Monday, 28 May 2012

Sher Point Publications, UK: The story so far

I've been on-line for over twelve years now and for several years I hosted and ran my own web site, latterly Sher Point Publications, UK. Now, however, it's time to make changes in order to reclaim my life.

Where it all began

It all began after the death of the thinker, writer and Sufi teacher Idries Shah on 23 November 1996. At that time, many of the folk who'd been reading his books (in effect, unofficial students) were left wondering what to do next -- all the more so since no successor to Shah was forthcoming. This was long before Idries Shah's son, Tahir Shah wrote in his book In Arabian Nights that Shah had said that his books were to be his successor.

Going on-line

So I launched my first web site, The BeezKneez ( with material about Shah, in the hope of connecting with others on-line who shared my interest, since I knew very few people in "real life" who shared my interest. Following on from that, I also set up a yahoo! group, Caravansarai and joined the usenet newsgroup alt.sufi. And when things at Caravansarai turned sour, I set up another yahoo! group, The Tenth Donkey. By then, however, after some very heady years, the newsgroup alt.sufi had pretty much died and interest in talking about Shah on-line had begun to wane.

As time passed, I set up my own web site, (running PHP web pages and a MySQL database on an Apache web server on my own PC). As well as hosting a number of old, rare, short PDF documents by and about Idries Shah, I also began to offer a number of novels that I'd written, giving them away as free PDFs. I then had a change of direction and created the main Sher Point Publications, UK web site at Though still offering the Sufi-related PDFs, more emphasis was placed on my own writing.

More recently, the Amazon Kindle ereader has taken off, and so rather than give my books away free, I decided to upload them using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and sell them as ebooks for the Kindle. See the Shadowlands series and the dystopian work The Dissidents: A novella.

Finally, I decided to take my own web server off-line and instead create a basic web site at the Dropbox file sharing site. You can still find previews of my own books and the Sufi-related PDFs there.

Reclaiming my life

The reason for taking my self-hosted web site off-line is that I need to reclaim my life after twelve years. If you host and administer your own web site and run on-line forums, it tends to tie you to the house, put you on call 24/7 and fill your day with so many tasks. Tasks like manning the barricades against would-be hackers; checking your server logs; backing up your MySQL database in triplicate; tweaking the PHP code on your site; writing content to keep visitors' attention; finding news items for the RSS newsfeed; generating up-to-date sitemaps; checking in at Bing and Google webmaster pages; getting incoming links to the web site and forums to boost their google pagerank, and any number of other apparently so-important and actually so-unnecessary tasks.

What I did was run the web server on my main desktop PC (since that was the only machine I had with a good enough spec to run the web server). In retrospect what I should have done instead would have been to get hold of an older machine and simply leave it running largely unattended in an understairs cupboard, without any sensitive personal files on it and isolated from other machines on my local area network (LAN). But there you go.

That, then is Step 1 of my plan to reclaim my life.

Step 2 -- with which I am now engaged in battle -- is to stop smoking cigarettes. To go back to the Sufi studies, my nicotine habit is a daily reminder that my Commanding Self is in charge of me. I'm hoping that by reducing my workload, I'll reduce my need to anxiously stoke up on nicotine, and that I'll finally be able to break free from what has become a vicious circle.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

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