Input Devices for a 3D World

About the Spacemice Wiki

From Spacemice


The Beginning

Like many things, it all started out innocently enough. While tinkering with some free 3D modeling software, I learned of the existence of 'Spacemice'. The cheapest models available at the time were approximately $100, which was far too high for an curious hobbyist. A few eBay searches later, and I found a used Spacemouse Plus for $10. Once it arrived, and I spent a few nights trying to interface its serial port to my Linux box, I realized that there was a definite lack of information online about these devices.

Finding bits and pieces of information scattered across several web sites, I decided to start compiling it all in one large text file. I discovered the historical background to the various models, what companies had a hand in building and distributing them. Before long, the file itself became so large that it was hard to navigate, so I make a quick and dirty WIKI at home on a local machine, purely for my own use. It mainly consisted of what later became the Gallery page, and a few individual device pages.

During this time, I bought a few other models of Spacemice from eBay, and discovered that the freeware Linux driver did not recognize some of them. So I worked with the developers of the driver to add those devices. At some point, I realized that all of this information I had collected could be useful to others as well. So I began researching free hosting to push the pages into the public eye.

Wikidot

In the end, I decided to go with Wikidot.com. It had an active community, offered lots of storage space, and had a wiki markup language similar to my local install. Of course, 'free hosting' meant 'advertising' would appear on the site. Even though I had no control over what ads appeared, or how relevant they were to the site, I knew how the internet worked, and where wikidot made their money. The ads didnt bother me anyway. I was and continue to be an advocate for AdBlock and its use, so what I didnt see did not bother me.

The migration to wikidot was easy enough, with only a basic theme to choose, and some minor page layout issues to adjust. From that point, the page grew some more, as I became aware of more devices and their details. I also began to find the website appearing near the top of spacemice related google searches! So much so, that it sometimes drowned out the niche websites I was looking for to further expand the wiki.

The first time that we really realized that the site had 'made it' on the internet, was the first time I saw an eBay auction for a spacemouse, and the seller had cut&pasted the item description directly from the site. Later, another seller linked to one of the pages in his auction. And most recently, a seller used one of our 'collection' images as a stock photo for his spacemouse!

Over time, some of the limitations of the free hosting which Wikidot provided became apparent. Referer data was being stripped somewhere along the way to our virtual host. This made it very difficult to determine where users were coming from. We had no idea which forums and webpages were linking to us, or which search engine keywords were being used to find us. By itself it wasnt a deal breaker, but we knew eventually we would have to find different hosting.

The move to SPACEMICE.ORG

Then one day, it happened.... While editing a page on the site, the page suddenly greyed out, and a popup window appeared saying "Leaving so soon? Why not visit...". I could not see the website being pushed by the popup, AdBlock snuffed it out, but the fact that this advert had just taken over the browsing of my site, forcing me to close its window before I continued, set my teeth on edge. Then it happened again, and again... Even when logged in as admin, and it was not because (as it claimed) I was navigating away from the page, it was happening automatically while the page was idling. That was what finally triggered the move.

So here we are, in full control. Now begins the long migration, as users and search engines begin recognizing the new site, and pieces of the old site are slowly antiquated, redirected and ultimately retired. No popups, no banners, no ads of any kind. Of course, that also means that we are responsible for all of the costs, maintenance and administration for the site.

The Future

...has yet to be written. Join us on the adventure.