About time

I’ve now had this blog for just over a year.  As soon as I set up my shiny new WordPress site, I put up an “about” page with a quick bit of placeholder text to say that details would follow soon.  A few months later I amended it to warn the reader not to hold their breath…

I have now, at last, got round to updating the about page to actually say something (admittedly, still not very much) about me.

[Grammar fans may like to pause to consider the different shades of meaning in the word “now” at the start of the two previous paragraphs.]

If you are especially interested in my blogging history, you may like to read one of my earliest posts on this blog, which was a history of my earlier blogs (but I won’t be mortally offended if you don’t bother).

Today is another landmark in the history of my blog as it’s the first time (at least in the current blog) that I’ve posted twice in one day (judging by my usual track record, twice in one month is above average:)  I must admit that I’m doing this more out of curiosity to see how WordPress handles multiple posts on one day than out of a belief that anyone will actually be that interested to know that my About page has been updated, so I hope you’ll bear with me.  (While in confessional mood, I should probably also admit that I just couldn’t resist the obvious title for this post that sprang to mind as soon as I’d finished the page update – that’s really the main reason for posting!)

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A Brief History of M-Space #2: The Websites

This is the second part in a series of two (unless I think of any more to add later).  Really, this one should have come before part 1 (about my blogs) since I was running websites almost 10 years before I started blogging.  However, it is a somewhat more problematic history to research and write than that of my blogs since all but one of the latter are still extant while all my websites apart from the current (as in, last updated only about 2 years ago 🙂 ) one seem to have vanished without a trace and I therefore have to rely solely on memory.

I  started my first website, hosted on a free ISP, while I was an undergraduate student of mathematics.  That would put its genesis sometime between the tail end of 1995 and the middle of 1999.  I can’t remember whether I went immediately for the name M-Space or came up with the name sometime later.  In any case, the name was partly inspired by the fact that I was studying quite a lot about various abstract mathematical spaces at the time and partly, I think, as a kind of homage to Doctor Who (as a conscious echoing of E-Space, the parallel universe from whence came his companion Adric, himself a mathematician).  The website was (and has always remained) principally an exercise for me to hone my HTML (and later CSS, Javascript, PHP etc.) skills rather than something intended as a particularly useful resource for anyone else.

I can’t remember much about the contents of that first website, although I do recall putting drafts of the chapters of my MMath dissertation up there as I was writing it in 1999.  The other main thing that was certainly on my website by the end of my undergrad days (and hence probably on the original website, though most likely not from the very beginning) was a database of toasted sandwich filling ideas.  A version of the toasty database remains on my current website, although I’m sure there used to be more fillings in the old one.  One of my student friends (who for some reason asked to remain anonymous) made me a wonderful little gif animation of a sandwich toaster to use on the original website; sadly I no longer have a copy of the file.

At some point, and for reasons I can’t entirely remember though I think it may have been due to dissatisfaction with the web interface I was required to use for editing the original website, I switched to a different host.  As I recall, I used this move as an opportunity to redesign the website using CSS, which would place the transition sometime after my move to North Wales in September 1999, as that was just after I finished a summer job which involved working on a company’s website and gave me my first exposure to CSS (back in the dark days of the Netscape/IE browser wars, when it was a constant struggle to get pages to display sensibly, let alone consistently, in different browsers).

A few years later I got a Plusnet broadband connection, which came with some webspace and an email address, so I moved my website to there and this is where M-Space currently resides. Apart from making greater use of the services I was paying for, this move enabled me to script the site using PHP and do away altogether with the clunky web interfaces I had previously been forced to use.   The earliest copyright date on the current site is 2006, but I think I probably had the site a year or two before that and this date refers to a ground-up reworking of the site.

In more recent years (in fact, from about 2006 or possibly even 2005) I have had other websites to work on professionally, principally the Penrallt Baptist Church website (which I still maintain).  This has given me plenty of scope for keeping up and extending my website crafting skills, so poor old M-Space tends to get rather neglected (evidenced by the fact that the most recent listed change on there was in March 2010).  I may get round to updating it at some point but, as with old blog posts or photographs, it’s actually quite interesting to be able to look back at a snapshot of myself in the past.  As an example, the Art page lists Gimp as my favourite graphics software and refers to the rare occasions that I use Inkscape for vector graphics; these days I would say that I use Inkscape quite a bit more than Gimp  – although the latter remains my tool of choice for photo manipulation.  Incidentally, the candle picture on that page remains my most viewed on Flickr, but has overtaken the tin whistles as the most favourited too.

A Brief History of M-Space #1: The Blogs

I first began blogging 7 years ago, in January 2005, with a small blog hosted on Blogger.  Originally entitled Magnus’ Homebrew Blog, this was intended as a convenient way for me to keep track of my home brewing experiments and to share the results (the information, rather than the actual liquid content)  with anyone else who may be interested. The first post explained briefly what the blog was intended for.

Fairly soon, I realised that having such a specialised blog would not give me very many opportunities to post, given the relatively small amount of brewing I was doing, so I decided to expand the scope of the blog to cover a wider range of topics. Anyone who has followed my blogs, or looks back at the frequency of posting, will doubtless note a certain irony in this reason for generalising the blog content, but there you have it.  At some point, when I was getting quite heavily into knitting and that was reflected in my blogging, I renamed this blog to Magnus’ Homebrew Knitblog.

I also set up two other blogs to enable me to blog in other languages, mostly for writing practice, while keeping my main blog in English for the benefit of my largely monoglot family and friends.  The first of these blogs, which is no longer extant, was in Welsh and was called Cymraeg am Byth (Welsh for ever). I can’t remember quite when I started or finished it, but I don’t recall posting very much to it (and I don’t know why it no longer works, since both my other Blogger blogs have survived). The second one started out as an Esperanto blog (I forget what it was called then) in June 2005 and morphed into a Spanish blog, called No Hablo Español (I Don’t Speak Spanish), in January 2006 when my language learning interests shifted.  I only posted about half a dozen items to that blog in total.

My first round of blogging activities gradually drifted to a complete halt by May 2006.  By the end of December, probably thanks to being nagged about blogging by my brother Wulf (himself a keen blogger for many years now), I decided to restart blogging using the blosxom software that he was using at the time.  After a failed attempt to get this set up on my own website, I transferred it to some webspace that Wulf kindly offered me on his site.  Due to the initial intention of integrating it more closely with my website, M-Space, than the previous blog I called this one M-Space: The Blog.  Unfortunately, in my first post on this blog I seem not have gone into details about why I decided to make the switch, and I can’t now remember clearly.  I think it was largely just the chance to play with some new technology and also to get the blog running (in theory) as part of my own website.

I continued using that blog fairly sporadically from 31st December 2006 (almost exactly two years after my original blog started) until the final post in February 2010.  After that, for some reason, I didn’t get round to blogging again although I never made a conscious decision to stop.  In all those years, I never quite got round to setting up the full range of navigational tools and handy sidebars that I had intended.

Once again succumbing to fraternal pressure the other day, I decided to restart my blog.  Rather than just pick up the old blog where it left off, this seemed to be a good opportunity to explore WordPress (which I don’t think was in existence, or  at least I didn’t know about it, when I last rebooted my blog).  So here is the result.  Doubtless in a few years’ time I’ll start yet another new blog on a different platform and be able to add the next chapter in my blogging history.

I intend to follow this post fairly soon with another one looking at the history of my various websites (at least two of which have been called M-Space).

Hello (again) world!

The M-Space blog is back… well, nearly!

After a couple of years of inactivity on my previous blog, I’ve decided that the time has come to get things going again.  This time, I’m trying out wordpress, and so far it seems to be going quite well.  Initially, at least I’m going for the convenience of a free blog hosted by wordpress.com, although I may eventually get round to setting up a blog elsewhere using the wordpress software, as that should give me greater creative control over the layout.

Watch this space for more content soon.