Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fifteen Years of News!

Fifteen years ago we moved from Sydney to Melbourne and a website was born! Can you believe that this website has been around in some form for 15 years and next week marks the publication of the first post?

The First Year

We started the website as a way to share news and photos with our family and friends in Sydney. It was created using Microsoft FrontPage. The earliest version had a grapevine border and an animated gif somehow related to tea. It was launched with a newsletter and photos of Tony's and my trip to the United States the previous year and my parents' and my trip from Sydney to Melbourne. Anyone remember film cameras? We had a photo scanner to scan the developed photos onto our computer.

Over the following months we added an Other sites page that provided links to websites developed by family and friends, or contained content transcribed from hardcopy newsletters. Even back then I discovered that FrontPage created ‘bloated code’, adding a lot of additional Microsoft-specific code that I could delete. So I stopped using FrontPage and started to code in HTML.

Around April 2001 I think I did the first of many web courses, which prompted a complete change of the website. I added an Archive section for photos and journals loaded prior to 2000, a site map and What's New. How else do you think I could remember what changes I made to the website?

The Second Year

In 2001, Tony moved into a US-based company and started commuting to the U.S. We made plans to migrate to the United States and Tony arrived in San Francisco on the 10th September 2001, the day before September 11. I had packed up and vacated our house at Toongabbie and was staying with Mum and Dad until I left for the States. I went to bed on September 11 and awoke about 11:30pm. Dad was watching the late news and told me that two aeroplanes had crashed into the Twin Towers at New York. I watched the late news with growing dread. When Tony rang the following day to tell me he had arrived safely, I remember saying that I didn't want to go to the USA. I really wanted him back in Australia and I think our family would have preferred that too. But two weeks later I was off to San Francisco to join him.

I did not have a visa to work in the States so I had plenty of time to revamp the website again. Two months later we were back online in a post-9/11 America.

Home page of our news website at the start of 2002. White background and cartoon and text links

With the dot com boom (or bubble or bust) the shareholders of Tony's company decided to liquidate the company at the end of the year. We had been expecting to be in the States for at least a year, maybe two, so had brought the fur kids with us. Mitzi and Astra were old (for a dog and cat) so we had not expected that we would need to bring them home.

Getting the fur kids into the States was easy; getting them home was not. Both had to have a sufficient level of rabies antibodies before we could apply to ship them back to Australia, had to have lived in the U.S. for at least six months, and then needed to spend at least a month in Australian quarantine. Having only been in the States for three months we decided to enrol in online courses in HTML and JavaScript. The result? An updated website.

Home page of website in March 2002. Background is green with red and yellow gradient left border. Right and left side bars with additional links and weather widgets. Central panel changes to show info about each navigation link in the menu.

Doesn't it look awful? The central panel changed and provided more information about each of the options in the navigation bar when you moused over the option.

And for the geeks, it's all table layouts, unlikely to be keyboard-accessible, actually very likely to not be accessible at all.

Tony had discovered Blogger and we started using Blogger to update our News section. News became the easiest and quickest section to update, which was particularly useful when we started our six-week journey home.

Hiatus and Re-Launch

We didn't do much on the site after we returned to Sydney. The website was transferred to our own domain for a while and I played around with trying to make it accessible site, there was very little change to the content. Some of the photos look so tiny because I re-sized them to fit a 640x480 pixel screen, the screen resolution used by most web users at the time.

Both of us were caught up in work and other interests so we had little time for blogging. We then encountered problems with our web service provider and lost the sub-domains on which our websites were hosted.

In 2009 Tony re-discovered Blogger and started using it for his AFL prediction sites. Considering that most of the content we updated on our website was news and photos, Blogger seemed perfect for our needs so our website was re-launched as a true blog. (Doctor Who fans - does this mean pre-2009 is ‘Classic DebTony’ and after 2009 is the ‘Modern Era’?)

I do not remember what this site initially looked like back in 2009. (I no longer have a What's New page and wasn't able to find an archived copy in the Wayback Machine Internet Archive.)

Since we re-launched, there have been few changes. I played around with new gadgets and templates introduced by Blogger and included widgets (like LinkedWithin, which lists related posts) that I've seen other people use.

Our site on blogger with a picture of books in the background

Over the last couple of years I've slowly brought across all the news and photos from our old site into this blog, posting them with their original dates.

The latest changes? I've played around with the fonts (increasing the font size for my failing eyes!) and added subscription and search capabilities to the site.

Website with larger fonts and subscription and search capabilities

We do not seem to be blogging as much as we used to. The rise of social media has made blogging seem a little tardy. We can post a picture or musing on FaceBook, Instagram or Twitter within minutes of an event. For me, a post still takes much time and thought.

In this ‘Modern Era’ of our website, there are few posts by Tony. He still writes the occasional post but most of his writing is now available on his Matter of Stats website.

Posts to Peruse

So after bringing across and reviewing 15 years of content, here are some of my favourite posts or ones that mark significant events in our life:

Thank you to all of you who have dropped by and read our ramblings. We hope you have enjoyed them and look forward to sharing many more memories and musings with you in the future.

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