Old Machines

Back in July 2006, I made a web app. I wanted to learn how to do some stuff and I wanted an alternative to emailing myself. It took about 20 hours of work, I bought the domain and the hosting, then I posted it and I called it enotepad.org. I even payed $70 for google ads to get people to sign up. Yesterday, I took the old machine down.

End of days.

I didn't think everything through when I first made the site. It seemed like a neat project and I thought that the good people of the internet might enjoy using it. For free! Back then, dropbox, google drive, and all the other cloud "solutions" weren't normal and emailing myself seemed like a tedious way to remember links and shopping lists.

I resurrected it for this awesome screenshot.

Of course, even then I knew that the real part of making something worthwhile is maintaining it and helping users out when they have questions or forget their names. For about a month, that seemed like a good use of my free time, then it got stale. I checked the support email less and less frequently. Eventually, shamefully, I just ignored the inbox.

Some interested parties were more persistent. I once received an email with,

It has been observed recently that employees from our organization have been using your web site www.enotepad.org." 

and

We are currently in the process of investigating the damage caused.  Could we ask for your support in the analysis of the damage by providing us the data that was stored on your site which came from the above mentioned IP addresses?

followed by the threat

...and I will have someone from legal talk to your company.

I wasn't about to turn out anyone's private, personal notes and that was a worrying experience, but it didn't go anywhere. 
In the 8 years that I operated the website, I never read or shared or otherwise violated the privacy of a user's notes. That should probably just make me feel like a non-horrible person, but it makes me feel proud.

Between guilty feelings from ignoring the inbox, a nagging worry that I might have to hire a lawyer because a user violated their workplace IT policies on my website, and a real concern that a patent troll might sue me because they had a lock on anything related to "using electronic pads to store notes and note-related data" I eventually decided that it should come down.

That was two years ago. At least. Probably more like three or four years. Nonetheless, the lazy cogs have moved and there is one less old machine cluttering up the internet.

Legions of loyal spam bots and a few determined users.

If you ever tried it out, thanks! I had fun. I learned a lot. And now a tiny corner of my brain that has for six years felt just a little bit too busy to try something new has a chance to breath.

Comments

Mickey said…
Neat story! How could their legal dept threaten you without your real name and address? And did you get a verifiable request from them (like a company name), or just an anonymous query in your support line asking for a the traffic from some IP?
It seemed legit. I responded that my logs didn't go back far enough to show those IPs and that was the end of it. The legal threat was mostly a reminder that he had a legal department that he would be delighted to have contact me.