Design Information

As Authored by Matt

Your business will assume vast proportions.

General Information

Mattfast1 - the fast one has been hosted on such services as Geocities (before the Yahoo! buyout), Tripod, Topcities, Angelfire, and others. mattfast1 - the fast one has also gone by a variety of names. Currently, it is hosted with Dreamhost, and with the new host comes this brand new design. The design is a derivative work from css/edge, modified to suit the fast one.

Complete History

Back sometime in, oh, say, 1996, I first got interested in the Internet after my parents finally got on, with our old MSN dialup connection. We were one of the first 50,000 on that service, back in the good old days. A year later, in 1997, when I was a mere 10 years old, I coded my first simple HTML page and hosted it on the old Geocities. The URL to that page was, at one point, http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shire/6761. This site remained on the internet until 90 days after Yahoo bought Geocities and started removing pages unmodified in the past 90 days. So this original page of mattfast1, which existed way before the name mattfast1 was ever created and was the home of many classic examples of what NOT to do, finally passed beyond this realm.

While I was doing that, I created other pages for other subjects. I had an Animorphs page over on Angelfire, a Tripod site (with 150 megs, free!), and even dabbled in the black arts of Yahoo! Geocities. Remember, this was back when disk space was more important than bandwidth, since most pages consisted of text. Also, many providers were still offering unthrottled bandwidth, even to free customers.

I drifted out of the HTML craze for a time, between 2000 and 2003. The only HTML I coded in those four years was for various classes, and as teaching examples. Then, I started developing the Harm-King Family History Website on commision for my mother. After starting that project, I began to thirst after something a little more... personal. So, I was looking at Area 51 NM, and decided to download their code and make it better, since it so obviously lacked HTML eloquence. The original thought was to do a ground-up restoration of their site, with cross-browser compatibility and clean code, and release it back to them. However, once I started realizing how much work that entailed, I decided to edit it for myself and keep the code. To this day, this website is based off of that code, and still retains bits and pieces of that code, most notably the <html> statements at the beginning of each document. That goes to show how much of it was changed.

Around that time (2003) is when I got the mattfast1 name. It happened while at the local LaserQuest, while picking a name, my friend Jeff decided to go in as "jeffast". I, being the utter ass that I am, decided on "mattfast1", and the name was stuck.

In 2004, I got heavily into more current technologies such as JavaScript, CSS, and PHP. That's when I completely changed the style system, moving it into core style files rather than having it intersparced in the increasingly-XHTML-like code of the site. The first release of the code was meant as a test release on my old domain (http://matt.vandusens.us), the now-defunct home of all my projects for a short time in 2004. It was not meant to get out to search engines; however, I still keep finding references to that old code in various search engines, even though the robots.txt was supposed to stop all indexing of that directory. No matter.

On Thursday, December 8, 2005, version 0.5 of this site was launched. That version was... quite inadequate. Seriously. It only had the animation pages built into the newest template engines, and the rest was quite the mess. However, it was hurried through the release cycle, since it was needed for the final project in a web design class. On Thursday, January 5, 2006, version 0.6 was released, and it was much needed. Now, we're up to version : 1.0.0, and it's always just getting better. It will be written fully PHP in version 1.0; watch for that coming in the next couple months soon , if not sooner.

In 2006, 2007 and 2008, the updates have come much more spuradically. This is mostly due to more constraints on time available due to work and school (although not school so much anymore). Working 12 hours per day doesn't leave much energy for doing things like this. There have been many times where this website does not get updated for weeks or months at a time. I am trying to change that, but please be aware it still may have delays to get updated.

The site is hosted with Dreamhost currently. I mention this because they kick major ass. Seriously. I'm on the cheap plan, but that still gets me 20GB hard disk space with 1TB bandwidth. Yes, that's right: TB. As in Terabytes. As in one thousand gigabytes. Oh, and those both increase weekly. The HD space grows by 40MB/week, while the bandwidth grows by 80MB/week. Try getting that from any other cut-rate providor. Also, their service is the fastest in the biz, with ALL requests getting some kind of response within 24 hours. Period. Doesn't matter if it's Christmas, you'll get a human response. True, they have their problems... but who doesn't? These people seem to have all the marbles in their head left. You'll probably think so, too, once you sign up. Unless you read the newsletter. Then they seem crazy. But hey, crazy is as crazy does, right?

About the design of the site

This site was designed in HTML-Kit Build 292 in conjuction with Microsoft FrontPage 2002; however, I have used extensive CSS coding in this website. Therefore, this site's list of compatible browsers is much more limited. I have extensively tested this site in Mozilla Firefox 1.0 & 1.5 up, Netscape 7.1, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 and up. I have also tested on Safari 3.1. All testing has been on the Windows platform, with limited testing using Firefox and the Mozilla browser on Linux.

Theme Notes

Black: The first and original theme of mattfast1 - the fast one, the Black theme has captivated the eyes of many. Every new feature is added into the Black theme first, since we do use it as a default theme, but then it is able to quickly spread thanks to the magic of JavaScript and CSS. You should be using the black theme if you don't like choices and want to use the default.

Techie: The second theme and short-lived default theme, the Techie theme is inspired by the living conditions of all Stage Technicians, which is a dark world where everything is either black, a shade of dark grey, or blue, especially for any kind of light. The text can be kind of hard to read in this theme, because there is only so much I can lighten up the theme and still call it the techie theme.

Snow: The third theme and the first NOT use have a primary color of Black, the Snow theme is the most popular in the test groups for its easy readability and light colors. Interesting facts: the Snow theme was put together in a couple hours while watching the Blizzard of '04 dump snow all over the place. That yellow color in the header was made to represent yellow snowcones. The brown color resembles coffee, such as when Police Cheif Wiggum is writing his name in the snow with his coffee. Whatever. The green was made to represent snow-covered Evergreens.

Broncos: The fourth theme, and the first in our 32-part NFL-inspired theme, was also whipped out in just a few hours, while watching the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, when they were completely destroyed by the Pittsburg Steelers. Remember, this is the first in our 32-part series; however, what we'll do is, we'll create the next one for the winners of the Super Bowl (XL), then we'll resume the series during the season next year. Just as the atheletes get to take quite a few months off, I do too, damnit. Or perhaps I just won't make any more football-related themes and do something else. Whatever.

Past & Present: Revision Notes

Every time we revise the web page, in additon to semi-informative information on the front page, we utilize a release notes file. This is also helpful when you just want to know what's changed since we last released the site.

The latest version will always be kept at this location: http://www.mattfast1.com/release-notes.txt. This file will have my notes, the release date and time (all times are GMT -0700 Mountain Standard Time), and the edited results of a svn log -v command run on the directory. The only edits I will make is when a revision doesn't apply to the core code (i.e., is part of a side project I am currently working on). These edits are quite obvious, and will not in any attempt to mislead you about the main code.

WARNING: GEEKERY AHEAD!
If for some reason, you're looking for the release notes for previous versions of the code, you're really strange. No, seriously, get some help. Fortunately for you, they're kept on the server after uploads complete. To access old versions of the code, or to ask for a specific revision to export out of the database for your review, they are all in the http://www.mattfast1.com/notes directory. Filenames are RELEASE-[site_ver].TXT on the server. Note that Subversion logs are chopped off at the last revision, i.e. if the release-0.6.txt file contains r1:r16, then the release-0.6.1.txt file will contain the r17:HEAD log (in this example, we assume HEAD at the time of release, not the literal current HEAD). In fact, this is how the logs are generated: using the svn log -v -r r17:HEAD command (as in the noted example). GIGIG.

On positioning

This site uses dynamic positioning throughout. This means that it adapts to your browser's environment. This site will look equally good whether you're using a 640x480 resolution with 256 color display or a 1600x1200 resolution with 32-bit color. Obviously, images will look better with more colors, but the only places you really have to worry about that is in the forums and the background. However, I do recommend a higher resolution - I develop in a 1280x1024 environment.

On images

As you look at this site, you may notice design elements that look as if they should be images. Well, there are no images in use anywhere on this site as a design element. That is because using CSS, we can create amazing things without using images, and because I'm lazy and don't feel like opening Photoshop, I just spend about 15 minutes creating a site-wide style, and it looks good. It's highly editable (just in case I don't like something later on or have to change something), and it speeds the site up and lessens the amount of bandwidth used on every page view, which means my hosting bills aren't increased. However, with 20GB disk space and 1TB (terabyte) bandwidth, that really isn't an issue.

Background Image

The background image used on this site is an image from SomethingPositive, a webcomic authored by r*k*milholland. I claim no ownership. Something Positive is ©2001- r*k*milholland. For more detailed information, please see Something Positive.

On Version Control

Starting with version 0.6 (this is version : 1.0.0), we have moved all version control to Subversion, rather than trying to keep track of all the files ourselves. In this way, we can always roll our copies back to any previous version, and always have confidence we are running the latest version of the web site.

Currently, this Subversion repository is on a private internal server; however, we have plans to someday make this repository available to the general public, or at least move it to the web server in such a way that when we update the code on our computers, then commit it, it will show up within 3 hours on the live site. However, since this plan is still in the preliminary stages of planning, we cannot divulge any more details. Perhaps one day, we will make the coding mechanisms available to the public, and have them able to submit better code. Until then, we'll just keep going it ourselves.

The Subversion repository USED to be hosted on the server affectionately named "pepito" in our labs, located in the Room. That server has since been renamed to "mnemosyne" after the Greek Goddess of Memory, and the subversion repositories that used to be there are no more. All development files are located in a repository on this very web server. The repository of the website is currently marked private and requires a username and password. However, eventually, I may make it accessible to guests as well. Watch this space for that type of news.

Notes

Any version of Netscape below version 6 will not work with this site because those are the old browsers that never had CSS support or had extremely poor CSS implementations. Also, Internet Explorer 6.0 may have some minor glitches due to Microsoft's CSS implementation not exactly up to the standard. I highly recommend using Mozilla Firefox. You can download Firefox from this location.

Another Note

This is my first time working almost exclusively with CSS, and I think it turned out pretty well. This site is the closest I have ever come to having a site that fully complies with the HTML 4.01/Strict specification from W3C. The next project to be changed to CSS is going to be the Harm-King project, hosted at this location. My goal for the next version of that project is full compliance with the HTML 4.01/Strict standard. This means a site where there are absolutely no presentational (bold, italic, etc.) tags in the same document as the content. This site is in compliance in about 95% of all cases, but still has a little presentational code within the documents themselves, mostly in the parts I've copied from other sites.

Validation

All CSS code and HTML markup has been validated through the World Wide Web Consortium's web testers found at their web site. At least, as far as you know. I may have been too lazy to validate some of my code.

Location, location, location

The code on this website was all created somewhere. See me talk about it the only way I know how: with a heavy dose of sarcasm, a lot of humour, and a touch of truth. Read about the room.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict


Valid CSS!



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