I have been involved with some form of technology since 1980. This is my return to offering web development services. It seems to make sense after nearly 25 years. After 15 years with one of the largest computer companies in the world, I’ve returned to my roots started to offer my design and development services and have launched “Paxton Computers.” Check us out…
About this site
I started started on the web in 1994 as with a simple web server and home page. That year I moved my site from a gopher site to a web server and into HTML as soon as we setup the web server at the University of Michigan Computing Club (Arbor Information Society). I started it just to learn HTML but, like many at the time, I was enthralled with the web. My site stayed there until 1998 when it got its own domain name (paxtonland.com). I hosted several very early internet projects there such as; Perl experiments, an extensive list of bookmarks, a DIY computer system builders guide, a voting guide for local and national elections, a couple of “zines,” software reviews, and more. I would like to go back to some of that sort of content and when I have time, I probably will.
In 1998, paxtonland still functioned as a landing page for my browser and had several visitors as well. Since 1996, I was writing monthly “posts” in chronological order. The systems guide had really taken off at this point, but I’d stopped all the other projects I’d taken a lot of inspiration from Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com and still do. However, the more that I learned about the web, the more I was struggling with the transition from a systems engineering driven web design (think walls of text on a grey background) to design and content driven web web design (think pretty and easy to read).
1998-99, I was a daily project cool reader, which was a site-of-the-day list done by Glenn Davis. I couldn’t wait to see what was new for that day. From there, I’d learned about a concept called a “weblog” and I realized that I was already doing that in my own way. Though, really it was more of a once monthly (zine style) link list, then it was as a traditional (at that time) blog. I certainly didn’t call it a blog, nor did I know what one was really, but I quickly adapated. Project Cool closed and metafilter became my window to any daily “cool sites.” It still is when i find time to go there.
So, after look around at other people’s work, I decided why not? I read Jeffrey Zeldman, The Misanthropic Bitch, Metafilter, Tnkgrl The Scripting News, and many more…. I was very much in awe and inspired. Pyra Labs had started up in San Francisco to develop web-based project management software. Out of that, blogger was born and I used it from the beginning, I was among the first blogger users. At that time, blogger provided an editing interface and published individual posts via FTP to a remote server. It really was the first form of push-button web publishing that was functional and cool. I was a proud blogger user. From that platform, I was able to exponentially expand monthly posts into multiple posts per day. By December 1999, I had 300+ hand coded entries.
In 2001, there was well over 3500 entries and but, very few comments, blogger did not support comments until 2004 under Google’s eventual ownership. I moved from blogger to movable type and paxtonland continued but, it was now more functional and standards and database driven, I had the files and database back on my servers again. More importantly, it had the same functionality as so many of the better weblogs out there that were hand coded by the authors and publishers. It looked real and professional. Movable Type also achieved the goal of separating content from design. They brought commenting, trackbacks, and much more… until… they started charging. Which I was okay with paying them and helping out Six Apart… but, I was waiting patiently for MySQL support. Back then, they only supported BerkeleyDB and there were so many posts and comments it made the site was terribly slow.
WordPress supported MySQL so, off I went. WordPress was also very smart in offering a migration tool, but the migration script failed (too much data). I had to do it manually. Anyway, WordPress still powers this site and a great many of my other work.
Design and Development
After so many years of professional web development, the concept that work, the methodologies that are effective, and the process from inception to publication have become as a standard operating model for me. It really comes down to a simple software development lifecycle such as this:
Plan > Define > Build > Test > Deploy > Support
There can be iterations between build and test, and support can mean ongoing and improving development, refining business process support, or simply just the normal cadence of publishing fresh content.