[Logo]   About the site

This section of my site contains pages about how this site is set up and about its history. This page has short overviews and (when I get to writing them) links to more detailed descriptions.

How the pages came about

The genesis of these pages was in the late 80's when I had a file that contained a list of FTP sites (this predated the web) that I used. I may even have been keeping a file of net references before then. When the web came about, I started collecting WWW URLs. Then when the SIPB at MIT set up a site to host web pages for anyone with an account on the main academic system at MIT (Project Athena). I converted my list to a web page and put it up via SIPB's server.

I continued to collect pointers to things of interest to me, and as the web grew this page grew, until it became several pages. Eventually, I moved on from MIT and the plethora of search engines erupted, so retaining a list became less useful and the MIT pages fell into disuse (by me, from the number of comments I receive, clearly others are using them). In the meantime I had set up several other web sites for various groups, and eventually became a consultant and set up a site for my consulting business.

Alongside all of this, I had been maintaining a text file that listed the books in my collection and wanted to put it on the web, so I could get access when I was in a bookstore to answer the question "Do I already have that?" I also started taking digital photos and thought I'd make some available to view.

At the same time, because of the sheer size of the web, it's occasionally hard to find exactly what I'm looking for with search engines. So, when I do, I want to record it, so I can find it quickly next time. This has caused me to set up this new personal site to hold that info. I started by taking the old pages from MIT (which were still there with last modified dates over a decade old), and started adding them to the site so that I have a place to record these things.


I have a strong philosophy that computer systems should allow maximum user control. One of the reasons why I'm a strong advocate for emacs and other GNU software as well as Open Source software in general.

As I view the many different sites that exist out on the net, I see things that I like and things that bother me. I understand why some of those features may be desirable for some people, but not for others. This has led me to make this site allow you, the visitor to the site, to select which navigation items you want to see (look down at the bottom of every page for links to do that).

Personally, I prefer a more austere layout with a set of quick navigation links at the bottom of each page. This gives more room for the text which is the meat of the page. That's why this is the default. But I know people who like to have a Table of Contents on the left margin to remind them where they are and show the alternates. And some people like navigation tabs at the top of the page for this same info. In fact all three of the navigation sections here are derived from the same structural info about the site. Since different people have different preferences, I have allowed for all these, in any combination, in all the sites I design these days.

The desire to have that flexibility, and the well integrated database support for doing the Library pages, are among the reasons for my selecting the Spinner web server, now renamed Roxen.

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Page generated 2024-06-23 at 14:20 GMT
Copyright © MMXXIV Michael A. Patton

And finally, a random note:
There are three kinds of people. Those who can count, and those who can't.