Site history for Yucca's IT and communication

The Web site now known as Yucca's free information site IT and communication was originally created (by me) piecewise at the address (with some eventual variation in the URL) as part (a major part) of my work as a systems analyst at the Computing centre) of Helsinki University of Technology until January 2001. It just grew up from various pieces, from documents aimed at helping HUT students and staff in IT issues but always open to anyone interested, in Finland or elsewhere. They were largely written in English instead of Finnish, partly because this was the way to get them "peer reviewed" by other specialists around the world, partly because English is well understood by academic people in Finland; moreover, at HUT, there's a considerable number of foreign students, visiting researches who don't know Finnish, or at least know English better.

In January 17th, 2001, I was fired. This is a long story (there is a collection of documents in Finnish about it) but you might draw your own conclusions from the fact that on that very same day, my user id as well as my Web pages were removed, according to the decision of Juhani Markula, director of the Computing centre, although it had been acknowledged by HUT that my employment continues until July 17th. (However, I was deprived of any useful facilities for working, including Internet connection and telephone, and no tasks were assigned to me, and about a month later it was said to me that "the administration" has decided that my services are not needed; that is, I was told to stay away.)

I was informally given the content of my public_html directory, tar'ed and gzip'ed, or this is what the CD's were purported to contain. A little more than a month later, I was similarly given the content of my home directory and my E-mail mailbox. HUT had publicly announced that I am in the "posession" of my pages. It might be evident to people who have authored large Web sites that a directory dump isn't exactly what one would like to start working with when transferring a site to another server, and doesn't contain all the relevant data. But this what I had to play with. (It can certainly be said, as an afterthought, that I should have planned my site to be "portable". But it was really not possible to anticipate that a university would abruptly remove the site. It has been common practice to let Web pages even stay months after the termination of studies or employment, so that people can move them by time or decide to let them die.)

At this point, I need to say that I have always had, I have, and I will always have high respect for Helsinki University of Technology as an academic community, with prominent research in many areas, with many inspiring teachers, with inspired and hard-working students and staff. I find it very sad that HUT, as an institution, has behaved, in my case and apparently in some other cases too, in a manner which is unacceptable employer behavior and, most seriously, quite incompatible with the purposes for which HUT exists, and reflects rather deep lack of understanding of the importance of the Internet as a communications medium, both internally and externally.

So I had to reconstruct my site. Naturally, this was also an opportunity, or a necessity, to consider its organization and content too. Several friendly people had set up copies, or "mirrors", of my site, although they had to be based on incomplete data. Anyway, there was no immediate need to establish a new "home", since most of my material was somehow accessible. There was a lot to think about, and a lot to go through, and I had some decisions to make. Given that (under Finnish and EU legislation) I am the copyright owner of my material, HUT having got just the right to use it (which the decision-makers decided to prevent), I had the opportunity to sell it, perhaps as part of making a contract with a new employer. Being just human, I gave the idea several seconds. But I decided that in my case, I can afford to make my documents free. This does not constitute any general "information wants to be free" ideology; it's just what I decided to do with mine.

I have preserved a copy of my old main page for historical (or nostalgic) reason. In the reconstruction, I organized my page into topical categories and by language. I think the result is much better than the original, largely unplanned structure.

Enough said. There are too many people to be listed here who have contributed, in some way or another, to the content of my site. Some of them are explicitly mentioned in some documents, but I hope that all the others are satisfied with just a general "thank you" and with the feeling that all the suggestions, comments, corrections, and "keep up the good work" messages are really what kept me doing the work through the troubles.

Well, there are some technical aspects too in the move. Perhaps other people will find the following notes somewhat relevant. My goal was not only to reconstruct the site on a new server but also design it so that it can be moved again easily; but moveability is also important to mirrorability. Anyone who wants to set up a mirror or a copy of my site, complete or partial, would hopefully benefit from the new structure. The same applies to anyone who wants to download the site (or put it onto a CD or whatever). The measures taken by me were:

This is quite a job for a large site, and not (easily) automatable. In practice, I made some modifications automatically, using very simple tools, while checking my documents otherwise too and giving them a face lift, by unifying the style with more systematic use of a common style sheet etc.

A page background image was designed for me by Liisa Sarakontu. It is intended to reflect the idea of nets and contacts. Finding a suitable color for it turned out to be difficult.

[original background] The original image used a relatively bright greenish color, and I liked it. And it might be used in some occasions, but for normal text, it's probably too distracting.

[lighter green background] The next attempt was a relatively pale bluish green, but it too caused too many negative comments. Apparently the readability and attractiveness depends on the properties of the monitor, the fonts in use, and personal preferences.

[lighter green background] The background I decided to used is a version sent to me by Aleksi Manninen. It first looked much too light to me, but I started using it tentatively being as the overall background and the previous version as heading background. And it seemed to work quite nicely.

However, in December 2005, I decided to remove the background image and use a background color that differs just slightly from white. The reason is that some people expressed strong opinions about the harmful effect on legibility. So now there is normally a background image for headings only.

I reconstructed the site at Malibu Telecom's server (now dysfunct), later created a copy at TUT IT.

If you're interested in site histories, check The Internet Archive, which contains some snapshots of my new site (at at different moments of time as well as snapshots of my old site at