On April 2, 1997, I was issued the cjcs.com domain. It was in the neighborhood of the millionth domain, depending on how you choose to reckon these things; more than likely it was a smidge over that. In the fifteen years that have followed, this little domain has seen a lot of data get posted and read. It seems a good time to reminisce about it a little.
I’ve been networking for a long time, going back to using “time-shares” via teletype terminals back in school in the 70s. The early 80s found me using both the network at the University of Maryland as well as being a participant and sometimes node of the Fidonet dial-up network. Speeds were getting faster — 300bps soon got upgraded to 1200bps. Before the Internet was publicly available, I feel that Fidonet best captured what the possibilities would evolve from.
Starting in the early 90s, when the public could finally access the Internet, I was there participating in newsgroups, forums, listserve lists, and various talk/chat software which really hadn’t advanced much from the DECtalk I first used in the early 80s. It was still very much text- and download-based.
In 1993, I started producing a newsletter about the Brazilian superstar, Xuxa. Not too long after, once my ISP at the time offered web hosting, I converted the text to HTML and started my first major web page: The Xuxa Web. It grew from about 3KiB of info to a 7MiB site. For several years it was the first stop for information about Xuxa. I got help from Brazilians and learned Portuguese so that the site became bilingual. At its height, before the official Xuxa site was eventually created and filled with data, it was getting upwards of 250k-300k visits per month. Pretty heady numbers for the mid-to-late 90s.
The 90s were a fun time on the web as all of us were trying to figure out what it wanted to become. I was very active in a few fandoms, especially for Xena – Warrior Princess, and was a contributor to many sites. HTML2 made doing a lot of things so much easier as it was starting to become more media-friendly. Even so, everything was still hand-coded and I eagerly participated in the beta tests of a couple of web editors by Adobe and others.
In 1997, I decided to formalize my web presence. Using the initials of my business at the time, CJ’s Creative Services, I was able to get a nice-and-short domain name. In the beginning, cjcs.com hosted just my business site as well as the Xuxa Web. It’s since morphed a few times.
It was around 1998-99 that a friend of mine wondered why I didn’t blog, which was then becoming all the rage. I said that I didn’t think I had that much to say. (Heh…obviously I’ve gotten over that. As I often remark: “I may not have a lot to say, but I’m not afraid to say it.”) Still, I gave it many shots. Most were early attempts at something like TIB is now, though one was a ministry site (I’m one of those pesky ULC ministers) that never was released into the wild.
The major stumbling block was the hand-coding. That made updating a regularly-added-to blog a pain in the ass. Even using Perl script templates didn’t really tip the balance. I tried the early blogging software: b2, Movable Type, and others. I found them to be sufficiently awkward and limited to what I wanted to do as to be little better than hand-coding. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto Joomla that making a blog actually stuck.
My first actual sustained blog was Ellipses, back in October 2005 (which eventually morphed to become TIB). Joomla wasn’t the easiest CMS (Content Management System) to use, but it was good enough. When my frustration with Joomla grew, I tested just about every CMS I could trying to find something better. And then there came WordPress…the software forked from the b2 I had tried years before.
WordPress, at the time, just barely did what I wanted it to do in terms of presentation. More importantly, its administration was considerably easier than even plain vanilla Joomla. So, on July 30, 2008, Ellipses was moved over to WordPress and rechristened TIB. Since then, I’ve added an art site and a writing site to address my professional endeavors separate from TIB which is more of a personal indulgence.
I’ve never put forth a ton of effort trying to make cjcs.com a profitable enterprise. Fortunately, in recent years, it has pulled in enough in ad revenue, affiliate sales, and donations that it has managed to mostly pay for itself — not quite, but close. Clearly, it’s a labor of love.
Since The Xuxa Web has been offline for about 13 years, cjcs.com’s biggest star is undoubtedly The Connor Wars. The year of writing effort it took was both exhausting and the most sustained fun I can ever remember having. It’s been the vehicle that’s helped advertise this site, but more importantly it’s added to my collection of friends from around the world. How nifty is that?
As for the future…you never know. I’m currently writing new theme software for the three main sites on the domain. Times change and they need to adapt to not only the desktop but to mobile devices. I’m also thinking about putting out a cjcs.com newsletter that would add some extra value to the sites. If I do, I might remove the user registrations from TIB and instead have a subscriber list. As I’m the only author for the sites, this doesn’t really affect what 99.99% of y’all can do. I haven’t committed to this yet, so it’s just as likely I’ll do something else or nothing.
In any event, it’s been an interesting 15 years with cjcs.com. Keeping new content flowing in isn’t always easy, but in what other time could a recluse like me get to share so much with the world and have the world respond? Gosh, I love living in the future.