DrikoLand 10th Birthday

Happy Birthday, DrikoLand! I had grand plans of a redesign or something dramatic to celebrate the 10th birthday of my web site, but as usual I procrastinated too long and don’t have anything ready for today.

It still doesn’t seem real to me that I’ve been working on this web page for 10 years now. DrikoLand started as a generic home page in 1995 during my final years at the University of Maryland, with some link pages and lots of crappy animated .GIFs. πŸ˜‰ Back then, the WWW and FTP were amazing new frontiers, and Netscape had just released its first browser. The addition of “original” content like my 80s pages, military aviation designation pages, and most recently, some of my photography, made the site a little more personal. In particular, the creation of my 80s page and its graphical homage was and is a labor of love. It has always been the most popular portion of my site, although I don’t devote nearly enough time to its maintenance. In June 2002, I joined the blogging community, and I still marvel at the ease with which I can add and edit content.

I searched through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to see if I could dig up some earlier incarnations of the site, but I couldn’t find anything from any of the former domains where my page was hosted (wam.umd.edu, olg.com, gmpexpress.net, us.hsanet.net). I did, however, dig up an old 1997 version of the site from my archives, which is where the old logo at the top of the post comes from. Doesn’t seem like much back then, does it? I still kind of miss the old green page, though… I was able to find some driko.org Wayback Machine entries from before I went to the blog format, like this example from January 2002. From those examples you can also see the first two-column blog format I used back in July 2002.

Since then, I’ve obviously transitioned to a three-column format, but I think I will be looking at modifying that slightly soon. First of all, I’d like to finally ditch the clunky HTML tables and go to a cleaner CSS format that is easier to modify and maintain. I have a couple of ideas in mind, and I’ll hopefully find the time soon to make that happen. I would especially like to update the photography portion of the site, as its design is downright ugly right now.

I want to take the time to thank Shaft and Czar, the occasional guest bloggers that have helped to take up the slack on the blog when I wasn’t around. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we’d like to see more of your posts. And speaking of guest bloggers, there are a couple of you waiting in the wings that need to finally make the leap and post! You know who you are…

Finally, thanks to everyone who has visited DrikoLand over the years, especially those that have taken the time to leave comments and/or drop me an e-mail. It’s those comments and e-mails that have helped to motivate me to maintain and update the site, a sometimes tedious exercise that has nevertheless been a lot of fun overall. Thanks again, and keep visiting! πŸ™‚

Six Feet Under, 2001-2005

Six Feet UnderThe final episode of Six Feet Under aired last week, but we just saw it last night. I have to say that it was one of the best final episodes of any TV series that I can remember (M*A*S*H is the best as far as I’m concerned).

HBO has a page devoted to the final episode in which obituaries are written for all of the major characters, a touching addition that fleshes out the last moments of the episode.

I saved reading a post by Steven Johnston until I had seen the episode, and I definitely agree with one of his statements:

I had a genuine feeling last night watching the finale that I was going to miss these people, which I can honestly say I’ve never had with a television show before. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling that way.

Definitely not.

Google Talk

GoogleThe latest buzz on the Interweb is Google Talk, Google’s entry into the IM/Internet Phone (VOIP?) arena. The Instant Messenger text chat portion of Google Talk works as you would expect, letting you invite contacts from GMail very easily. Apparently you need a GMail account to use the program, but if you’re invited to be someone’s Google Talk contact, an invitation to GMail is supposedly included. I have a bunch of GMail invitations, by the way, in case anyone still needs one. You can also connect to Google Talk via GAIM and Trillian (among others), two popular open source IM applications that use the Jabber/XMPP protocol. However, I was unable to get GAIM to work despite trying some suggestions at smash’s world. I’ll keep trying to see whether I’m missing something there…

The Internet Phone option worked surprisingly well. Once Shaft and I figured out our respective microphone issues, the sound clarity was pretty decent, with only minor feedback and glitches. The review at Skype Journal was positive overall but pointed out some features that are lacking when compared to Skype and other IM clients. I haven’t tried Skype myself; I believe the only other Internet Phone-type application that I’ve tried was Dialpad, and it worked reasonably well, if I remember correctly.

Overall, Google Talk is definitely worth a try. I don’t use any particular IM client regularly, so I don’t have any strong ties to a particular community to break. I imagine that would be a concern for many, and that could be partially ameliorated by using a client like GAIM or Trillian that can access most of the major IM applications at once. The Internet Phone experience was fairly positive, and it’s very compelling at the moment, considering that it’s totally free(!). I wonder whether that will change, but it seems that many of Google’s offerings have remained that way, with ad revenues somehow monetizing their efforts. I guess the program is technically still in Beta, so who knows?

Google Desktop 2

GoogleThe newest version of Google Desktop incorporates many new features, including a desktop sidebar that displays: news items; photographs (random slideshows locally or from web/RSS links); GMail messages; “web clips” (random items form RSS feeds that you specify); a scratch pad (for reminder notes); weather; a search box, of course; and a lot more. All of this is fully customizable, and although I hate to give up any desktop space, this could be very cool. I’ll have to leave it in the sidebar mode and see whether I like it enough to keep it…