This is my 150th post, so I thought it would be a good time to do a retrospective of where I’ve been. I would’ve done this earlier, but I “missed” the 100th post I wrote back in September 2008. It just blew right past me.
Honestly, when I started this blog I wasn’t sure it was going to go anywhere. I was inspired to start it because I kept running into people on tech forums who had the same technical problems, or repeated the same tired arguments, and I got tired of repeating myself trying to correct them. I figured I would just write my thoughts once, and the next time someone talked about the same thing, I would provide a link to what I wrote here.
I started blogging (kinda) in 2004. I had set up my own website with a .Net service provider back in 2003, I think, so that I could create some ASP.Net demos that other people could see. This was during the “tech depression” after the dot-com crash of 2001. I was looking for work, and looking for opportunities to market myself. I got the idea to start writing and publishing on that site, probably from seeing other ASP.Net developers do the same thing. Only thing was I hadn’t set up any automated system for publishing what I wrote. I had some ideas about that, but I never got around to it. The main reason it was a pain to try to blog on my own was I wrote my articles in Microsoft Word, and exported them to HTML. That was never fun. Word put in TONS of tags for all sorts stuff I didn’t need, and there was no “simple HTML export”. My memory is that the way Word did things created problems on my website, but I can’t remember what. I don’t remember what I did to make things copacetic. Maybe I just did my own HTML “back porting” to fix the problems. So I only wrote a couple articles back then.
I think I had found other people who had blogs around this time, though I wasn’t real clear on what they were. How were they different from regular websites? I didn’t find the answer to that for a while. I finally did a search for blogging services in 2006. I found it was easy to set one up online, and the fact that they were free was a nice perk! I checked around at a bunch of different blogging sites. I had heard (I think) that Chris Sells of Microsoft fame had a popular blog on WordPress, so I checked this place out. The main thing I was looking for at the time was the ability to back date posts, because I wanted to import the two articles I had on my website, and date them to when I actually wrote them. WordPress was the only one I found that allowed this. So this is where I set up shop.
I’ve sometimes had to suffer through bugs in the WordPress blog editor. I’ve seen a few major ones. One of them made me want to tear my hair out a few years ago, but in most cases these were one-off instances where I wanted to do something new with an article, so I didn’t run into this crap that often. In any case, all of the nuisances I encountered were eventually fixed. If there’s one thing I’d really like is the ability to edit an article as if I were in “preview”. I hate this mode of working where I have to type something up in an editor that kinda-sorta does WYSIWYG, but not quite, and the only time I see what it’s really going to look like to readers is when I hit “preview”, and I can’t edit that! It would be a wonderful improvement if I could edit in a “live” WYSIWYG mode. We used to have this on PCs dammit! (There I go again!…)
I’ve already posted the top posts for 2010. Here are the top 10 most read articles that I’ve written since I started this blog on May 31, 2006. This is based on hit statistics to date, with #1 being the most popular:
(Update 5-13-2013: I deleted “The joy of Squeak” from my blog, since the source material I wrote about (the episode of Leo Laporte’s show, “The Lab,” which featured Squeak) no longer exists on the internet.)
1. Great moments in modern computer history, posted 8/22/2006, 5,762 hits
2. Java: Let it be, posted 3/6/2008, 5,301 hits
3. Squeak is like an operating system, posted 7/19/2007, 4,011 hits
4. Lisp: Surprise! You’re soaking in it, posted 5/10/2007, 3,909 hits
5. Exploring Squeak and Seaside, posted 10/10/2006, 3,836 hits
6. A history of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, posted 5/16/2008, 2,764 hits
7. Having fun playing with fire, er…C, posted 7/2/2007, 2,313 hits
8. Microsoft patches Visual Studio 2005 for Vista. Confused? Answers here, posted 3/12/2007, 2,171 hits
9. How to secure Windows XP against malware, posted 9/22/2006, 2,121 hits
10. The joy of Squeak, posted 3/17/2008, 2,094 hits
“Java: Let it be” was the most popular post I had written, for a couple years, but “Great moments in modern computer history” has gotten a consistent amount of attention since I posted it, and finally edged out my Java article as the most popular.
Since I started this blog for myself (though I’m thankful that others have found it valuable enough to read along), I’ve put in my own favorites as well. These are articles I’ve referred back to sometimes, and represent good memories or some realization I’ve made. I’ll just list them from the most recent to the oldest:
SICP: Exercise 1.19 – optimizing Finonacci, posted 11/22/2010
SICP: Exercise 2.6: Church numerals, posted 5/22/2010
Getting beyond paper and linear media, posted 5/6/2010
Realizing Babbage, posted 1/30/2010
SICP Exercise 1.11: “There is no spoon”, posted 1/18/2010
The death of certainty and the birth of computer science, posted 8/29/2009
Why I do this, posted 8/17/2009
Does computer science have a future?, posted 8/12/2009
Michael Jackson dead at 50, posted 6/26/2009
The beauty of mathematics denied, posted 6/19/2009
Tales of inventing the future, posted 1/23/2009
The “My Journey” series, posted from 12/29/2008 through 1/18/2009
The culture of “air guitar”, posted 6/10/2008
Kitties, posted 5/4/2008
Redefining computing, Part 2, posted 7/11/2007
Having fun playing with fire, er…C, posted 7/2/2007
On our low-pass filter, posted 3/12/2007
Great moments in modern computer history, posted 8/22/2006
Rediscovering Dr. Dijkstra and Giving Lisp a Second Chance, posted 5/31/2006
My favorites have changed with time. If I had made this list two years ago my emphasis would’ve been different. My tastes have changed as I’ve learned to see things differently.
As you can tell I haven’t written anything in the last 2-1/2 years that’s been a “big hit” with the internet reading public. As I compare the popular posts with my favorites, there are only two that are in both lists: “Great moments in modern computer history”, and “Having fun playing with fire, er…C”. I notice that all of the other ones that were popular have to do with a platform or a programming language. It’s nice to see that topics on computer/software history seem to be popular, though. “Great moments in modern computer history”, “Having fun playing with fire, er…C”, and “Java: Let it be” all had an emphasis on software history.
On I go…