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High School - College

2005 - 2007

The early 2000's was a good time to be online. The 90's style internet still existed and social media hadn't evolved into the monster it is today. There were no smart phones and streaming media was in its infancy; many still used dial up modems to access the web.

My first break into the World Wide Web was actually in middle school. My 7th grade math teacher was an amateur webhead and I decided to become one too. Sites like the Animation Factory and FlamingText dominated; everyone wanted animated gifs, HTML Marquees, and sound effects all over their websites (the more the better). I look back on this time as the Golden Age of the amateur Web-Space, Geocities and the like made it easy for the ordinary person to publish whatever they wanted. Sadly, I do not have anything of mine preserved from my middle-school days; thus, I must skip ahead to my junior year in high school.



Anyone's Internet
for Free

Kirkserver Downloads Perl Proxy

High school is an interesting time: sometimes you wanted to learn, other times it felt better to slack off instead of study. Of course, the best way to do so at school was fire up some Flash games or the early internet videos of the time. However, the teachers did not find these distractions humorous and sought to end student access to these sites by installing a firewall. Suddenly the major sites were cut off. What is a high-schooler to do now! Why not make a website which houses these games, one that is not blocked by a firewall? Or better yet, create a web proxy that can circumvent these draconian protections.

The Homebrew Website

Enter, Kirkserver.edu.ms, it was all things to all people: flash games, flash videos, streaming videos and a web-based proxy. I even used it as an early cloud-based storage drive for my homework, those types of sites were not common back then. Though it was mostly me who used it, I did share it with some friends. I even boasted to some of the teachers, they were mostly impressed that I had the self-drive to learn.

The original site was actually made with Microsoft Frontpage, it was a fine program, but not as good as Macromedia Dreamweaver which I would later love; both of these programs no longer exist. Adobe (who absorbed Macromedia) does still offer Dreamweaver, but for a steep subscription price. Microsoft replaced Frontpage with Expression Web, but that too was discontinued. There is no longer an equivalent Microsoft product. Granted I edit my HTML directly, without relying on a WYSIWYG anymore, which can be done with any good text/code editor.

My first site was full of IE'isms and very clunky. But it had animated gifs and marquees. There was even a catchy Sloganizer TM, which surprisingly is still online. Most of my sites over the years were built on freely available templates, this is really noticeable here as each sub-page used a different template!

The Kirkserver Flash Games page has been brought back to life! Kirkserver Home Page

How to Homebrew

A brief summary

Streaming Flash Videos


You may be surprised how easy it is to host a website from your own home. Typically, the only hurdle is your ISP, who makes a habit of blocking HTTP ports 80 and 443, but you can host HTTP on any port you want! Just install a webserver, pick a random port, ensure it is properly forwarded on your router and boom, website.

My early sites used free public subdomains though a provider called freedns.afraid.org. There you can get a free subdomain which someone else owns and has made available to the public. My first domain was kirkserver.edu.ms. EDU.MS has since vanished, as is the nature of these often-ephemeral domains.

Though your URL would look like http://myawesomesubdomain.reallyweird.rnd:1337
The number after the ":" is the port. This type of URL will find it difficult to be registered by a search engine and would be mostly obscured from the web.


Most of the top ticket webserver software is open-source and free, like Apache and will run on any operating system. Though, the OS of choice is usually a Linux based one; apart from select enterprise distributions, these are open-source and free to install on a wide variety of hardware. A Linux server is typically easier to secure than a Windows one. Furthermore, there are prepackaged installers like XAMPP, which can get you up and running in minutes.

Administering a webserver securely is tricky and requires constant vigilance. To this effect I do not recommend it to everyone, as you will be opening your house to hackers if you homebrew with poor security practice (though you can always run locally, apart from the WWW).

My first webserver was an Intel Pentium II with a 250Mhz processor and 384Mb of RAM. You may think a computer worthless? Try running Linux on it. Linux comes in many varieties, text-based (no GUI) ones are perfect for a webserver and will cut back significantly on the resource requirements. But you have to learn how to use a terminal (command line). I would say the same, even if you do install a GUI.

A lot can be written on Linux and the various webhosting applications which ultimately comprise the internet. Fortunately, there are many freely available resources and active communities out there to provide support. I've always been a fan of Debian based distributions, Ubuntu in particular for its easier-than-most mentality.

Flash Games



A Freshman Edu-site (Iteration 1)


I graduated high school in 2006 and continued directly to college; my website suddenly lost all value, since college students were given more freedom to do as they pleased online. So, what to do with my homebrew webserver? In my first year, I had already decided to major in biology. Soon I was immersed in study, one of the introductory classes was on fungus.

Here, I decided to author a website to showcase what I was learning. Perhaps I would continue to do this, eventually creating a study guide or an encyclopedia of sorts. Wikipedia was a new-ish thing, so my idea was to create a WikiScholars, authored by college students. It wasn't long until I became exhausted writing about stuff anyone could find online. Who can out-wiki Wikipedia? NO-ONE, that's who.

The one and only EDU page I completed didn't even conform to the template home page; it was on all things fungi, created to aid my study (yes you have to take fungus class as a biology major). The fungus site is available to view in the here.



Oblivion meets with oblivion

MOD Pic 1 MOD Pic 2

A monumental game was released in 2006, it was the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Truly it was all the rage, perhaps paled only by its sequel. One of the most enduring features of the game was the ease of creating user content, or mods. The developers gave the players the tools needed to make your own mods, and the faithful internet community did the rest.

A college friend and I thought it would be cool to make some Oblivion mods, and maybe put them online. Opportunity had struck, I found another outlet for my website. Immediately I created Chpwner's Oblivion Mod Source, even before I had a mod to put there! For me it was more fun coding a website than it was modding a game. Maybe because making a really good mod is just so much harder to do.

In the end I made neither a good mod nor a good website. My friend ghosted me. Life goes on. As you can see, I became a shameless cross promoter of myself, advertising my bookstore on my mod website which will take us into the next chapter.

TES Mod Source A side note: I made a sequel mod for Skyrim (circa 2012) featuring all the Dwarves from the Hobbit. I didn't publish it partly because it was an extension of an existing mod, and partly because I included actual music from the Hobbit movie which had just been released (we have a lame thing called copyright in the USA). My brother maintains that I did in fact accurately capture in the dwarven NPCs, the appearance of their counterpart in the Hobbit movie.

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