The Archives

Dailies for April of 2008

April 30, 2008

Continuing yesterday's post discussing's history, today we'll mention a few of the key events that have helped shape our first ten years, hopefully including some that are both interesting and not too well known.

Before was even publicly launched, there was a meeting discussing the computer situation in town between then Saugus Town Manager Richard Cardillo and founder Eric Brown. The initial design of was meant to at once be friendly to local government, but at the same time be independent of it to help stave off censorship, and even deliberately allow the different branches to be critical toward one another. offered to provide not just volunteer help to any local government entity looking to initially get online, but also free hosting. would take on commercial clients in order to remain financially independent; it would not require any tax dollars.

When Steve Angelo took over as Town Manager, the relationship got even stronger; he sent out a memo urging all departments to cooperate with to get their information posted. Different departments, commissions, boards, and committees responded in different ways. Some took advantage and made lots of their information public. Others didn't see getting online as a priority and thus didn't bother. continued to evolve independently of the town government, too. The fall of 1998 saw take on two of its biggest annual features: local election coverage and the Ghost Story Contest. The former stemmed from a desire to display and archive detailed precinct-by-precinct election results for every election, even ones that other media outlets didn't think were worth the space (the following year this was expanded to include the ability for all candidates, even ones for minor positions, to voice their opinions publicly prior to the elections). The latter was in part due to the belief that the rise of the Internet need not decrease literacy levels, and that a Web site could in fact help encourage people to be more literate; the choice of Halloween was Eric's. The coincidence of elections and Halloween typically being just a few days apart has ensured that has always been extremely busy that time of year, and the Halloween contest has become our single most popular feature.

1999 and 2000 saw get heavily involved with the production of the book A Gathering of Memories. Two printings of this book have since sold out.

2000 also saw's launch of, a site specifically designed to help local non-profit groups get their information online.

In 2001 negotiated the purchase of a small segment of business from the company It was the Internet shell access business formerly held by TIAC; after several buy-outs and mergers and splits, had acquired these shell user accounts and was planning on dropping them. It would have left many without Internet access (shell account users have pretty specific needs that tend not to be addressed by more typical Internet access plans).'s intervention kept these people online, and ShellTown is still going strong today.

In 2002 took over the layout work of the Historic Saugus Calendar. Two years straight of losing money had nearly made the Saugus Historical Society give up on this popular publication. By moving all of the calendar production back into Saugus, the Society was able to save enough money to keep the calendar afloat.

In 2004 adopted Newton's Library, a source of free e-books. Its former maintainer was unable to take care of it any longer, and with her support it was moved from its original home in Scandanavia to The following year we added full text search capabilities to the site, and the year after that we launched a free browser plug-in that enabled the reading of these e-books without any special hardware. This browser plug-in has since become one of our most popular features, even though most Saugonians don't know it exists.

In recent times we've also been involved with the Saugus Teaching with Historical Places educational program, the book Of Time and the River, and lots of other projects besides. If you look around, you'll see our work here and there.

April 29, 2008

While generally uses the date of its incorporation, May 1, 1998, as its official birthday, it actually had content online earlier than that. In fact, it first went live under the name "" on February 9, 1998.

This date doesn't quite tell the whole story, though, as our first servers were put into place through the holidays of 1997 and were all made fully functional in January. For the technically minded, these machines were all Sun Microsystems servers running Solaris, and the content they hosted was accessible via direct number during this early period. Each of the servers was named after a different member of the Scooby-Doo gang and had its own specific duties. One handled Web hosting, one handled FTP and Gopher hosting (more important then than now), one handled e-mail, one was used for testing new services, and one served as an emergency replacement should any of the others fail.

Today all of these original servers have long been replaced. In fact, the first Web server is now part of the Saugus Historical Society's collection.

Of course just setting up these machines didn't do much; what really made was its content, and in those early days much of its content came from even earlier sources. founder Eric Brown had been maintaining a few scattered Saugus-related resources on the Web as a hobby; he'd set up a page of Saugus-related links in 1992, created a Saugus public transportation reference in 1993, and (as a member of the Planning Board) converted the Subdivision Rules and Regulations to electronic format in 1995. All of these were removed from their original locations and relocated to in early of 1998. Eric created some new content, too; he converted all the other Saugus by-laws and assembled an online collection of Saugus-related post cards, and made it all public in May.

In around that same time, Jim Harrington built his excellent Saugus Photos Online site on the new servers, pulling in some material that he'd been keeping elsewhere plus creating lots of new content.

Eric had also maintained quite a few computer resources. Some of these he thought would be of general interest, and he moved them over to, too.

Starting on May 4, 1998, an almost daily log of updates made to the site (known internally as the "Dailies") helped keep readers aware of changes and developments. Less than two weeks later the Town Hall had published its first notice through this new channel.

The combination of these factors (plus a bevy of Saugus-related links organized by topic, a community events calendar that allowed free public posting, and various other resources) shaped's early identity and helped it to become what it is today.

April 28, 2008

As this coming Thursday is the tenth anniversary of our incorporation, we thought we'd spend this week going over a few topics. We'll point out a few (hopefully) interesting highlights of our first ten years and perhaps give some insight into how works today. Do you have any questions that you'd like to see answered? Please feel free to ask.

April 25, 2008

The local business Park Press Printers was updated today.

April 24, 2008

Believe it or not, the tenth anniversary of's incorporation as an independent entity is just a week away. How do you think we should celebrate our tenth year? Do you think we should change anything, or keep everything the same? Let us know what you'd most like to see here on

April 23, 2008

The Saugus High School Alumni Association site was updated today.

April 22, 2008

A spammer was forging our return address on some of its spam e-mail messages this past weekend. While a careful examination of the mail headers will reveal that we weren't the source, we know that most people don't dig that deeply and we thus wanted to state here publicly and unequivocally that we:

  1. Don't currently send spam.
  2. Have never in the past sent spam.
  3. Don't ever plan on sending spam in the future.

April 21, 2008

The office will be closed today for the holiday. However, the Community Events Calendar and other like pages will continue to be updated.

April 18, 2008 was updated today.

April 17, 2008

The Glossary of Computer Terms was further updated today.

April 16, 2008

The Saugus Area Organizations, Clubs, and Places of Worship page was updated yet again today.

April 15, 2008

This is just a reminder that personal state and federal tax returns must be postmarked by the end of the day today.

April 14, 2008

There was an unusually large number of events added to the Saugus Community Events Calendar this past weekend.

April 11, 2008

The Tips for New Computer Users & New Internet Surfers page was updated today.

April 10, 2008

As often seems to happen, activity in an area encourages further activity in that same area. The Saugus Area Organizations, Clubs, and Places of Worship page was updated again today.

April 9, 2008

The Glossary of Computer Terms was updated today.

April 8, 2008

The Saugus Area Organizations, Clubs, and Places of Worship page was updated today.

April 7, 2008

The Frequently Updated Online News Sources page was updated today.

April 4, 2008

The Saugus Historical Society site was updated today.

April 3, 2008

The Saugus Area Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Information page was updated today.

April 2, 2008

The Computer File Extensions List was updated today.

April 1, 2008

Somewhat related to the information on composting provided yesterday, we're now told that the Saugus Town Hall also has information on rain barrels for garden watering. Saugus residents can obtain one up for $66.50. Orders must be placed prior to April 15, and they'll be delivered to the Town Hall on April 18.