Sorting Through an Old Hive

As some of you on Blogger-based weblogs may know, a fraction of those sites recently had to convert from a particular old technology to a newer one. The owners of affected blogs received a series of email notifications from Blogger tech support, and by now any such sites have been converted over to The New Way… or can no longer be updated.

Running After My Hat is my first non-Blogger blog. But over the years — for myself and for others, some paying and some not — I have built and otherwise had a hand in contributing to a total of twelve Blogger sites. I got notifications that four of them had to be converted to Blogger’s current service level, and somehow managed to get them all switched over about a week before the May 1 deadline.

One of the four was a real relic — one I’d almost forgotten about.

Back when I did one of my first tech books, I acquired the first Internet domain name all my own. Its purpose was to support the book and its readers in any of various ways; over time, it also started to accrue bits and pieces of personal information. At the time, Blogger was still a novelty, still operated by its developer (a company named Pyra, later acquired by Google). The first several pages of my site, I put up in January 1999; by November, I’d decided it was time to try this weblogging thing, and created my first blog.

During the conversion of the old form of the FlixML Weblog from old to new (but no longer maintained!), I had a chance to re-read the old entries. The very first posts, starting November 4, 1999, dealt almost exclusively with computer and Internet technology. But even back then, I’d already gotten bored with writing about technology only. The November 8 post said, in its entirety:

Ah: electric bagpipes. Why didn’t someone think of this before???

(Gee, my blogging style was a hell of a lot more terse back then — though in fairness, so were the styles of many bloggers. That was also my first post whose links to other sites still work; every post, pretty much, consisted of a link and a sentence or two of commentary.)

By January, 2000, I’d already run out of gas. The last entry I can find with a working link was dated January 5:

No idea how often, if ever, this page of “things people said on their resumes and cover letters” might be updated… but it’s hilarious, and well worth at least one visit.

In retrospect, I’m not sure I’d now describe it as hilarious — but heck, we’ve had over ten years to burnish our notions of Internet hilarity.

As for the general site built around my domain name, I eventually gave up the domain name itself, and by now it’s no doubt been co-opted by some mercenary squatter. But you can still see the site’s ghost via the magic of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine: the FlixML Home Page is here. The technology and information about the book per se is kinda ho-hum by now, but some of the other content may be of passing interest. Like the B-movie stuff. Or what passed for my “personal home page” back then, with its offspring pages… including this absurd photo:

Yes, that’s Wallace & Grommit apparently bursting from my chest, à la the baby alien from John Hurt’s in that movie.


Note: The image at the top of this post came from a clip-art package included with an old version of WordPerfect, which was the word processor I used back then. The book for which I set up the FlixML site had page-long reviews of B movies scattered through it; these were called “B Alerts,” and were marked in the margin with an icon-sized version of this beekeeper. These B Alerts covered five B-grade films: Carnival of Souls, Detour, He Walked by Night, Ms. 45, and Targets. In the book which followed, I added four more: Caged Heat, Criss Cross, Johnny Guitar, and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. (You know where to look up all these films.)

Techies and would-be techies who thought Just XML would be a sober reference work — despite the jacket copy and earlier reviews, which made it obvious I’d taken a light, informal approach to the subject — absolutely hated the B-movie material. Sigh…

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  1. Awesome, John! LOVE this entry, and I LOVED the idea of those B-movie reviews strewn throughout a technical book! GREAT idea!

    Have a wonderful weekend, you W&G fan you.

    Btw, WordPerfect used to rock. It’s okay still, but Word’s come a long way. I know, I know, you’re an Open Source guy, but still. WP rocked.

  2. Just catching up on your posts. I had seven other blogger blogs prior to this one, under different identities, that I deleted and reading this I feel a bit nostalgic for them. It might have been interesting to keep them floating in the blogosphere for eternity, gathering a comment here and there, updating to new Blogger formats, forever.

  3. Darc: Well, as they say, Open source by choice, proprietary by necessity. (Actually, they don’t say that, but they might as well!)

    My first word processing software (CP/M) was WordStar, which (compared to typing? I mean, come on!) felt like a huge leap. I switched to text-based WordPerfect under MS-DOS, and was deliriously happy with it right up until I read a review of (I think) WP 4.2, which actually displayed fonts! exactly as they’d print! right on the screen!, and much else besides — like embedded graphics. Loved all the keystroke commands, and to this day, when using ANY word processor, I use the mouse as little as possible. Left to my own devices, I might very well still be using WordPerfect!

    Squirrel: I’ve got a book around here, one of those compendia of interesting foreign words and phrases with no exact equivalent in English. One of the words its author introduced to me is razbliuto, which he defined as a Russian noun for the feeling a person has for someone which he or she once loved but now does not.

    Over the years, there’s been a great deal of controversy about whether or not the word actually exists (apparently not) or is simply a mangling of some word which does (apparently so: something like “to fall out of love”). Lost in the furor, as often happens when things turn furious, is the point: this is such a lovely concept that it really needs a word. It’s beyond, deeper and richer than, simple nostalgia — because with nostalgia, you’re confessing to still love the formerly loved. But razbliuto or whatever is a finer thing, a sort of meta-nostalgia: If only I still loved X…!

    Which is a long way of getting to my point, which is that this feeling needn’t be confined to people we once loved but no longer do. I utterly empathize with your razbliuto about past writings.

    (Ha ha, that clever maybe-lunatic reCaptcha is babbling at me: (1980) mousses.)

  4. I’m sorry. I really want to read the entire post and comment, but I can’t stop laughing about that photo.

    Now that’s hilarious.

  5. JES, this photo is class! Priceless. You look like a rock star from the neck up but as you say it looks very surreal from the neck down just as if the aliens have indeed gotten you!

    Techie books and B movies – a fine match. haha

    There is something about the flotsam and jetsam that washes about the www that I find disturbing. Though not a remarkable tidy person I have a yearning to clean it all out, eliminate the old, retired, mistaken and unfinished. But then against my will I think, “slow down with your tiding”, this is like beach combing – often nothing to find but now and then a gem (one persons rubbish a another’s treasure… sometimes). And of course this accumulation of oddments smacks of promise – even when it may well be a lost cause. Reasons to hold off but I still hover over the delete button now and then wondering if less is more for the greater ‘burnishing of the internet’ good.

    A dear friend’s father recently died and now he is going though the house sorting out family possessions. As a photographer himself with photographer friends he keeps finding wonderful photos that his father must have kept. The best of the ones I have seen are of my friend as a young man, looking frankly gorgeous, brooding in leather with windswept black hair standing in the moorland landscape or sitting in his student friends kitchens – all talented photographers this photos are great. So his hunting though the archive is proving to be a highly enjoyable visual journey for me.

  6. That was fun! Thanks for the opportunity. Blogwise, you’ve come a long way, brother.

    My #1 nomination for B Movie awards is “Fido.” I can’t believe I spent an afternoon at my daughter’s house watching this thing at the request of my SIL. He’s just that charming. My SIL, not Fido.

  7. marta: Well, you know I live for comments. But uncontrollable laughter is a real close second.

    fg: “burnishing of the Internet” — I like that!

    The Missus and I differ in that I tend to get attached to “things” in ways which she does not. This makes for a certain amount of, er, creative tension on those occasions when we need to clear out clutter for one reason or another. I tend to think, well, if I just stack things up vertically then they really aren’t taking up any more space, are they? Which of course is just an illusion.

    (At work I’ve been fooling around with a software package called BumpTop: it turns the Windows desktop into a… well, a something which behaves very much like a real desktop. You can shuffle things into piles — sorted or “messy” — and if you throw things at the walls they stick there. It’s a little hard to describe, and I don’t know if I’ll ever really get used to it. But this demo video encouraged Packrat Me to try it out:

    Nance: I should probably do a post on B movies one of these days. Some of the films commonly classified as “B”-grade are… well, awful. I don’t care for those much. But then there are the hidden gems…

    Fido — I didn’t remember ever hearing of that one but I see, after a quick run through Netflix, that back in August I actually declined to have them enqueue it for me. After viewng its trailer just now, and based on what you say above, maybe I should reconsider!

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