This site has existed since 2002 under several liveries and survived five distinct iterations.
SLUA.com was established in August 2002 as the main assignment for my Masters in ICT in Special Education at the School of Education, University of Wales, Bangor.
The name of the site SLUA comes from the Gaelic word for “host” as in gathering or crowd. The site did function for two years as a WordPress MU site from 2011 -2013.
It was a web-based bulletin board style blog distributed through Netscape using their Really Simple Syndication (RSS) service. The aim and concept behind the web presence was the stimulation of online debate on special education matters among the professinal teaching communities. It received a lot of attention from readers in the USA but little interest was generated in the UK and Ireland.WordPress came along the following year (2003) and I embraced it with open arms. Originally, the user had to download the package onto their home computer and then upload it to the internet space, there it was decompressed and finally installed and configured for use. This situation was common as my service provider, like so many others, was not offering a blog hosting service in Ireland at the time. The lack of service remained the same for many years until WordPress stabilised. Even then many ISPs who offered WordPress as an “Installable Option” did not provide support in any shape or form. Needless to say their cautious approach was well founded as WordPress v.1 was full of bugs and prone to freezing but things improved with each version release. Fortunately, through its evolution the world’s biggest content management system managed to retain its loyal user-base despite many discovered vulnerabilities and the subsequent rollout of emergency updates over the years.
The launch of Akismet just before Christmas 2005 dramatically reduced the amount of spam and made the management of comments a less arduous task. The plugin was free for use in education and personal non-monitised blogs. Its timely arrival also meant I could actively promote the blog as a curriculum tool and a podcasting site in 2006. This venture was undertaken with the reasonable expectation of minimum spam. Heretofore, every audio file I posted attracted a lot of spam and several technical queries from would-be podcasters. A “How To Podcast” page had to be set up for the “tech heads” to cut down on repetitive queries and suggestions I received after every podcast. This page remained very popular until it was taken down in October 2014 to which existed until 2014 as mush of its legacy content had become obsolete and outmoded. Spam aside, WordPress sites were prime targets for malicious hackers and politically motivated website defacement crews and slua.com was no exception but that’s a story for another page.
The slua.com icon / avatar came about in a round about fashion. I met with some computer club members in early January 2006 while they ate their lunches at 12:30 in their primary school classroom. We discussed the possibility of putting on a regular podcast show about Irish folk tales and traditions. The short conversation moved around to a station logo. Bear in mind that the Christmas season had just drawn to a close and twin sisters in the classroom has brought in gingerbread men for lunch. The biscuits were quickly borrowed and lined up similar to the school crest. Paper triangles skirts were cut out for the gingerbread girls and to finish off the design process it was suggested that an antenna be placed on top and the blog name below. Unsolicited drawings in full colour were sent to me during the afternoon and the entire computer club had to vote on the best design later the following day. As you can see the antenna didn’t make the final cut and we opted for a microphone instead. All the the digital magic was done with the aid of what is now Corel Paintshop Pro and luckily for us the gingerbread people came with the package.
I hurriedly put a podcasting site together and headed off to Linz in Austria for the eTwinning Conference 2006 to spread the news of podcasting as a curriculum tool. The rest of the journey continues on Once Upon A Blog.