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DarkBee Into Darkness: Part 1
Internet: 01/08/15 - 07:43:26 Posted By: Darkbee

This will be part one of an unknown number of parts in a series of posts about changing this site, getting with the times and moving on up!

As has happened so often with this website in the past, it has recently gone through a state of neglect.  That makes me sad and has started keeping me up at night.  Ok, maybe Iím over selling it a little bit but for some reason (blame it on New Yearís resolutions?) Iíve started to think about actually getting this site up and running again, in all its black and yellowy-gold glory.  After all, whatís the point in having a website if youíre not going to use it?  Consequently, Iíve been thinking about the function of my website, what Iím doing with it and where itís going.

One of the things that has prompted this change in outlook is that the software Iím using to run this site is a bit dated.  At one time, it was developed by an enthusiastic and steadily progressing community that has since fallen by the wayside, much to my disappointment.  A new version is promised ďsoonĒ but if that is the same definition of ďsoonĒ as my definition, then weíre in trouble.    While the current site functions okay as-is, Iím concerned that as new web technologies emerge, this website and the software running it will get swept away into a dark, historical corner of the internet, full of perverted curiosities of software archaicness.  I know technology is a tail-chasing game you will never win, but with HTML 5 now going full steam ahead, JQuery (and the like) considered par for the course, and new stuff like ďBootstrapĒ popping up, perhaps itís time to get with the program/s.

In addition, It was always my (naive) intention to build up some kind of little community.  A rag-tag band of merry, interwebs men (and women).  The problem is, so loose aims rarely bear fruit.  The truth is, building a community takes time and effort of which Iíve invested precious little of either.  Iím not even sure myself why I wanted a community.  I guess the Internet is a lonely place and I always thought, to some extent that interaction with your audience is the new norm (which turns out to be true with the extensive use of things like social media).  In any case, community or no community, over the years Iíve continued to post my mutterings and that remains the mainstay of my website.  These factors combined have made me re-evaluate my website more and in turn, re-evaluate the software Iím using.  In particular, Iíve been asking myself questions about what functionality I have today, what I actually use and as a result, what I really need.  The answer is fairly simple but requires a bit of digital scrawling to unravel the underlying truths.

The first harsh reality is that I donít really have a community at all.  Yes, I have members, some of them legit, some of them suspicious and some of them no doubt outright spammers, but they all have one thing in common; they donít participate.  Nor do they have any reason to. This website is  not a thriving hub of social activity nor does it purport to solve dire problems currently hampering humanity.  So the very first thing that I have to recognize is that my site is built with one thing in mind (a community) but it isnít used that way.  What that means is that there are lots of features that I really donít need, like forums and calendars.  I go to forums on other websites to interact with people on other subjects or things that Iím interested it.  As for calendars, I barely have gotten into the habit of using Google or Hotmail calendars, never mind having a 3rd one.  Iím not THAT busy.  I donít need forty twelve calendars, nor do readers of my website care if I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday at 3pm (oh, that reminds me!).  In fact, when you break it down, I probably really only use/need a small fraction of the functionality available to me.  Most notably, as I stated above the mainstay of my website is posting articles;  I write (and you hopefully read).  So hereís a startling revelation: Am I not looking for a blog?  Yes and no.  Being a bit of a geek, Iím never just satisfied with a simple blog.  I like to tinker.  I like to have cool features to play with but perhaps that gives me a baseline of where to start.

The other ďhang upĒ Iíve always had is that of not using a database back-end.  This has historically been because Iíve had a super-low-budget host (not free but low), and having multiple databases wasnít possible, so once you used up your one and only, you were out of luck (unless you wanted to pony up for more, which I didnít).  What this means is (and was always a fairly tall order) that I tended to gravitate towards CMSís that are flat-file based.  Circumstances have changed and now I have access to multiple databases for my site but still I consider the virtues of a flat-file environment, things like; being easily able to backup a website (no database to worry about, just files), being able to transport/migrate site information from one location (host) to another easily and finally being able to get at the content easily in restricted or disastrous situations without the need for specialist tools (like PHPmyAdmin).  In addition, itís not like Iím running Wikipedia, so scalability and running a site that gets millions of page-views a day was never a concern.

So what do we have so far?  Blog-like software, that ideally stores content in flat-files.  For me, it has to be open source too; I just think thatís the way to go for an individual like me who is not making money off of this.   Besides, even giant corporations run open-source software on a daily basis and they make it work.  So, blog-like, with some possibly as-yet, undetermined cool features, that stores content as flat-files and is open source.  How hard can it be?

So all that rambling, harsh truths and stark realities, and what am I left with?  Well I erÖ I donít know (huge collective sigh of disappointment).  I think I know what I want but IĒm standing on the edge of the bridge (hopefully at the very least with some elastic tied) but Iím not quite ready to jump.  Well hereís revelation number two: Iím actually changing my mind and coming to some realizations as I write this.   Itís actually quite helpful sometimes to get things down on (electronic?) paper.  The truth of the matter is, this article is as much about me thinking out loud as it is sharing my experience with the world.  Anyway, I will endeavor to continue to boldly go where every man and his space-dog have been before.  The search for Spock continues....

P.S. I have no idea why I started making Star Trek references or how that helps me figure all of this out.  I just know that I need to figure out a change and make it so... number one. *slaps self*

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