Back in '98, a (now ex-) friend and I decided to make a Syd Barrett fan site. We built the blasted ugly thing on Geocities (before it had anything to do with Yahoo), complete with dreadful rainbow horizontal rulers and one of those extremely long URLs. We had no idea what we were doing with regards to design; we used the geocities WYSIWYG editor. It was definitely not a success. (We did, however, successfully spam a large amount of AOL members who had "Syd Barrett" or "Pink Floyd" anywhere in their member profile. *Snickers* I wouldn't do that sort of thing now, but that's an entriely different issue...)
After that friend successfully built what (at the time) looked like a nice web site on Angelfire, I decided to give it a try - this time as the sole webmaster. (What I didn't know at that point was the person in question hadn't learned HTML yet, she had done a decent job using Angelfire's editor.) I consider myself pretty smart, so I figured I'd be able to learn this new language easily. I had no idea where my friend had acquired this knowledge, but instead of asking, I went about it my way.
The first thing I needed was a free host with no ads (I've been anti-advertisement since I started). Being new to designing websites, I had no idea that you could make a personal site at pretty much any free web host. Hang on, let me qualify that last sentence. Obviously I was aware of creating and hosting a site somewhere, I'd already done so. It was the content of my first web endeavor that concerned me - what I had to offer to potential visitors wasn't run of the mill. My search for a host that would allow me to have a bunch of junk on the web led me to InternetTrash. Again my status as a newbie came out when I signed up for an account under their "adult" domain. (Years later it's great, because it's essentially where I staked my first claim on the web: http://internetdump.com/users/moonball/!!! Check out the old logo for what was then a new search engine.) Realizing my mistake, I set up shop at http://internettrash.com/users/moonball/ (As of 5 April 2005, it was also still there, though it was the 'I have moved elsewhere' version.)
With an appropriate host found, I had to learn what to put in the empty textbox known as the "HTML editor". What was my way? View Source! Basically, I started surfing the web for personal sites and tutorials. If I liked an effect on someone's site, I would view the source and try to reproduce it, then reformulate it to suit my needs. If it didn't work, I'd keep trying until a ) it did, or b ) an HTML guide cleared it up. I remember when I thought the code I was using to remove underlines beneath links was HTML :) I kept designing almost every day because there was always something I could learn or work on.
My first site was merely taking something and wrapping it all up in a cool package. I was (and still am) the webmistress (or webmaster, if you prefer)! I was in charge of creating and maintaining the workings of an Internet destination. That package I made would now be on full display!
It did feel like I was constantly tweaking and re-doing the display window, I must admit. Once I was satisfied, I would become dissatisfied in short order, and begin again. But there was still more work to be done. Addicted to HTML and creating new sites, I started signing up for free web hosting accounts all over the place. The majority of which were filled by my own content. At first I was just looking for a better URL and/or hosting spot. I discovered a fantastic free host that had just been launched: envy.nu (followed shortly after by virtue.nu). My main base of operation was http://envy.nu/moonball/. Then I just went bonkers with the hosting thing. I had all sorts URLs on the net (mostly with "moonball" as the username/directory/subdomain). Some of them served as a small portal to all of my projects. (a.k.a. a site collective - isn't that what the kids are calling it nowadays? Wait, it is. You're visiting one right this instant!)
On a whim I applied to be hosted at a domain I came across, fuh-q.com. To my surprise, Serra accepted me. [I have since repaid her generosity by spelling her name wrong in the original version of this document. "Oops!" doesn't cover it. I apologize, Serra!] She gave me the confidence to apply for space at other domains. Not that I needed more space, I guess I'm a URL whore ;) Being hosted by someone else was very cool, but I wanted more. That's why I registered echoing.org and echoes.nu in 2000. My own special place(s) on the Internet, and for extra bonus, I can be the hostess!
With my own domain (or two, or three...), I am able to offer shelter to others out there. Individuals with varying tastes and talents. Kindred souls who share my repugnance for ads that divert your attention from the site at hand. Webmasters who want the freedom to do whatever they please with their space. Persons of that ilk. So I've been doing that on and off for 10+ years.
That is not all I have been doing, of course. Over the years I have continued my coding education. For instance: HTML 4.01 begone! Things around here - part of the echoverse - are now (and have been for a while) built with XHTML, CSS and PHP. The code is often valid. Hooray for me, I love validation!
Somewhat bizarre obsession: installing, testing and many times ripping down PHP scripts. This replaces the previous obsession with CGI/Perl scripting.
Somewhat logical obsession: Learning more PHP. To date I have built several versions of the following (and actually made them work!): journal script, rss feed, mail form, secure login page, and an extremely basic hit counter. I've also accomplished other nifty tricks using PHP. The majority of what I know about PHP/MySQL has been learned from codegrrl and tutorialtastic. In an attempt to expidite the process of gaining this knowledge, I recently purchased PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide by Larry Ullman. I am probably tackling more tutorials as you read this. Or I might be sleeping.
The crux of this page? Answering "Why...?"
Now, wouldn't it have been easier if I put the above list at the beginning? Yes, it would. But then you'd miss out on my prolix documentation.
On that note, we've arrived at the end of the document. That's all... for now, anyway ;)