The First Ten Years

To my surprise, I just discovered that this site is already more than ten years old: it was first posted on November 5, 1995! Ten years is a long time on the Internet, a reason for some reflection.

The prehistory: Wrotniak at freeflight.com

Originally my Web pages were in a separate section of the corporate site of my employer, who could easily spare the bandwith to be used by the employees for personal purposes. I just wanted to gain some expertise in Web authoring, and to have a place on the Web from where people could download my programs.

From the beginning this was hand-coded HTML, as I disliked the code generated with Web authoring tools. Things stayed this way since. Even my mug shot on the front page remains as it was back in 1995. Why change it?

It was our systems administrator then, Marat Fayzullin, who gave me a 30-minute crash course in HTML, and then said I actually knew enough to do whatever I pleased with my pages. He was right: a knowledge of twenty HTML tags is enough to slap together a decent, functional Web site.

In the beginning the site, in addition to the welcome page and personal note contained only a page listing my shareware and freeware programs.

In early 1997 I added a small section on HP Palmtop handheld computers (now frozen but still maintained) and another one, on my favorite Windows shareware (still periodically updated). Later that year I added The Gallery — a section on photography, with a technical article on the Kodak Photo CD system and two picture pages. At that time I was not aware that this was a beginning of a heavy slant towards photography: today about 80% of the substantial traffic I'm receiving.

Early in 1998 two more articles on photography were added: one on Olympus Stylus film cameras, and one on the early digital Sony Mavica FD7 camera.

The same year I started a small travel section (recently neglected, but I really want to get back to it). At that moment the basic structure of the site became more or less as it is now — except that the photo section was later split between galleries and technical, with the latter growing out of proportion and now dominating the site.

Going photographic

In June of 2000 I posted a number of pages on the Olympus C-3000Z digital camera, which finally made me believe that digital may actually replace film. At the same time my long-time hobby of photography underwent a strong revival.

The pictures I brought from a trip to Poland (where I also carried a film SLR) convinced me to switch into digital, never looking back. Two technical articles, one on infrared photography, and another on depth of field followed shortly.

All this attracted the attention of photography-oriented Web surfers and of search engines, especially Google, which seems to prefer simple HTML code and no commercial blurb; the number of visitors increased dramatically. My small and personal place on the Web was doomed to become predominantly a photography site.

Becoming wrotniak.net

Because of all that, my pages became responsible for about 90% of the Web traffic on my employer's site. In early 2001 I decided to move on, secured the rights to the wrotniak.net and wrotniak.com domains, and subscribed to hosting by eclipsehosting.com.

During 2001 the photo section was growing in leaps and bounds, becoming bigger than the rest of the site combined, and attracting even more traffic. This is wrotniak.net as we know it today.

In November of 2001 I posted what became the beginning of my classic Exakta pages. I never expected this to become one of the major Exakta resources on the Web. There are collectors who are much more knowledgeable on this subject than I ever will be. At the same time the remainder of the photo section kept growing rapidly, as slanted towards Olympus cameras as it is, and managing the site was becoming a chore.

That's why in mid-2002 I re-coded the whole site to be driven by the cascading style sheets (CSS). For the visitors the move went unnoticed, but it was critical lest the site becomes unmanageable: CSS allow the contents of a set of Web pages to become independent (or almost independent) on the way it is presented. After the transition I am able to change the look and feel of all pages just by modifying a single style sheet file. This allows me to focus on the contents, not technicalities of the HTML, while still retaining full control.

This was the last major revision to the structure of wrotniak.net; since then I just keep writing and posting new articles whenever I think I have something to say.

The growing number of visitors, exceeding the server's bandwidth allocation, forced me in February of 2005 to move to a different hosting prowider, powweb.com, offering five times the bandwith at less expense. I've stayed with them since.

What next?

In the past ten years I allowed this Web site to grow the way it wanted to, not planning or forcing it into any direction, just writing whatever I felt like writing at the moment. I expect this to be the same in the predictable future: it may happen that one day wrotniak.net will become mostly devoted to race dog breeding or some other subject. Not likely, but possible.

Whatever comes next, I hope to keep these pages simple and factual, with emphasis on contents, not presentation, and free from the cheap commercialism which took over the Web in the last years. I don't want you to feel like you are reading a tabloid; rather a book or a focused journal. Let's hope I'll be able to keep things this way.


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Posted 2006/03/05 Copyright © 2006 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak