I participated in an early social network of sorts, Slashdot.org, way back when. I think I signed up in about 2002. A bunch of people on there became friends. Some of us have even met IRL (In Real Life). One of those people went by the handle “kitten”, although I never met him IRL.
Kitten died in early 2010.
But, he had a website of his own, and I liked it primarily because of it’s domain name. A favorite band of mine had a song named mirrorshades. That kitten had the domain name mirroshades.org piqued my interest. I wonder if he was a fan of the same band?
There wasn’t much there on the web site, but still, it was cool that someone I interacted with had his own web site. This wasn’t just a MySpace page, this was a full blown register-a-domain-name, get-a-server, set-up-apache, write-HTML web site of his own. Looks like the first capture of it by the Internet Wayback machine was 2007. For whatever reason, whois is coming up empty on the domain registration record.
2007 isn’t terribly early for real, personal, web sites. Many people tried it with running a machine in their own home, and using a Dynamic DNS service, so that even if their ISP changes their IP address, the domain name still resolves back to that web server running in the basement. The other way to go, was that hosting services were coming on the scene around that period of time. Perhaps kitten bought and paid for a Rackspace plan?
What happens when the web site owner dies?
Yes, it’s a little morbid. But we are all going to die someday. Pretending it won’t happen in willful ignorance.
Back to the point: if it’s a web server in a basement, someone is going to power it off, at some time. Right? Or a power outage happens (yes, there are ways around this). Maybe mom and dad got it, and it’s still going. But even then, they are going to die.
Kitten knew he was dying – perhaps he asked a friend to keep it running for him? Just how long does dedication to a dead friend last? People change, and move on in their life. That can be a crucially good thing; so at what point does keeping this web site (that does nothing, really) still make sense?
Or, perhaps, a cloud provider was paid to keep it running? Every minute of every day, the expiration of the contract looms ever closer. Either way, the DNS registration eventually runs out.*
Anyway, I’ve had a tab in my list of pages I visit every day: http://mirrorshades.org/wc/index.shtml
Sunday, November 4, I got 404 Not Found
For what it is worth, since shortly after February 14, 2010, the page looked like this (kitten’s obituary announcement): https://web.archive.org/web/20170318170358/http://mirrorshades.org/wc/index.shtml
For eight years and ten months, that web server has been serving up that page. The image at the top would rotate out per visit. The one of the young woman, bare shouldered, was quite cool.
And this could be a temporary glitch. Tomorrow, I might open that page, and it will resolve again. If so, I’ll update this post.
*Domain not found is a different error than The requested URL /wc/index.shtml was not found on this server.