Six Years Of BobNET!
BobNET October 11, 2002 @12:00am EDT

Six years ago today I uploaded the first version of BobNET to my ISP's webserver (actually, looking at my ws_ftp logs I first uploaded something on the 7th, but didn't "go live" until the 11th). I've found a backup of the site on an old hard drive (from my 486SX with a 620MB hard drive!), so read the rest of the article for more of my archaeological expedition into the history of BobNET.

The Hoser is also five years old today! Read this month's issue and don't forget to congratulate Bob and Doug for the past sixty issues!

Looking through the old backup I see a background almost ready for the Top 11 List (which has been there from the start) and a frameset (with very visible borders). There's also a blurred version of the BobNET logo, but I couldn't get it to go transparent (alpha channel support wouldn't be integrated into web browsers for years) so never used it but did put a link to it just for fun. Not to mention fractals I generated with Fractint many years ago (they took a long time on my 486!).

The links page appears to be pretty similar to the one I was using until this summer; there's some links to search engines (I tried to include the ones I found useful plus some others that could have been useful someday). There's some links to other pages on my ISP (the only one still there is DavE's Cool Web Page) and a list of sites I generated with a Perl script running on their server. There's also some silly Javascript clocks and tickers that I wrote or copied. This was back before DHTML made scripting useful (Javascript coding is a "talent" I seem to have lost in the past five or six years).

There's a bunch of sounds in the backup, mainly poorly compressed wav and au files (before both RealAudio and MP3), plus some MIDI songs. Speaking of MIDI, the site had background music, which I now find highly annoying but thought was neat back then because I programmed the Javascript to do it myself.

And of course there's the welcome message "Welcome to BobNET, my experimental World Wide Web Site!" and the tagline "Best Viewed With: My Computer, Worst Viewed With: Your Computer" (I guess I was annoyed with those "best viewed in" messages and images even back then).

The first version of BobNET was pretty primitive and resembles most people's first try at creating a web page: lots of sounds and images and use of new technology, but not much content. That would have to wait for a year when I updated the entire site with BobNET 4 (the predecessor to what you're seeing now).

BobNET 4 was a complete rewrite. I still have sketches (on paper) of a layout with many buttons, frames, and scripts all around. But sometime in 1997 I wrote an essay on copyright law for a law class I was taking in high school and after it was marked I decided to put it on my webpage in HTML. Rather than using the marble background and Times font of BobNET I decided to use a whole new format. The text was Arial (Helvetica for the few people visiting my site from a non-Windows machine) so it looked crisper, and I changed the text colours a little bit. There was no background image, either. I liked the design and decided that BobNET 4 would use it. Now I needed the content.

At some point I found a copy of the Bob and Doug album "Great White North" on vinyl. Inside was their newspaper, "The Daily Hoser". So I decided to write my own newspaper, as Bob and Doug, but only monthly (up until that point I made updates to the site pretty regularly every week). This started some more ideas and I soon had "SCTV... On The Air!" (taken from an old opening to the show), "The New Red Green Page", and "AirFarce@BobNET". The idea to use RealAudio for the sounds came soon after I got a Pentium 233 MMX system, powerful enough to record and playback RealAudio streams.

Starting in 1998 there were rumours floating around the Internet of a sequel to Strange Brew. Later that year I put a news page up under The Hoser dedicated to info on the new movie (which had various titles but would probably been called "Home Brew"). This page evolved to include general Bob and Doug news (mainly the "action figures" release in 2000) plus SCTV news after it began airing again in 1999. Eventually I decided to make the main focus of BobNET to be news of my favourite Canadian comedies rather than sound clips from them. I had a lot of ideas committed to paper for BobNET 5 but university and summer work got in the way so even though I began working on it in early 2001 I wasn't finished until summer 2002.

This brings us up to date on BobNET, even though it's taken six years to get here. Rather than being typed by hand the site is mainly written in XML and converted using Perl scripts to HTML (and any other format I care to write templates for). This speeds things up quite a bit and could even evolve into a system similar to Slash (although more limited), but don't hold your breath, this will probably happen around the same time as SCTV releases on DVD. :-)

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