Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded October 20, 2007.
Born and brought up in Edinburgh, Scotland, I've been keeping fish since I was 12. Since it's now 2020, that means I've been at it 35 years! I started out with the usual goldfish and my involvement in the hobby has been snowballing ever since. Around about fourteen I got my first tropical tank and in amongst the sadly typical mismatch of guppies, neon tetras and a Siamese fighter I purchased a Striped Talking Catfish. I had this fish for eight years and still lament its passing. Anyhow, I had the bug and in particular everything catfish fascinated me.
In my early twenties (which was in the early 90's) I started Planet Catfish which, back then, was originally branded .catfish for the first few years of its existence before it moved to a dot com. Even in 1996, the catfish.com domain was taken. I've mostly worked in and around the development and support of local government computer systems. During my years at university leading up to this I worked in a few aquatic retailers within the city where I had the chance to learn about an awful lot of fish that you don't commonly encounter and how to manage them in large numbers. Work and play continually collide and my upkeep of Planet Catfish is pretty much the ongoing result.
At home, I have had under my charge as many catfish as humanely possible with various other fishes that have interested me over time. Large shoals of small tetras, Discus, Geophagus and their close relatives, Myxocyprinus, Barbs, Loaches, Rasbora and Rainbowfish have all had their time in my tanks but there will always be catfish and yet more things to learn about them. I have been asked, quite a few times now, to name my favourite catfish - so here is my current list. Finally, if you're brave enough, here are some pictures of me and here is my planet catfish forum profile.
I often get asked (surprisingly to me at least) what sort of technologies I use, software, hardware, all kinds of stuff about the site. So, to try and cover most of it, here is the geek stuff.
PlanetCatfish.com was developed initially on an Pentium 100 PC with bits and bobs being done on PCs at my parents and work. Some of this was even typed up on a SCO (OpenServer 5) UNIX box using vi! Thereafter I moved up to a P233MMX laptop with 65536K (64Mb) of RAM which is a totally ridiculous amount of memory to someone who started programming on a machine with 3.5K. Hilariously I'm now using a 1.5GhZ (!) processor with .25 Gig of RAM - how the world has changed. I've used windows XP for several years and after a year or so with Windows Vista in 2008, I'm currently running windows 7 very happily.
To get the best out of this site set your graphics card to a screen resolution of very minimum of 800x600 (higher, is better, 1280x1024 is nice) in hi-colour (or better)) mode.
Webspace - Originally hosted on Demon Internet Homepages but the site started using so much bandwidth that they shifted me to a slower server. So I shifted to Dreamhost who are relatively cool about things like bandwidth usage. They were also good on support, provided lots of cool gizmos - dreamhost come recommended and I still use them for several other sites - but planet has grown in the years especially the parts that use the MYSQL database and that was beginning to be slow more often than not. We then moved over to 5quidhost, who have the best support I've ever encountered and, while a bit more expensive, were worth every penny. That said, they ended up being too expensive and with Dreamhost's introduction of a scaleable virtual private server, we moved back there in October 2008.
A LOT of folks ask me about what HTML editor I use. I started using HoT MeTal, which was downright marvelous. I tried MS FrontPage express but its not great, especially at some of the more tricky aspects of table handling and it generates really bulky HTML which is geared towards browsing with MSIE. HoTMeTaL however went too fast towards XHTML and also become increasingly poor as the site became increasingly large. Once we past 5000 pages, it become clear that there needed to be another way, and macromedia's dreamweaver is currently the editing platform of choice.
Browsers, well, early on, MSIE has been used most of all with netscape being used for a second opinion, BUT, in 2004 I started using Mozilla Firefox and, well, it's really great! Especially becuase of the web developer plug-in that does a whole load of cool validation things helping the migration to php and XHTML 1.0 compliant pages. We also check against the windows version of Apple's Safari browser. More recently I've replace firefox with Google's chrome browser as it seems lighter and a touch more stable.
Other stuff? Well, I use MS office for the no fun stuff. For a text editor I use Textpad, which is really good - you just can't find a thing you want it to do that it doesn't. Paint Shop Pro 12 (Photo X2) is currently (as it has been since v5) my graphics editing tool of choice mainly becuase I am so familiar with it and it is cheap. I eventually swapped over to PhotoShop in 2011 - a steep learning curve.
Finally, image capture, in the beginning, various flatbed scanners and the amazing Snappy video capture gadget from Play Inc. for grabbing images from various analog camcorders. I then moved up to the simply wonderful DC290 digital camera from Kodak. This didn't survive a collecting trip to India, so I picked up a second hand replacement on eBay. In 2006 I decided to upgrade to a digital SLR (Canon EOS350D) and it is a fine thing.
So, that's it for now. If you're a real groupie, read the "about PlanetCatfish.com" page!
Julian G. Dignall
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