This name of this site was originally “Open-Orbit”. Open-Orbit was registered on December 18th, 2001 as a Christmas present from my Grandparents. I was 19 and a freshman in college, fresh to the world of domains and excited to have one of my own! It was my first domain and I was eager to experiment with different design styles.

Prior to Open-Orbit, I ran various sites on a variety of free providers, many which do not even exist anymore (Geocities, GURL Pages, Tripod, Crosswinds, Liquid2k and others).

So far, this site has served as my “virtual playground.” It’s changed over the years, from being a visitor-centered teeny-bopper style site (with menu items like “me, you, www”) to evolving into a portal and network (powered by Joomla!) to a simple blog and personal site (powered by WordPress). Who knows what it will become next?

Site Timeline

2001: Domain registered on December 18. Go-Daddy as registrar, Your-Site.com as host. Started on first layout.

2002: Launched first layout in January. Launched second layout later that spring. Not using content management system at all, so updating everything by hand. Using tables for layout. Launched the third layout over the summer. Also throughout the summer, I installed a bunch of different forum scripts before settling on PHPBB in August — the birth of Chattorbit. Launched the fourth layout in October (now using Greymatter for my blog); the fifth in November. Also in November, switched hosts to HostRocket and lost Chattorbit (the PHPBB) as a result. Started a new forum, “The Magma Boards” in December, powered by Invision Power Board (when it was still at version 1.01 and free).

2003: The year of the forum, I like to say. The Magma Boards was the most active part of the site, the name was changed in mid-spring to “Open-Orbit Academy.” The 6th layout was released in April — and I switched from Greymatter to cafelog/b2, the PHP MySQL blogging solution. Was really excited about that. Still using tables, iframes, image slicing in my layouts. Forums renamed to “OuterSpat” in June. In the Fall, launched the 7th layout.

2004: Things slowed a bit, and I didn’t release a new layout until the summer (version 8). Over the summer, I began to first hear about web standards and the importance of tableless design. In the fall, I discovered the Mambo content management system and decided to turn Open-Orbit into a portal, with my personal blog to be a separate section of the site. So the “Open-Orbit blog” was launched, still powered by b2, donning the 9th layout (which was Open-Orbit’s first tableless, CSS-driven design!). The Open-Orbit portal launched, powered by Mambo, housing all of the visitor-centered content and news stories that I and a few registered members would post into specialized categories. I didn’t know how to make Mambo templates at that point, so I just used downloaded templates and made my own banners. Around November, I began to hear about WordPress, the official continuation of the now defunct b2. Also that Fall, Invision Board was no longer free, so we were stuck running version 1.3 unless we wanted to pay for the new versions.

2005: Still running Mambo and posting news stories, and updating my b2-powered blog. In the summer, I converted my blog to WordPress. Site updates were sporadic over the summer. In the fall, I designed the 10th layout of the site, my first attempt at a custom Mambo template. The layout ended up not launching, due to negative feedback from myself and others (it was deemed too depressing). I was hooked on the idea of turning my site into a network, with different mini sites within sites (the mini sites consisted of the various web projects I had going on at the time, including the blog, the forum, a link directory for cat-related sites and an oekaki to name a few). The eleventh layout launched around October. I converted from Mambo to Joomla! about this time as well.

2006-2007: I group these years together because site activity decreased significantly during this time. In 2006 I was still updating, and I renamed my WordPress blog to “Nebulog” and launched some nice themes for it, but lost interest. And in spring 2006, I launched the 12th layout of Open-Orbit (still powered by Joomla and still doing the network thing), but I quickly lost interest in that as well. My life was changing. New jobs, new focus, returned to school, etc. Sporadic updates throughout the remainder of ’06 and ’07, and finally in late ’06, I abandoned the site entirely (well, the forums were still up) and in no time, the maggots devoured it (hackers, spammers, the like). Gave in and bought a yearly license to upgrade the forums to the latest version of Invision. That renewed interest in the forums. Later, I ended up deleting the Joomla installation. In late 2007, I finally had time to sit down and work on the site, and decided to bring it back as a simple blog with a few new projects and a brand new forum. So, I got to work on the 13th layout, XHTML and CSS valid!

2008: The 13th layout launches in January, powered by WordPress! A new forum called “Open-Orbit Community”, powered by Vanilla, launched in early February, but users weren’t happy with the Vanilla system. Re-thought the forum concept and decided to have it focus more on debates. Open-Orbit Galaxy launched in early February. Re-launched the debate forum, called “Opinion Cast”, around late February. It was powered by PHPBB 3. Unfortunately the forum’s activity stagnated and we decided to close it for good on June 2, 2008. It was an emotional decision because the forums provided 5 years of fun times, but it was time to move on. Social networking sites were taking off and people were moving on to those instead. I decided to change the format of the website once again, and so on June 2nd I upgraded WordPress to 2.5.1 and began preparing to take Open-Orbit to the next level.

2009-2010: My site fell on the backburner once again during this period because I was devoting most of my time toward finishing up my graduate studies and deciding on what path to take in life. :) One thing I DID do was decide to re-name the site from “Open-Orbit” to “Pondersphere”. I miss the name “Open-Orbit”, but I felt that it was time for a new beginning. There’s no special meaning behind the name “Pondersphere”, but it does reflect the fact that this site is a place for me to reflect upon the wonderous, mysterious entity that is our Universe.

2011: I’m working on a major redesign of this site (Version 13 is still up, so it’s badly in need of a redesign) and am eager to get back to writing here again. :)

Colophon

Pondersphere is powered by WordPress. It uses the following plugins:

Akismet 2.5.3  Akismet 2.5.3
» Automattic (url)
Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep. To get started: 1) Click the “Activate” link to the left of this description, 2) Sign up for an Akismet API key, and 3) Go to your Akismet configuration page, and save your API key.

Category Icons 2.1.1  Category Icons 2.1.1
» Brahim Machkouri (url)
Easily assign icons to your categories.

cforms 9.3  cforms 9.3
» Oliver Seidel (url)
cformsII offers unparalleled flexibility in deploying contact forms across your blog. Features include: comprehensive SPAM protection, Ajax support, Backup & Restore, Multi-Recipients, Role Manager support, Database tracking and many more. Please see the VERSION HISTORY for what’s new and current bugfixes.

Comment Timeout 2.1.1  Comment Timeout 2.1.1
» James McKay (url)
Automatically closes comments on blog entries after a user-configurable period of time. It has options which allow you to keep the discussion open for longer on older posts which have had recent comments accepted, or to place a fixed limit on the total number of comments in the discussion. Activate the plugin and go to Options >> Comment Timeout to configure.

Exec-PHP 4.9  Exec-PHP 4.9
» Sören Weber (url)
Executes <?php ?> code in your posts, pages and text widgets.

Facebook Comments for WordPress 3.1.3  Facebook Comments for WordPress 3.1.3
» we8u (url)
Allows your visitors to comment on posts using their Facebook profile. Supports custom styles, notifications, combined comment counts, etc.

Last.fm for Wordpress 1.3.3  Last.fm for Wordpress 1.3.3
» Ricardo González (url)
Displays your recently listened tracks. Based on Pownce for Wordpress by Cavemonkey50.

NextGEN Gallery 1.6.2  NextGEN Gallery 1.6.2
» Alex Rabe (url)
A NextGENeration Photo gallery for the Web 2.0.

Post-Plugin Library 2.6.2.1  Post-Plugin Library 2.6.2.1
» Rob Marsh, SJ (url)
Does nothing by itself but supplies common code for the Similar Posts, Recent Posts, Random Posts, and Recent Comments plugins. Make sure you have the latest version of this plugin.

Similar Posts 2.6.2.0  Similar Posts 2.6.2.0
» Rob Marsh, SJ (url)
Displays a highly configurable list of related posts. Similarity can be based on any combination of word usage in the content, title, or tags. Don’t be disturbed if it takes a few moments to complete the installation — the plugin is indexing your posts. Instructions and help online. Requires the latest version of the Post-Plugin Library to be installed.

Simply Exclude 1.7.8  Simply Exclude 1.7.8
» Paul Menard (url)
Provides an interface to selectively exclude/include categories, tags and page from the 4 actions used by WordPress. is_front, is_archive, is_search, is_feed, is_front.

SRG Clean Archives 4.3  SRG Clean Archives 4.3
» Sean R. (url)
This plugin is designed to display your archive listings in a clean, uniform, single-query fashion that’s Search Engine friendly on a dedicated page or in your sidebar.

WP-PluginsUsed 1.50  WP-PluginsUsed 1.50
» Lester 'GaMerZ' Chan (url)
Display WordPress plugins that you currently have (both active and inactive) onto a post/page.