Posted in Geek Stuff, Internet

Neocities – My New Retro Website Project

Check out the Neocities restoration of my old FFIV Fan site!

I started my journey on the web back in the Geocities days. I taught myself how to code in HTML and quickly started putting together my own retro-style websites as were the trend in the day. While I didn’t do the flashing text (I may have done scrolling text), I was guilty of animated gifs, bold tiled backgrounds and probably auto-playing midis.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the “old days” of the net lately. In fact, I’ve been reminiscing of those days – thinking about webrings and link exchanges and fun personal sites with visitor counters and guestbooks. Funny enough, I ran across a tweet that was talking about much the same thing, and in a comment, someone brought attention to the net community at Neocities.

Somehow I’d never heard of this place before, but when I went to look, it was fairly much like stepping into a time portal. Completely coded by the users (there’s even an HTML tutorial section!), many of them actually strive to recreate the awful old 1998 Geocities vibe.

But you know what… I actually adore it!

There are just plain neat sites like:

Almost immediately, I knew what I had to do.

I dragged out my old external hard drive, poked through the Wayback Machine, and started digging through my old FFIV fansite backups.

While I don’t have anything saved from the Geocities days – I did find a capture of that page on the Wayback Machine before I moved it to a different host back in 1999! – I do have backups from when I started moving to other hosts, and backups I saved through the years.

Starting with the year 2000.

Yes, I’m a pack rat. But you know what? In this case, it’s going to make for a fun and amazing restoration project!

The HTML and images are mostly all in-tact, but need some cleanup here and there. I looked through all of the files and decided I liked the year 2004 layout and design best for the front page. The rest is still up in the air, though.

So far, I’ve got the main page up and working. But I’ve got a LOT to do in terms of fiddling with design and choosing which year I want the other parts of the page to reflect.

I’ve had a LOT of fun brushing up on my bad HTML practices of the past (what are standards for anyhow?) – I was a table and iframe-using fiend in those days!

This is going to be just a side project that I work on casually and have fun with. It brings back the feel of the old Geocities days when you made sites just because you could and got excited when you saw that site counter go up!

You can check my site out here, but I encourage you to check out the community as well. There is a backend to Neocities that allows you to follow, comment and like on other creator’s creations. So it does have some modern net sensibilities wrapped up in there, too.

Posted in Blogging, Internet, Webcomics, Writing

The Passing of Project Wonderful & A Look at Current Blogging/Creativity

Does anyone remember Project Wonderful?

They are (were) a little company that allowed you to pay into the site and place ads up on other sites in the network. You could also place your own ads up on your page and people could purchase those in return.

A Short Look Back

pwadI used Project Wonderful quite a bit for various old blogs, writing sites, but especially for our webcomic, Wayrift. In fact, I think a high number of our long-term readers at Wayrift came from discovering us through Project Wonderful. For a small webcomic, it was an affordable option, and it really did connect a lot of the comics together.

At the height of advertising on Wayrift, I was not only breaking even, but making a little extra here or there. I won’t say that traffic was flooding in, but it wasn’t terrible, either. It was a pretty viable way of getting fresh eyes on our content. But for some reason, it fell out of practice for us to use it.

In fact, I haven’t used it a whole lot in the past 5-6 years. I did try a short stent with it last year, but didn’t really see a ton of results, and I was putting more money than I was getting views for. But even so, I never guessed it was on its last legs.

Relevance to the Blogosphere

Project Wonderful sent out an email yesterday (see it here) to inform all of us that this is the end. It said a few things that were relevant to how I’ve been feeling about the small websites, our blogs, and the health of the blogosphere. While this may be on the negative spectrum, I do think it’s relevant, and what I wanted to repost here:

…in the past several years, the internet has changed. Large sites like Facebook do all they can to keep readers on their network, rather than sending that traffic out to individual websites. As such, many readers – who used to visit dozens if not hundreds of websites a day – now visit only a few sites, and things like the indie “blogosphere” (remember that?) are disappearing. We’re hopeful that individual creators can adapt – either by embracing these walled gardens in a way that protects themselves, or by finding other ways to draw attention to their work – but as a network founded on supporting independent websites, our options were limited.

It’s certainly no secret that I’ve seen less and less in the way of active blogging as the years go by. There’s a certain set of writers who are either too stubborn, too dedicated or too frustrated to fold up shop and stop posting. But aside from those folks (thank goodness you’re here!), I’ve seen things slowing down as the years pass.

If we’re getting new folks in this space, they’re either hard to find, they don’t know the channels it takes to reach out and be heard, or they simply fizzle out after the magic of the new-blog smell wears off.

nbi_supporter_badgeThe NBI used to help a lot with that, but even that had trouble drumming up the energy and time to run. There wasn’t a whisper of it that I heard last month. I can’t say a lot because I’m in the same boat — with work and everything, I just don’t have the time to organize something of this magnitude. But it’s still a sad thing.

Interestingly, when I went to Google NBI, I found that there still appears to be a NBI Reddit out there that sometimes people post to, even recently. I wonder if that’s a tool that could be used for something more than it is now.

Anyhow, I’m starting to ramble. I don’t know that I rightly have the words to express my thoughts. I came from the early days of learning rudimentary HTML code in order to build your own free GeoCities site… because if you wanted to put your work out there, that was the best option you had. Due to that barrier, if you consistently made something good, it was noticed.

As the Web has grown, our options for communication have gotten wider to the point that everyone can easily spin up a site or a blog and share their thoughts. But just as many options as we have to be individuals online, as Project Wonderful has pointed out, with social media, our communication-vision has begun to grow narrower…

You can’t blame people for wanting to go where they think everything is (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Wattpad, etc.). But where does that leave all the creatives on the fringes? The new blogger. The new online web novelist. The uptsart webcomic. The digital artist…

Folks who are developing a craft and trying to find an audience? They don’t have much of a choice but to go where they think that audience is. Even if that means that they’re straying far from home into the sometimes scary world of social media. Even then, that doesn’t promise they’ll be seen or heard.

These thoughts are nothing new. They just keep getting stronger as the years go by.

I dunno. What do you guys think?

Posted in Geek Stuff, Internet

IRL Rant: Time Warner/Spectrum Internet Foul Up

I don’t usually rant about IRL stuff, but this really burnt my biscuits.

This is the story of two lazy cable techs and one tech who went out of his way to clean up the mess they left behind them.

This is a story that wouldn’t have happened if people had just done their job right. But it happened. So I’m writing about it.

Earlier today, Eri posted this in jest. Eri didn’t know how accurate this was…


A Little Background

cableboxNow, the way my Internet works – I have one underground line that runs straight from my modem, out of my house and to a green covered box in my front yard. For many years, I’ve been the only one to use this box, though there are two ports on there for two households.

Six months ago, I had an issue with my internet. It was slow to the point that I couldn’t pull up a website, much less do any gaming. So after the standard run-around on the phone, they sent a tech to my house.

He determined that the port I was plugged into had gone bad. He switched me to the second port and all was well.

However, he said that he would get a second tech out to my box to replace both of the ports. Because (in his own words) “When one goes out, the other is likely to follow.”

Now, I never got the absolute word whether this port replacement happened. But months later, when I had another Internet issue, I asked the phone support if that was done. She told me yes, it had been. They ended up replacing my modem that time, and all has been well.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday’s Foul

My net was fine before I left for work. Upon walking outside, I noted a white truck and a man working on the Internet box outside my house.

“Strange,” I thought to myself. “I didn’t call service. And I’m the only one that uses that box.”

I sensed trouble. I was right.

So, there are people who have been fixing up the place next to me for months now. It turns out they must be moving in soon, and decided to get high speed Internet.

It also turns out that the port that was dead six months ago had not been replaced. I know that now because the tech who came to install my neighbor’s Internet yesterday switched me to the dead port, gave them the working port, and called it a day.

Now, what makes me really angry is… this tech knew that the second port was dead. Why else would he have switched things around instead of just leaving mine alone? There was no reason to touch mine unless he realized the other port wasn’t working, and saw this as something that was going to take up more of his time than he wanted.

Even the tech who came out today and confirmed this saying, and I quote, “You are a victim of stupidity.”

Yes. Yes I am.

Yesterday’s cable installer purposely took my service, gave it to the neighbors who haven’t even moved in yet, and left me without Internet. He never called anyone to fix it. I guess he figured someone else would clean up his mess.

cantHe was right.

The tech who came out today was sharp. I wasn’t rude or angry towards him, but he saw what had happened and knew he needed to make it right.

He immediately called their line guy, who was very quickly at my house to exchange the dead port for a working one. It took him less than ten minutes. This wasn’t something back-breaking to do!

I got good service from the tech today. But the point is, that this tech wouldn’t have even had to do this if other techs had done their job right in the first place.

And the kicker? I had to use my work sick time to be there today for the appointment.

Yeah. Not a happy camper.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Posted in Gaming, Geek Stuff, Internet

The Internet’s Wasteful Things

wasteful-thingsBanner created with Make it Stranger. Thanks to Xaa for bringing its existence to my attention.

The Internet is full of wasteful things and folks who are caught up in acts of virtual hoarding… myself included.

It’s easy to do because the things we hoard aren’t physical. They don’t take up tangible space that we can see, so it slips by. We purchase another Steam Humble Bundle or add another free ebook to the ever-growing backlog. And then, one day, we wonder why these digital creations have so little worth and how it got so far out of hand.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for having a variety of cool stuff to pick from at a low cost. I love me some Steam sales. There’s some kind of momentary euphoria gained when you find something on sale or for free and you drop it in your backlog… be it a game, an app, digital music or an ebook.

But on the flip side, it’s easy to forget that there were people… creators, artists, coders, musicians… who put their heart and soul into these bits and bites. They spent untold hours pouring everything they had into creating that game, book, app or song.

And what do I do with it? I plop it in the backlog and forget about it.

As a creator myself, this makes me feel bad. I’m so… so… so… guilty.

steamgamesMy Steam library. This doesn’t include my GoG backlog. Or what I have on Origins. Or the multitude of MMOs I have installed…

Because as a creator, I know how it feels. I know how it is to put hours of my own free time into writing and art each week only to feel like that work is drown out by the endless cacophony that each person on the Internet is subjected to in an almost constant stream. There’s just so much vying for every inch of our attention, and it’s not humanly possible to give that attention to everything.

We learn how to selectively block things out. We become less sensitive and assign things less attention-worth because we have to. But what’s the results of this?

Loss of Passionate Creation

I think it hits the creators hardest. Yesterday, I read this post called When Everyone Is Special, No One Is. It focuses on this issue from a novelist’s point of view, but the same can be said for game designers or any kind of creator who wants their works to have some worth to the world. Even this writer has fallen to the ways of an overgrown book backlog.

Now days, anyone with the right tools can toss an ebook up on Amazon to sell it (spoken from experience). Or code a game and somehow get the concept passed into Early Access on Steam. There’s no one culling these things or checking them for quality, and just so many more appear day after day. And granted, not all of them are good or worthy of the price tag placed on it (sorry creators).

But the biggest problem is that with so many titles constantly flowing in, a small talented beginner, someone worthy of attention and money, may find it almost impossible to get noticed. You could have the most awesome idea ever embodied in type or code, but unless you get the right breaks, or somehow manage to go viral, who is going to hear about it?


Then you start seeing the desperate free book weekends on Amazon or Steam sales and huge game bundle sites… which probably don’t generate much more attention (unless you get really lucky).  It just lowers the worth of the product overall.

Maybe a consumer picks up the book or the game, only to toss it over their shoulder into the backlog and never look at it again. There’s no worth to that item… it’s just one of many already accumulated. This is the consequence of the Internet’s wasteful things.

Eventually, sensitive creators and would-be hopefuls start to get discouraged. Why should they bother putting their time and effort into something that it feels like no one cares about? There’s already so many games/books/apps/blogs/art out there, what’s the point in making another?

Bummer… but I understand that feeling too well.

Sadly, I don’t have an answer for it. I just know I feel guilty when I don’t give a game the appropriate time and attention that it probably deserves. There’s only so many hours of free time in a day.

Still, I can’t help but think about the creators.