Phil Block’s Personal Web Site

That’s this site! It replaces my previous personal web sites, which have been continuously online through several generations of updates since 1995. Scroll down for a nostalgic tour!


1995–2000

I taught myself HTML in 1995, motivated by seeing the World Wide Web for the first time running in a Mosaic browser. I knew right them that I wanted to get into this field. I was writing software documentation at the time, and was getting tired of writing boring technical manuals for a living.

I built my first web site using a tool called HTML Assistant. It was a few steps beyond Notepad, but not much. I learned and used Paint Shop Pro to make the graphics. Later, my HTML editor became HoTMetaL Pro, which I used for over a decade.

This site reflected my interests at the time, which included photographing historic Great Lakes lighthouses, starting to write my life story using software called Echo Lake, and enjoying the music of the late Harry Chapin. At the time, I worked for the professional services division of Compuware Corporation, a prominent IT consulting firm. I was one of the first web developers in the Milwaukee branch of Compuware, and got to work on many exciting projects as a result.

My interest in lighthouses has endured throughout much of my adult life, and ultimately led to the creation and presentation of Lights of the Lakes, a Great Lakes lighthouse presentation that I give to this day. GLLKA stands for Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, a group I belonged to for over 25 years. I adopted the title of a Harry Chapin song, The Story of a Life, as the title of my autobiography and memoirs, which I have been which I began writing in the mid-1990s with Echo Lake.

Here’s what my first site looked like. By the way, some things never change. That email address, pblock@execpc.com, still works after all these years.

Phil Block's Personal Web Site, 1996-2000
Phil Block’s Personal Web Site, 1996-2000

2000–2008

After a few years, my first site was really showing its age. I had matured in my HTML coding and graphics skills, but my interest in lighthouses remained. On the home page, I used two vintage photos of the lighthouses in Port Washington, Wisconsin, where I have lived since 1984.

The photo in the upper right is the Port Washington 1860 Light Station, where I served as a docent and tour guide for over two years. The other photo shows an early breakwater lighthouse at Port Washington.

Yooperland is a nickname for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I went to college at Michigan Tech. The U.P. is now one of my favorite getaway destinations. By this time, I had several commercial web site projects under my belt, so I included links to them on a Work Samples page. The broken graphic labeled Visitors was a hit counter. These were all the rage in the early years of the web.

Phil Block's Personal Web Site, 2000-2008
Phil Block’s Personal Web Site, 2000-2008

2009-2017

By early 2009, it was time for another complete makeover of my personal web site. By then, my HTML editor of choice had become Macromedia Dreamweaver, and my graphics tool became Adobe Photoshop. Both of these applications are still popular today, although Dreamweaver is now owned by Adobe. Since 2014 I have built web sites using WordPress and Google Sites.

As can be seen in the photo at the top of this page, my interest in both lighthouses and Michigan’s U.P. is still going strong. Quoting that page, “The top photo is Au Sable Point on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, taken just after sunrise from the Log Slide lookout in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.” In more recent times, I have also fallen in love with tall ships as photographic subject matter. On this page the next sentence reads “The tall ship is the S.V. Denis Sullivan, docked at Port Washington, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan.”

Phil Block's Personal Web Site, 2009-2017
Phil Block’s Personal Web Site, 2009-2017

2017–Date

Time rolls on, and once again it was time to do another web site makeover. Work on this project actually started in 2015. In 2017, I went back and finished a half-done WordPress conversion of Phil Block’s Personal Web Site. What you see now is the result.