Paul Makepeace ;-)

About paulm.com

paulm.com is the "home page" of Paul Makepeace. It was registered in October 1998, accompanied by a degree of surprise that it was still available, especially considering that paulm.org had already gone nearly two years before.

A little history

I didn't do anything with the domain for about a year, not even receive email (I was already using realprogrammers.com for that). Then in 1999 I uploaded a scan of my then business card. It stayed that way for a year or so and finally in Oct 2000 I added actual content, little more than a verbose contact card.

You can see patchy snapshots of my site on the truly amazing Wayback Machine (web archive).

A log is born

In 2000, I started using paulm.com to record major events or highlight new bits of the site. I think I knew about the term 'blog' but didn't like it or something. This bit of the site was at some point factored out into its own page and remains one of the most confusing-in-context-of-the-rest and certainly now least consistently updated parts of the site...

Technology

At some point in 2001 I became tired of copying and pasting the header and footers into new pages. It wasn't like I was actually writing that much though (page a month?) hence being able to tolerate this mode for a couple of years. Late 2001 I learnt about Template Toolkit, the close-to-definitive Perl templating solution. Shortly thereafter I rigged up some kind of hack that would enable me to just drop in ".xml" files that'd be wrapped in an index.html. It's not really XML, rather fragments of HTML without all the <head> nonsense. Once I had this I could write a lot more freely (for better or worse).

This technology is still in place today and I haven't substantially modified it for years: my Tantrix/Site.pm and Tantrix/Handler.pm files that provide bits of furniture like the breadcrumbs at the top of the page, <title>, and page generation haven't seen edits since 2003.

The site actually supports some quite neat features. It's possible to have various sections of the site be handled by perl modules. There is a whole anonymised erotic literature codebase that I never quite published sitting around on paulm.com's hard-drive... Probably the most notable and long-lived "useful" project has been the surreal quote game that I wrote in 2001. It's been collecting user input and now entertains from millions of possible snippets of nonsense:

What is your hair doing? Write a book, kill a fly.

Google loves it!

Somewhere along the line, Google really took a shine to something about my site. I occasionally find parts of my site ranking not only highly but sometimes at #1 for quite astonishing queries. For example, my 2-minute National Insurance Enquiries page registered #1 for that same query for at least a year above any Inland Revenue site. (Now The Revenue have got their web act a bit together and I'm merely #5.) At time of writing my site's Google PageRank is 6/10 which, I'm told by those in the know, for a silly home page is distinctly in the "not bad at all!" category.

One of the #1 queries also happens to link to a blog page that has some of the funniest comments anywhere on my site. Check it out: Netgear sucks!

Some of my blog (see below) entries have garnered a lot of attention, not because of anything I particularly did rather they just rank high for some search queries, e.g. virtual bartender (#6 in Google), Canada and Jesusland, ...

Google AdSense

Some time about a year or so ago I started running Google ads on the site, primarily out of curiosity. I only have a box of two per page so as not to clutter it too much. For the curious, it earns me the princely sum of about $100 every six months. I've been too lazy to implement the ads on my blog.

Anything actually useful?

I'm not too sure. Judge for yourself. If pressed, about the only part I'd hold up to a torch in that regard is the how to section. Moving swiftly on, although not into any more useful an area...

A blog is born

I'd been hosting Movable Type for friends some time since around 2003. For whatever reason, perhaps the usefulness of my site's technology and lack of strong compulsion to do so, I didn't get on the blogging bandwagon until the end of May 2004. (Technically, there is a first post but I lost momentum after just that one post. It really is a habit.) I'm sorry to say the appearance of my blog is pretty much the default Movable Type 2 version from years back with only minor tweaks to the URL structure, links, date/time formats, and partially referencing my minimalist stylesheet.

A realistic self-assessment, and keen to eschew the self-enthralled image "bloggers" have earnt, my default blog category is drivel. I'm not certain but I'd bet a good chunk it's the category with the most entries...

Statistics

The site gets about 8o,ooo page views a month, mostly via Google (not anymore due to Google crawling it). An incredible number (1,ooos) are for the girls at a 2003 Christmas party I organised. Hmm(!) Other popular ones are for freecycle, my sport blogs, and pix of my old car (the 240SX is a car kiddies love customizing).

One of the most astonishing things I discovered recently is that Google thinks paulm.com has over 16,ooo pages! Much of this is surely to do with automated blog and mailing list archive generation and what-not but even so, phew!

What next?

Not much I suspect. The tech's working well enough, and I don't have any cool itchy ideas I've been sitting on for ages. The design's remained unchanged for years; the goofy title image with 'smiley' face is one of the first images I ever made for the site and has persisted since. I do kinda keep wishing to update the overall look but don't want to rip off/make use of someone else's stock template. I have a likely misplaced pride that everything on here I did myself. That's what a home page is about, no?

Comments? Questions?

Fire away!