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Brad Porter's Website Intro

When I was in graduate school, a colleague somewhat discouraged me from trying to install the operating system linux at home. "It's a hobby," he said, indicating that I should expect to spend a lot of time at it. He was successful at discouraging me for quite a while, but the lure was too great. I was a broke graduate student, happy to save a little money, and I was becoming more familiar with unix and was getting comfortable with it. The only problem was that I tried to save too much money, and tried to install it on my 386 with 4 Mbytes of RAM. According to the documentation, it was suppose to work. But there was some hangup and I really needed more memory. It was a time of late nights and wee hours of the morning thinking "Just this one last thing. I'm almost there." I don't remember how I got the extra RAM and all the details of what I had to do, but I finally got it installed. It was extremely slow if I did anything with graphics, but it worked. There is no doubt that the time I spent on it was not worth the money I saved at the time - not even remotely close - but it was an investment I have not regretted.

I am not the best letter writer. When my son served a two year mission for our Church, I was pretty good. He was not accessible by phone at all, and in fact not permitted by mission regulations to call us - in order to keep them focused on the work. So sitting down and penning a letter was the only way to communicate until email came along. I had served a mission myself some 20 plus years earlier and knew how important those letters from home were. I also knew that my son had limited time on the computer, usually for an hour or so at the library, and I did not want to distract him reading an email from me during his limited computer time so I printed and mailed my letters. I did hope that if he was not distracted reading my letter during his limited computer time, that his own emails back to us might be more thoughtful. I knew that even this could be a challenge, so I bought him some nice stationary, envelopes and a bunch of stamps, gave them to him for his birthday right before he left and suggested to him that he might have more time to draft a thoughtful letter if he was not feeling rushed at the library. I don't know who, if anyone got that stationary, or who got the stamps, but it wasn't me. I think he sent one or two envelopes the entire time he was gone. However, he did write thoughtful emails, so it worked out.

When my daughter went off to college a couple of years ago, I would sometimes send the same, or a slightly edited letter to her. Other times we had spoken on the phone and it didn't make sense to send the same letter. Occasionally, I sent her a personalized one. Now my son has been back from his mission for over a year but still living far away, and I find I don't write letters much at all. My daughter started a blog earlier this year and it was great because she wasn't writing letters. I couldn't help but think about communicating this way myself.

I can't just do things the easy way - like using Microsoft Windows instead of installing linux on that old 386 twenty years ago. It's true that I have more in mind than just a blog, so there were other requirements, but even just the blog was hard to settle on. I tried a dozen and finally came to the conclusion that none of the standard ones were flexible enough and the one I wanted I was going to have to install and customize myself. So here I was back to linux.

Once again, over the last couple of months, there have been late nights and wee hours of the morning. Weekends were especially intense - trying to get as much done as possible. The last couple of Sunday nights I didn't feel like I had done enough and have stayed up until 3am cranking away. I stroll into work a little late and call it the family man's Monday morning hangover. That is just what it takes to get over a hill sometimes. When you see the website, you might say, "That's it? Two months of sleep loss for this?" Well, I admit, it could use some polishing. But as I mentioned, I have other motives besides a blog, so I have focused on the backend - the inner workings - as opposed to the user interface and the content. I think I'll focus on content for a little while, and then work on polishing later, which in order to do I will probably have to learn the web scripting language PHP - something I am happy to postpone while I catch up on sleep.

Brad

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