Around Christmas I launched a new personal website. It’s the first time in years I’ve written all the code for a website from scratch. All those new CSS things with responsive design and media queries scared me off so for this blog and other sites I’ve mostly depended on themes made by others and then customized them a bit. Then I came across a great summary/overview of CSS and was inspired! So now I’ve also changed this blag’s design a bit, the main addition being a dynamic header menu that stays at the top when you scroll1. I can find these annoying as they reduce the amount of space for text, especially on the phone, but I think it works fairly well here as it’s now easier no navigate around even if you’ve scrolled to the middle of a long blog post.
However I did find 11ty which looked nice, and more recently updated than Jekyll. They have great little animations making fun of buzzwords and a cute possum on their website. That’s enough to sell me. I love that you can run it from basically nothing without any setup other than installing and creating a new directory. What finally put me off using it was mainly that their plugin ecosystem isn’t as strong as Jekyll’s yet, in particular the syntax highlighter could need some work. But when/if I decide I want to give myself
more work a fun hobby, I’ll definitely look into it again. Jokes aside this current setup with Jekyll would really need some dynamic resizing of images so download size can be adapted automagically when you’re on a bad connection.
When I was seventeeeeeeeen
<table> and using 1x1px images to align elements. When CSS came around we could style the table borders to align things instead. Yes it was the stone age.
I’m sure you’re dying to know what kind of websites I used to create.
Mostly it was video game fansites. One of the more interesting ones was ‘the Games Comparison Archive’ where I wrote articles comparing games in the same genre, as well as collected and normalised review scores from game review sites. Unfortunately Wayback Machine doesn’t have a snapshot (likely because the site didn’t last very long) and weirdly redirects to some dos games archive but I’m 99% sure this was the URL: gamesarchive.etmnet.com.
Too bad I didn’t continue, I heard metacritic was fairly successful.
The coolest thing I did was probably a Swedish fansite for Warcraft 3. I started it in May 1998, one and a half years before the game had even been announced. The first version was just a wishlist for what I wanted Warcraft 3 to be. Then I started getting emails from random people, who wanted to share their own wishlists. So I put theirs up as well. I started posting news, and as the rumour mill of the actual game wasn’t running very quickly, the news were mostly about the wishlists and what happened on other Warcraft fansites. It was fun and kind of weird to know there were other nerds like me out there, and be able to connect. I managed to find web hosting from ETMNet so I could use Perl CGI scripts to update the news more dynamically than editing and uploading HTML all the time.
At some point I figured all these nerds sending me wishlists might want to talk to each other and not just me. So I found a book about PHP with a tutorial of how to program a forum. My foundation skills in programming started there, and to this day I still believe the PHP documentation is one of the best ones out there. If nothing else for the fact they’ve got a comment system where people shared tips and tricks. Kind of like Stack Overflow but much earlier. The site grew, the forums got more active and I even hired people to help out. I paid them in nerd sweat. (If you, dear reader, happen to be one of them then please get in touch! It’s been too long :)
I redesigned the site a billion times. The oldest version I can find on Wayback machine is one from April 1999, five months before Warcraft 3 was announced in September 1999.
And here’s what it looked like in 2001, when I apparently had gotten my own domain name.
I closed and reopened the site many times as my motivation went up and down. The funniest ‘closing message’ I remember was one that went something like:
“If motivation could be bought on a can, this wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, such is not the case.”
Somewhere around when World of Warcraft was announced, me and the fine people of diabloii.nu, a Swedish fansite for the Diablo games, got together and created warcraft.nu. It was likely Sweden’s biggest Warcraft fansite at some point, we had at least 10k visitors a month if I recall correctly.
I lost interest around 2005-2006 or so, I can’t remember exactly when. But the others kept the site going for years after.
Looking back at it now, I cringe at some of the things teenager me wrote. Not to mention my nickname, I’m dying of embarrassment. But mostly it’s fine. Sometimes even funny. And also it was 20 years ago. I suddenly feel old. The interwebs were cooler before they became cable TV.
If you’re wondering about the .nu domain it was commonly used among Swedes because ‘nu’ means ‘now’ in Swedish (and in a few other languages). Also I think it was difficult to get a .se domain name as an individual back then so .nu was the common way to go. Apparently the country Niue sued Sweden’s internet foundation in 2018 for taking control of the domain name.
This is no longer true as of April 2020, I changed the design again! ↩