This month’s fan site of the month is Shns.net. Here are some thoughts from site founder Scott Harris…
Shns.Net was not officially launched until 2002 but has been in the making since 1996. After graduating high school in 1992 I really started getting involved into the jamband scene. I had already been to many WSP, Dead and Allman Brothers shows. At this same time I started trading analog tapes with anyone I could find. Through these trades I discovered Phish. It wasnt long until I was spending every dollar I could muster up on Phish tickets. By 1995 my tape list had started growing out of control.
One day one of my touring buddies, who was really into computers, was telling me about the Internet. Until then I had only used a computer to write papers and wasnt very good at it. My Dad gave me a computer and I had a modem and a whopping 3 GB hard drive installed. I called up the local ISP and got my 1st internet connection and email address. Before long I was up and surfing the internet on my 28.8 modem. At the time I thought websites were the coolest thing I had ever seen. I was able to search out other kids that were into trading live shows just as I was. I soon realized I need my own website.
I went to the local bookstore and bought a book on HTML and started teaching myself how to build websites. The content I wanted to host was my ever growing tape list. Soon I had my site up and running and really started trading live shows at an ever increasing rate with kids all over the world. I spent hundreds of hours messing with my website. I worked day and night constantly updating my ever growing tape list. At the time I was an accounting major but soon changed to Computer Science / Engineering. One thing that became a burden was the fact that my site is static, meaning I had to manually update the font end with any new shows. This involved separating by band and then reordering them in chronological order. This became way too much work way too quick. By 97-98 I got into programming and database design. I soon realized that I needed to upgrade the site and put all my shows into a database that could be accessed from my site. This is when I registered www.strangedesign.org, built a cheap server and started teaching myself all the in and outs of designing, building and maintaining a web server.
At this same time I discovered etree.org and their ftp servers. From this group I pretty much had an unlimited supply of live shows. The ftp servers provided by the Etree siteops let you download directly from their servers and eliminated trading through snail mail. The file format that was traded was .SHN and now .FLAC. These are basically zip files for .WAV files. In the beginning Etree simply had a mailing list you subscribed to. Siteops would post the shows that were available on there servers, logins to the server or info to request a login. Unfortunately there were always way more users trying to login then were slots available. It didnt take long before I decided I was going to be a siteop. I bought another server and got a fast connection from my ISP. At this time it was 2.2 MB up and down. I now had all the requirements of being a siteop. Form here on out I had access to and had more shows then I knew what to do with. It became next to impossible to keep my list updated and I was getting more login requests that I could handle. Etree had also just come out with an online database to keep track of your lists. This was great but it wasnt as good as it could be. I was still spending lots of time going through emails and approving ftp server logins. Soon I decided I need to make a site like etree to mange your lists but also wanted to add new features geared towards the siteop and www.shns.net was born.
One thing I wanted was a list of just the shows that were on my ftp server and a list of all my shows. Etree will only allow you to list shows of taper friendly bands. I wanted a site that I could list everything I had and have the ability to mark the show as non-tradable if the band didnt allow tapeing or trading of their music. I also wanted to separate my list by Band name which Etree did not do. Another important module I added was the ability to automate the login request process. I wanted to be able to login to my own control panel and see all the login requests. From here I would be able to approve and deny the request. If I either approved or denied the request email was automatically sent to the user either giving hi all the rules and login info or informing them that they had been denied. It took several months but slowly Shns.net came to life. When I was building it I discovered that it wouldnt take much to make the site available for an unlimited amount of users to use. I created a backend where users could manage their on profile to keep track, trade and host their own collection of live music.
Today Shns.Net has been up and running smoothly for about 5 years. The next upgrade for the site will included an overhaul of the trading section. I want to automate the process of trading. I want the users to be able to search the site, find a show and then click on a TRADE button. Form here you will be able to setup trades with that user. You can track ever aspect of the trade whether its a snail mail trade, an etrade or B&P trade. In your profile you will be able to track all trades going out and coming in. Secondly I want to update the site to accommodate bit torrents since this is where all trading seems to be going. I am always open for suggestions and would love to hear from you.