Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 13/06/08

Five More Years!

Three score months ago I brought forth, upon this webspace, a new website, conceived in vanity and dedicated to the proposition that everyone else was doing it, so why shouldn't I?

I think that that really was my motive, to be honest. Five years ago, our telephone exchange had just been enabled for broadband and I had changed ISPs from the lamentable Tiscali (although it was called LineOne when I signed up to it - for all of about ten days afterwards) to PlusNet, who were offering the best package - including 250MB of webspace for no extra cost.

It seemed a pity to waste, so I spent the month after signing up designing a site that would...well, what exactly? What was my intention in releasing yet another personal website into the wild?

I suppose I dreamt that someone who was Someone in the media or publishing would read the deep insights I was going to provide and say, "That's the guy we want for our..." whatever. I don't know why I thought this was in any way likely, given the impenetrable thickets of verbiage already out there. I would have had to shout like buggery just to get noticed.

Anyway, with the help (?) of Front Page™, I posted the first pages on 13 June 2003. The home page looked like this:

Screenshot of The Judge's first home page

Actually, this is what it looked like after about five weeks of tweaking. I made the mistake right at the very beginning of thinking that the more I showed off, the more people would be drawn to it. The more animated .gifs, the more Dynamic HTML the better. WRONG! I was advised by those in the know with experience of web design (denizens of alt.fan.pratchett all) that 'less is more', and smartarsedness was no substitute for readability and accessibility. And so the design swiftly changed, although it took well over a year for me to find a navigation style which was clean and easy to maintain.

And that's more or less how it stood, design-wise, until twelve months ago when I decided to revamp the whole thing using style sheets to replace the proliferation of tables. There was a lot to learn, and even now things aren't quite how I'd like them (there's a persistent alignment problem when viewing the site in Opera for example), but it's near enough for jazz. It's far easier to maintain and update now, although I now hand-code the site which means I have to check the HTML carefully to make sure it conforms to standards.

The gold-text-on-black format which was there from the beginning seems to have stood the test of time - except for one regular correspondent who claims it to be unreadable. I've told him to take his Ray-Bans off in future.

As far as content goes, an early complaint was "too many Rants and not enough Raves". Well, it's far easier to be motiviated to write by anger or disgust than it is by warm, fluffy feelings. The adrenalin isn't there in the same way. Nonetheless, I think it has balanced out pretty well down the years. In any case, I've come to the conclusion that there's not a great deal of point in my pontificating on The Great Stories Of The Day, because others do it better and they get more readers anyway.

The site has expanded from the basic three categories (Rants, Raves and Not A Blog) to encompass my interest in television presentation (The Viewing Room) and photography (The Gallery). This last aspect is the most complicated when it comes to updating, as I have to resize the photographs to usable dimensions (although fewer people are on dialup nowadays) and to include the map references I introduced earlier this year.

And the future? Well there's still room from some growth, especially given that the site's Welsh-language equivalent (which shares its webspace with this one) is now dormant as I no longer have the time or the inclination to continue with it. I'd like to enable printer-friendly pages, but that may mean more work than it would be worth: as far as I can see, each item would have to have its own separate page, and that's more than I'm willing to get involved with at the moment. And I really need to do something about the Links page - if I could only decide how best to do it.

Five years from now? Hell, I'll be in my fifties by then. Who knows?

Watch this space...