Aphorisms Galore! in May 1998, according to the Internet Archive.
I also thought it would be fun to allow people to sign up to have an “Aphorism of the Day” delivered to them by email so I built an “Aphorisms Galore! Personal” section in which users could create profiles with their preferences. Believing that everyone was already getting too much email and wouldn’t want an aphorism every single day, I also included options for an “Aphorism of the Week” and for “Aphorisms Galore! News” (i.e., blog updates). As it turned out, though, a large majority of those who signed up wanted daily emails, and this is true to this day. I pretty quickly gained a couple of thousand email subscribers and this number has remained more or less constant ever since (though it hasn’t necessarily been the same couple of thousand people). It is of course still possible to sign up for these subscriptions, but the page is now simply called Settings.
Lesson learned: People seem to be perfectly ready to sign up for email subscriptions, at least when there is some small perceived value (in my case, a daily aphorism for free).
Aphorisms Galore! 2.0, May 2001.
Sending out thousands of email messages per day, every day, wasn’t, and isn’t, entirely trivial. The 800-pound gorillas (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail, and perhaps a couple more) are fickle and can at any time label you a spammer even though you’re not. I’ve had very few such problems, though, compared to horror stories I have heard. There were and are companies that offer sending email in bulk as a paid service but I wanted to learn as much as possible by doing it myself.
Lesson learned: Contrary to what some people will tell you, it is still entirely possible to run your own mail server, even if you send out large(ish) volumes of automated messages. Just be sure to have your reverse DNS, SPF records and DKIM signatures in order and you should be fine. At least if you pick a reputable service provider; if you get assigned an IP that has been blacklisted, you’re likely to have a bad time.
Aphorisms Galore! 3.0, October 2009.
Aphorisms Galore! is and has always been a hobby project. This and my shifting interests over time have sometimes meant long periods of few or no updates. I have tried to address this with automation, since something is more likely to get done if it involves one manual step or two or three than if it requires fifteen. Also, manually performing recurring tasks can be mind-numbingly boring, but writing scripts to automate those same tasks can be quite interesting (well, at least if you’re weird like me). For some time now, I have had a complete continuous delivery pipeline set up, so I only need to make a change and push it, and everything gets automatically tested and deployed.
Lesson learned: Automating as much as possible is an upfront investment that really pays off in the medium to long term. I sometimes refer to Aphorisms Galore! as “the most neglected site on the Internet”; this is part joke and part truth, but automation is helping me come to grips with that. Slowly.
Having a little side project like this has helped me get better at what I do in many ways. I have often built toy versions of everything from tiny site features to entire continuous delivery pipelines before building similar things for paying clients (for my day job, I’m an IT consultant helping organizations deliver more and better software), and I believe the end results have often been better for it. The site has also provided me with a creative outlet, stimulated me intellectually and put me in contact with a few aphorists, authors, business persons and other awesome people. Not all hobbies can be said to do all that. Besides, the site has lots of room for improvement and I’m the first to say so, but even if you think it’s crap, at least it’s my crap.
Lesson learned: Unexpected benefits come to those who turn their weird ideas into projects and stubbornly keep working on them.
wastholm.tumblr.com/post/154888625287/merry-out-of-focus-christmas-to-all-at, posted 24 Dec by peter
wastholm.tumblr.com/post/154639210482/at-riksbron, posted 18 Dec by peter
wastholm.tumblr.com/post/154338441892, posted 11 Dec by peter
wastholm.tumblr.com/post/153723918077/my-pool-buddy-at-lopesan-costa-meloneras-resort, posted 27 Nov by peter
wastholm.tumblr.com/post/153692317442/at-anfi-del-mar-grand-canaria, posted 26 Nov by peter