Posted in Blogging

Websites Going Retro & Accidental Import

Last year, I first wrote about the project to recreate my old 2004 FFIV fansite, Sygnus Star, on the Neocities platform. Thanks to inspiration from the FFIV Pixel Remaster (which I still need to finishplaying) I’m pretty much done with the restoration of that site now.

I just happened to have kept all of the old files that were needed to rebuild the site from scratch. I did make some updates – this site existed before CSS and stylesheets were widely used – and I’ve learned a whole lot about HTML coding in terms of using CSS that I didn’t know in my youth.

You can check out the Sygnus Star recreation here!

I had so much fun with that project that while I could still tweak a few more things, the gears in my head started moving and I decided I wanted to make a whole nother retro page from scratch. This time, I chose to transform my secondary WordPress blog, Spot of Mummery, into a hand-coded HTML site.

There’s a number of reasons I chose to do this…

  • My WordPress subscription renewal was coming up and it felt like the cost to Support Neocities was equivalent or even a better deal for me (I can make up to 30 websites on one account and they even allow you to point a domain to each of them!)
  • Sustaining more than one blog with FFXIV content was starting to not make sense – there’s a lot in Spot of Mummery that doesn’t belong here on this blog, but a lot that did. It was starting to take content away from my main blog at that point.
  • I’m having an absolute ball building retro websites and the basic content of Spot of Mummery could absolutely fit into that niche!

So over the past week or so, I’ve been busy at work coding the new site.

Check out what I’ve done so far here!

I still have a bunch of work to do to transfer the remaining story content, but overall, I think it’s been a great move for me. I’ve been able to be much more creative and make the page exactly how I want it to be – something you just can’t do in a WordPress.com hosted environment (it’s sometimes hard to do even self-hosted).

Plus I’ve been learning a ton of new things as I find ways to work around not having PHP – CSS and Javascript power this site, but I’ve been able to install an art gallery, blog and more. Of course, I’ve had to rely on third party stuff for things like a guestbook, counter and chat box, but that was always the way even back in the day.

The one thing that I was snagged on was what to do with the blog itself. There was a LOT of content to pull over, and while I do have a blogging solution within the site, it’s not really meant for hundreds of posts (though it could handle them I think).

That’s when it occurred to me that I could maybe merge some content that felt relevant enough into this blog, and then transfer the rest of it to the static site over time. I wasn’t meaning to merge a great deal – just a little at a time – so I set up a one month export on the second blog.

Or, at least, I thought I was only exporting one month of content. Seems like WordPress had ideas of its own.

It wasn’t until I went to import here on this blog that I saw it trying to pull in over a thousand files!! I knew that the number of posts in that supposed one month period of time shouldn’t have been that big! But the import was already going, and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it.

So yes, it ended up importing all of the posts in Spot of Mummery to this blog… which… wasn’t what I wanted it to do.

I’m already working through cleaning out non-relevant posts, but now I have another project on my hands. Thankfully, the images are still hosted over on my second blog, so there’s not a lot of broken pictures in the posts. But some of the posts may show up wonky and some of them simply don’t belong here.

If you see weird stuff floating around, I’m working on fixing it. And don’t be surprised if a number of the posts vanish, too, as I determine what belongs on the static site vs. what fits in here.

I guess on the upside, I’ve somewhat answered my own questions about whether I really need a second blog or not.

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.