Recently there was a suggestion that we of the ODU each write up a “bio” and tell about ourselves. In typical Daven fashion, I didn’t follow the “format” of the first poster, but I came up with my own way of doing things.
But I started thinking a few hours ago. “Not bad for a cheesy site put up in a couple hours.”
That’s what Daven’s Journal started out as, a personal journal of a druid character on a site dealing with historical research and reenactment. I chose the Celtic countries, and beacuse I was Wiccan at the time decided to play a Druid. Not allowing myself to insult the memory of the Druids of old, I decided to do some research on Druids and share what I learned with others.
Thus “Daven’s Personal Journal” was born. It was a small information site off my “domus” (my “home” in the role playing side of things) that I used to inform members of my “family” (the Iceni) what was going on and what to do.
That was back somewhere around October of ’99. I know this because two events happened in August, I found Ancinet Sites and I got the job I’m still at now.
The site was pretty simple, and I still have copies of it someplace around here. It was a three frame design like it is now, but it was links to articles other people wrote. Some of those same articles are still here. Some of them were good, some bad, some VERY bad, but very few of them were very good. Mike Nichols’ works were the exception to that rule.
I spent my time and winnowed the good from the bad and came up with a lot of what is still here. I started working on the theme of the site. I changed it from the “parchment” pages you see to a more modern book of research with a darker cover and more pages. Thaaaaaaaat didn’t work out so well. I changed back to here. I was planning on doing a whole theme change any time I did a major update to the site. That never manifested.
Looking back now, my first site was pretty sad. Navigation to the left, branding on the top, content in the main frame here…. oh, wait, I STILL have that going on…
Mostly what I had was the germ of an idea, that I was able to build around. I did that by learning HTML, learning some CGI and some Java. Mostly I used canned scripts (meaning that someone else wrote them and I simply took them and modifyed them for my use). I always used Front Page, by Microsoft, to do the gross coding, the what you see is what you get layout and writing, and just tweaked it in something like Notepad. I knew that I didn’t even want to try to use hand coding for everything. This is despite having several dozen HTML editors and programs available.
I had a few goals for the Journal. One was that it be available to the most poeple possible. So I made sure I had support for those who didn’t have Frames support, or those who had vision problems. Even for those who have text browsers, they can still come and see what I’m doing here. I wanted to make it fast loading, so I worked my ass off to make sure I didn’t suffer from “code bloat”. You know all that extra stuff that Microsoft puts in the HTML files created in Word? That’s code bloat. It adds all this unnecessary code into the document that is not necessary and which can be handled more efficiently by other methods. I didn’t want the front page of my site to take 2 minutes to load up, nor did I want it to be more than about 10K.
I was proud as anything when my first three sites could all fit on a floppy disk. All 85 pages of it. WITH the images. Had me sticking my chest out for DAYS when it went live.
The hosts I had to deal with…. sheesh…. Geocities, Homestead (yes I had a mirror there, get over it), Crosswinds. I had my main site on Crosswinds, and then they kept messing with me. I stayed with them, BOY did I. I even recruited others to be on Crosswinds too. I think that’s where the Journal started getting noticed. But Crosswinds messed me over, because I was a free account, I didn’t rate. So I started looking around for a place to park where I could stay for long term.
I found Drak.net from WitchVox. WV was hosted on Drak, and if it was good enough for them, then it would be good enough for me. But I had a problem. I didn’t have money, and they didn’t offer free accounts (at the time). So I went to work for them for a while. I did tickets, but I didn’t know much Linux, which was the main thing. I tried though. Boy did I. I met some people on there that I still consider friends to this day. Jaz Gordon. Jen (Rhiannon) the propritor of Drak.
Ah, I was such a simpleton at that time. < sigh >
Things happened and things changed, the Journal got redesigned, re-written, added to and expanded. What started as a collection of other people’s articles has become almost 3/4 my own work exclsuively, and what is other’s work is too important to remove. I think it’s something of a status symbol for me to offer to repost an article here.
There was a time when I would be thrilled when the hit counter would go up four or five places in a day’s time. Now I note that it has gone up nearly 500 unique hits in just a couple days. It should also be higher. Each time I moved the journal, I reset the counter. This one went active when I moved from Crosswinds to Drak and has been operating ever since. It only counts one hit from an IP each 24 hour period. So if this is the first time today that you have visited, you will be counted. If you reload the site 200 times, it won’t go any higher. But tomorrow, it will climb one number again. And it will ignore my hits and those from my workplace. The silly site sees the Firewall we have at work, and is set to ignore that IP address. So all those from work that come here it won’t see either.
There are days I’m in awe of how popular the Journal has gotten. I’m contacted by famous pagan authors to reprint my work in THEIR books, I’m friends with some of the most pervasive thinkers and authors in modern NeoPaganism, and past Paganism. I call some of the authors you started on friends and have < squee > their PRIVATE email addresses…. And now I have a book.
True I have several that I have worked on and written and archived and taught from, but this is special. This is the first book I wrote and that Liliane illustrated that is ready to go to the printer. Really. I could take this down and have someone print up several hundred copies and sell them. But several years ago, I promised I would give the stories away.
So the text files are still up of the stories. The finished product with the illustrations and the layout the way I like it will have to be purchased. Sorry about that. I gotta eat too.
To everyone who helped make the Journal what it s through suggestions and offers to help, thank you very much. To those who said this place was boring or useless, stick it. To those who told their friends about this cool place, keep it up.
And to everyone, may we all last another few dozen years together on this ball of mud we call home.