From the day it started up till now, I am still getting lots of questions as to how it all began for MiriCommunity.net. To make it easier for everyone (and to myself), I’m just going to write an article about how the long journey began way back in 1998 when the idea was first conceived.
In 1998, I was 18 years old and studying in Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) college in Kuala Lumpur. At that time, I just got myself a new desktop PC running on a Pentium 2 with a Creative Riva TNT 3D display card, a new Jaring dial-up account, and was financially broke the whole time. My level of exposure to online chatting/discussion was mainly confined to emails, Instant Relay Chat (IRC) and ICQ (an instant messaging provider). A friendly roommate of mine by the name of Ah Phang from Ipoh introduced to me the popular Malaysian online newsgroups (e.g. tmnet.communities, etc) that ran on the NNTP protocol and we had to either use newsgroup reader client application or via certain newsgroup websites to access it. I was plainly using Outlook Express at that time to get my daily dosage of local jokes, news, how-tos, directions, etc. from the local newsgroups. It was from my exposure to such old technology that got me thinking “What if there was something like this specifically for my hometown Miri?”. Well, I tried searching around for anything that resembles a bulletin board, forum or newsgroups about Miri. But alas, all I’ve found are broken and/or unmaintained websites about Miri as a tourist destination. Heck, I can’t even find anything useful about Miri when searching for it in Yahoo (yes, Google was not famous as a search engine that time).
With such findings, I went on to assess the probability of setting up one system for Miri. But the system setup design hit a wall when the cost of hosting a server on a reasonably fast internet line was too much to be feasible at that time – there was ISDN but no cable modem, DSL, or WiFi Broadband during those days in Malaysia for an average subscriber. In addition to that, hosting and setting up a server to run on the most economic dial-up connection proves to be a joke as well because everything will come to a crawl as it passes through the dial-up connection bottleneck. And so, I had to shelf the idea until there is some improvements and changes to the local Internet Service Providers (ISP).
Then sometime in 2003 when I was working for Meridian Surveys (M) Sdn Bhd (ironically I got the job by applying it from a newsgroup posting), I realized there was a missing piece amidst the modern communication technologies (e.g. emails, instant messaging, VIOP, electronic documents, satellite communications, etc.) adopted by this technologically advanced company. Under the close supervision of Mr. David Baker (the lead system engineer & developer), I have been inspired to find a way to capture technical information and have it centralized and available to employees all around the world. It was then, I had a first try with setting up a production & live webserver using PHPBB – a famous open source online forum system. Creatively utilizing a forum system to capture and document technical information by various employees, it was proven to be a successful project in terms of structuring data and turning it into useful information.
Being the only admin for the PHPBB forum in Meridian Surveys, the knowledge gained was the only missing piece as to what system the Miri Community Network will be using. During those days, Streamyx was starting with its nationwide rollout (TMnet’s affordable broadband package). And with that, it got me to start thinking about my old projects which are still left on the shelf. Looking back at where I left off for the Miri Community Network project, my first instinct was to resume finding a domain name. Without a proper name, it will become an issue later when it comes to ownership and branding. So, without thinking much, I went to look-up domain names: miri.com, miri.net, miri.org, miri.info, etc. All were taken. The following are emails both Ryna and I wrote to owners of the domains listed above attempting to buy from them:
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Re: Miri.net
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 13:32:50 +0800
To: Jackson Liaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Our community site was created in the response to the call of tourism and
getting the general Miri information to the public at large. We were suppose
to revamp the site, but things are bz at the moment.
We sort of gathered some info and uploaded the site that you are seeing now.
So its kind of a quickie thing.
If you are interested to participate in the program as a free service to us,
cause its a community web by all means let us know what u can contribute.
P/s Cool personal website u have there.
—– Original Message —–
From: “Jackson Liaw” <email@example.com>
Sent: 11 February, 2004 11:59 PM
> Dear Sir,
> I am from Miri and I have an interest in further improving the Miri
> Community online bulletin board. Could you please acknowledge my
> mail and allow me to further elaborate my free service? Thanks in
> Best regards,
> Jackson Liaw
—– Original Message —–
Date sent: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 13:30:47 +0900 (KST)
From: G Hwang <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for your interest in miri.com.
I am willing to transfer this domain name to you if you suggest a
How about the price of US $12,000? Please let me know.
>—– Original Message —–
>To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
>Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 10:52:15 +0800
>I`m Ryna from Skinned Studio, I am interest to know more regarding
>Miri.com that are now sell out. I wish to know the offer price for
>miri.com domain name and I wish to know in more details.
>Kindly please let me know as soon as possible, thank you :-).
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: (Fwd) Re: Miri.info
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 23:44:33 +0800
From: Jackson Liaw <email@example.com>
I wonder if you are still keen in selling the Miri.info domain?
Please let me know. Thanks in advance.
——- Forwarded message follows ——-
From: Jackson Liaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Paul Dann” <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Miri.info
Copies to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date sent: Tue, 13 May 2003 23:38:38 +0800
Thanks for answering my previous mail. My allowable budget for this
domain (Miri.info) ranges from USD 30 to USD 50 depending on it’s
remaining balance of subscription. I really hope we can come to an
agreement for this deal. Please think it over and reply to me soon.
On 13 May 2003 at 16:27, Paul Dann wrote:
> My apologies for the delay in reply but I have been
> overseas and your enquiry has been left on my PC. If you are still
> interested in Miri.info we may be willing to part with it so please
> advise your offer if you still have an interest. Best regards –
> Paul Dann
——- End of forwarded message ——-
After the unfruitful attempt to acquire the simplest form of relevant domain name, I was faced with another problem: Streamyx broadband rollout was still not widely adopted nationwide due to various problems (e.g. not enough DSLAM ports, flaky copper lines, poor support, inexperienced technicians, etc). With that, I decided to shelf the Miri Community Network plan yet again until broadband has reached many household with stability, and the owners above forget to renew their domain names. 😉
December 2005. 1.5 years after resigning as Technical Manager from Meridian Surveys. Had been working on various projects as a freelance system developer. At that time, Ryna and I both went back to Miri for a month-long holiday and preparing for our marriage registration. I remember one late night I was laying on the floor in Mark’s bedroom (Ryna’s brother). Everyone else was asleep, and I was cracking my head in the dark finalizing on which domain name to purchase for Miri Community Network: MiriPeople.net, MiriKommies.net, OurMiri.net, Mirians.net, iMiri.net, etc. I recall having the urgency & desire to accomplish and realized a dream for my chosen field of specialization before I turn to a new chapter in my personal life: marriage. That night, I remember sleeping with a smile on my face when I decided on MiriCommunity.net as the domain name of the Miri Community Network projects.
31st December 2005. My freelancing paycheck was delayed and went broke because of the spendings during the holidays back in Miri. That New Years Eve I was at my parent’s place fixing up the green house at the backyard and consciously reminded about quickly paying for the new domain name which I’ve booked before my big day on 11th January 2006. It was then, I walked up to my mum feeling ashamed of the untimely paycheck, and I asked for her to lend me some money to pay for the invoice to register for my new Miri Community Network project. She couldn’t understand and grasp the concept of the project when I explained because the details of the project itself is unheard of for a regular email and casual web surfing users. In the end, like every loving mothers, she did me the favor and helped to deposit the payment to Integricity.com (the appointed web hosting provider till 2007).
4th January 2006. Back in Mark’s bedroom at night, I sat on the floor with the network cable plugged into my notebook and read the confirmation email from Integricity.com stating that the hosting account is ready. Without hesitating, I quickly installed the PHPBB forum application on the new hosting account and registered my MiriCommunity.net admin user account.
14th January 2006. 3 days after our marriage registeration in Miri, we were already back in KL and started to get comfortable with the new relationship status. I received a call from my dad asking to meet at Sungei Wang Plaza. He has a gift for me. When we met there, he asked for me to pick a notebook as we all stood outside the Fujitsu shop. Well, he knew I liked Fujitsu P-Series notebooks because my previous P1030 model was bought when I went to Singapore with him sometime in 2001. And so, as the proud owner of a new P7010, it gave me the much needed power to progress the Miri Community Network project.
15th January 2006. At this stage of MiriCommunity.net in production mode, I was ready to elevate the project to the next phase despite having me as the only registered member so far. There is an obvious need for a registered business entity to act as the business operative arm for this huge piece of intellectual property which I’ve created because Malaysia’s copyright acts have somewhat matured at the beginning of this decade. And so, I sat in my home office listing down the potential general business directions that needs a registered business front in order to proof legitimacy in the competitive business world. When that list was done, a permanent mental note was made, and the document was kept away (yes, trade secrets are real if you haven’t heard of it by now).
20th January 2006. After a few days of pondering and deciding on prospective business partner for the business operative arm, I must say it was a hard because many have not heard or even ventured into such form of business. Feeling a little let down from rejections, I turned to look for friends that suit the profile of an outgoing person and have tasted the life of a freelancer. One prominent name came up, and I can still remember the phone conversation we had:
Jack: “Tauke, free to meet today?”
Ryabren: “Am a little bit busy today. What’s this about?”
Jack: “Got a nice business proposal for you.”
Ryabren: “We can meet this afternoon around 5pm at AmpWalk when I go pickup my darling from work.”
Jack: “Ok, Ryna and I will be there.”
27th March 2006. After much meetings and discussions on the roadmap of the Miri Community Network project, we finally registered a business partnership as the business arm of the project.
31st March 2006. Finally, the name “Miri Community Net” for the business partnership certificate is received and ready for some real action. A BBQ dinner was held at my place to commemorate this event.