I’ve had alienshore.com since November 1997. I bought a domain because it was some geeky fun, and also because I’d never have to change my e-mail address again. If I was unhappy with my hosting service, I could take my domain and get another one. The same is true with my ISP…if I wanted to switch, my e-mail address would be entirely unaffected.
So the e-mail situation was covered. What should I do with the web site? For a few years, I did very little.
Then came the online journals. I started a journal on paper many years ago but it didn’t work for me because there was no one reading. I still liked the idea so maybe I could give it a try again, but online. I never thought I’d get a large number of readers, but family, friends, and strangers could read if they wanted to. So I put up my first post on January 31, 2000 and Seeking the Alien Shore was born.
It had a rocky start until I figured out what I was doing and found my voice. I used Microsoft Front Page to build the site. It produced garbage HTML, but it did a better job that I could, for a time. Later, I learned more about HTML and wanted to do better. I built an XHTML 1.0 strict template and used Microsoft Expression Web to build my posts and it was good.
It was good until late 2007. There was still a journaling community back then and on one of the mailing lists, someone asked how to get something to work properly with WordPress. They gave a link to their site, and I followed it. I’d heard of WordPress and thought it was a neat idea. It certainly would be convenient to have a nice friendly front-end to enter one’s posts, have them stored in a database, and then displayed to users as they visited. But it seemed very limiting. Following that link was a revelation. The site was beautiful. It wasn’t to my taste, but it didn’t at all look like the cookie-cutter site I expected.
I started reading. Customizing a WordPress site is very different from what I’d done in XHTML but I was determined to learn more about it because I could change the look of the site at any time and the change would affect all of the pages, old and new. My curiosity piqued, I downloaded the software and installed it. I really didn’t think it would replace my site so I put it in a different folder, with a new name.
As sometimes happens, I was completely and utterly wrong. I loved WordPress and couldn’t imagine going back to HTML so after nearly eight years, of Seeking the Alien Shore, I started Seeking Another Alien Shore. With the HTML I knew and some rudiments of PHP programming I learned, I took free WordPress themes and tailored them to my liking. I’m not sure I could build a theme from scratch, but there really is no need. With child themes, I can keep my modifications separate so when themes are updates, I can use them without overwriting my customizations.
That brings us to today, seven years later, and fifteen years after that first HTML post. This time the change wasn’t driven by technology but rather by a few other things. When I started fifteen years ago, I was a lot more free with personal information. Given what’s happened with both government and criminal surveillance of the Internet, I grew more and more uneasy with the information I revealed. I’ve also noticed that more recently, I’ve grown displeased with my tone. The easiest way to change both of these things, to the extent I am able, is to wipe the database and start anew.
I have backups of everything that I’ve written in the past so old posts may appear again if I discuss on a similar topic and want to refer back to what I’ve written. With that possible exception, welcome to the shiny new Third Alien Shore.