Way More Than You Wanted to Know

    Xanthia first came into existence in 1991 or 1992 (that November to February timeframe). At that point, it was just a single machine sitting in a dormroom at Penn State University. The only domain that it would belong to would have been rh.psu.edu, except that that domain did not come into being for another semester or so. And, because the comm/network/admin people at my university were so original, they wanted to have our machine's official names be the same as our VM userids. By their standards, my computer would have been thj100.rh.psu.edu

    As machines went, mine was nothing special. It was an old 386 with minimal memory, minimal disk space and minimal... well, you get the idea. I had been playing around for a while on the University Suns and NeXTs, and wanted something similar for my room. It was around this time that my next door neighbor told me about Linux and where to find it. After going up to the Sun lab and downloading the software for several hours, I was ready to build. I loaded on Linux, kernel rev 0.98a. I needed to give the system an identification, so I pulled the name "Xanthia" from the air [Note: It should be pointed out that I have since been made aware that Xanthia is a Greek propper name for girls and having to do with golden spider webs]. Thus was born Xanthia into my life.

    Eventually, I graduated from college. To me, this was an unfortunate event, because at that time, commercial internet access was scarce. Me, an Internet junky, forced to go cold turkey. It wasnt until I moved to Arlington, VA in 1994 that I got net access back. During the no-net dark period, Xanthia basically collected dust. By the time I was ready to hook it back up, it was WAY ouut of date (it even only had a 2400Bps modem!). Since the OS was 2-years old, I hopped online and ordered the latest rev of Slackware from Walnut Creek. This one was like kernel 1.2.13. I loaded that onto the system, which I named undertow (because it sucked). I also revived the Xanthia name by making the system be undertow.xanthia.com, though, to the rest of the world, I only existed as a user on CAIS.Com. Any way, I had X and I had unix (Linux) and I had an internet connection, so I was no longer jonesing for connectivity.

    After a while, I decided it wasn't enough to just read web pages, I wanted to write them. Having used markup languages (TeX/LaTeX) to do my papers in college and for some of my editing jobs (where I used SGML), the transition to hacking HTML was rather trivial. Things were going cool, but I was starting to desire something more. I didn't want to settle for me being ferric@some.damn.ISP, I wanted to be ferric@my.domain.

    It was at this time that I decided Xanthia was to no longer be a single machine, but a collection. I decided I was going to make Xanthia the domain. A couple of months later, it was registered and I had an Internic handle (thj2 - ironic, as my initials would be thj2: Thomas H Jones II). Registered domain name in hand, I went to (what was then) my local ISP and had them set me up a virtual web and ftp server on one of their systems. This became www.xanthia.com.

    However, being the powergeek that I am, that wasnt enough. I got a new PC. It had lots of cool shit for a PC bought at the time: 4xCD-ROM, 28.8Kbps Modem, 32MB RAM, 1GB of EIDE and 4.3GB of SCSI harddrives, sound card and a game controller. I then loaded the latest rev of Linux on it (so that it would recognize my various hardware). Since my mom wanted a computer, I blanked the 386 and gave her it with Windoze loaded on it. So, since the undertow name was still free, it migrated to the new box (it was Intel, so it still sucked). I got a second phone line for data and tacked it up. Now I had two nodes on the net (www and undertow.xanthia.com) - except that the home based one was BUTT slow.

    Things continued this way for about seven months. Then, Bell Atlantic fucked with my life. In the winter weather of that year, they managed to have a switching station get damaged. When they repaired it, their reprogramming was all screwed up. It caused my ISP to lose their Virginia POP for over 3 months. With the level of frustration this caused, they simply closed it out. Thus, my home connection was again severed. Undertow was off-line. At least www.xanthia.com persisted, though.

    Ironically, I was at this time working for Bell Atlantic on their soon to be released Internet product. I always jokingly said that Bell Atlantic was literally cutting out the competition (in reference to the phone line failures to my ISP.) But, at least I got to try out ADSL for free. Unfortunately, it didn't support bootp, so undertow remained off-line.

    Fortunately, working for Bell Atlantic gave me the kinds of high-priced skills that a lot of tech companies look for. For a time, I worked for Silicon Graphics, Inc. then Network Appliance, Inc. and, now, Digex, Inc. Both SGI and NetApp are really cool places with really cool people to work with (though, SGI definitely has the cooler toys). A side benefit has been that I have made enough money to piss away on putting up this site. Now, I have my own systems sitting in my house, on a 1.1Mbps link and hooked to an 8-hour UPS. All of which allows me to host websites for my friends, some local organizations, and even my parent's church. It's kinda cool in a very geeky way.