This site hopes to alleviate the above crippling condition ;-)
The site originally came about in the early 2000s as a place for me to work on my web/graphic design skills, and has since grown quite a bit (minus a little break while I was moving and switching from school to University, and getting used to having my own place/life/etc...).
It primarily documented useful tid-bits of information I had gathered with time. Often I would come across a problem making me end up spending many hours/days/weeks banging my head against the wall, only to solve it, then forget about how I did when I needed the information again. So I decided to start posting these bits of information on the web for three reasons:
This site was originally at http://ziva-vatra.dnsalias.com/ but in 2007, for my birthday, my gf (geeky thing that she is) got me this domain, so I finally switched over to a new URL. The old site will probably continue to redirect to here for the time being.
The original site was frameless and coded only using XHTML and CSS. Its design was a response to the ever increasing web 2.0-ishness of the world, what with blogs / AJAX / FLASH and all that. The site was deliberately designed to be rather simple, but at the same time easy on the eye. The backend was coded in PHP, with XHTML held inside files which would then be read and rendered onto the template XHTML page depending on the link. It was good, and worked well, but as it grew I found managing all the files a bit of a pain, what with the HTML files and connected images and all that.
After a few years, I decided to redo the site, with a new design. Still XHTML and CSS, etc... but just a different look, if I find it I will post an example here.
Well, that was ok for a year or so, until my laptop (DELL Latitude) was stolen. It had all my Uni work, and a large article about XBOX hacking (linux,XBMC,etc...) that I lost. Lucky as I am, it was stolen the same day I bought an external hard disk for backups, which I put in the bag to take home with me. After a hell of a lot of arguing, I didn't get a penny from my insurance (and I conseqently never bothered with insurance again) and after saving up, I bought a Thinkpad T23 to replace it (even though its specs were much lower, PIII 733MHz and 256MB RAM vs 1.8GHz PM with 512MB). Unfortunatley, the XBOX article was never rewritten, as I lost all the pictures, didn't want to rip apart the XBOX again, and other people had already done many more writeups, so I guess I will never bother :(
As a result of this, I also have no copy of the original site, but c'est la vie. The new site was done, it used the same backend as before, and I really didn't do much to it in the form of updates (losing the articles I spent so much time on kind of demotivated me).
Fast forward a bit more, and the old site was becoming a total mess. I decided that the site needed a rewrite, so I started rewriting it. At this time a new addition in the form of a CMS came into being. The CMS was written from scratch, using PHP. Once it was done, it worked well, but it was proving to be a hassle to maintain (the CMS in particular, when using file based storage, was slow and prone to errors). As such I still was not happy, so decided to rewrite it again, but this time use a database. I decided on SQLite, as it was fast, low resource, and easy to manage (I felt mySQL was overkill for the site, as it stood). So I took down the site and started rewriting. I rewrote the entire thing to use SQLite, and started adding articles.
So far so good. One big new feature was multilanguage support, so the site could be translated and managed in multiple languages. Unfortunatley, since the original rewrite, the number of articles grew further. I found that there were too many articles to fit in the 5 categories above, and I was also hitting limits on the number of characters I could store in an SQLite field (plus its lax typing rules and an issue with blobs). Surprised by this, I realised that SQLite will not do for me, so I decided to rewrite the site again. For all the work I put into this iteration, the site never saw the light of the internet.
So I did a rewrite, complete with a redesign (as you see it now). As usual all the graphics are my own, I went for a darker theme, don't know why. My gf liked it, told me it reminded her of the 90's hacker scene. (whether this is good or bad, I'll leave up to you)
I decided on a mySQL backend. I implemented the multilanguage support again, added infinite recursion (so a category can have multiple subcategories, each with further subcategories). Another thing I did differently this time is that I created a new abstraction. The site does not deal directly with the database, but via an API: this way I can change the backend in the future to whatever I want, without having to rewrite the entire thing. This makes me happy :)