September 5, 2015 colophon

Blog Past and Future

This blog started as a single static page in 1995 as a set of links to provide to my students while I was teaching at DevelopMentor. I would like to show you a screenshot of that initial page, but as it turns out, the site predates the internet archive, so I can only show you what it looked like in 1998:


I guess I was doing some independent contracting at the time, because I was billing myself as a Windows Object Architect,” whatever that is. BTW, I wouldn’t call that phone number if I were you — I don’t know who it will ring, but it won’t be me. The rest still works, however.


Over the years, I’ve done more or less blogging based on my current gig:


This post will be my 2,650th, with the peak in 2003.


Now, I’m far more active on Twitter:


My first tweet was in October of 2009. I’d had an account for a while before that, but I just didn’t get it at first. Now I love it and have produced 3,053 tweets in 7 years. I find that while I like long-form writing a great deal, it’s much easier to find the time to turn a single thought into 140 characters then into 1400 words.


This is all coming up now because I’m busy moving to Blot, which gives me a chance to take a look back at all of this content I’ve generated. I love Blot because I can dump all of my old content into Dropbox in HTML fragment format (along with some per-file metadata) and Blot will produce a reasonable static site for me. By moving to the file system from a blogging API (AtomPub in my case), I can remove the need to use blogging tools (like Live Writer) and instead switch to any reasonable editor I want.

Further, since Blot supports all kinds of formats, I can move to Markdown for new content but not have to try to translate all of my HTML content, which is a lifesaver.

Unfortunately, the port to Blot is taking longer than I’d like for two reasons. The first is simply that David Merfield just didn’t anticipate some old guy dumping 20 years worth of blog content into his system, so there have been some problems. The good news is that David is extremely responsive. Every system has issues, but the measure of quality is how long it takes to go from issue reported to issue fixed and in the case of Blot, that time is sometimes days but often hours, which includes adding features specifically for my use case that he just hasn’t needed before. Highly recommended.

The Dead Web

The other reason that this translation is taking some time is that I’ve got a few link formats in my content and relied on IIS URL rewriting to keep them working. As I move to Blot, it’s easier to just fix the URLs as I extract the data from SQL Server (and I still use and love RegexD to figure out how to translate those URLs). As I do that, I’m testing for 404 links on my new site to make sure that I haven’t screwed anything up (I like Xenu’s Link Sleuth for that work).

What I’m finding is that I’m fixing my own URLs but finding hundreds of links into the larger web that are broken. That’s just depressing. I work hard to keep my site running for anyone that wants the old data and I’ll be working with David on a URL forwarding scheme and 404 logging to keep external links working as I move to Blot. However, that doesn’t seem like an important goal for other folks.

Where Are We?

Still, I get to move to Blot and use whatever editor I want from whatever OS I want, so I’m a happy guy. Hopefully that happiness will translate into more blog posts, but if it doesn’t, I imagine I’ll still be spouting off on Twitter at the very least. Everyone needs a place to spout off sometimes.