A decade later…

10 years is a long time, especially for a young person. In my case, 10 years is 40% of my life.
Let’s stand back and think about that for a moment – for 40% of my life I have been keeping a record of my thoughts, feelings and inner-goings on. This would be quite an achievement, if I had managed to do it properly, which unfortunately I have not.

There have been quite a few lapses, where posts were few and far between for one reason or another. Sometimes I find it hard to think of anything to write, I’m not a professional writer so I’m not always fully engaged. I also have mental health issues which have not been discussed here yet, but which one day soon I plan to. Also, in the past two years my life has been in a state of upheaval, both the personal and professional aspects – both things which would probably have made quite interesting blog posts but were hindered by time and motivational constraints. Retrospective posts could be a possibility though.

A short history

[The headmaster] didn’t see the funny side to the “List of Alcoholic Teachers” section that we did…

My career of posting random thoughts to the internet started in 1997. I had some free webspace from my ISP, Freeserve and took the opportunity to get to grips with web programming and set about learning HTML, I was 13 at the time. Once I had a site designed I had to decide what exactly I was going to populate it with and thought that it would be a good idea to use it to keep my school friends up-to-date and entertained, dropping in the odd anecdote about a teacher or put into writing the details of whatever funny rumour was currently doing the rounds at school.

In 1998 I bought my first domain, my internet “handle” at the time was “Toasty” so this became my domain, Toasty.co.uk. I have the HTML somewhere on my hard-drive – I’ll dig it out and tweet it at some point, we can all have a laugh then at the horrible orange and green colour-scheme.
I wasn’t using a CMS – as they largely didn’t exist at this point, so updating was a chore – manually writing code with text blocks was time-consuming.

In 1999 I made the dumb move of buying another domain and attempting to expand the “school news” section of the site into its own entity, at www.willows-high.co.uk (the name of my school). I received a telephone call during a half-term from the school head teacher, Mal Davies, he threatened to expel me from the school if I did not take the site down – of course I did so immediately, I didn’t want my parents getting wind of our escapades.
He didn’t see the funny side to the “List of Alcoholic Teachers” section that we did, and neither did the named teachers I bet.

At this point the site was still all about me, it was more of a diary than a blog, the term “blog” hadn’t even been coined yet, that was still a year or so off, in the heady days of the dot-com boom and bust.
In the meantime I decided to become a rocker and setup a new website at Mosha.co.uk. This was by far my most popular website – it dealt with biographies of the hottest nu-metal, punk, heavy metal and goth bands, a trend that was very popular at the time. ┬áThis helped me to hone my writing skills, keeping the biographies free of personal influence and on-topic.

In 2000 Toasty.co.uk became Cheesetoasted.com. This incarnation of the website would last for two years before the name was dropped altogether. IRC was dead and so was my “handle”, gone to the depths of internet history, I was now just “Nathan Collins”.

It was in 2001 that an application called Movable Type came onto the market – a free to download and install “blogging platform”, it allowed posts to be made to your website with the greatest of ease. This was a massive turning point, I was now able to update frequently and keep a database backup of everything – no longer was everything hard-coded in HTML, I consider this to be the real birth of the blog.

It was another two years before Hintofsarcasm.com was born. It was created out of necessity, a few different reasons, 1) cheesetoasted.com was up for renewal, 2) the name hadn’t really grown on me, 3) the great server crash of February 2003, where my hosts server failed and everything was lost.

I was devastated, I had put all of my eggs into one basket and everything had gone wrong. All of the websites that I had created from 1997 to 2003 were on that server and it failed, hard-disc corruption, and there was no backup. I had some copies locally on my computer, but the backups weren’t extensive, a lot of the older websites were gone forever.

I took this as a chance to reinvent myself, the weird days in 1998-1999 when kids from other schools would recognise me on the streets of Cardiff and say “Hi” were over and I was now out of school and working a full-time job – this is where things changed and I actually started “blogging” in its truest form, writing pieces akin to articles or columns in a newspaper, topical and opinionated. And that’s what we see today, a body of work, both good and bad, that has been built up over the past 10 years.

“But that’s 13 years”, I hear you cry. I don’t consider any of the writing that I did pre-2000 to be counted towards my “body of work”, it was all teenage diary writing. In fact, I’m not even that impressed with anything from 2000 to 2005 if I’m totally honest, and after that it’s wishy-washy at best, but still – as I’ve said previously, I’m not a professional writer and I don’t pretend to be. It’s a hobby, it’s not even meant to be for people to read really, it’s more for me to look back on, to help me to recollect my moods and thoughts at any given time, something that I find hard to do otherwise.

So, here’s to another 10 years.


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