About My Websites

I've been a web developer since the mid-1990s. I learned page coding back in the days when websites had only one purpose: to convey information. No stores. No games. No videos. Not even custom fonts. Just the facts, ma'am. To this day I still adhere to this philosophy. Every one of the thousands of web pages here is pure hand-coded, human-readable HTML designed solely to deliver information.

This is not to say I'm incapable of being as "fancy" as the next guy. I'm a professional visual designer/graphic artist, and I've also worked as a web application programmer doing some pretty highfalutin stuff. But there's no need for anything like that here. Indeed, visual styling more often than not distracts from what's important, rather than enhance it. Not to mention that websites today aren't the slightest bit conservative about the amount of code required to deliver them. Hey, everyone has broadband now, right? Wrong. Plus, mobile web surfing, which is growing exponentially, suffers the most from lazy web developers.

The design choices I've made are all deliberate and carefully geared to maximize readability, including the font, column width, colors, layout, etc. Consider this observation just on typography: "When genuinely good, it's like a plain glass window, allowing a clear view of the subject, while ostentatious typography is like a stained-glass window, drawing attention to its own beauty but obscuring the real view." (Alas, the source of this pearl is unknown.)

And yes, I still use tables for page layout (I can just imagine "modern" web developers shuddering uncontrollably at the thought!). Why? Because style sheets are prone to failure, especially for mobile browsers; a poorly-coded style sheet can result in pages that won't even render. Tables don't fail. This approach also makes everything backward-compatible for just about any known browser, and even forward-compatible given that support for tables cannot go away.

So, you may find my websites quaintly outdated and boring, in which case you may as well back out now, because they're not meant for you. There's no "user experience" here—that's crap for corporations looking to squeeze a profit from every click. My websites are for people who seek information, which I offer freely. No paywall. No tracking.

In the early days of webmastering, the mantra was Content is King. Here, at least, it still is.

For Web Geeks

What do I use to build my pages? These days it's Notepad++, principally because it conveniently color-codes the HTML tags. I've used a number of other applications over the years, but never one that creates pages for me, such as WordPress. These apps often generate a lot of garbage code that's not man-readable. Have a look at the source code for this page: clean, simple, and easily understood. Just like the rendered page.

All of the pages in my sites are static. There's no need for dynamic page generation—I've already done my fair share of that stuff over the years. Here, the standing rule is KISS.

Rough Inventory

Since I began creating websites in the stone age, I've amassed quite a large library covering a broad variety of topics. All together there are very roughly 6,500 pages and over 35,000 images. These numbers are always in flux, so there's no telling what they may be as of this writing, although it's safe to say they're higher.

Accomplishments

Aside from creating many commercial websites (the first of them earning the client over a million in revenue its first year online), I built a complete message board from scratch, including the database architecture as well as the all of the user interfaces. Professionally, I've been deeply involved in web application development: for a major pharma I created dozens of specialized applications, from project organization and employee timekeeping apps to instrument control and data management systems.

At the peak of my career, I developed a suite of web-based chemical and genetic engineering applications to help oncologists synthesize new cancer-fighting drugs. During this time I also became a user interface consultant, conducting usability studies and advising other developers. I actually looked forward to coming into work, and went home feeling good—even on bad days.

Today I spend a fair bit of my time building personal websites covering some of my many interests. For what it's worth, one of my websites, online since 1995, is mentioned in several books, and has been lauded by countless visitors from all over the world. I acquired a number of e-friends as a result.

Outlook

Since immersing myself in web publishing, I've helped others become fluent in HTML. Sadly, the industry is steering people in the direction of commercial website creation applications that actually make things more difficult to control; once you go down this path, you're locked into someone else's idea of good web design. Worse, much of this involves needless complexity behind the scenes. For instance, using dynamic page generation for static content, such as a blog, means your content isn't actually "real"; it's lost in the bowels of software that's at risk of failure—not to mention obsolescence, as modern developers crank out new languages and apps almost daily. But, that's the way the web world spins these days, and what I do is considered akin to blacksmithing: one day soon these skills will be lost.

Why Bother?

Why do I waste my time adding my insignificant voice to the boundless community of the Internet, especially when it's at risk of ridicule from peers (as if that matters)? It's a hobby, one that allows me to continue to flex writing, photography, illustration, design and coding skills. It helps me keep my small circle of friends updated as well. I may have a mere handful of regulars, but I've always been a quality-over-quantity person. Plus, it amuses me.

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