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This page chronicles the early history of egrabow.com: from my first (freebie) website through the first six years of my own dot-com. Founded on January 1st, it became a tradition of mine to roll out new versions of egrabow.com each New Years' Day.
<2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007>
I bought my first computer (used) in June 1999. Home internet access followed, through my local library, two months later. I already had a website in mind, and started one at http://www.freeyellow.com/members8/rgrabow/home.html that September. The site was obviously that of a novice, with crude HTML and few features, but I picked up experience and looked at what other sites were doing, trying to get a feel for my own preferences. Soon the backgrounds went black and the text green, links were added, images posted, *people visiting*! This first site ended in July 2000, when freeyellow.com changed its system and I couldn't upload files anymore. Attempting to resolve this problem (following Freeyellow's instructions) resulted in my account being inaccessible. Good job, guys.
My personal website moved to http://rgn.homepage.com/, which had been set up as a second site for the Ryan Grabow Network in November 1999. Distinct sections for personal and work pages were formed, and this situation (sharing one website) would remain until 2010, as the distinction became increasing muddled and eventually disappeared.
The first feature I created for my website was the "Audio/Video Archive" in May 2000 (renamed "Audio/Video Component Archive" in 2001), a database of out-of-production home theater and car audio equipment. The second feature was my "TV Logo Gallery," a feature meant to help DXers match logos to their TV stations, fast. With the Logo Gallery came real visitor traffic for the first time.
This re-christened second site was also short lived. Homepage.com became fronteracorp.com and phased out it's free web hosting service. By the end of 2000, their servers had become intolerably slow and often failed to deliver my site at all. A third free site was considered, but the idea to buy my own dot-com was becoming more attractive. Empowered with Christmas money from my grandparents, I decided that "01/01/01" would make the best launch date ever.
Only hours before 2001 began, I made the final decision: egrabow.com.
The very first pages here were copies of the ones I had on homepage.com. After the initial rush, I spent a week redesigning layouts and graphics, using borderless tables to position the page elements. Version 1 of egrabow.com launched on January 9th, and this would quickly be refined to version 1.2, launched February 18th. As I continued to experiment, egrabow.com sprouted frames and a pop-up navigation bar in version 1.5, launched July 9th (my birthday). 2001 is so-far the only year EG has had three versions.
As I settled into my new domain name and began giving out the address, to family, friends, radio listeners, etc., I decided to register egraybow.com too, so the mis-spelling would redirect people to my site (this domain was allowed to lapse after my college radio career ended). I also began using "@egrabow.com" e-mail addresses, which was fun because I could put whatever I wanted before the "@".
EGRABOW.COM's original EG logo, which became known as the "EdGy logo," first appeared in Version 1's NAVbar and remained the site's logo through 2004. A "2" was added for, well, EG2's logo. As EG became a classier website, I got that third freebie website after all (rgn.topcities.com) and made it a less-formal extention of this one. EG2 hosted data for the Audio/Video Component Archive, my Fast Food Page (gripes about my job), and official egrabow.com wallpaper. Though it was intended as a permanent extension to alleviate EG's growing bandwidth, Topcities abruptly deleted the account in 2003... it seems freebie sites never last long no matter what you do. I haven't bothered with another one since.
The TV Logo Gallery was by far EG's most popular page, and it received its first update in March, well ahead of the e-skip season. The Gallery's annual updates would continue until 2007, and several improvements would be made to it.
Now deep into college and near full-time hours, 2002 left me little time to tweak, revise, develop, and mess around with my website. The first New Years' overhaul, though, would not be deterred. EG2002 took me back to a dark color scheme: navy blue with green text. I toyed with the navigation again, and added a Google search bar to the homepage (this didn't last long). In July, the pop-up NAVbar was revised and tied into a new "EG Directory" page, a listing of all the pages on egrabow.com.
Though this wasn't an active DXing year for me, the DX/Radio section expanded. For the Logo Gallery's second update, I switched to maps in .pdf files (the maps would stay in 2003, but not the PDF format). In November, a new "TV Station Data" feature was added: a text file that could be loaded onto a PDA and serve as a portable station database.
The navy color scheme got darker in 2003. Since I keep my monitor contrast low, it took me a while to realize how annoying version 2's blue backgrounds were. Other improvements in Versions 3.0 (January 7th) and 3.5 (May 22nd) included a larger resolution (800x600 to 1152x864), an EdGy icon for those who save egrabow.com to their favorites, and blue scrollbars to match the pages.
Following a Visual Basic class that spring semester, I was eager to come up with an original program idea and share it with the world. In June, the first such program hit EG: a converter to determine if a phone number spelled anything. This simple program would later evolve into KeyPrint.
EG's first video files went up two months earlier. They were encoded in RealVideo format, which had excellent compression but always required downloading codecs. All but one (Behind The Static 2's 10 minute version) would eventually be taken down due to bandwidth concerns. In 2010, these videos all became available on YouTube .
The second half of 2003 saw little activity due to what I called my "Internet Access Brownout." This was the year we moved from Patchogue to North Massapequa, and NetZero's free access there was beyond terrible. I had virtually no internet at home for 109 days. Broadband was the best possible ending to this, and plans for EG2004 were posted the day after I was online again.
January 1, 2004 (version 4.0) saw a major redesign of egrabow.com. The magic of a little program called Photoshop led to higher-quality graphics. A further-refined layout and color scheme resulted in the first version of this website I don't look back on today and wonder "What was I thinking?!" This was also the year I first built websites for other people, which led me to push myself harder, and also to keep EG up as a good demo site. This extra experience would eventually lead to PHP and other enhancements in EG2007.
Three important sections were introduced in 2004. First came Exit 9 : "My personal stretch of the information superhighway," based on my links page. Taking the "information superhighway" thing way too literally, this was a road-themed directory of my favorite sites on the internet. There was also a "LinkBack Spur" for websites that link to egrabow.com... returning the favor. Second came Wake Up! Pro in mid-January, the PC alarm clock program being the first major software hosted on egrabow.com. The following month introduced the "Stuff" section, which is today the Ramblings Page .
"Stuff" rapidly grew. My blog page would feature my college graduation in May and the sale of my first car in October. Audio/Video no longer being a section, Stuff absorbed its Audio/Video Component Archive, which was starting to get more hits than the Logo Gallery. In fact, the Stuff Page and Wake Up! Pro would join the Gallery and AVCA as traffic magnets. By the summer, there was even a feature called "Video Stuff," intended to be weekly video updates accompanying whatever I'm blogging about. A fun experiment, but not one that lasted for long.
With the success of Wake Up! Pro came KeyPrint. This second "EdGyWare" program was an expanded version of 2003's phone number converter, this one able to analyze and save the numbers entered into it. TermTable was slated to be the main application, a scheduler with a scrubbable timeline (borrowing design from video editors) that tied into the other programs. The package was re-named the "TermTable Suite" after this program but it never got far off the ground.
Also that July, the Logo Gallery was expanded and given a channel 7 map, because e-skip actually went up that high that summer. There were plans to go all the way through the VHF band, but nothing came of them. Annual maintenance continued on the 2-6 maps.
The Ryan Grabow Network was no more, retired after I graduated college and eschewed from my demo tapes. EGrabow Media would replace it in March, with more modern and low-key branding. The job search in New York went nowhere fast and in June I announced my move to Florida, creating a campaign called "The End of uhhh... The Start of More," which parodied a recent Blockbuster Video campaign and celebrated the fact that I'd at last be quitting my job at Wendy's. I also used the opportunity to post some of the things I created during my fast food career, including: Customer training guides, a coverage map of our drive-thru headsets, and my farewell "We'll Always Do It Ryan's Way" poster (a parody of the then-current "We'll Always Do It Dave's Way" campaign). Last Exit in New York was displayed during my last few days as a NY resident.
The same day as I arrived in Florida, I became an uncle. My niece Sabrina's picture was quickly posted on the Stuff Page . A month later, the long job search ended and I was employed at Waterman Broadcasting in Fort Myers. For this, fireworks were posted to the Stuff Page. Month after that, I moved out on my own (or rather, got a roommate and stopped living with parents), and after another month I finished getting my stuff down from New York.
With everything finally settled, free-time sharply rose. The effects were felt on EG: Wake Up! Pro and KeyPrint saw updates, the Audio/Video Component Archive was taken out of hibernation, and version 6 of the website entered ambitious planning. Logs were even being entered into the DX/Radio Page again, as I had resumed DXing.
The months leading up to January '06 were active. I was improving on the definitions of EGrabow Media, moving closer to the "red mosaic" feel it called for. Navigation was redone. The bar on top of the screen was again given its own frame and was built entirely in Flash. On the right side of the pages, a new concept emerged: The SlideBar (named for its v6.5 implementation, which scrolled with the user).
A new idea was a random button, which I stole from Wikipedia (my link admittedly had fewer destinations). The code for the random pages was the first PHP used on EG... a prelude to the revolution that followed a year later. In March, BreadMeter was released and became the third TermTable Suite program, but the "suite" would suffer the same fate as its namesake: TermTable was cancelled in October. I decided to keep Wake Up! Pro, KeyPrint, and BreadMeter as separate programs and to focus exclusively on WUP for the near future. The TV Logo Gallery's maps were completely redone for its sixth update, including both monitor-friendly and printable versions.
Myspace.com was taking off and my co-workers talked me into getting a page there. Of course, dot-com trumps Myspace thing any day as far as I'm concerned, but I set it up and decided to make "EG SP" (Satellite Page) an extension of my dot-com.
I decided to launch a mid-year upgrade on July 12, the one year anniversary of my move to Florida. Flash had an expanded role in version 6.5, but I still couldn't get the NAVbar to work properly with it. The newly rechristened SlideBar, made to scroll the page along with the user, was more successful and became a long-lasting navigation feature.
As part of the upgrade, the Audio/Video Component Archive was converted to a PHP/MySQL database. Without love961.com's database to tinker with anymore, I was itching to bring the power of MySQL to egrabow.com, and the AVCA was a perfect test candidate. The archive would grow in spurts for about two years and remain the definitive winner in terms of website traffic, which made my decision to close it in 2009 that much harder.
Of course, by then EG2007 had long taken its place in my PHP universe.
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