Rob N ★ bio photo

Rob N ★

I do things. Mostly computer things. Sometimes I write about them.

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Not unlike your “real” identity, Internet identity is a process.

If you’re from the same generation as me you probably first got your taste of the Internet in the 90s. For me it was in the high school computer lab at lunchtimes, looking for computer and sci-fi stuff on Mosaic and defying the school’s policy of “no interactive websites” (!) to login to Hotmail. That was the time I started establishing some sort of nascent online identity for myself on IRC and the web forums of the time.

(as I reread that sentence its fairly obvious that not much has changed).

Of course back then we were teenagers and thought we were amazingly cool and hip and were determined to prove it, so we inevitably chose cool and awesome handles for ourselves, usually interspersed with punctuation, rarely used letters and/or numbers. The more obfuscated, the better.

Time passes and I get to university, my first Unix accounts and not long after, my first job (at the university). By now I’ve started to understand the importance of subtlety but don’t yet have the experience to actually achieve it, so I choose to hide myself behind obscure pop references, with usernames and domain names to match.

Then I got older, and hopefully wiser. I got married. I had children. I started to understand myself, my place in the world and how I want to see and be seen. And my online persona changed along with it, getting me roughly to where I am today. A point where the way I act and present myself both online and offline are the same in all the ways that mean anything to me. So I finally feel like its time I put this to bed once and for all and bring in one persona to rule them all. Which brings us to the purpose of this post, and this site.

At the time I write this, I’ve used the handle “robn” in most places for perhaps six years. The majority of the people I interact with online have never known by any other name. So it makes sense to establish a new website by the name for me to refer to. This is it.

Similarly, my userpic/avatar hasn’t changed for three years. Its a picture of my second daughter, Beth (Elizabeth). She’s now six-and-half, but in this picture she was just two-and-a-half. It was taken at my brother’s wedding three years ago. The reason I love this picture is that it shows everything I love about this kid, and everything I should attempt to be. A wedding is a serious occasion. There’s a lot of important stuff going on. And in the middle of all of that, her entire attention is focused on the simplest of things - a ribbon attached to a stick. Beth is a lesson in apparent contradictions. She’s intelligent, but vague. She’s cares about other people, but doesn’t let what they think of her affect her confidence. She’s fearless, but not a thrillseeker. She will find something to delight her in every situation, no matter how exciting or mundane it might appear to everyone around her. So I keep her on my screen everywhere I go, to remind me that I should try to be like that.

So barring some significant event that forces my hand, these things are now set. is where you will find me, with this name and this picture.

As you see, I’ve grabbed an off-the-shelf blog package and theme for this site. I’m long past the point where I need to do everything myself. Over the years I’ve written my own software and data for all kinds of things, websites included, and I’ve learned a lot from that process. I don’t want to do that all the time though. Sometimes its just easier and quicker to use something that someone else wrote.

In a similar vein, I won’t be going out of my way to pull in everything I do or say from other sites to this one. There won’t be comments here. I quite often post on Google+, and may repost some things from there to here or vice-versa, particularly if I’m interested in getting feedback.

Obviously I’ll still have other usernames around the place, since I can’t change everything everywhere. [email protected] works and is preferred for email, but the old website and addresses will continue to work indefinitely. I won’t be moving old content here wholesale, but may repost a few things if I deem them important.

In other words, this is my home on the Internet. Its small and quiet and not many people get invited in. I usually go out to other places to talk and socialise. But there’s always a thrill from getting an unexpected visitor or a letter in the mailbox, so don’t be afraid to knock.