I thought that it might be time to drop in on this thread and try to clear up a few things regarding the Homedistiller.org site. I'm presently travelling, and can't access the forums (firewall on work PC), but Harry has been good enough to forward me some of the material. I do still receive the daily digest from both distillers & new distillers, but I'm guessing that a lot has happened too in the day or two since i managed to log in and get email.
I first got into distilling over ten years ago now (is it longer?) At that time there was little information availiable, outside of a few texts like the "blueflame" and some dubious books. I was concerned about the amount of mis-information floating around, so decided that as I researched for myself, i would collate the material, to provide the information for others. The original plan was to have a single page, but that rapidly outgrew itself. At the time, hobby stills were primative adaptions of pot stills with some type of top reflux. The newsgroups were just begining, and became a powerful medium by which we could all share our experience, help explain our own specialty areas to others, and chip in to grow the body of knowledge around this hobby. And hasnt it grown. The early changes were from John Stone &
Mike Nixon, adapting principles common in industry to the hobby scale. They populised the overhead reflux condensor, taller packed columns, and reflux control. The newsgroups had everyone chipping in around safety, control, aging, recipes, common sense, thermodynamics and the like.
It was then, that Dave (Uncle Jessie) was generous, and offered me both server space, and the use of the homedistiller.org domain name. He was the first to do so, and has been my silent supporter in my mission to provide advice & information for those who want to learn about this hobby we all enjoy.
Although many people since have offered to provide server space & mirror sites, I generally have not taken them up (other the tasteylime mirror), out of aligence to Dave. I know that i get many emails from people thanking me for providing the content, maybe we should send a few to Dave, thanking for his part in it too (he's been the one paying for it). He has not asked anything from me, and was doing this as a fellow distiller.
Most of you will have also noticed that my site really hasn't been active in about the last four years, since i moved to Australia. I havent even run a batch myself in about 3 years. The hobby has moved on a lot since then - Riku's automated controls, the variations in controlling reflux, Jims experience and the like. Cant even start to catalogue the contributions from Harry in synthesising so much information & experience.
One of the challenges in having a web site like that is in keeping it up to date. Thats why i got really exicted when Dave started up the forums part of it along with the Wiki version, where others could start contributing to the material, and adding the corrections and improvements as they came to light. Harrys recent work around the library of material he provides, and the new links bit are all great. I think the more of material like this that can be provided, and through different sources / opinions etc, the better.
Now for the fun bits .....
1) when we had our "new" uncle jessie turn up a month or so in the newsgroups, i wondered if the use of the same alias would lead to some problems and confusion. And yes it has.
2) this group at times is a little too quick to fly off the handle, and to use the recent phrase, "raise a shit storm". (recall the Bokakob episode?) The constant need to put out some of those flames was one of the original reasons why i quit as the moderator here & appreciated Harry taking it on (and why i suspect he's recently shared the fun out)
3) I appreciate the three-way conflict I've given myself between retaining the copyright to the site material, but not being active in the hobby lately, and a need to keep it up to date. At times I've wondered if it would be best to walk away from the site, and pass it to someone/or collective who would carry it on, but keep it to my aims - keep others safe as they start off, spread the message that this hobby isnt morally wrong/going to send you blind/etc but should be legalised with sensible guidelines (as in my homeland New Zealand), and above all, provide all the material free of charge - so as to not hinder in anyway educating those who want to learn. I welcome any suggestions. Harry has been offering some great advice and options for me.
4) I will continue to use his server & domain name as long as Dave will allow me. That is his decision & choice, and I will respect whatever he decides, without arguement. That is entirely between him & me, and no one else needs to get involved, nor make it a public issue. To date, I still believe our relationship is strong & unchanged. I've had nothing from him that would suggest otherwise. If this does change, lets deal with it then, but i dont see the need to do anything at the present. I still have a copy of the files - its not like the material will get lost. That domain name is his, not mine nor yours.
5) For those who have been quick to complain when the server /link goes down for a day or so, I please ask for latitude, and let him manage his affairs as he wishes. From the emails i get, its as though some of you expect 24/7 access and response - sometimes we do all need to take a weekend off or holiday away from the internet. (soapbox time - this also applies to mobile phones - it is OK to turn those off when you get home in the evening or over weekends) If you really needed that constant access to the site, you should have downloaded a copy (not like its changing on a daily basis!). The mirror site is always there if you need it.
6) To those who have got confused over this "uncle jessie" name/alias double use, and inadvertantly slagged Dave in the process, how about a simple applogy to him, and try to take some heat out of this situation. He's been a fantastic supporter of this hobby advancing. Have you ?
It is nice to see that there is such passion about the site, but please, how about focusing that energy in a constructive manner. In the newsgroups, why is it that we still only see replies to questions from the same few authorities - how about a few other of you lurkers chipping in and giving a hand to answer, share experience, observations etc. Dont just sit back and wait for Harry to have to do all the work - you all have something value-adding to share - you dont need to be a world authority to do so.
I've probably preached enough for now, and no doubt stirred the pot, and being a day or so late is probably not helping, but just want to ask for some calm.