2001, and subsequently moved the site there. While being hosted at bedford.net and early on at Pennswoods, it had the usual URL scheme of most personal websites using the limited hosting provided by your ISP of the time, first being located at "http://www.bedford.net/sdunkle", and then "http://www.pennswoods.net/~sdunkle". Not long after I moved it to Pennswoods, I bought my own domain for it in around 2002, staceman.net. It remained on Pennswoods until around August of 2007. I got laid off at Pennswoods after working there for 6 years, and in turn lost my free hosting there. I then moved it to Hostmonster.
This year, after almost eight and a half years on Hostmonster (which was an incredibly sucky web host, I must say, but served my meager purposes despite their shitty bandwidth), I moved it over to GoDaddy. The site is still uploading to the new host as I type this.
And my, what a mess of online files one accumulates over the course of 20 years! Until I upgrade my account, I only have 1GB of space to play with. Surprisingly, it wasn't too difficult to prune out the excess stuff that would have pushed it far beyond that limit, after having been spoiled with nearly unlimited space on my previous host. The "excess" was thankfully rather obvious, i.e., a collection of MP3's of songs being worked on for fellow bandmates over the years to download for practice, a file archive, non-public pictures, stuff like that.
It blows my mind when I think about this being around for 20 years. When I started this site, twenty years ago in 1996 would have been 1976, and even back then that seemed like a completely different world, spanning my life from age 5 to 25. The difference between 1996 and now doesn't quite seem as major, but I'm sure that's because I've been more or less an adult during that time period.
In the 20 year history of my site, while it's always been rather low-key and not popular in the worldly sense, there are a few events that were significant to me. The first big thing to me after making the site was the page I made dedicated to the then new thing of video game emulation. "Emulation Nation" lasted less than a year spanning between 1996 and 1997, but looking back it felt like so much longer than that. I offered downloads and light commentary on the newest emulators of the time, of which there really weren't that many in the beginning. Being that the emulation scene was expanding at an amazing rate at the time with many emulators releasing updates many times per week and more new ones popping up, it soon became a huge chore to keep the page updated with the latest-and-greatest, and around April of 1997 I threw in the towel and ended the page. During it's short existence, it apparently did have a few fans as a result of my shameless plugging of it on Usenet, with a few people telling me they were sad that it was going. A definite high point was when the author of the "EMU" emulator of the time, which was one of the first to accurately emulate the Atari vector-based arcade games, gave me and 6 other emulation page keepers a shout-out that appeared when exiting the emulator. That was pretty cool.
Another page on my site that became somewhat popular in certain circles on the internet of the late 90's, was the "Packard Bell Sucks!" page, which detailed my struggle with my first Windows-based PC. I was part of a webring of PB hate, and I would often get emails and guestbook entries from others who shared similar frustrations. Also at the time, my page dedicated to the Ford Maverick proved quite popular. In the long run, it was quite possibly the most popular part of my site, and I still occasionally get an email from a fellow enthusiast, sending me pictures of their Maverick to include in my gallery.
On another significant note, I guess you could say that I started blogging on my site from the get-go before "blog" was even a term, having had a page on my site with a few essays of me bitching about various topics going on in my life at the time. Toward the end of the tenure of the site on bedford.net around 2000, I started blogging more regularly right on the front page. As more local people started trickling on to the interwebs, I caught the attention of a few disgruntled natives who didn't appreciate me complaining about a certain local grocery store and their owners after my youngest son was wrongfully accused of stealing there. When I started working at Pennswoods, I was surprised to hear a few of the younger fellow computer geeks there tell me they were familar with my website, and jokingly saying that I was somewhat of a celebrity to them since they had been checking it out for a few years, being that it was among the few early locally-based ones made by someone they felt they could relate to. Around 2002 or so, I also made the move to a content management system for the front page blog instead of either manually editing the HTML or using a WYSIWYG editor like Microsoft Front Page. I recently learned that the CMS I still use is no longer actively developed, long ago overshadowed by more modern database-driven packages such as Drupal, Joomla, Movable Type, and WordPress. I'll stick with perl-based Greymatter, thank you very much.
Another notable thing with my website was the page I made about obscure local history. It was/is a little virtual tour of the local iron furnace cinder dumping/slag piles area, and also the ancient Black Valley Rail Way. I received a fair share of feedback about the tours from other local history buffs over the years. I guess it was never enough for me, having never received any nods from notable local historical associations or people, and I eventually lost interest and never really kept it updated with all of the big plans I had for it. Well, it was that, and being a little shy and self-conscious and not being ambitious enough to go out and ask property owners for permission to take photos of historical things on their land.
Finally, there was my poetry page. A page of the dark, sad poems I wrote over the years when I was really down, which seems to be the only time I'm inspired to write. It would get a little attention every now and then. I was quite surprised to find that someone re-posted two of them on another website back in the late 90's. I would also get an occasional email from critics who felt I was too traditional with my rhyming, berating me for my poetry not being what they thought a modern poem should be, and being told by one of them that since they were an English teacher, their opinion was more relevant than mine. There was also the time a concerned father emailed me after finding a bookmark to my poems on his depressed son's computer, telling me that I shouldn't have such dark, depressing poems online since they could possibly reinforce someone's will to commit suicide. In recent years I've taken all public links to the poetry page off the site. Not because of the criticism or thought of deepening someone else's depressed state; mainly because I seemed to notice that in today's "YOU MUST BE HAPPY AND PROJECT JOY AT ALL TIMES" society, few really appreciate a dark and depressing, whiny poem, no matter how well it is written, which lead me to feel slightly ashamed of them I guess. Despite that, I still think they're quite good.
So there you have it, reflections on the past twenty years of my website. What a long, strange trip it's been! :-)
Posted @ 08:25 PM EST
Monday, November 16, 2015
I've really grown tired of social networking. Mainly Facebook. It has really brought out the worst in people that you thought you knew. I suppose I should be thankful. After all, between the happy-happy-joy-joy people who can't allow even one ounce of negativity into their presence and those who spill their guts and whine about every little bad going-on in their lives, it allows people to flag themselves as fearful right-wing morons instead of having to wait to find out the hard way.
Nothing has amplified this more than the last 7 years of the current presidency. I mean, I was already quite aware that I was surrounded by idiotic rednecks still living in the 1950's in this area. But things like, for example, the recent terrorist tragedy in Paris, along with the Pennsylvania governor announcing that he has decided to take Syrian refugees into our state, really stirs them up and brings out the ugly hatred.
Uh, do they not get that these refugees left their homelands to *escape* ISIS? Sure, it does raise a bit of risk of some of the bad guys blending in with them to get easy access to our state and country for nefarious purposes. But living in fear of that and lumping them all in as one and the same is much like lumping all Christians in with the KKK.
Unfortunately, I suspect that many of them only mind such a comparison when it's pointed out.
Posted @ 07:09 PM EST
Thursday, October 1, 2015
I get really puzzled when it comes to thinking about what peoples criteria is for writing off someone as a "negative person" that they no longer want anything to do with. People claim they need to get away from negative people. They also claim to prefer people who are genuine over 'fake people.' People also tend to complain about people turning their backs on them whenever they are going through bad times when they may need support from other people the most.
I am not one to broadcast my problems publicly, especially on social networking. I prefer to talk about the things going on in my life privately with those who I feel I can trust, whether in person or through instant messaging. For the past several years, there have been quite a lot of things going on in my life that weren't quite the best of times. People who I would chat with would ask me what is going on, and I would proceed to tell them. Not looking for advice in most cases, I was just laying it out to them because they asked, and a listening, non-judging ear is always a good thing to help get things out of your system. I was being "genuine" to the people whom I felt I built up a level of trust with, and I would gladly reciprocate, listening to their problems. It seems as time passed, my conversations with these people became more and more brief. They would ask how I was doing, I would tell them, and usually get the standard "well I'm sorry you're going through that." type of response. Now, maybe this is just me, but, telling someone you are sorry for something that is happening to them that you are in no way responsible for, seems a little silly. But, not everybody thinks like I do I guess. Not to mention, venting about an issue does not necessarily require an apologetic response at all, other than maybe something along the lines of "oh, that sucks!" and perhaps discussing some of the details. So anyway, usually not long after I am done explaining the negative things that are going on in my life, something would come up on their end, with them saying "oh, hey, I've got to go take care of this-and-that, brb!" and they would never come back. In most cases, if not all, I would never hear from these people again until I tried to initiate a conversation with them again, which would usually go about the same way. Eventually, I gave up.
I can only assume I was being "too negative" for them, apparently bringing them down, and was eventually written off as an undesirable person to converse with. So, stay away from negative people... got ya. Must be cheery-positive all the time. The new status quo. OK. It's like proverbially saying "That old friend of yours that is going through hard times and just needs a listening ear? TO FUCK WITH THEM! They'll only bring you down!" Some of these same people, when they go through bad times or have an annoyance, promptly broadcast their issues all over social networking. And they do it often, in between posts and memes condemning negative, toxic people and spouting happy, everything-is-wonderful type posts. And they get all sorts of comments lending them support. Many of them of the "I'm sorry you're going through this..." sort. And then you see them and the people who support them also posting about others putting all their "stuff" out there publicly on social networking, being labeled as attention/drama whores. In other words, complaining about bad, negative people. Yet, they get all sorts of support. But I, someone who prefers to only disclose my happenings to a select, trusted few in private, being "genuine," am written off.
I don't get it.
Posted @ 08:35 PM EST
Sunday, September 20, 2015
It really sucks that you have to be either a bar-rat or pot-head to be relevant to your old friends who still participate in that lifestyle. Of course, it was incredibly silly of me to think that once I got out of that lifestyle, that the people I use to hang with would still want anything to do with me.
It sucks that I wasted so many years of my life with these people, when I could have been making more meaningful connections with people who don't partake. It's too late to do anything about that, unfortunately, since people who have their shit together don't really want anything to do with those of us who are still struggling. Welcome to old age.
Posted @ 02:27 AM EST
Saturday, September 19, 2015
So what the hell ever happened to good ol' instant messaging? It seemed to have died a very slow death starting around 2010 or so. Facebook happened, and after it's own built-in instant messaging took hold, it was the beginning of the end. It all started of course with ICQ in the late 90's. For me, it really took off around 2001, and was going strong for about 10 years. The last time I still had regular users on any of the common IM programs (Yahoo, AIM, etc) was around 2011. I still log in every so often, there's never more than 4 people online, and it's a pretty safe bet that they're all running the IM on their cell phone. It's just not the same. I fondly remember many a night hanging out on my computer, actively chatting with many people, who were doing the same. It even kept going strong through the MySpace era. Times changed, more and more non-computer/online-savvy people got online via Facebook, and suddenly people who avidly used IM's had many, many more options of people from different eras of their lives to chat with. The introverted nerd who socially thrived through IM's was left out in the cold.
Posted @ 11:40 PM EST