It's late, frankly I'm not all that vital right now... :-)
History of the Page
Originally, my plans for a graduation project were radically different. I had intended to research the processes by which one might establish an independent country and document both exactly how I'd go about doing so and exactly what I'd do afterwards. I was pretty set on this; I had planned to draft a constitution, a declaration of independence, a bill of rights, all that kind of stuff. I'd planned to decide on an official national dress (black t-shirt and black jeans, hey it's simple but it's an outfit), even to compose and perform the national anthem of this new nation. This project spawned Ian Morgenheim's A New Nation , a site (provided free from Yahoo!) intended to foster discussions on issues of national policy. Conversations did sporadically spring up, but after racking my brain and the 'net for ideas, I started getting the feeling that I was taking on too big of a project. I had a vague idea that I wanted to create a semi-socialist country, but I found neither the time nor the patience to get through Karl Marx's " Capital " and " The Communist Manifesto " . I did find a couple of interesting ideas at the homepage of the oh-so-ominous-sounding-but-really-quite-benign Voluntary Human Extinction Movement but more and more I found that it was as if I were trying to eat a watermelon whole; this project just wasn't gonna happen.
Through all of the confusion surrounding my original idea, lying both on my hard drive and in the back of my brain was the national anthem I'd written. I write music on my computer all the time, using an old copy of the program Cakewalk. I really didn't have any practical theoretical knowledge of music (nor any piano skills) when I began doing so in 8th grade, just an ear for it. The point-and-click method by which one can compose with programs of Cakewalk's ilk allowed a functional compositional illiterate to produce pieces which would otherwise be painfully tedious to write. Over the years, I've written at least 250 pieces, some I will admit have absolutely no artistic value but some have received a modicum of praise from friends and relatives.
I'd been meaning to put up a website for a pretty long while, so I decided to completely change my project. Thus was " Ian P. Morgenheim's Love Bivouac: Original Music Out The Wazoo " born. I intend it to be a site where stuff that I've written can be posted and people can comment on it if they feel so inclined.
The first order of business was to secure a webhosting service, preferably free. I had heard that my ISP (Internet Service Provider) provided free web space, but I couldn't figure out how to access it, so I figured I'd play it safe and go with one of the established webhosting sites (Geocities, Tripod, or Angelfire for example). Without knowing its reputation, I chose Geocities first. After a few days of slower-than-molasses connections I just abandoned it. I then tried Angelfire and have been quite content with it...it's got a slick file-uploading interface, generally unobtrusive ads, really nothing to complain about.
My knowledge of HTML was sketchy at best when I started to write the page. I decided against using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor like Netscape Composer in order to better understand it, to get a more hands-on type of experience. Instead I use a barebones text editor and an (excellent) HTML reference from the utility HotDog. While the page thus far is extremely primitive and is a bit of an eyesore, I think that I've improved my impromptu HTML coding skills during the course of this project. I've put together a little tutorial which, while it does need work, gives a basic overview of the tags and attributes used in building the page.
I used an old copy of the utility Adobe Photoshop to create both the logo bar and the animated .GIF file on the top of the main page. The frames drawn in Photoshop were plugged into another utility, PhotoImpact GIF Animator, and with a little fudging the finished product was created.
Plans for the Future
The page does far less that what I intend it to do. First off, I intend to upload a great deal more songs; by far the most tedious site-related task I've found is converting songs out of the proprietary .WRK format (not accessible to non-Cakewalk users) into MIDI format. It's certainly not difficult, I mean a couple of clicks and you're done...but there's no way to do mass conversions, one must do it one file at a time. The rate at which songs are uploaded, then, is basically proportional to my patience on a given day. Secondly, I plan to make the page a little funnier; it borders on " quirky " but tends to lead more towards " drab. " I could definitely stand to make some more animations. Third, I want to categorize the music; I don't really know what sort of categories they'd be (they could be divided up by subject, date(s) of composition, style, even by listener ratings if I put in a rating system), but a large clump of songs is really rather unattractive and sort of difficult to approach. If the song library grows to an appreciable size, I might make the database searchable by the aforementioned attributes. As an extension of that I plan to cosmetically 'touch up' the entire site; while I want to keep it simple I'd like it to be ergonomic. Perhaps there could be a menu bar along the left side, a more easily accessible e-mail button. In any event, I think there is a lot of room for improvement here and hope to be able to better communicate with the online community in the future.