I came to Kansas City, MO, on 31st July 1997. I was offered a job here as an AutoCAD operator.
One day, while working in the office server room, I noticed a CD in the closet. It was Corel Web Designer.
It was a very basic web page designer that did not even work with frames. Just basic text and images.
So, I tried it out and made a small site for myself and put it on the web space provided by my ISP.
I still did not have a domain name. So, along went a year, while I tried new designs and stuff with HTML.
I started learning the code by looking at the html files and so on. Then, in September of 1998, it came to
my mind that maybe I should also have something like a domain name. I was working, and had money, so why not.
So, on September 15, 1998, I registered my domain (WALIA.COM) with network solutions. It cost me USD 70.00 for 2 years.
Now I had to host the site. So, I contacted my ISP and he offered to host it for USD 50.00 per month, and I was really excited about it.
Now that is expensive, even for today (nowdays it only costs USD 10..00 per month), but those were the prices back in 1998. They have come down a lot now.
As I said before, I did not have much experience with HTML and web sites back in 1998, my first web page was just a few lines of text, an image and a couple of links. It had my resume on there, a little about my self and thats it. The design was just a joke as I see it today. But, hey, you are not supposed to laugh at it ! I will get offended. (joking). I kept on playing around with HTML and then with CGI and stuff and learnt a lot. Sometime in 1998, in the early days of Walia.Com, a guy named Kuldeep contacted me and asked me if he could get an email address at Walia.Com. And I agreed. Today he is well known as the Walia.Com second in command ! He is the main administrator for this site and he is the one who takes care of most of everything. You can see his web site at http://kuldeep.walia.com/
I started to enjoy my site a lot now that I was getting a lot of Walias visiting it on a daily basis. So, I went ahead and offered free email to every Walia that came by. In between the site changed faces almost on a daily basis. Even I lost track of how many times the site has changed. Following are a few links that show these different faces of the site at different times.
This was the 6th or 7th design that I had come up within about 2 months after registering the domain. It was like windows, I just copied the images from my desktop, and put on some icons, made image maps and the site was ready. My sisters site was also designed at the same time by me, and for some reason she never changed it! (http://manju.walia.com/). This design was the motivation of http://www.winfiles.com/. - Image 1 Image 2 Image 2a
This design stayed online for a while, actually till the day when I learned how to use Photoshop. Photoshop gave me a few good ideas and online tutorials helped me a lot. My next design was like an interface, but it was not that neat. I practiced a lot with photoshop until I got better results. This design stayed online till around 2001. - Image 3 Image 4
The email server was also hosted with my ISP, and I did not have any control over it, so I had to make people signup for their free accounts using CGI scripts. This CGI used to send me an email and then I used to login to my control panel to create the account. Then I would send an email to the user to tell him that his account was ready for use. Even the Webmail interface was not as advanced as it is now. There were no filters, there was no way to create your own folders, and there were no options whatsoever. Nevertheless, Endymion Corporation was kind enough to allow me to use a registerd copy for free on my site. (http://www.endymion.com). I managed to change the interface, and the looks of the login screen and customized the images as time went by. Image 5 Image 6 Notice that I had to ask for the current email address of the new user so I could inform him when the new account was ready. But not so anymore. Now you can get your email ID right away, and I don't even have to know about it. Image 7 used to be the songs menu.
5. Server level configurations
Most of the stuff that used to be text driven, for example, the guestbook, matrimonials, etc, are now database driven, and are a lot faster. Also, because I could not create FTP accounts I could not offer sub-domains to anyone, until one day I managed to create a script in CGI that allowed people to upload files to a folder. So I started offering subdomains to people also. The drawback was that people could not create their own folders. And they could only upload one file at a time.
Currently the mail server, web server, and ftp server are hosted right on my own computers at home, and I can do whatever I want, not exactly, but to quite an extent.
Now I use PHP for the server side scripting instead of CGI. CGI is old, PHP is new, and a lot more pwerful, better, faster, and what not. It is easier to use, and a lot more easier to learn than CGI. The syntax is easier, the commands are better than those in CGI and moreover, because I host the domain on my own server, I noticed that PHP uses a lot less CPU resources than CGI.
These are some other designs I came up with, some went online, some didn't make it. Check the the following images to see those old designs.
6. Discontinuation of free mail amd subdomains
Sometime in 2002 my users started creating bogus email IDs and used this service as a spamming ground.
My ISP blocked my site from sending emails, so I had to discontinue the free email service.
This was a great drawback to the site, but there was no choice for me. Then in 2003 I moved to India,
and had to move the server to India. Using a cable modem as my main Internet line was frustrating,
but even then I did use it until August 2007. But the site was very slow due to the limited bandwidth
that I had. So, I had to discontinue free subdomains also!
7. Server moved back to USA
In August 2007 I moved the server back to USA, but this time it was not my server. As of now,
the site is hosted with an ISP in Arizona, USA. So, my server is not in use any more, and my Internet line is
not being used much either. This ISP does not allow the goodies that I used to have on my own server,
so I still cannot offer free emails and sub-domains as I used to. But atleast I have added a few
more services for us Walia's.
I will post more stuff about the history of this site as time goes by.