Note: I expected to lose the server end of 2022, and I'm not sure what's going to happen in the next few months, but site hosting was secured for a few months into 2023.
The MassMind site didn't start off as a public web site. I was working at a company that was growing very rapidly (20 to over 200 in a few months) and as the company had started with the boss and I working in his garage, I knew more about how things worked than anyone other than him. Since new employees didn't want to bug the boss with questions, guess who found himself answering questions all day and not getting any work done? LOL. So I moved my office into the server room to get some quiet in with the fans and I put a sign on the door with an FAQ and a message than if anyone knocked on the door and asked one of those questions I was gonna loose it. Over time, the list grew until it covered the door. At that point, I setup a small web server on the intranet (accessible only inside the company) and moved the FAQ there, updating the sign to point users to the internal IP address.
Over time, I re-organized the FAQ several times, putting things in categories so users could drill down from the index page. This was inspired by the yahoo layout which was famous for it's day, and was later the foil for googles simple search interface.
Near the start, I wrote the code to allow users to post questions on the FAQ or share what they wanted. It was a wiki years before wiki's and many years before wikipedia.
Eventually, company growth lead to indiscriminate hiring and I became dissatisfied working with jerks. Or what I felt were jerks. I quickly found another small business (just me and the boss again) and I demanded a raise or bail. The boss let me go. Still not sure who the jerk was there... me, them, or the boss. Probably all of us.
The new boss was very accomodating and let me put up my web site on his static IP address. Believe it or not, that was running on Personal Web Server (predecessor of IIS) on a Windows 98 machine. And it was never hacked.
At that point, I registered MassMind.org (it had only be reachable via IP address before that) and started selling myself to google adsense for a bit of side income. As I expanded out the FAQ, putting everything I learned into it, the site grew, and for a few years, it was bringing in $800 a month in add revenue.
The major source of information was the MIT PIC list, which was (actually still is) an old email list server for the Microchip (at the time) PIC processor. The chips I was using at work were PIC compatible (Scenix or later Parallax SX28 and 52) and the PICList was a wonderful source of info. I volunteered as an Admin after being nominated by the list owner (Jory Bell) despite never having attended or even ever visited MIT. LOL. The mailing list had no archive, so I got the collected emails to date from Jory and coded up the archive viewer and eventually a system to automatically import emails into it.
I transitioned from PWS on '98 through a few *nix servers (every one of which got hacked) to a shiny new Windows NT server on IIS, which was the best machine ever, and on to 2K3/IIS3 and 2K8/IIS6 where it sits now. And the content grew and grew. It now stands at over 4GB of poorly "organized" content.
Challenged by the popularity of google search over the subject hierarchy (ala Yahoo) I first tried to get Google to index the site, writing scripts to produce their desired site lists. But no matter what I did, the google search would never actually index every page. So I spent a lot of time getting the IIS coupled Index Server to work well. That was, and still is, the most computationally expensive feature on the site. But it works. And well.
Of course, time ends all things, and the site is long in the tooth. It has slowly dropped to pulling in about $15 a month in ad revenue vs $800 a month in it's heyday. I've now removed all the ads as the aggravation isn't worth it and I don't need that small amount. But aside from the money, the actual use of the site has also collapsed.
It doesn't reach a tenth of the use it used to. Where at one time, my top page was an extensive section on raising, diagnosing and treating Tilapia, stepper motor systems, and code generators for embedded controllers, now my top page is one on the old pager codes. LOL. How useless. If it were still being used to show a lot of people the amazing things they can do to improve their lives, with food, automation, or programming, then I would want to keep it up. It's not.
Now, for years and years, my internet connection for the server has been paid for by a small business which also hosted a site with me for distribution of the files which are their product. That business is closing soon. The connection costs about $150 a month. I could easily spend that much on a remote server and then would lose all the little cool features I coded into the existing machine. Code generators, spam and ripping protection, the archive viewer, etc... It's all M$ specific. Buying time on a M$ Azure host would cost much more per month.
So the site isn't used by others, and comparing the size of my ego, to the size of my frugality gives a clear decision in this area; The site is going down.
Now, it's still of use to me, so I'll be keeping the server (local) and continuing to update it as I learn, but it will only be accessible to me. Sadface.
I'm open to other ideas, but again: Not spending a bunch of money each month just to keep an ego project alive. I'd rather use the money to go kayaking.
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