At first, I wasn’t part of KIOSK. Alisa, Ross, and Keetja were supposed to do the store and I was just tasked with developing the website. In 2006, e-commerce was still in its infancy - some big stores had it, and the smaller shops only had the “inquire about” type. I had been working as a web developer since -97, so I knew there was a way.

I started evaluating the very few open source options out there, and landed on OsCommerce. It was the only one to have features such as calculating tax and shipping, which I saw as a requirement for sane internet shopping. I had rented a linux server ij the cloud (not sure it was called the cloud at that point, but it’s exactly what it was) and started to kick the tires. It was a steep slope to learn this beast, but I concluded I could do it, so OsCommerce it was.

For the design, I wanted it to use standard fonts so we didn’t have to use the - at the time - common   practice of generating titles and headlines in Photoshop just to have a fancy font, so Helvetica and Courier was a given. Comic Sans was considered for a few seconds - at that time it wasn’t the butt of all jokes yet. Lucky us for not choosing it in the end! The site wouldn’t be cool until 2012!  

Colors were an easier decision. We were supposed to be no-frills, so basic colors - red, green, blue, magenta, and yellow. Nah, we skipped yellow as you can’t ever see it on white. Green is a little difficult, so we used it sparingly. I knew magenta hurt your eyes a bit, but heck, it fit in the palette.

We all liked grids, and I had made a nice site for Alisa with an image cut into perfect bordered squares separated by a gutter, so that was what we all wanted. Besides, square images would be ok on both desktops and mobile phones. Back in the day I had made a few mobile websites, even for flip-phones (I don’t think many visited those, but they were made so the web agency I worked for could claim to be cutting edge). The design was settled. Logo in bold Helvetica. Simple and effective. KIOSK. Actually, PC’s rendered Arial, but that was close enough that only real font nerds would notice - and if they didn’t know it was supposed to be Helvetica, how could they know. 

Implementing this design and the functionality was no easy feat. OsCommerce was a pure hell when it came to customizing the theme, but I went through the fire and came out with non-lethal burns. The other features were worse yet - I lost two fingers that later grew back. In order to “install” these features, you had instructions to copy and paste code at, say, line 420 in hard-to-find-file.php and when you added the next feature, you had to do some math as to know what line to paste that code. Of course all line numbers had shifted from the previous paste. Yeah, hot hell. I’m fine now. 

This soupy solution worked in the end and looked decent, even nice. We could start adding things and sell online! Off to the races. We even had it ready for the launch of KIOSK. I can’t recall if it was me who hit the target deadline for once or if we waited for the website in order to launch our endeavour, but it happened. 

Once in a while, there were security patches. I was and still am good at keeping things secure. Those “patches” were also just posts in a forum with code to add or change at those line-numbers, so it could easily take a day or two to apply them. 

But one day we were struck by lightning. I found a file that wasn’t supposed to be there. “Don’t you need Viagra?” it said - I’m paraphrasing. It was clear we had been hacked! Quickly I had to shut the site and when I put it back up after thorough cleaning, the e-commerce features were taken away. I was not going to let any hackers steal credit cards from our customers. In fact, I was sleepless over wonders of card numbers already stolen and feared a call from a customer or their bank, but no call ever came in. Hopefully, no fraud happened on my watch, but it was not for my due diligence. 

Weary of having that responsibility again, we had to start looking for a solution where someone else was responsible for processing sales and keeping up with security. A little known Canadian company called Shopify had just entered the scene, and after looking at others, I decided to go with them.

This time I didn’t have to care much about the features - they just had all that - but I had to redo the design in a really stupid and onerous environment and a new programming language that was stunted in what it could do. It took me days or weeks to get it together, and I was considered a very good developer at the time. But together it came. No more hacks, no more Viagra, not even Cialis were ever offered again. If you wanted that you had to go to other shops who had been recently hacked. 

It was a harrowing ride behind the digital scene, but here we are, the site mostly unchanged. 

It’s 2024, and it sorely could use a freshening up, but I’m the procrastinating type and I still get told that people like the site. 

If I do, I will use Comic Sans.