After having this layout sitting on my harddrive for what seems like at least a few years, my new homepage is finally done! It has come a long way. The picture at the bottom of this post was my old homepage. It was just a static HTML website, generated from a base set of XML files (and my own, simple, custom tags). The conversion from my XML page format to XHTML was done using XSLT. It might sound complicated to some, but it wasn't really. It was quite primitive and it worked great. :P

A long time ago, I began an attempt to write my own, fully-fledged blogging webapp in Java to replace my old homepage. As usual, it was both for the learning experience and also the desire to be able to do more cool, dynamic stuff on my homepage. The layout of this blog was originally designed to be used with that. That pursuit, however, proved futile. There was too much to do and too little time. This included learning J2EE, writing a robust commenting system and implementing the necessary standards to support RSS feeds and the such. I could see myself spending a lot of time in web development, when my ultimate interest is actually game development.

At some point, I also moved all the services on my personal server to free, third-party alternatives (i.e. my email hosting is now handled by Google Apps For Your Domain). So I would also have no where to host this envisioned weblog application. The argument for the switch then was that, although it was useful to administer my own email, HTTP, and other services, the hosting expenses were no longer worth it. In the beginning, it was valuable because of the learning experience. But that value evapourated as I found myself logging into the server less and less (such is the beauty of Linux - once it is setup, it rarely fails).

I then sought out all the various free services available on the 'net to accommodate my needs. I find Google Apps For Your Domain to be a great email hosting service and highly recommend it. You have access to the excellent GMail spam-filtering system, which is a big plus for me. For website hosting, I decided to settle on, because it lets you host your blog on your own domain. Unfortunately, it also has its own relatively-complicated layout system. So a good bulk of my time was actually spent porting over the layout I had originally written for my ambitious Java webapp to the Blogger Layout system. Some things do not work (e.g. backlinks), but I just disable those features - they are not necessary anyway.

So that is where I am today. The layout is finished. Personally, I find the site looks a bit pansy, but I am hoping I can offset that with manly, programming posts. :D