Little did I know, this domain that powers my site, blog, and my email addresses became 9 years old today. Time really flies and this is the perfect opportunity to recount the evolution of this domain name.

I first registered when I was in secondary one, hoping to learn something about servers from my seniors in secondary school. Then, there were few domain name registrars available and I used Network Solutions, one of the most reputable but expensive around (there wasn’t much choice and I didn’t know better). It was expensive at almost US$20 a year. I didn’t have a credit-card then and had to borrow one from my parents. (E-commerce then was a relatively new and unproven to be safe concept and yearly renewals were a chore as I had to convince them all over that e-commerce is still safe.)

Once I took custody of my domain name, I set up ZoneEdit to be my name server provider, as they were free and were highly recommended. Furthermore, they also supported Dynamic-DNS updating which was essential for my set up. In addition, they also offered to forward all my emails to my SingNet email address for free. I pointed the domain to a PIII 1GHz machine with 128 MB of RAM, running Windows ME, on my home’s SingNet 256 kbps broadband connection. Whenever I got disconnected or reconnected, a piece of software will detect the change in IP address and dutifully update ZoneEdit with my new IP address. After getting Apache 1.3 up and running, it marked the birth of my site.

After that, I upgraded the hardware of that machine and migrated to Windows XP. This then allowed me to migrate to the 2.0 branch of Apache. Meanwhile, I also messed around with IIS and found that it is not a solution at all—insecure out-of-the-box.

Eventually in 2003, I migrated the machine to Mandrake Linux 9.1 (now known as Mandriva) and that was the first taste I had in operating a production web server in a GNU/Linux environment. This migration from Windows to GNU/Linux instantly brought performance improvements. Apache on Linux, unlike its counterpart on Windows, does not use a pre spawned process model. Rather, the Linux version allows Apache to dynamically increase the number of processes based on load.

This was also when I first started learning how to operate a mail server. The mail server that I chose to use was surprisingly difficult to install and set up—qmail. It used to be the most popular mail server, but fell out of favour over time due to the lack of new features and development. Nonetheless, it was and still is the most secure mail server available out there.

However, a year after Google released Google Apps, I migrated my email services over to them as I had trouble handling SPAM. SpamAssassin was just not up to par despite my sincere efforts in tuning and training it. With Gmail, Google has successfully solved the problem of SPAM.

I’ve never had the interest in visual design as I found Adobe Photoshop a very cumbersome and overcomplicated piece of software. I never had time nor the interest to figure out how to do anything, and where all the functions were hidden. The craze then was Flash, but I never messed with Flash enough that I could do more than just moving shapes around the stage. I spent most of the time in learning about systems administration.

I was glad I made that choice. Command-line has never changed much since it was invented, only made more convenient. Sooner or later, one has to learn it, why not do it earlier when the mind still learns quickly?

Later in 2006, the year that Apple started producing Intel-based MacBooks, I switched to a Mac. Although the first-generation Core Duo white MacBook that I’d bought had some teething first-generation problems, it was undeniable that Apple made something that I’d really liked. Not just something that I could use, but some that I had enjoyed using it. I was slowly being exposed to good and functional industrial design.

Eventually in recent months, my interest in typography grew, and my appreciation for minimalist design became even stronger. This also led me to explore, to some degree, minimalist-responsive web design.

As my site has been left in a state of disrepair for some time, I initially wanted to work on a revamp of my site during the summer holidays, in celebration its 9th anniversary, today. Unfortunately, somehow, I haven’t managed to deliver it.

Given that it’s the 10th anniversary next year, I think I ought to finish the revamp by then. Meanwhile, now is the time to bring my skills in visual design up to a usable level.