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Wilkinsons.Com Technical/History Page

This page is provided for those people who for some reason or another want to know somw of the more technical issues behind Wilkinsons.Com or perhaps a little history of the site. I will make no claims as to its aesthetic merits, and most people will probably find it boring.

History

This whole thing started while I was a graduate student at Georgia Tech. On the computer at my desk, I had a direct LAN connection to the internet complete with IP address and name (vangogh.mirc.gatech.edu). In the spare time while experiments were running, I fiddled around with programs that I downloaded from the Atlanta Macintosh Users Group and other soures. One day, I downloaded MacHTTP, the predecessor of WebStar, and discovered that I could put pages up that were accessible from the internet.

My first attempts were (of course) my own home page and resume. When I discovered that no one cared to look at my page, I tried to find a hook to bring people in. The hook presented itself when I searched for my own name on one of the web indexes (like you haven't done that yourself). There were Wilkinsons all over the place. I created a simple page with a list of Wilkinson pages and sent an email message to the owners of each page letting them know that the link had been established. The original address of Wilkinsons on the Web was http://vangogh.mirc.gatech.edu/STW/Wilkinsons.html, long since deleted. Some of those original listed page owners are still listed on the Wilkinsons Home Pages page, and have been very helpful in promoting and supporting the project.

Gradually, the page grew beyond the scope of a single page, and was broken into the several pages that encompass the Wilkinsons on the Web site. Using a university scanner and software, the coat of arms page was developed. Searching through email indices resulted in the first Wilkisnons Email page. The discovery of the GED2HTML program instigated the Wilkinsons Genealogical Database and its associated page, the Wilkinsons Genealogy Page. Most of the rest of the site grew from user submissions, which now encompass a majority of the information listed.

Eventually, the popularity of the site started to noticeably slow down my desktop Mac, and the site was moved to a Sun server on campus. The second address for the Wilkinsons on the Web site was http://azalea.mirc.gatech.edu/~scottw/Wilkinsons.html. Some web indexers still list this address despite my efforts, so the address still exists as a forwarding page.

In September of 1996, I left school with my degree and moved to Dallas, TX. The site was moved to a private ISP in the area, and the domain name wilkinsons.com was designated for the first time. Unfortunately, in December of 1996, the president of that ISP broke into his own company and stole all of the resources (computers, money, etc.). The site disappeared for quite a while, and some information was lost forever. One set of pages at wilkinsons.com, the Northside United Methodist Church Youth page, was completely gone and has never been recreated.

In February of 1997, the site resurrected with a new service provider (and a monthly rather than yearly contract). Wilkinsons.Com is doing very well now. Dynamically updating pages let interested parties update some of the pages instantaneously, greatly reducing the administrative time required, which is a good thins since I have a real job now.

The Packrat site (which is under development) is the successor to an old site of mine called The Olympic Pin Gallery. That site was started during the Olympics in Atlanta in the summer of 1996. I was a student on the Georgia Tech campus (a.k.a. the Olympic Village) finishing my thesis during the Olympics. The pin trading craze caught my interest, but I really couldn't afford to get too involved (see "student" above). Therefore, I just started collecting pictures of pins and scanning in the few that I had. I discovered that keeping hypertext linked pages of pictures of my pins was a terrific way to catalog them, even if no on e cared to look at the pictures other than me. Eventually, I got a job and bought a scanner of my own, and now I'm creating a database of the myriad collections that are filling up the spare rooms in my house. It may never get finished, but I enjoy doing it. It's an odd hobby, but it keeps me out of trouble.

No, I don't make a living off of this site - it's a hobby, not a buisness. Which brings me to the next section....

Advertising and other financial issues (It's a hobby, not a buisness)

In the past, you may have noticed the advertisements on the top of all of the pages at Wilkinsons.Com. They were provided by the Commonwealth Network, which randomly rotates advertising banners through the sites. They were removed because I became convinced through my own use and the testimony of other users that The Commonwealth Network is a scam. According to their policies, I get a certain amount of their monthly cash pot depending on the number of hits per day per computer per page. Which means, the more you hit the site, the more I will eventually receive. They will send me a check when I accumulate $50 worth of hits. The ads have been running for over 18 months, and I believe that I have accumulated $6 (that's not a typo - six dollars). And they kept changing the way that the hits were counted, so even that may be a little high. In any case, the ads have been removed.

The only ads now are links to Amazon.Com, a service that I use and recommend. The links to Amazon.Com only result in income if users go to Amazona and buy something. I have received about $10 in 3 months. Still not a money-making proposition.

Of course, if you'd like to advertise your buisness on the site, drop me a line and we'll talk. It would be nice to recover some of the costs.

All of the services on the site are, and always will be, absolutely free. I believe that this is the best way to get all of the information out to as many people as possible. Please realize, however, that you get what you pay for. I do not verify the genealogical data, nor do I spend a lot of time checking the links. If you discover a problem, please let me know and I will correct it.

Technical stuff

For the geeks out there, I will detail the hardware and software that keep this site humming.

SOFTWARE: All of the pages are created and modified in Microsoft Word or occasionally in Netscape Gold. The genealogical database is maintined using Family Tree Maker (a genealogical database program) and GED2HTML (a GEDCOM to HTML converter). Submitted GEDCOMs are not imported into any genealogical database program, but are merely altered (using Microsoft Word) so that all individual and family numbers are unique. This ensures that submitted data is never lost. The multiple GEDCOM files are written to a single file using a shareware program that adds text files together. Scanned pictures are manipulated using Adobe Photoshop. The drawn pictures (buttons, etc.) were created in Canvas on a Macintosh. The scripts (counter, dynamic pages) are written in Perl and modified from scripts downloaded from Matt's Script Archive. Updates to the site are performed using AbsoluteFTP for FTP. Email is handled using Eudora. I think that's all, but I may have missed a few.

HARDWARE: All of the pages wer created using a Power PC Macintosh 7100/66 (AV). They are now maintained on a laptop Toshiba PC. The site runs on a Unix machine that I have never seen, but have talked on many occasions. Images are scanned on a Mustek Color flatbed scanner.

Final Thanks

This site could not run without the support of the users. Thank you all for you letter of encouragement, your submissions, and your patronage.

Scott Wilkinson ((Click Here))
Atlanta, GA USA

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