It all started with GeoCities

Back before everyone had a “blog,” they had “home pages,” and GeoCities was the place to have your own little soap box. My on-line life started with GeoCities, so it is kind of sad to learn that Yahoo is shutting down the service after more than a decade. GeoCities was awesome at the time, but it wasn’t without its problems. Nonetheless, I owe GeoCities a lot.

My first-hand adventures in computing started in 7th grade when the first family computer arrived. A big bad 428/SX25. While it was good for SimCity and Tank Wars, it wasn’t until a few years later that we added the haus 14.4 modem and the internet was at my fingertips…sorta. Then it was mostly BBS time and whatever info I could scrape off of Freenet. Not until my first job at a computer store did the “real” internet hit me…because we got free access.

My own little corner of the web

2009-10-26_110228It didn’t take me long to want my own little corner of the internet, to show off my incredible knowledge of Spider-Man, Guns N Roses, and HR Giger art. GeoCities was the first home of The Cave, the name I used for just about everything at the time (and still do in some cases). The Cave became the awesomest collection of animated GIFs and Nine Inch Nails MIDI songs ever found, along with my favorite Giger pictures, a biography of Spider-Man and a tribute to Guns N Roses. Yes, it was (like most pages at the time) a complete fan site to everything a 15-year-old boy thought was cool.

Despite the fact that GeoCities pages were free, they came with a whole host of problems – most of which we didn’t realize then and only see when compared to today’s one-click internet. First off, GeoCities gave you the single most complex web address known to man. Because the metaphor was a city, your web page lived on a “street” and had an “address” like a normal house would. This ended up giving you a web address like geocities.com/siliconvalley/techalley/2345/ – needless to say, nearly impossible to tell people or promote otherwise.

This was also the pre-blogging era so every change you made had to be done by hand. GeoCities had one or two “tools” to make things a little easier, but if you didn’t know HTML you were destined to have a lame page. And thus began my HTML journey. Yes, I used the BLINK and MARQUEE tags along with the best of them. And don’t forget the awesome Java applet that made your photo look like it was rippling on water. Learning was trial-and-error then as much as it is now.

Not exactly point and click

Making an update to your GeoCities page required a lot of dedication and a little bit of skill. There was no simple login, fill out a form, save, and be done. You had to understand the ways of FTP and uploading and all that good stuff that everyone now takes for granted because it’s almost too easy. If you cut your web development teeth on GeoCities like I did, then you’re probably better off in the web department today than many. And I didn’t limit myself to just one GeoCities page…oh no…I had several at one point, one for each topic of cool. One for the comic books, one for Star Wars, one for my own web design business, and one for awesome MIDI music.

Then I got serious

But, naturally, I got too cool for GeoCities and moved The Cave to bigger and badder locations – my own domain. Yes, my job at the computer store afforded me the luxury of getting my own domain name and hosting. By the time I was a junior in high school I had my own domain. My first domain was Moogman.com and was pretty much a clone of my GeoCities page, but now I was not only able improve the design of my page, but improve the tools as well.

Not too long after I had my own web site I started to learn PHP and the rest, as they say, is history. Soon I was creating all sorts of publishing tools for myself for use with The Cave. Before Blogger and even before the term “blog,” I programmed my own template-based publishing system so I could easily publish articles on the web site. It was account-based, so at one point I was even able to offer publishing access to my friends. I had a big idea of a magazine-like web site with guest writers talking about everything cool. Yeah, well, that didn’t turn out quite as I planned but it was fun. However, those homebrew tools led directly to writing on-line regularly, or blogging as, it were.

2009-10-26_112025Like my sites today, Moogman.com got a face lift about once a year or more. I treated the site like a magazine, producing special “features” and articles, mostly humorous. It was much more regular than my sites are now frankly, I was into it way more. I had a few key pieces that got pretty popular, one inparticular about how to copy Playstation games. This also the time when I was seeing two or three movies a week, so there was an extensive movie review section. And you don’t think I didn’t have a retro Nintendo section, do you? It got pretty popular too, I even sold discs for a short while. I know. Bad.

I’m getting all nostalgic

I could go on all day about what my web site(s) used to be. Some of you remember the fun (and what do you remember?). Maybe one day I’ll get un-lazy and go back there, but until then you’ll have settle for these little “real world” ramblings about life. But a Moogman.com memorial site isn’t out of the question…and CAVEradio is still around, so I haven’t eliminated all the fun.

Thanks, GeoCities. You won’t be missed, but you won’t be forgotten.

Categories: CAVEradio, Web World

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4 replies »

  1. Man. You and I have a lot in common. I too got my start at GeoCities, back in the day before Yahoo owned it. Mine were about Metallica, Degeneration X, and the nWo. Go figure that I’m in a band and own boredwrestlingfan.com now, huh? Like you, I abandoned GeoCities and started learning PHP, building my own content management system from scratch. And, like you, I’m also running sites on WordPress despite knowing how to practically build a similar webapp from scratch :-P

    Who knows, maybe in 15 years, the next big thing will be here and we’ll be waxing poetic about WordPress or Twitter or whatever on the day they close down. I guess time will tell. Good post!

  2. I had a hard time accepting out-of-the-box template solutions. I was so hardcore into PHP at that time that I thought all others were inferior to what I could build myself. Custom is the best, right?!

    Too bad laziness got the best of me…plus platforms like WordPress finally caught up to what I was looking for. Back then I didn’t mind opening a notepad, tweaking, uploading, repeat…these days, I get frustrated if there *isn’t* a web interface available for something…and if there isn’t, I try to build one!

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