On a Retro Weekend

When I was a kid, way back in the early ’80s, a local radio station — Q101, in Harrisonburg, Virginia — used to have “Hot Wax Weekends.” They’d pull music out of the vault and turn back the clocks. It was on a Hot Wax Weekend that I discovered Creedence Clearwater Revival. I first heard the Stones and the Doors on a Hot Wax Weekend.

I bring up the trip down nostalgia lane because about a month ago I found, while cleaning up a directory of junk on my hard drive, some of the files for the original look of this website.

A trip down memory lane. I registered the domain for allyngibson.net back on June 16, 2002, and the website ran on a blogging platform called Greymatter. (Does anyone even use Greymatter anymore? It got me started, but damn was it a pain in the ass to use.) The first post was made on June 17th.

The design I put together was cobbled together. The one thing I am not is any sort of visual designer, and I relied a great deal then on the use of WYSIWIG HTML editors. The one I used was HotDog PageWiz, and I took one of the pre-rendered templates, figured out where to put Greymatter’s tags, and ran with that. I made some modifications — I especially liked the font, Frutiger Linotype, which came with the Microsoft Reader eBook platform, so I made sure to encode that into the design. It was all done in tables, and I understood HTML tables, so all was good. Well, maybe not good. But it was workable. And at the time, that was all I needed.

Eventually, I tired of Greymatter. It was a clunky, kludgey system, and while it worked, it was a pain to fire up and write. Hence, blogging in those early days was rare and infrequent. And when James Bow wrote on his blog that he was upgrading to a new version of Moveable Type, but that he kept hearing about this other blogging package, WordPress, that was the impetus I needed to change. (Of course, it took me a couple of months, and I’m not entirely sure that was the post I was thinking of, as there’s two and a half months between James’ post and my leap, but it’s close enough for the historical record.)

The problem was… I didn’t know WordPress. I migrated to WordPress, and had no idea what to do. I certainly had no idea how to bring my Greymatter design over; WordPress worked on CSS, and I didn’t know CSS. Thus began my journey into the world of WordPress templates, where I would try out a design for a few months, and then try out something else. (When WordPress 1.5 came onto the market, with its easy theme changing abilities, it became ridiculously easy to change themes around.) There was a Mars design that I liked, but didn’t quite look good with WP 1.5. I especially liked one template called “Old Train.” Good times were had.

So when I found these old files, I began to wonder.

My CSS, HTML, and PHP skills have improved over the years. Could I take this table design and make it work within WordPress?

And what I quickly realized was that there was no reason it wouldn’t work. Indeed, there was no reason it wouldn’t have worked four years ago. I just didn’t think the problem through. 😉

I spent about an hour putting together the files.

And now you, readers new and old, can see how allyngibson.net looked for the first two years of its existence. It’s not exact; there are one or two minor details that are off. (In the original design, in places I used black text on the green background, for no good reason that I can figure. And the Archives page looks not one bit like it did years ago.) It’s all still done with tables, but the styling definitions are all coded into CSS (as WordPress demands a style.css file).

It’s strange for me to look at, because it really does take me back. I find myself having a goofy grin looking at the screen.

You, on the other hand, are probably thinking to yourself — this looks so 1998. And you’re really not that far wrong.

So, it’s a Retro Weekend at allyngibson.net. I’ve got Creedence in the stereo. The clock’s been rolled back. Party like it’s, well, a couple of years ago! 🙂

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

4 thoughts on “On a Retro Weekend

  1. “Wow” is right. I wonder whatever happened to my Grendel baseball cap…

    This was really just for fun, to say, “This is how I used to present myself to the online world.” Which was a completely different world, then.

    Hell, I was using Internet Explorer regularly back then. 😆

    On a completely different subject, did you know there are official Spider-Man 3 WordPress themes? I discovered these by accident one day. I’d never use them, though I did download one just to look at the code. What interested me more was that a media company would produce something like an official blog theme for users. I guess it’s the logical extension (or evolution) of producing Buddy Icons and Desktop Wallpapers.

    Hmm. Now I wonder if Warners will produce official Watchmen blog themes. I’d want a Rohrshach theme, I think…

  2. I didn’t know there were official Spider-Man 3 themes. Kind of odd that they would go through the trouble. I mean… eh?

    I’d be interested in the Dr. Manhattan theme, personally… 😮

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