2011 marks Ten Years since the howden.net.nz domain was first registered but this website has been around for much longer. Originally this website was built in 1998 for a web design assignment as part of the Certificate in Business Computing course I was taking. I enjoyed building the website so much that I decided to keep it running after the course finished and in 2001 actually moved to giving the website it's own domain name. The site has seen various incarnations over the years and this page looks at how this site has progressed over time.
At the start of 1998 I began studying for a Certificate in Business Computing and in the module IN200 I learnt how to write webpages in HTML. My website was hosted on a Linux box at the Polytechnic.
My first site was a mixture of pages written in HTML, using the PICO editor on the Linux box my site was hosted on, and some pages were written using Frontpage 98 and uploaded using FTP.
My original page included ‘Page of the Month’ where you could see my favourite site for the month. I usually picked a site related to something that was going on in the news or online. I ceased the ‘Page of the Month’ page in 2001 when the site became howden.net.nz
After Christmas 1998 I decided I didn’t want to go back to my old site (having given the site a temporary
redesign for Christmas) so I decided to build a new site fresh for 1999. My website was moved from the
Linux box at Polytech to homepage space provided by my ISP at the time, Ihug.
After deciding to construct a new site in January 1999 I got to work to build something totally different. I decided to name my new site ‘The World of Blair Howden.’ The site was moved during the year to a new server since I changed my ISP to World-Net.
This is 'The World of Blair Howden' shown in the Graphical Mode. As you can see to get the best effect from this view you really need to have your resolution set at least 1024 x 768 or use the full screen option found in Internet Explorer. The logo I created using Microsoft Publisher 97 and then the gradient was done using Photoshop 5. The gradient displayed smoothly with a 16bit colour palette if you used Internet Explorer 4 but any other browser including Internet Explorer 5 would only display the gradient smoothly in True Colour mode. The site used a Windows 98 style theme where all links looked like icons.
Viewing my site using the Full Screen option in Internet Explorer was the best option if your computer couldn’t display 1024 x 768, back then most people used 640 x 480 or 800 x 600 resolutions so I suggested clicking on the Full Screen button in Internet Explorer 4 but of course that button was removed by default in Internet Explorer 5 and now most people probably don’t know such a feature exists, you can still get Full Screen by pressing F11.
This was the Classic Mode where my website could be viewed in a similar way to my original site. Links to other sites were available like on the original site and you could even log into your Hotmail account, of course this will not work anymore since Hotmail introduced their Passport thing.
I wanted to make sure everyone could view my site so users with a browser that didn’t support frames were catered for. Also choosing the other options using a browsers that didn’t support frames would display this same page. Back in 1999 some users were still using dated browsers such as Internet Explorer 1 or IE2 which did not support frames.
This was a typical page on The World of Blair Howden it is the Evaluation page found on my original website. As you can see all pages had my logo in the top left hand corner with a title next to this using the Brushstroke font. Whenever I mentioned The World of Blair Howden I would display this in bold text emphasing the name of my site.
I even created a couple of banners the visitors could place on their website linking back to my site. I even included HTML code to insert onto a page. If you are wondering who Darren is, he was this guy in my course who kept on copying my websites and loved to chat on 5 different chat programs at once.
We had to create an animated gif as part of one of my assignments in my course so I made one to go on my website.
I took quite a bit of criticism over the original design of The World of Blair Howden, actually it was all from this guy Robert who also criticised my new design for The World of Blair Howden and future websites and still criticises this site today.
The new design saw a new logo this time with Australia as well as New Zealand on the logo, if you are wondering why I would stick Australia in the logo it is because at the time I had big plans of leaving New Zealand for Australia when I finished my course just like every other kiwi at the time.
This was the top of a typical page on the new The World of Blair Howden. As you can see I am still using frames on the left but no links to other websites down the side, these links are now on their own page. At the top of the page simply had the words The World of Blair Howden and if you click on the second image you will see every page at the bottom had just the logo part of The World of Blair Howden.
Where I state the site being created by both Blair Howden and XiLT Technologies, this was the name of my friend Antonio’s made up company. Another friend Robert actually took that name and replaced the X with Z and now runs an actual web design business called Zilt Technolgies.
Another new year and I once again decided it was time to create a new site. This time I originally called the site ‘howden-net’ after the name of my home network. In March 2001 I registered the domain howden.net.nz and it seemed logical to rename the site to match the name of my domain.
This site actually looks less detailed than my previous sites but something I prided myself on with this site is the fact that the whole thing was written using Windows Notepad instead of Frontpage like I had used with my last two sites. Also it was a very small and efficient site like less than 1MB. Frames are now gone in place of tables and I used SSI (Server Side Includes) to dynamically display the last update of the site as well sections of the site could be made as templates. The biggest improvement I can not show you yet was the php and mySQL Guestbook which replaced the existing form that simply emailed me whatever visitors had to say. Most of the pages from The World of Blair Howden I moved over to howden.net.nz except for the Top Page of the Month page.
During the middle of the year I gave the existing howden.net.nz a slightly new look but retaining most of the original site. I changed the howden.net.nz logo to something slightly different and this logo is still used today in my later sites.
This is the 2002 version of howden.net.nz I have now merged the Computer Page and the page About Me into one section and dropped a few of the computer pages that I actually reintroduced in 2003. I also added the Joke Email section that can be found on this site on the menu under Fun Stuff.
This year saw the most significant changes to howden.net.nz. The first change was at the start of the year when I decided that it was no longer worth paying for hosting my website and I was going to completely ditch the whole site until my flatmate at the time, Jeff, suggested I host the site on the Linux box that was running 24/7 in our hallway and always online thanks to our ADSL Internet connection. A few months after shifting my site to our own server Jeff showed me a page he created using phpNuke, this page actually looked like a professionally created website and I decided I would give phpNuke a go.
The menu on the left is a standard phpNuke menu. I renamed the Content item on the menu to About Me and this opened all my pages showing information About Me and my computers. Items in the current menu open up pages in the Content section. In August I moved out of the flat I was living in and as a result I had to host my site elsewhere, this time I opted to host with KiwiWebHost. The main attraction to this company was their low price like only $52 a year but I pay and extra $40 for an extra 40MB of disc space since phpNuke uses quite a bit of disc space. Also the fact KiwiWebHost support phpNuke was a draw card.
This site was the victim on several attacks due to holes in the security of phpNuke, hackers could easily create their own administrator account and all the hacker would normally do is change the opening page. My host KiwiWebHost asked me to upgrade to a later version after someone was found sending Spam mail from my site. When I upgraded I changed to a different theme and howden.net.nz looked this way until 2007 when I stopped using phpNuke.
After being diagnosed with Cancer at the end of 2004 I made a decision to include a diary of my treatment on my website. While I was going through my treatment my mum was keeping a diary, two diaries actually. One with all the medical details such as what doctors had to say how I was feeling and so on, the other diary was a personal one and my mum was talking at the time of using the information in both diarys to write something from a mothers point of view. While this never happened I got to thinking I should also put together a diary so about 5 months into my treatment one night sitting with the laptop in hospital I started writing a recollection of events as I remember them using the diary mum had been keep to help jog my memory. I figured the best place to publish this diary was on the web and since I already my own site all I needed to do was add the diary into my site.
howden.net.nz goes Wiki. In June 2007 howden.net.nz changed to being a Wiki based website as a result viewers could then add their own content to howden.net.nz and add information or make corrections to selected pages. While this seemed a great idea at the time it never really took off, amazingly though I never had anyone vandalise my site either one person tried to add a whole lot of spam but I quickly blocked him and there were never problems again. My site was vandalised more when I used phpNuke and you weren’t supposed to be able to edit pages then.
howden.net.nz goes back to basics. I decided the Wiki based site idea was stupid and quite pointless also I decided much of the content on the site was a waste of time so I basically deleted the site and after being offline for a couple of months howden.net.nz returned in early 2009 now simply written in HTML and with a more simple look. The website was moved to my own server during the middle of the year.
After building a website for Southern Pride Invercargill Lions as part of my course project I decided to give howden.net.nz a refreshed look. My previous site did not used Stylesheets and mostly dated html, this version uses Stylesheets and was written using PHP with the data stored in a mySQL database. I gave this site a rebuild as practice for my third year project where I had to build a website for a now defunct Wellington radio station.