About This Site
I created purpletrafficlight.net because I wanted a permanent site for resources and information relating to me. As this site continues to take shape, you'll find pages about me, the kind of stuff I like to do, my opinions and goals, and perhaps people and organisations that I interact with.
I only had to mention this site to three or four people before somebody asked me about its name. It's simple, really: I like purple, and I like traffic lights.
Purple is my favourite colour. Enough said.
Traffic lights? Well, I've had a weird fascination with them for as long as I can remember. The only explanation I can come up with is that my bedroom oversaw a set of them while I was growing up. This fascination has developed into a healthy interest in transport and infrastructure, but I still think traffic lights themselves are pretty cool.
I chose the .net suffix because this is not a commercial site (.com), or a site representing an organisation or educational institution (.org or .edu). Okay, so .net doesn't really apply either, but .gov, .mil, .conf and all the rest are even less applicable. The absence of any country domain suffix (.au, .us, .nl, .za, etc.) is because I view this as an international web site.
I started writing HTML when NCSA Mosaic for X Windows was the only graphic web browser, so I've had years to develop an attitude about what makes a good web site. When writing HTML, I try to adhere to these principles:
You have probably noticed weird little icons at this site that say things like "best viewed with any browser". This is a send up of icons that say things along the lines of "best viewed with Microslop Internet Exploder 4.1 with Full Gerbil Support enabled" which used to litter the bottom of web pages everywhere. I aim for this site to be easy to view with any web browser, even text-based ones.
In my view, the primary purpose of the World Wide Web is still to function as a universally accessible information source. Sure, the web looks a lot spiffier now than it did five years ago, but where bells and whistles are added at the expense of universal accessibility, the Web's true purpose has been overlooked. (Along with the people of Tuvalu, I've laughed at the attempt to market their national domain suffix, .tv, to organisations that want to show that their web site is "more like tee vee". I think this has lead the public to think of gaudy web sites with obnoxious pop-up advertisements aimed at mass media victims, and not a source of useful information!)
Tested with Multiple Browsers
To enforce this policy of accessibility, I've used Lynx to view every page on this site, in addition to Netscape Navigator 4.08 and Internet Explorer 5.0. If a page isn't clear and fairly attractive in all three, I revise it.
Cascading Style Sheets
This site uses some Cascading Style Sheet features, commonly called CSS. Web browser developers promise functionality to allow users to customise fonts and colours for different HTML elements. This would allow people with certain mental conditions to choose colour schemes that work better for them. As far as I know, only Netscape supports such customisation at present, and it's a pretty lame implementation, but this will hopefully change as accessibility gets taken more seriously. I look forward to the day that web developers can rely totally on CSS to format their web pages, but it looks like I need to wait a few more years for that to happen.
In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by changing the "text size" or "font size" from your browser's View menu, and appreciate the fact that I specify font size dynamically. Those of you who think this feature is frivolous might change your after you've stared at a computer monitor all day, or when you want your browser to take up less screen real estate. I've found that larger fonts are a relief for tired eyes, and smaller fonts make smaller windows much easier to deal with. I consider web sites that don't support this annoying, especially since it takes more code to make font sizes fixed than variable.
Appropriate Use of Technology
Although the United States of America has more internet users than any other country, the majority of today's web surfers come from other places, and some of those nations have a higher proportion of their population online regularly. These facts have made me somewhat bitter about Americentric web sites, and no matter how funny it is that some nationalistic Yanks truly believe that "America is the best in the world at everything", I remain acrimonious about web authors with that attitude. (It's interesting to note that I've never met a person with that opinion who's seen much of the world outside of the United States. Sorry, people, but Tijuana doesn't count, nor does watching television.)
I currently live in the Netherlands, until recently I lived in the United States, and I've spent most of my life living in Australia. Therefore, most of the content of this site relates to one of those countries. People from other parts of the world should at least be able to partially relate to this web site, however, as long as they can read English anyhow. (Since I was brought up in Australia, I use the kind of English that's standard in there, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and other places inhabited by people confused by "U.S. English" spelling checkers.) You'll notice that all dates are written unambiguously, i.e. I'll write 3 November 2002 instead of 03/11/02 or 11/03/02 or 02/11/03, and I don't use two-digit years anyhow. In a lot of cases, I'll even occasionally translate metric units to the ones used in Shakespearean plays, the USA and sometimes in England.
Lack of Censorship
To comply with my web host's policy, let me say this:
Different people are offended by different things, so this site, like every other site on the Internet and every other implementation of every medium, may have content that will offend some people. I can guarantee that no text, link or image at this site was offensive to me at the time that I created it, but can't guarantee anything else about its content.
I have made every effort to give every page a fitting title and every link a fitting name, to minimise the likelihood of people viewing content that they dislike. However, it is possible that some titles and link names are unclear, so easily offended users should exercise caution when using this site. Please e-mail me if you have any problems.
I've made no effort to censor anything at this site because, like I said, different things offend different people. There have even been occasions where I have found web content to be offensive, and the people around me at the time seemed to think the same site was okay. My advice to anybody who is offended by anything they find here is just to accept that we have a difference in opinion. And if certain words offend you irrespective of the context in which they're used, I suggest you consider leaving this site. Personally, I think that's just silly—get a life!
Having said all that, I should mention that I don't think there's anything here that would offend many people at all. Sorry to disappoint you!
Like any good user interface, this site puts controls (links) in the same place all the time. And since placing navigation links down the left has become a de facto standard, I've done that too.
Remember the good old days when all web pages included links for contacting the author? Well, this site still has them today, making it easy for you to flame me for the previous section.
I've heard people criticise people's personal home pages, saying they're "too self-indulgent". If you think this site is too self-indulgent, then I'd be interested in hearing what you think a personal home page is for.
I've tried to make this site fairly attractive, without it compromising the accessibility that I mentioned above, and without making it gaudy. Although attractiveness is a matter of personal taste, I appreciate comments and suggestions.