Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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January 2013 Archives

19 Links

Nineteen years ago, I first saw the web though a newspaper article and by 27 January 1994, I'd posted my first personal page. It has been a hugely fun adventure that unfolded from that experiment! What happens if I compulsively share my thoughts online? I am grateful for a medium and an audience that I could explain myself to, and it's been fantastic to come to know so many other people through their characters onscreen.

So each year 27 January is a bit of a second birthday for me, a personal holiday. "Manufactured Justin day" maybe. How to celebrate 19 years old for this Justin's Links? These days I do so much reading on my mobile phone, I realized my old site looked like stale poop on a mobile device. So for the last few weeks, I combed thousands of pages and tweaked them to have decent mobile viewing.

It looks like about 23% of my visitors today are on mobile. In 2004 I made cartoons and poems on my mobile device, for reading on mobile devices. That was fun, but a bit early.

How are people finding my pages? Well, I'm the #3 Google search result for Natto, my girlfriend Ilyse discovered. Writing thousands of pages about whatever strikes your fancy for almost two decades throws a big net out over the long tail.

For this overhaul, I had old versions of softwares running on a 2008 MacBook Pro - BBEdit, terminal windows, Interarchy FTP. Essentially the same tools I was using to make pages in a drafty apartment above "Maelstrom Books" at 572 Valencia in 1994 over a 14.4k dialup modem. Something appropriate about antique tools for this mission.

mobilzing view
And ultimately the true power came from Unix - sed and find. Mass search and replace for crusty old hand-coded web pages. I found myself fixing 18 year old typos - for example referring to Jake Baker as Joe Baker. Sorry history. I still have too many pages to fix for mobile and impossible amounts of inaccuracies and misconceptions to discover.

It begs the question - if I make all these pages more readable in 2013, am I saying these pages are worth reading now? So much of this sprawling web pile is out of date, to my eye - new information has emerged, new feelings about relationships, new sense of self. And many pages are undated, so they appear to be my current thinking! It's embarrassing, frankly, which is a good part of why I leave it up - if this site is embarrassing for me, it must be a bit funny and silly and good to keep me honest. The many many broken outbound links, well, those are just sad. Some day I will be a broken outbound link!!!

All this time spent tuning old things - fortunately it turns out that 1994-era HTML is pretty readily mobile-readable. Perhaps that's an upside for my curmudgeonly sitting out the Flash/CSS design revolution. I posted a brief tutorial to explain how you too might make simple web pages look halfway decent on mobile phones.

Sharing the joy of online publishing with folks was a huge motivator in the early days of my web work. These days most people get their web publishing thrills from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr or whatnot. So many ways to share online! Hurrah! So I don't labor to teach how-to-HTML so much any more. But I still compulsively write about what I'm learning and experiencing.

in a hammock in granada, nicaragua
pictured in a hammock in Granada, Nicaragua December 2012 - thanks Ilyse. I'm still alive!

My last big lesson posted here was "here's what I learned running an internet gaming startup." This month I'm publishing a draft article on what I learned in 3 years working as "Director of Culture & Communications" at ngmoco:) / DeNA, a mobile social gaming company. For years now I'm working on longer form, somewhat polished writeups of "what else this adultified Justin person has gleaned from his experiences" - death, divorce, love, drugs, the search for spiritual sexuality. Not so much daily publishing on the web like I did for years in my daze but I'm still wearing out my hands.

So I look forward to posting more stuff on this here web, until I die, that you might read on your mobile device or your computer or whatever they have in the future if it will also read HTMLs!

mere tweakery

I spent most of my waking hours so far this weekend combing the thousands of files in this site:

- standardizing headers and meta information
- revising formatting
- fixing broken links and server-side include references

Our world is dying. We are confused, lurching from joy to sadness. Nothing is permanent. Our deities are delusional or out of reach. So why are you bothering with these trivialities and technical details Justin?!?

I aim to reveal more in near time, suffice it to say this old site needs some housecleaning that it might remain useful, nay, readable in this pre-modern era.


Thanks Steve Rhodes - from @tigerbeat on Instagram
June 2012 dancing in the streets of San Francisco with Ilyse Magy, photo thanks Steve Rhodes on instagram!

Hi, I'm Justin Hall and this here is a personal web site I've used to chronicle my time on earth since 1994. The content on the front page is relatively recent; if you search through the archives, you'll find old pieces of Justin. Some folks have indexed my doings on Wikipedia.

Twitter: jah
Facebook: Justinreach

eBooks by Justin Hall

I've published books for sale, somewhere else online! Behold:

Now available for the Kindle: A Story of GameLayers. My experience being CEO of a tech company, 2007-2009:

"A tell-all story of a startup from the very beginning, with lots of info about real-world fundraising. A more intimate look than you'll find in other business reads." says Irene Polnyi in a 5-star review on

A Story of GameLayers, for the Amazon Kindle.