This page should be called "Always late to the party" - brisray.com was first published on June 5, 1999 and even then was a little behind in terms of design and technology. Time moves on and so does the thinking on best practices for website design and technology. I am solely responsible for the design of the site, the technology it uses and even the server it runs on. If you don't keep up, you don't just stay where you are, you fall behind, and every 5 years or so I take a look around and see what can be done to improve the site and the visitor's experience on it.
I first started using the internet in 1998 using a dial-up modem and at the time there were just 3 million websites. Almost straightaway I was chatting online in one of the Usenet newsgroups, alt.support divorce, to an American named Patty. She wanted to see photos of my home city, Bristol, UK, and I thought about creating a website about the place. After a while I decided "I can do that" and went out and purchased a copy of the Teach Yourself book, HTML Publishing on the World Wide Web by Mac Bride. The book had great reviews but according to some who presumably knew better than I did, it was biased towards Netscape rather than Internet Explorer. Anyone remember Netscape's Blink element or Internet Explorer's Marquee?
By the way, I eventually moved to the United States and Patty and I were married on November 10, 2001.
The site has always been about anything I find interesting enough to write a little bit about. The first pages I wrote were about optical illusions, dad's time in the Royal Navy, and my home city of Bristol, UK. It's grown a lot since 1999 and is still being added to. I doubt it will ever be completely finished.
The site has had several design changes over the years since 1999. The background the pages were designed with was a background from Microsoft Office 97 Professional and that was gotten rid of during the first redesign. It was too difficult to read the text on top of the multi-colored background. The first redesign also finally separated the HTML from the styling as well. The next redesigns were more concerned with the menus more than anything else. The site was getting very big and finding your way around it was getting difficult. The last redesign, started in December 2019, was to make the fully responsive. Oddly enough the first design scaled well on smart phones, which were not in widespread use until 2010 - a decade after the site was first made. The 2010 and 2014 designs didn't do so well mostly because of the left-hand side menus.
The original 1999 website design
The 2010 website design
The 2014 website design
The 2020 website design notes
This site is mostly text and most pasges does not have too many accessibility issues. In August 2023, I decided to attend to the issues the site still has. I wanted to keep the look and feel of the site more or less as it is in August 2023, but to make the pages more accessible. As with the other updates to the site, this will take place on a page by page basis as they are updated or created. I have written an accessibility page to give details of some of the assessibility issues the site has and how I mitigated them.
This site was first written in May 1999 and first uploaded on June 5, to Freeserve, which itself only became available in 1998.
The original site URL was manworthy.freeserve.co.uk. It was called that because at the time I was living in Manworthy Road, Brislington, Bristol. Shortly afterwards I uploaded it to members.tripod.co.uk/brisray (Internet Archive). Tripod had been around for a few years and was owned by Lycos. I also had my own domain name pointing to that, brisray.co.uk.
I regret not re-registering brisray.co.uk. The domain has been used for all sorts of junk since I let it lapse in 2003. According to the domain name lookup tools, the domain name registration lapses on October 16, 2020. I've made a note in my diary to start looking for it then - maybe I can get it back if the current registrant fails to renew it.
I used several free hosts over the years:
members.lycos.co.uk/brisray was on Lycos UK from January 2002 to 2009.
brisray.bravepages.com was on Bravepages from December 2002 to February 2006.
brisray.fateback.com was on Fateback from June 2003 to February 2006
brisray.0catch.com was on ZeroCatch from June 2003 to February 2006
brisray.150m.com was on 150M from August 2003 to February 2006
brisray.250free.com on 250Free from August 2003 to 2008
brisray.exactpages.com was on ExactPages from August 2003 to February 2006
brisray.o-f.com was on Online Free from August 2003 to February 2006
I took an active part in all the free hosts' forums and from September 2005 to August 2007 was part of 250Free's support team. I was also one of Yahoo's and Lycos UK's "superusers." When Lycos UK closed down in November 2008 I received a box from them containing a bunch of Lycos branded stuff including this Lycos mousemat:
All the free hosts had one problem or another. Some would go down for days at a time, others would be pig slow, and the adverts on some would interfere with the site. What happened to all of them in the end was that the site outgrew the free space offered by the hosts, and so sections of the site were split between all of them. In June 2003, I created the "Server in the Cellar." That ran alongside the free hosts until February 2006 when I closed the free hosted sites and just kept my own server running.
In 1999, I was using a PC with a Cyrix 486 DX2 100 processor and 16Mb of RAM. Images were scanned using a Mustek 12000SP scanner. The computer was upgraded in September 1999 to an AMD K6 II 450 processor and 64Mb of RAM. In November 2000 this was upgraded to 182Mb.
After moving to the US in September 2001, the computer has become an AMD 1.5GHz processor with 256Mb PC2400 DDR SDRAM memory on an Abit KG7 motherboard. The system also has a Diamond Monster Sound MX400 sound card, with cheap Labtec speakers as I don't need surround sound etc. A Leadtek WinFast GeForce MX video card driving an Envison EN-5100 15" LCD monitor. Pioneer DVD 116. Logitech keyboard and Microsoft IntelliEye optical mouse. Logitech QuickCam and best of all a Verizon DSL connection. I'm using a HP Deskjet 812C printer attached to Patty's Mac for printing also a Microtek Scanmaster X6 on the Mac for scanning.
I finally got fed up of transferring files backwards and forwards to the Mac, so in April 2002 went on another spending spree. Video capture is now done by a Belkin USB VideoBus II. Scanning is done using a Visioneer USB 8920 and printing is now done by a Lexmark Z45. As these are USB devices they are joined to the computer via a Micro mobile USB hub.
The original "Server in the Cellar"
This was a MMX 200MHz machine with 30Gb drive running Windows 2000 Pro
It cost me $25 when Ivy Tech college were selling them off.
In November 2004, the "Server in the Cellar" was upgraded to a Dell desktop with an AMD 1.4Ghz Athlon with 256Mb RAM and 40Gb hard drive. It originally ran Fedora. It had Fedora 11 installed on August 28, 2009 and Fedora 13 on August 28, 2010 running Apache 2.2. It later ran Fedora 15.
The inside of the Server in the Cellar in 2009.
This machine had been running continuously, more or less unattended since November 2004
When this machine was finally taken out of service, several of the motherboard capacitors had started leaking, but it was still working.
In 2014, I have all sorts of computers but most of the editing for the site is still done on an older Toshiba Satellite P205-S6337 laptop. I use a Epson Artisan 810 all-in-one printer/scanner, which, of course, was discontinued a couple of weeks after I bought it. Any external video I need is captured using a Hauppauge HD PVR.
The "Server in the Cellar" just before being replaced on January 16, 2016
It's now January 2016 and nearly all the computers at home are now Intel i5's with 8Gb RAM and 1Tb hard drives running Windows 10. That also includes the web server, this version of which went online on January 16, 2016, and uses Apache 2.4 that was installed with WAMPServer.
The "Server in the Cellar." My nice new Dell Inspiron 3847 on January 16, 2016
In December 2019, my day-to-day computer is a Dell Inspiron 15 5000 laptop with an Intel i5-6200U processor @ 2.4GHz, 8Gb of RAM and 1Tb drive with 64bit Windows 10. The "Server in the Cellar" is still the same Dell Inspiron 3847 desktop from 2016. That has an Intel i5-4460 @ 3.2GHz. In December 2019 it was upgraded from 8Gb to 16Gb RAM and the 1Tb hard drive replaced with a 1Tb SSD. This is the computer that ran WampServer, but when I did the hardware upgrade I also reinstalled windows 10 and installed Apache 2.4 from Apache Haus.
The "Server in the Cellar," the Dell Inspiron 3847 during the RAM and SSD upgrade on December 26, 2019
I'm still using the Epson Artisan 810 all-in-one printer/scanner from 2014 which has turned into a real workhorse. The Hauppauge HD PVR died on me, so video capture is done using an Elgato Video Capture device or an AVerMedia SD PCIe Frame Grabber.
To produce the websites I mostly use Dreamweaver and Photoshop CS5 - mainly because that's what I've got. The server is running the free personal edition of Bitvise SSH Server which provides SFTP, SCP, FTPS and SSH connections into the server so I can transfer files from my laptop using Filezilla or WinSCP. Xenu Link Sleuth is still one of the best link checkers around.
Apart from Apache webserver and Bitvise SSH Server the only other software kept on the "Server on the Cellar" for the website are the files needed for FancyBox. FancyBox is a very nice lightbox for websites used for displaying images and video. I started off using the original Fancybox but switched to Fancybox 3 when that was created.
In the past I've used all sorts of software, some of that is listed below:
Alchemy Mindworks GIF Construction Set - some of the earlier GIF transparencies
Corel Draw 3 and Corel PhotoPaint 3 - Graphics processing
JASC Paint Shop Pro 3 - Graphics processing
Lemke Graphic Converter v3.6.2 - Mac graphics processing
Micrografx Picture Publisher v6 & v8 - Graphics processing
Microsoft Frontpage Express - HTML editing and layout
Microsoft FrontPage 2000 - HTML editing and layout
Microsoft GIF Animator - Producing GIF animations and transparencies
Microtek Scansuite v1.02- Mac software for image scanning
Microsoft's SharePoint Designer 2007 for editing a layout
Microsoft Web Publisher - FTP, used to transfer files from my PC to the server
Netscape Communicator v 4.6 - used for testing these pages
Smart FTP - used to transfer files from my PC to the server
PuTTY - to control the server from my living room
Syncplify.me Server - an FTP, SFTP, FTPS server run on the web server. I used their free edition.
Bravenet - Provider of the SiteRing webring, guestbook and chat features.
Google Webmaster Tools - It's almost inevitable that the site use things like Google Analytics, Google Site Search and other tools from Google.
Is It Up - Useful for checking if my site is reachable by other people.
ProBoards - Provider of the message board
RingSurf - Provider of the RingSurf webring system
WebRing - Provider of the WebRing webring system
Gostats - Free site statistics. These disappeared in 2018. The site is still up, but none of the stats are recorded.
Lycos Tripod - The people that hosted my site and provided the page counters.
PicoSearch - Free site specific search engine. These stopped the service in June 2014.
All the updates to the site can now be found on the Latest Updates page.
After that it became just a series of parked sites with spammy links, but someone did something very half-heartedly with it in WordPress in 2014.
Internet Archive and live screenshots, 2000 - 2023
Early in 2020, I had a look at what was happening to the domain name and when it was next up for renewal. The whois tools said the domain expires on October 16, 2020. But that's not the date I could buy it. There's a 90 day renewal grace period on co.uk and related domains. That makes a renewal date of January 14, 2021. I looked to see if the domain name was available again all the way up to January 17, 2021. On January 18, 2021,and again on March 26, 2023, Whois at Domain Tools reported that the domain name had been registered by the domain name reseller Bodis LLC for one year. Oh well, there's always 2024!
It's April 23, 2022 and brisray.co.uk has new owners again. The domain name was registered by Stephen Hall on April 18, 2022 for one year. The IP address belongs to A100 Row Gmbh in Germany but is routed (ASN) through Amazon 02 and uses Dan nameservers. Oh well, there's always 2023 - maybe.
Even then, it may not available. What happens is that there are companies who buy up lapsed domain names hoping someone will buy them from them later, or another thing that happens is that the registrar keeps the domain name and auctions it off to the highest bidder.
So how much is brisray.co.uk worth? There are sites that try and estimate how much a domain name is worth. I tried several and most say "less than $100". Free Valuator was far more specific and said $ 3.39.
I won't be paying very much if I decide to actively chase the domain, which I'm not. A little bit old now, here's Mike Davidson's adventures in getting an old, retired domain name.
While researching this part of the page, I came across Sedo and they want $354 for brisray.co.uk. Just as there are companies snapping up expired domains there are others who try and get them for you, and others still that auction them off. Who knows, they might all even be the same people! Win, win, win except for the people who might actually want to use these obscure domain names.
I was updating this page on August 11, 2023 and out of curiosity checked in brisray.co.uk was available. I nearly fell off the sofa when I saw that it was. I immediately registered it for another 10 years. Now I need to decide whether to change the server configuration and DNS configuration to brisray.co.uk, allow masking of brisray.com to brisray.co.uk or maybe something else.
The information below is wildly out of date and came from earlier versions of this page.
A lot of people have contributed content for the site and those are acknowledged on the various pages. Anything wrong with the site is my fault, (including any spelling mitsakes).
Background JPG - copied from the backgrounds supplied with Microsoft Office 97 Professional. This was the original background to the site pages.
The images in Optical Illusions are from various sources, some have been drawn in Corel Draw 3. Most are GIFs, the main ones being saved at 100dpi and 3" and 100dpi and 1" for the thumbnails.
The images in the War Stories and my dads Navy Days section are from my collection of photographs. These were scanned at 300dpi, reduced to 100dpi and resized to 3" for the larger photos or 1" for the thumbnails. They were retouched in Micrografx Picture Publisher before being resaved as JPGs with 20% compression.
Banner GIFs - the first ones were produced in Corel PhotoPaint and then the transparencies added in Alchemy Mindworks GIF Construction Set. Later ones were produced in Micrografx Picture Publisher and the transparencies added using Microsoft GIF Animator. The newest pages in 2014 use CSS for styling text.
One of my favourite sources of general information is Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable published by Cassell. The Pears Cyclopaedias published by Pelham have also been used extensively.
Teach Yourself HTML - Mac Bride - Hodder and Stoughton
PC Plus and PC Pro magazines - Articles and features
Thanks to an email from Peter Shearn, a fellow Bristolian, who reminded me of the cafe at the bottom St. Michael's Hill.
Thanks too to Patty Waltermire, Mark Griffiths, John Mitchelmore, Pat Boggs and Ken Slayton who sent me more material for these pages.
The Day the Universe Changed - J Burke - BBC
Eyewitness Art - Perspective - A Cole - Dorling Kindersley
Illusion in Art and Nature - R L Gregory & E H Gombrich - Duckworth
The Magic Mirror of M C Escher - Bruno Ernst - Tarquin
Optical Illusions - Bruno Ernst - Taschen
Optical Illusions and Other Puzzles - J Slocum & J Botermans - Books UK
Visual Allusions - N Wade - Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Visual Magic - Dr. D Thomson - Breslich & Foss
You Won't Believe Your Eyes - National Geographic Society
Ryanbut - now gone, but it was the first optical illusions website that I found.
Palmyra - another early site.
The Gang of Four (even though there were more than that) from 266 OP Bty and other friends.
Mr. Robert Goddard for allowing me to use some of his programs on the site.
There were two official photographers on board HMS Warrior, Kingsley Jones and Norman Ford. I should imagine that many of the photographs of Warrior on this site were taken by these two men. As the original photographs are not marked with the photographer I can't say for sure who took which photograph, but for the ones I do these are credited alongside the photographs.
I would like to thank the following people for contacting me about the site and providing me with some very useful information :-
Mr. Ignacio Amendolara - for sending me a photo of ARA Independencia
Mr. John Birch - for information and photographs about the collision with HMS Phoebe
Mr. Ken Booth
Mr. Don Cruikshank - for information on the collision with HMS Phoebe
Mr. Victor Pedro Driussi - for sending me a photo of ARA Independencia
Mr. Vic Flintham - for information on the planes carried by HMS Warrior
Mr. Geoff Flewitt - for information on the collision with HMS Phoebe
Mr. Albert Gauthier
Mr. John Hake
Mr. John Harris - for information on the collision with HMS Phoebe
Mr. Bill Hartland - writer of the HMS Gambia Association web site
Mr. Ray Holden
Mr. Les Jefferies - for the photograph taken just after the collision between Gambia and Phoebe
Mr. Des Johnson
Mr. David Killelay
Mr. Steven McAllister
Mr. Bernard Mouzer OBE RVM
Mr. Jorge Nu?z Padin - for information and photographs of ARA Independencia
Mr. Tony Pearce
Mr. Will Porrio
Mr. Jerry Proc
Mr. Carlos Rufino - for information and photographs of ARA Independencia
Mr. Tom Spowart
Mr. Paul Stanley
This started off from dads collection of photos and documents but for background information I have also consulted the following people and sources :-
Aircraft Carriers - An Illustrated History - A. Preston
This started off when some American friends asked me about where I came from. Having always enjoyed living in Bristol and being interested in local history I decided to write these pages. Most of the photos I have used come from my collection, but I have also consulted the following sources :-
Mr. Will Fancy of the Bristol Labour Movement History Group
Mr. Vic Flintham - for information on Vampire jets
Mr. Keith Hallett
Katie Jones - for the photo of the Vampire jets
Mr. Nick Richards - who helped with information about Tom, St. Mary Redcliffe's church cat
Mr. Paul Stanley
Mr. Michael Synge
Mr. William Wood - for the photo of the Vampire jets
Various leaflets and publications from the city museums, tourist information offices and sites of interest. Our local paper - the Bristol Evening Post. These publications are from my own collection apart from those marked.
Adams's Chronicles of Bristol - This was written between 1623 and 1648 (Bristol Central Library)
Archive Photographs ~ Bedminster - A Bantock - Malago Society / Tempus
A Survey of Parish Boundary Markers and Stones for Eleven of the Ancient Bristol Parishes - Temple Local History Group
Bedminster Between the Wars - L. Vear - Redcliffe Press
Bristol - P. Macdonald - Petmac Publications
Bristol and its Adjoining Counties - C M MacInnes & W F Whittard - British Association for the Advancement of Science
Bristol as it was in the 1890's - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol as it was 1874 ~ 1866 - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol as it was 1914 ~ 1900 - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol as it was 1939 ~ 1914 - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol, England - H. G. Brown & P. J. Harris - Burleigh Press
Bristol ~ Historic and Flourishing - R. Bailey - Jarrold Colour Publications
Bristol in the 1850's - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol in the 1880's - R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol Observed - J. H. Bettey - Redcliffe Press
Bristol ~ Official Visitors Guide - City of Bristol / British Publishing Company
A Bristol Panorama - D. Street - Redcliffe Books
The Bristol Riots - Susan Thomas - Bristol Branch, The Historical Association
Bristol: Sea-Port City - M. Ballard - Constable Young Books
Bristol's Historic Inns - H. Eason - Redcliffe Press
Bristol's History (2 volumes) - C. Wells & R. Winstone - Reece Winstone
Bristol Suburban Walks - Bristol City Council & City Line
Cathedrals, Abbeys & Famous Churches of Bristol, Bath & Malmsebury - G. Home & E. Foord - J. M. Dent & Sons
The Clifton Guide - M. Pascoe - Redcliffe Press
Curious Bristol - R. Clinch - Bossiney Books
Domesday, A Search for the Roots of England - M. Wood - BBC Publications
Heroes and Hotheads - P. Macdonald - Petmac Publications
A Higher Form Of Killing - R. Harris & J. Paxman - Hill & Wang
Historic Towns ~ Bristol - E. A. Freeman & Rev. W. Hunt - Longmans, Green & Co.
History of Bristol's Suburbs - F. C. Jones & W. G. Chown - Reece Winstone
History of Railways in Britain - F Ferneyhough - Osprey
Home Town - J. Dodgson - Drive Publications / AA
In & Around Bristol - Unichrome Publications
Man the Builder, An Illustrated History of Engineering - J P M Pannell - Thames & Hudson Ltd
Memories of Bristol - Mail Marketing / True North Books
More Offbeat Bristol - J. Belsey - Redcliffe Press
Offbeat Bristol - J. Belsey - Redcliffe Press
The Oxford Popular History of Britain - Ed. K.O. Morgan - Parragon
Parish Church of St. Mary Redcliffe - Judges Limited
People in Camera - C Ford & A Porter - National Portrait Gallery / Granada Television
Phenomena, A Book of Wonders - J Michell & R J M Rickard - Thames & Hudson Ltd
A Popular Retreat - D. J. Eveleigh - City of Bristol Museum / Kingsmead Press
Redcliffe Caves Guide - Axbridge Caving Group
St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol - A Scott - White Line Press
Secret Underground Bristol - S. Watson - Bristol Junior Chamber
Set in a Silver Sea ~ A History of Britain and the British People - A Bryant - W Collins Sons & Co
A Shocking History of Bristol - D. Robinson - Abson Books
A Social History of England - A. Briggs - Weidenfeld & Nicolson
SS Great Britain - N Fogg - SS Great Britain Project
The Story of Bristol - B. Little & J. Sansom - Redcliffe Press
A Study in Democracy - E. Jackson - Co-Operative Wholesale Society
A Survey of Parish Boundary Markers and Stones for Eleven of the Ancient Bristol Parishes - Temple Local History Group (Bristol Central Reference Library)
A Taste of the West Country in Food and in Pictures - Theodora Fitzgibbon - Pan
Under the Black Flag - D. Cordingly - Harvest / Harcourt, Brace & Co
The Very Bloody History of Britain - J. Farman - Red Fox / Random House
West Country Place Names - C. Davey - Abson Books
Riot - The 1831 Reform Riot
Riots - Up to the Bristol Bridge riot
Mr. Steve Caldwell for information on Steve Martin
Country Magazine (Feb/March 1999 issue)
A Higher Form Of Killing - R. Harris & J. Paxman - Hill & Wang