Rewritten as for 2011.
Why did I create the website? I did it to expand my skills and improve my employability.
In November, 2008, my last company made me redundant. I wasn't too happy being retrenched, but at least this gave me more time to reskill myself. I'd already been looking at the job ads at SEEK and CareerOne; I observed C# skills were in great demand. Since a friend of mine was MCTS certified (and thus very employable); I thought I'd try for a certificate myself. So I got myself a cheap but legal version of VS2005 off eBay, bought the MCTS training books off Amazon (with errors included), and started studying. I read through the books, started revising, and even looked at putting together a few projects to home my skills. I even completed all the exercises in all of the books.
Things didn't go as I planned.
One problem I found is that the exercises by themselves weren't sufficient to pass the tests. They'd demonstrate part of the .NET API, but the tests would examime all of the API. Rather than try to memorise every class and function in it, I thought it would be better to try to create little projects which would exercise as much of the API as possible. For example, I started with a C# version of Project Audit to practice my C# database skills. And then I ended up on a tangent.
I wanted to play around with different ideas as quickly as possible ("Let's write a program to look up chords in a musical scale!"), and try them in C#. Alas, I found that the syntactic sugar and built-in expectations interfered with this. I found it was quicker to trial things in Python. This language may be slower when executing than C#, but it comes with lots of libraries, the only gotcha is the indentation (resolvable with the right sort of editor), and I find it faster to churn out accurate code.
As for interacting with databases, I found that the modelling classes in the web framework Django were simpler and clearer than Microsoft's baroque DataSet and DataTable controls. I then discovered I could implement pages for data entry in Django's built in admin interface; I need less than a hundred lines of code. It also looks better than the minimal C# equvalent, which uses Microsoft's fugly DataGridView control, (and it still doesn't protect against validation errors).
Since all these ideas were coming out in Python, I thought it would be nice if I could find a place to host Python scripts. Better still, I could use Django to demonstrate scripts by running them. I could also host all the C# projects I planned to write (in order to assist me to gain certification, and also impress future employers). And thus the idea of the website was born.
The only thing left to do (apart from payment, setup and writing the damn pages) was a name.
A couple of years ago, I lived and worked in Việt Nam. Because it was a new environment, and the social scene was a bit drink heavy, I had a lot of time to myself. So I decided to form a blog. Because VN is a Communist country, and human rights aren't the best, I thought I'd blog anonymously. So I created the blog Down and Out of Sài Gòn (you can look it up if you like) and even posted there and elsewhere under this 'nym. That's why the original domain I registered for this place was http://www.downandoutofsaigon.net. I liked the name. So I used it here.
And what happened afterwards?
Well, the Global Financial Crisis happened. Given my time out of the IT industry, I found that there was more work in English Teaching than in software. I grabbed a new name http://www.pkmurphy.com.au/, because Melbourne IT phoned me up and marketed a cheap "com.au" domain in my face. (I guess it's more professional.) As for the C#, I haven't looked at the MCTS books for ages. Maybe I'll return to them, or their equivalents for .NET 3.0 or 4.0. Maybe not. I'm using Ubuntu these days, and I'm not so interested in programming exclusively for the Microsoft platform. Web applications are more universal.
Ancknowledgments go to "Dr" Jon Swabey, who pointed out the importance of getting the content right first. Props go to Angie Goh, who has given me a lot of information about website building in general, and about the undesirability of garish colouring schemes.
Shout outs go out to my wife - An Trần Murphy. She's the first call for "Does this look ok?" questions, and has given me a lot of assistance with aesthetics and Vietnamese translations.
Thank you all.