585 words on earthlingsoft
Back in the days when the web was young, coloured pixels were expensive, tables were considered exciting design elements and I still went to school, we did a web project in informatics class. At the end of the day this had been my idea: There were no fixed topics for the very last term, our teacher was both supportive and clueless and the internet looked exciting. I had discovered some competition for school classes to make web-sites on some local topic. So we engaged in that and made a site on the Bremer Haus, a house design that is considered typical for Bremen in the time around the end of the nineteenth century which also happened to be the type of house I grew up in.
Doing the project was quite cool. We got to play around on the web and creating some HTML. We could even borrow a QuickTake camera and take some photos. All that was quite exciting back in 1996! Looking at those pages today is strange. In a way I keep liking them for their simplicity, which didn’t keep us from cramming a lot of information in there. In two languages, of course.
Looking at those pages also reminds you how many things have changed: We didn’t use CSS for fancy styling, we didn’t have those neat PHP or .htaccess tricks at our hands to make page creation simpler, we didn’t know about Unicode for the proper curly quotes, but we needed to make sure that our pages can actually load on computers with just two megabytes of memory. And, somehow, our background images didn’t look as saturated on 256 colour screens and didn’t impact the text’s readability as much.
While in nostalgia-mode I might also add that back in those days, digital cameras would simply mount on your desktop and let you copy photos out of them. Quite unlike the ImageCapture/iPhoto nonsense we see on the Mac today with many cameras.
But I digress! You see I keep writing too much. Too much text, too much text per page, too many photos. In fact those were the main comments we got on our work back then, when learning that we didn’t win. And it was very prescient. Some of the pages we made have more text than many others on the web. For the reason that we wanted to get a number of details in there without unnecessarily splitting things up. Good for information, bad for being read all the way through. A simple lesson to learn, really. But one I haven’t learned since. And one I still don’t believe in.
So, five paragraphs into this text, let me come to its actual topic: Steffen and me added a new page to the earthlingsoft site. It’s called Hacks. The name is a bit tacky and liberally uses the word to designate both non-recommended tinkering and unfinished goods. But it is an attempt to apply what I learned back then just once. ‘Miscellanea’ as a title might have been more appropriate and less tacky. But it sounds less fun and needs more letters… so there we go.
Oh, and the page contains some more or less useless projects Steffen and me had sitting in our home folders which would need too much extra work to be released properly. But which we consider useful or fun enough to use them ourselves. Help yourself. You get the toys. You get the source code. You can fix any problems you find yourself.
I don’t think you’re all the way right with your digital camera nostalgia. My dad had [has, actually] a Kodak DC50 that was big enough to make people think it was a video camera back in the day. The photos were in a raw format that used a proprietary software package to download and decode. Of course Dave Coffin has that mostly figured out by now.