About This Site
Where the name came from

I've spent a long time trying to come up with a good domain name of my very own. I never had much luck. I've liked Theriothaumaturgy.com for a long time, but nobody besides myself would ever remember it. More recently, I came up with HalfOpenInterval.com. While it might make an amusing inside joke for programmers, it just doesn't have that great of a ring to it.

I have been using a free service from www.selfhost.com to provide the mapping from DNS name to my dynamic IP address, but I was constrained to use a name in their zone - I have (had) a server at http://www.louisth.selfhost.com/.

In February, 2002, after an extended service outage, I thought that SelfHost.com had finally given up the ghost and it was time to put serious effort into getting my own domain name.

I talked with my friends and parents and sister to get ideas, but of course most of the good names were already taken. My sister Kim gets credit for coming up with GlaucomysArcana.com. I love that one, but that's REALLY an inside joke, and again, what good is a doman name that nobody can remember?

One of the last things my parents suggested was nightowl.com. That one was of course taken, but it got me to thinking. Everyone who knows me knows I am a night owl, so that would have been good. NightBird, LateNightOwl, LateNightBird - right idea but they just didn't sound quite right.

I finally came up with LateNightHacking. Actually, I considered LateNightCoding and LateNightProgramming, but I though LateNightHacking sounded better. And of course, by hacking I mean the good kind, not the bad kind. I guess I leave myself open to the pejorative interpretation, but hey, this site is for the people who know better. :)

The name has been very appropriate too. Most updates to this web site happen after dark. :)

2005-09-09 : Rambler has been rebuilt running Windows 2003 Server. I have disabled louisth.selfhost.com.

The Scripts

One of the most important aspects of this web site is that it is set up so that I can edit it from anywhere. Recently, I have been relocating frequently, and one of the things that really annoyed me was that I couldn't get to my computer 'stuff'. I didn't have a place where I could easily share things with friends. I didn't have easy access to the master files for the sites I did have. If I edited those sites, I would quickly end up with mutliple versions of the files spread all over.

I wandered across the WikkiWikiWeb and was intrigued by the ability of people to quickly add content by using the CGI scripts to edit any page. I even set up a wiki of my own using one of the simple, publicly available scripts. However, I didn't like it for a couple of reasons: the script I was using was slow, wiki text formatting is odd, and everything was stored in a database instead of a normal file system. I like being able to use any feature of HTML or any feature of my web server that I wish. I didn't like the wiki's restrictive alternate formatting syntax (and incompletely implemented in the one I was using). Plane files seemed much safer than a special format. Finally, I wanted the ability to use version control on my web site.

Armed with this knowledge, the first thing I did with my web site once I had DNS working was set to writing the web site maintenance scripts. At the bottom of every page (when I am logged in) is a link I can click to edit the page. It brings up the source of the page in an HTML form so I can edit it and post it back to my site. I can edit the whole page, including server side scripts, without having to fire up an annoying FTP client. I then added another script that allows me to do all sorts of directory manipulation - creating, moving, and deleting files; creating, moving, and deleting directories. I even have the capability to upload files via HTTP. And the best thing is, I can do it at any time, from any machine with a web browser!

I am proud of some of the other scripts used in this site as well. You may see my e-mail address on the bottom of every page, and you can click on it to send mail, but my address is not anywhere in the data sent from the server (so it can't be harvested with a spider). You can't even cleanly copy it off the screen. :)

The modification date in the lower right hand corner is read directly from the file, so it is guaranteed to be accurate. Plus, it's a lot of fun seeing how many days it's been since a file was updated.

Browser Preference

I used to make sure that my web pages displayed correctly on all browsers, and I was rather proud of that. However, lately I've given up on that.

Netscape 4 is ancient. I don't want to install a bunch of intrusive browsers on my machine just so I can deal with all their peculiarities. There are too many fun things available in IE 5 and above that I don't want to have to give up or write lots of qwirky HTML to emulate. I've become a big fan of CSS and I often wish it was even more powerful. In my old site, the large heading with a white border that you see on every page took many (~10) lines of HTML to display properly in all browsers. Now I've got it reduced to two tags and some CSS.

I'm not saying my pages won't display properly in Netscape or Opera or Lynx. I try not to require support for anything too wierd. However, if your browser doesn't support CSS, my pages are going to look odd, and I haven't tested most of them on anything but IE 6.

If you have any problems, just remember that immortal phrase: "It works fine on my computer." >:)

No, of course I don't mean that! If you see something wrong, please mail me. :)

Proposed Site Layout
Web Site Project Notes
Server Specs

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