Hello,

My name is Alan W. Smith and this is my web site. Even though it's been around for over a decade, it's still a work in progress. That is its perpetual state.

Depending on when you visit, there might only be small things on the to-do list. Like adjusting the way the numbering works for the archive indexes. Or, the list might include larger things. Like, "rewrite the entire site in a new language from scratch." In fact, that's I'm doing right now. There won't be much happening here until that process is complete. Then, it'll make an evolutionary jump. Such is the way with the website of someone who enjoys learning and experimenting with new things.

But enough about the site. You clicked on the link to either learn more about me, or to get in contact with me. For the later, catch up with me at @TheIdOfAlan on Twitter.

For the former, it helps to go way, way back.

When I was four, my grandparents gave me a TI-99/4A computer. It took a while before I could do anything with it, but I've been writing increasing amounts of code ever since. A few things I've done since receiving the original machine include:

  • As a student, created the initial version of the University of Alabama's Athletics web site. The earliest snapshot the Wayback Machine has is from April 1998. Yes, those are frames. No, I don't use frames anymore.
  • Still a student, I taught myself some Perl and built a live scoring engine for Alabama Gymnastics in 1999. The first meet was when I learned how quickly traffic can bring down a dynamic page. That experience lead rapidly to the idea of having a script build static pages. Old hat now, but in the days before StackOverflow I had to figure that out on my own.
  • In 2000, I started working at PGATOUR.COM. In about 2001, I found a coding technique on the IBM Developerworks site that I used to upgrade the TOUR leaderboards. After the enhancement, they wouldn't blink or bounce the user to the top of the page when the data refreshed. At the time, I'm certain no other golf websites were using the technique. In fact, I don't know of any other web sites that used it regardless of genre. (Not many sites had a need to update data that way.) As time passed, this technique was used more and more. In 2005, it even got a name: AJAX.

There is, of course, more. I'll add a few at some point. Right now, I'm heads down teaching myself Ruby and Rails. (Yes, I intended to use "and" instead of "or". Lots of work I do is building command line tools or cronjobs.) Incidentally, Ruby and/or Rails is what I'll be using to rebuild this site once I've got the basics of the language and framework under my belt.