Evolution of a web page.

They say that a web page should reflect one’s personality – It is fitting that Truckstop was always something of a mess. When I refer to the HTML page I am referencing the last snapshot of lorry.org before I turned it into a WordPress based portal in March, 2015.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I was running a system called Hicom which was a joint venture between Loughborough University, DEC, BT, the BCS and various other Human Computer Interaction based people. Hicom was mostly based on VAX Notes but we were also running Archie based systems. In the early 90’s the concept of HTML and the World Wide Web was starting to be talked about and being within Hicom’s research area, we installed what was probably one of the first hundred Hypertext servers in the world, I wrote some small pages, and then told anyone who’d listen to me that HTML was a flash in the pan and nobody had computers good enough to display the pages anyway so we were best off sticking with Archie and NOTES to present our information. Sadly, the world ignored the naysayers and went ahead anyway. Some day I may write a blog post about why I think html was the worse of every possible world; but that’s not for here.

I originally started writing Truckstop to test the Hicom HTTP server, to learn a little about HTML and to generally just have a play. I based it on the original Hicom pages and to this day a lot of the pages on the final HTML site still use a template that still worked on the first ever Mosaic browsers. Truckstop started to get some real content in about 1992; at the time I wrote it there weren’t many other pages except “My name is John and here are my cats” type ones written mostly by academics and students as HTML test sites so the first Truckstop was meant to be a pisstake of that sort of page. Somewhere along the line, it managed to become one of them.

The final HTML site probably didn’t really conform to any HTML standards and never looked very flashy; when the bulk of it was written there weren’t any proper standards anyway because Netscape was busy breaking them all. I don’t expect any high marks for good HTML or good spelling.  The site always looked its best in Netscape version 1.2 and I even provided a download of it. It’s amusing to try the old Netscape sometime, it’s a lot faster!

The original Truckstop moved around a lot. It started life on “hicom.org” and then moved to Neil McRae’s “domino.org” box. Shortly after it moved to Ade Lovett’s “paranoia.org” box and when he moved to Texas it sort of split into other pages and eventually went to roost on http://www.lorry.com/ for many years. When I lost lorry.com because Joker are a bunch of incompetent jokers (Grrrrr!) I moved it to my spare domain, lorry.org and it stayed there for a decade more.

In June 1998, after 5 years or so of Truckstop being an ever expanding mess with none of the outdated stuff removed, I decided to gut it and try and make it easier to find things. Saying that, out of order comes Chaos and all that nonsense… I didn’t do a very good job.

The original page background was made up of rather bright little pink Land-rovers. I have no idea why they were pink, they were meant to be a nice subtle purple originally but I got so used to it that it grew on me. This had the disadvantage that I had to make all the text bold so you could read anything but, what the hell. I finally put up a new background in 2002 that was pretty much how I originally wanted it. That’s the one that moved over to the site you are on now too.

The web counter never worked… Well it did for a few years but I always forgot to update it.

In April 2002, as well as changing the background, I decided to go through the page and work out what worked and what didn’t. I went slightly against my “has to work in Netscape 1.2” ethos by making external links open in new windows. I also for the first time used an external guestbook but I was intrigued by why so many people were turning up so it seemed like a good way to possibly find out. Of course, by about 2005 that had broken.

The whole thing pretty much stayed broken from 2005 onwards and I barely touched it, I mostly added things to external sites, the UKnet galleries, then Google’s Picasa, then Microsoft’s Skydrive… I had a few different Weblogs, a bunch of new things on various Social Media sites so there was no real need for a home page any more. It just sat there as a museum piece until I finally decided it may be better to turn it into a portal to everything else I have out there.

And that’s where we are today. Plus – I managed to make a WordPress site look like something out of the 90s. My job is done!