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Welcome to the World of Wonder

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In this series titled "From the Inside," The Kaptain, InformIT's own web developer extraordinaire, takes you on a virtual tour of the workings of the InformIT site - and his skewed mind.
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I remember watching a television news magazine report a few years ago that claimed techies were going to be the hot dating choice of the post-"hair band" world. We were going to replace the insanely rich and movie stars and sports heroes. Our gender of choice would simply swoon at our feet. Apparently our sheer brilliance and facility with gadgets was going to be the aphrodisiac of choice for the dawning millennium. Sure. I'm driving a Jetsons-style flying car, too.

Okay, let's have a quick gander into the real world. I'm a web developer working for InformIT. That much is true. Unfortunately, the only dating I know about is something done with obscure isotopes of carbon. Who has the time? We're always cranking out last-minute design changes mandated by our product development department. "Goodness, no. We can't go live with this! It has to be blue!" Am I bitter about it? You bet I am!

Ask around the office. I'm a cranky sort. My criticism is always constructive, though. Honest. It ought to be, when I know more than everyone else.

One fine day, a despicable management type strode blithely into my aura of superiority, power tie whipping in the recycled air conditioning (okay, it was more like a Hawaiian shirt, but the air conditioning part was authentic). He said, "Kaptain, since you know everything around here—or so you say—why don't you write a column for the site?"

Into my suspicious stare, he continued, "You could focus on a feature of InformIT and explain the nuts and bolts of it to our users. If the article's good, we might even take the top third of your defect-report stack and give it to someone else."

Presented with the proverbial "offer I couldn't refuse," I took the bait. Why not? It gives me the opportunity to expose my incessant ranting to a much larger audience. That, of course, is the important thing. There's also the scant chance that we'll all learn something along the way. Who wouldn't want a peek inside the inner workings of a real live dot.com?

Don't worry, I'll get to the foosball games sooner or later. For now, let's hark back to a fantastical past age and get the tale rolling.

Dark Forces Gather

In the classical period of InformIT, long-since shrouded in the darkling mists of time, we ran our site on Solaris. Apache was the web server, Oracle was the database, and Perl was the spark that made the fun stuff work. Then, as these things happen, management changed. We were informed, over our protests, that we would be moving to a Microsoft environment: Windows 2000, IIS, ASP, Java, and SQL Server 2000.

You know what? I'm glad that we did. It gave me a chance to immerse myself in the shadowy universe much-despised by the UNIX/Linux proletariat. Rather than the bête noire I expected, I've found the Windows 2000 development and hosting environment to be a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed learning the new skills it took to create a web site from scratch in this new milieu.

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