History Of The vinceunlimited Website
Cast your minds back to 2003. Cars were drawn along by horses, someone was working on the wheel design and nothing was ever any good because nobody had come up with the idea of sliced bread. Probably. However some steam powered computers were starting to be on the desks of ordinary decent folks. And this intrigued me. The content on this magical non-TV was relatively sparse and what was there seemed within my creative abilities and often well below. So, like an early pioneer I decided I wanted to stake my claim in the ever burgeoning wibbly, wobbly web. I was always writing stuff down, coming up with ideas, sketching down jokes and such but wanted an outlet for my creativity. I always fear that my body of work may never get out and would remain forever stagnant, in my drawers. The web seemed the latest place to publish stuff so I undertook to learn how to secure my bit of web-land.
I soon understood that it's not just a case of clicking on a blank bit of the internet and typing away. Plus this was way before a modern world of helpful Apps and YouTube guides. In those days everything was hand coded to order in a strange new programming language called HTML. I had to buy a book [ask your great-grandfather] to learn about this new fangled HTML gobbledygook. I had tried a bit of code writing in the earliest days of computing, a touch of CP/M in the 1980s and a fragment of MS DOS Basic following this so I was already used to seeing such weird combinations of alphabet characters and rarely used symbols lurking on a screen display.
I undertook to code. And code. And code. I was relentless. It was relentlessly boring. But I was on a roll. Then a wrap and finally a Burrito just to sustain myself. I had a vision of what my site would be like. In those days the internet was usually accessed by a dial up modem through your local telephone land-line and it was miserably slow. If you started to download a sexy picture of a woman one morning it would slowly build one line at a time from the top of the picture and by midday you may be able to tell what colour eyes she had. No idea if she was naked. The dial-tone, in the style of Murray Walker, would interrupt itself long before that. So I determined that my site had to rely on written content and not be peppered by irritating images failing to render.
vinceunlimited Version 1
Coding began in earnest around August 2003 and by October of that year the site was ready to be published. I had hand-coded 166 pages of wordy musings all interlinked and spattered with hyper-links to other relevant sites.
As can be seen from the accompanying screenshot the site was based on a theme of black text on a silver-grey background with the eponymous title in green. I used underlining for links. It had no graphics.
The four basic navigation sectors remain to this day being the major sub-sections of Ideas, Opinions, Personal and Writing.
During the course of the next two years various version 1 versions and updates were released adding new content, correcting spelling errors and de-bugging any failing links.
Version 1.01 [Yes, I anticipated up to 99 version variants, or at least possibly more than 9] was published in January 2004 and indeed one of the first changes was a versions page, which was helpful for all my stalkers. I modified the Home Page to work on more machines, changed all the poor quality links, an unfortunate side effect of hand coding all the HTML script which ran the pages and surmised that now that I could test the links in a real world situation the number of mis-links would minimise. I invited readers to be my eyes and ears out there (or should I say eyes and thumbs).
Version 1.01 also included new page additions. The major change undoubtably being the publication of the sitcom episode Site for Sore Eyes. A major publication from me taking ages to convert to HTML from the original Sanskrit.
The second version of the first version followed almost as if fate had determined it, in March 2004. Version 1.02 added some sketches plus I released a tantalising start to a full stage-play, along with some extra ideas. After all, I didn't want to loose my reputation as an ideas man. Unless the change was to a ladies man, naturally. No, no. Not a ladyboy. That is entirely different.
You can see, even in these earliest incarnations one thing I wanted to do was get my pre-written content out there. Somewhere. Anywhere.
It was February 2005 before Version 1.03 sprouted legs and got going, boasting over 80 pages. However, the big news for me, as the website author, was the fact that I had my first feedback, despite the fact that, at that time, I hadn't yet launched the site on the unsuspecting general public. Up to then most readers probably knew me, or knew someone who did. This prompted me to formally notify Google of my presence. No posters, email shots or TV advertising had yet occurred [as if].
I found it interesting to watch people browse the site. It was designed to be read so a user could logically pass from page to page. Readers, however I discovered, have their own agenda along with their own twisted minds so the hyperlinks were abused and ignored with the inevitable disarray that follows. What was wrong with the homepage? One wouldn't read a book by grabbing at random chapters but internet browsing had made us work in this fashion which was a nightmare for me as a web designer. And it is this disordered chaos that resulted in the first memorable quote about my site. A work colleague, upon being asked what he thought of my site said "...it is rather opinionated..." Admittedly, not the most complimentary of comments but a positive reaction at least. So I enquired further and asked which part of the site he had read. He replied "The opinions section." Ahem.
Pages that were new in v1.03 included My favourite TV and films, Road tests and Quotes.
The final iteration of version 1, Version 1.04, was never formally acknowledged as a separate version as it only re-published current pages. They were all crafted around March 2005.
vincepoynter Version 1
In March 2005 vincepoynter.co.uk was launched to provide a formal personal website and offer an on-line comprehensive curriculum vitae.
The first pages included the homepage, a CV, email, personal, version and webcredit. The personal page had no details and was published ‘under construction’.
The site was hand-coded in HTML with an improved layout incorporating a sidebar, multiple colours and a nifty 3D surround effect.
The colours were toned down for the Apr 2005 Version 1.01 which also added some detail to the personal page incorporating some background about the Poynter name and listed paternal relatives from grandparents to great, great, great grandparents. Plus a link to a page list of self-employment contracts carried out between 1999 and 2005.
Version 1.02 was issued in Jun 2006 which updated the CV and self-employment details and added some facts about Poynters across the world.
Version 1.03 dated Sep 2006 added a link to the vinceunlimited website.
Version 1.04 was published in Apr 2009 and updated the CV and self-employment details and included a link to IMPRECE, a self-employment limited company set up for formal tax purposes.
Nearly a year later in Mar 2010 Version 1.05 was published simplifying the URL of each page, also updating the CV and self-employment details and the FTP credit.
Then more than two years after that in Jul 2012 Version 1.06 was released as the final iteration of the vincepoynter website. It again updated the CV and self-employment details, plus removed reference to IMPRECE and updated the hosting credit.
vinceunlimited Version 2
It took a couple of months after Version 1 before Version 2 of the vinceunlimited website appeared on the internet in May 2005 with coding that took my site to the next level with a better layout to match the vincepoynter website with a sidebar, dual colours and a nifty 3D surround effect as shown in the screen capture to the right. It also featured an animated, scrolling copyright notice relentlessly passing across the top of every screen. All this across nearly one hundred pages of wit, intellect and entertainment.
Because of the time taken to recode all the eighty plus pages of the site to the new layout I had not been as productive as I would have liked but did find time to add a major Political Section which could have resided under my Opinions section as it was a major opinion on the political system in Britain. Disillusioned with the incumbent political parties I decided that instead of claiming I could do better I'd offer my own alternative version.
I also added to my Ideas and Opinions sections. Plus more Road Tests including a test on a Bentley Arnage, no less. And Alphacar, an epic vehicle related poem that takes the reader on a journey through many car types.
Finally I gave a small obituary note for the loss of my previous obtuse links at the foot of each page. They had to go. The concept was just too ahead of it's time [read as: ...no one got it].
Version 2.01 was another tranche of uploads hoiked up to my web host in one go (Why are they always web hosts? I'd personally like a web hostess). This July 2005 subset was a mere updating and increasing of pages including a major new addition for this version, the publication of my stage play Perpetually. A long page in website land translated to the screen from a 67-page printed version. Yes the whole lot on-line.
Plus a road test on my Honda CX500 and two chapters to my growing autobiography. I let loose on my earliest schooldays and a paragraph or two on my family. It was a big step and I couldn't tread those paths without mentioning people that are alive. I did note that if that might be you note that the blind never read ill of themselves. And wondered, is that a proverb? Which is where my next new feature came in.
I added a brand new page that I called webquotes. So named to distinguish it from my other quotations page.
Finally, I had so many ideas floating around that I posted not one, not two, not even indeed any number totalling four or above, but instead three new ideas, with an assurance that there was many more to come. Some just languishing around lazily on my hard drive just waiting to get electronically heart massaged into life.
During September 2005 version 2.02 added a new page within the Opinions section, plus a road test article on my Kwaker 750. I also added to my autobiography with an anecdote or two about water-skiing, within a section I entitled Action Vince.
As usual more of my zany ideas were included. Four newbies this time, taking the total to fifteen.
Finally, conscious of the changing nature of personal website activity, I embarked on a new web blog. Which, by it's sporadic nature started to affect my neat version numbering system. The purpose of the blog was to float little ideas and opinions that may not justify a whole new page. But one entry did became so absorbing that I decided to transmutate it into a whole page.
It wasn't until June 2006 that Version 2.03 arrived including a ten most hated list along with another list for my top ten artists and a couple more ideas.
Plus a new invention of mine providing neat little thought provoking rhymes and a pitch. Not to mention some quote and blog updates. Which I have now done.
It was another six months before I updated again. Version 2.04 was released in December 2006 and notably included some radio scripts I had previously submitted to the BBC. Plus I fingered my keyboard to spill the beans on a few future concepts within my fiction and TV Shows pages. Along with a few more jokes and quotes.
Finally, I was as proud as pudding to announce that my site had now received actual feedback so my points of view page was born.
vinceunlimited Version 3
In HTML coding I always struggled with word wrapping, getting the text to set and hug neatly around images. I also struggled with graphic based links and couldn't find the time and way to code version three which was planned to look like the image on the right.
Also, although the concept of HTML coupled with CSS was initially released in 1996 it didn't really appear on my radar and be understood by me until much later. Despite much standard HTML testing it never quite looked like I wanted it to look on a Mac and PC but a potential saviour was waiting on my desktop.
In January 2006 Apple had launched a seemingly perfect tool for me. The introduction of their colourful and simple to use Mac OS iWeb Application appeared to offer a solution. It was generally six or so months between major updates of my website due to work and mortgage paying requirements. I enjoyed the writing but the coding was a bit arduous. Every page seemed to need an HTML update at each major iteration. But iWeb promised drag and drop images and simple WYSIWYG text updating.
I decided to go with it and embarked on a long process of selecting a layout, then transferring my 120 pages or so of HTML coding back into standard text and then into iWeb, along with adding some carefully selected pictures with graphic touches to suit the site look.
iWeb became the basis for version 3 of my website but it took until March 2010 until it was ready for publication. Are you paying attention to these dates? A quiz will follow.
One issue was the abandonment of my version variants. iWeb was designed to be a living, breathing application. I could have opted for formal version updates or theme changes but the concept seemed to suit a live update process, leaving the home-page to be a set look and updates added as required to various sections. This would assist in me maintaining a consistent website look, which is important to regular readers. However, the downside is that each time a visitor came to the site it would look unaltered, unless they delved deeper into the sub-sections.
Most article updates started in my blog section. It was becoming a trend of personal websites. FaceBook, Twitter and WordPress was encouraging the process of regular, daily, even hourly updates. And everyone was moving away from the concept of personal websites. Ease of use for the masses meant that peoples' personal webspace was being absorbed into the major players.
I too had embraced these new concepts. Around October 2007 I had joined FaceBook and in January 2009 Twitter. Although I tended to keep my various on-line identities as separate entities.
Various blog entries were added to my iWeb site between the launch date and March 2011, including transcripts from the best of my own Twitter feeds.
In the end Apple had other ideas about keeping this iWeb pet project alive and it's last iteration was in July 2011. It became clear that I had to find another way to maintain my web presence.
vinceunlimited Version 4
With the continued growth of FaceBook, Twitter and WordPress personal websites appeared to have become a bit passé. The era of the common blog had really taken root. For one thing this solved the issue of static front home pages as the blog style content kept the front page looking fresh. So this bandwagon was truly seized upon when I clambered aboard a WordPress site, in July 2012, effectively making this the fourth version of vinceunlimited.co.uk
Over the next couple of years I persisted with my WordPress site, trying one or two pre-determined layouts as I went. WordPress is mostly about piggy-backing on other people's hard worked designs and I always felt that trying to disguise this plagiarism with a bit of personal customisation awkward and unsatisfactory.
Another nail in this coffin was the increasing charges made for using this service. Admittedly someone has to host a website and it is right and correct that this service should be paid for. The provider has to hold your site contents and feed it out to those that request it. I was always a tiny, minor player, considering the traffic that went to some sites so I always opted for the most basic of services and WordPress provided this sort of service free. However, when I wanted to add audio files in August 2014 a use charge was levied. Not based on actual number of downloads but on an assumption I was the BBC. This affected my view of the service.
Additionally, I missed the days where I could feel pride in the fact that I hand-coded my own website. Anybody could put out a blog, not many knew how to write the background stuff. Plus converting standard WordPress pages to include additional sections and getting the articles in them to be searchable is really difficult. At least, I never discovered a way.
Furthermore the promise of riding with a pack like WordPress is that one can expect a bit of cross fertilisation to help with getting my thoughts and words out there. Go to the .com page and there are countless adverts showing off the sites' wonderful users' content. But I saw very little evidence of such subtle advertisement and what interest I did received could have just as easily arrived randomly.
vinceunlimited Version 5
Innovations in version 5 include a three column layout with blog style front page featuring text wrapped images with each article to have a release date as well as first published information. Also one click access to a mobile view version with every page replicated in a mobile format, clickable photo icons, vSearch, opportunities to advertise with vAdvert plus a vType drop down menu and 'Random Page Generator' links, along with a mini live Twitter feed. Other than all that just the same as always.
So what will the future bring? Well firstly I need to re-establish my website presence, flying solo again as vinceunlimited and not via a third party. I need to rebuild the approximately 200 plus pages of site content once more so there is a great library of my stuff and re-establish links where possible. And I need to find space for all the previously written blog articles to nestle, fully searchable by date, title and theme. And I need to get all those brand new blog ideas which are currently festering on my hard drive out into the big old webosphere.
And when all this is done I will no doubt settle back, have a quick ponder then immediately look to version 6, which will be much more Web 2.0 with live floating graphics, interactivity, 4D content and maybe even touch and smell sensitive. All as an implantosite in your brain. Probably.
Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.081 13 Mar 2018
First Published: Version 5.001 30 Sep 2017
Outdated links removed: Version 5.070 13 Feb 2018
Version 5.081 13 Mar 2018 added vincepoynter.co.uk Version 1.00 details