The "What, ME Cook?" Book took form in the early eighties. The part 1 edition, almost complete in the late eighties, finalized in the early nineties with the addition of its last few recipes. The copyright date of 1984 was inspired by George Orwell, of course, although the initial cookbook activities preceded that fateful year by a few years.
With the explosion of the world wide web /internet in the mid nineties, the process of creating text files on a Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VAX computer began in around 1996, quickly moving to HTML format in 1997.
drbobenterprises.com was born in late1998 when a popup ad during a rare late night internet session inspired the leap to ownership of the web address, followed by the first content appearing in January 1999 in the Wayback Machine Internet Archive log for drbob. The hippo cheesecake illustration finally joined the previously text-only home page in 2001, followed by the dr bob self-portrait cartoon in 2002. Unfortunately the cheap choice of webaddress forwarding meant that the actual web addresses recorded by the Wayback Machine or anyone's favorites refer to bob's webspace on the academic server renoir.villanova.edu at Villanova University which later evolved to csc.villanova.edu, with no trace of the dr bob domain name, just http://www.csc.villanova.edu/~jantzen/drbob/.
The first complete paper editions with web content emerged in 2001. A preliminary single-sided comb bound edition in 4 copies (28 bucks apiece at Kinko's) came out in February, through the recipe "chocolate chip cookies: the comparison test". This was then proofread for typos and some additional backlogged recipes and new recipes added for the 10 copy double-sided comb bound August edition (37 bucks apiece at Kinko's) of 378 pages through "san pietro e paolo pizza", omitting the photo collection.
The paper edition pagination problem was solved with the 2002 edition. Since this is really a cooking diary, with stories and references that were linked to the time in which the entries were first created, it seemed natural to categorize them by year, labeling the part 2 recipes by the double digit year and double digit sequence number during each year category, so 99-02 refers to the second listed recipe in 1999, while 8? refers to the second half of the 1980s when dates were not recorded. Part 1 recipes began slowly in 1978 with "heart attack casserole", but were slightly rearranged by food type apparently in the early paper editions. These are labeled so I-02 refers to the second recipe in part 1. Putting these labels in the web title enables them to be printed in the header of the paper pages, so that hunting for a particular recipe (very tedious in previous versions) becomes easy.
The first dr bob CD was finally created in May 2002 during a few stolen days of bob's unpaid academic summer time, also archiving bob's collected sketches from over three decades of wandering the globe, together with some early weird stories. And finalized with the drbobcd_020607 CD edition, update labels following the scheme drbobcd_YYMMDD (year, month, day) or drbobcdYYYYMMDD, both of which are limited by the maximum 15 character name string. This date scheme, different from the US and European styles, leads to chronological ordering according to computer alphanumeric ordering rules.
Paper editions were suspended for a few years as the collection grew since the CD edition was so easy, cheap and up-to-date, but a PDF version project was initiated in 2004 as a preliminary step towards paper output. The dr bob CD has a PDF folder with printable PDF pages for the What, Me Cook? Book, since printing from a browser depends on page setup settings and the browser itself:
We settled on Internet Explorer 6.0 with 1 inch margin page setup settings, printing to Acrobat Distiller but progress was hampered by the unexplained truncation of long page header titles by Internet Explorer at home compared to the office. With Microsoft softwareits always something!
The front matter and part 1 handwritten and drawn pages were scanned and put into PDF format during the 2004 March spring break vacation, and then the part 2 spellchecking and URL-checking process began after the end of the semester in May, and continued while bob was the accompanying person at a chemistry conference in August with his newly issued Villanova University laptop, representing the initiation of the portable computing phase of dr bob enterprises. It took 2 long years for bob to find the time to finish this tedious process (testament to the seriousness of his academic commitment that kept this activity at a low priority level), which involved going through the table of contents line by line in Internet Explorer, identifying the crazy 8 character filename to open the recipe file in MS Frontpage, spellchecking it and by hand checking some of the URL hyperlinks which were not likely to be stable long term, replacing bad links, sometimes adding an update, saving, and then printing from Internet Explorer to Adobe Acrobat Distiller to produce the PDF output for that recipe. A lot of mouse-clicking. The final big push occurred in August, 2006 just before classes started up for the fall semester. Of course a single PDF file is not only good for printing, which would produce a pretty large expensive document (650 pages without the photo pages in August 2006), but for text searching on any key words�the real benefit of all this work. Here are the current statistics, not counting the photo pages which will take another few years to deal with:
Of course by this time Adobe had made its printing conversion much more efficient, resulting in much smaller files, suggesting redoing the PDF printing of the 2004 files. Uggh. Okay, it was just a little more work. Finally the fully searchable 2006 PDF edition of What. Me Cook? (about 40 MB and 650 pages without the photo section, better viewed directly from the CD) was ready by Labor day 2006. It was then updated to the 2008 Edition at the end of December 2007. The 2009 Edition (41.3 MB and 722 pages without the photo section) came out at the end of December 2008. The 2011 Edition came out in January 2012, and then 5 years went by.
2002 also marked the year bob got his first digital camera, a primitive Koday EasyShare DX3600 with 2.2 MPxl 2x zoom, and began photographing food without restraint. Upgraded in December 2007 to a nifty Canon SD950 IS 12.1 MPxl 3.7 zoom that improved the quality of the amateur food porn immeasurably.
Summer 2011 marked the year ms_ani finally had the urge to have her own camera, a really small one she could easily keep in her bag, even a small one, so we picked up a little red Samsung ST65 with 14.2 MPxl 5x optical zoom at a third of the cost of bob's camera and which turned out to have better light control for food shots, so this became the default food record keeper. The page size of the reduced photos was slightly increased by settling on the Microsoft Office Picture Manager solution of exporting the original way large .JPG photo files to the "large document" size which generally reduced the file size by over a factor of 10 to a more manageable level for continued addition to a single CD. In Fall 2011 bob stole a few hours to convert to PDF all the edited older web page recipes and newly added recipes over the past 2 years, and incorporate them into the single PDF cookbook file for the 2011 e-edition, finishing up the year in January 2012: 835 pages, 311 recipe documents excluding front and back matter, no photo section yet.
In May 2013 the Samsung camera died and we switched to a Nikon Coolpix S5200 point and shoot with a food mode (no flash, macro mode, auto zoom in, 5 step manual hue = coloration adjustment)! That died after less than 2 years and we bought the upgraded version S6800 in February 2015, each time ready for a summer of Italian food.
In 2015 bob finally uploaded Part 1 and the sketchbook to the website, so it was no longer necessary to get the CD for these extras.
Fall 2016 bob finally found a few free moments to export recipes to PDF catching up from the 2011 edition. By now CDs are not so useful—instead USB flash drive memory seems like a better way to share.