In my freshman year at Tech, every dorm room came equipped with an Ethernet connection. After a few weeks, I realized that I could run my own server from my computer. I didn't really have a reason to make a homepage at first. I just wanted to make one because it was something to do, and everyone else had one. So, I put together a simple page with sparse, jumbled HTML code and a few witty comments. The Domain opened on September 1, 1996, and I was caught in that common first stage of "Look everyone! I've got a homepage now!", basking in the joys of self-promotion and watching my server logs grow with each visitor. In the beginning, the URI! Domain had no frames, and consisted of some words of wisdom (which evolved into Potpourri and then Olio), a recommended list, a few links, and a fan club (now dead) consisting of everyone who visited. I eventually had to change that to allow people to join on their own free will.
After a few weeks, I came back to reality and realized how bad it was. First off, there was nothing there, nothing to draw people back or attract people to it. What good is a homepage unvisited? A homepage, regardless of how self-centered or self-serving, is for other people to see. If I wanted a page just for my own amusement, I could just write it in text and keep it nice and safe on my hard drive. To remedy this, I took a tour of homepages around the Net and thought to myself, "If I see a site that I like, what about it makes me want to come back?" The pages that were memorable usually had something to say, and enough content to keep me intrigued through several visits.
So, I threw everything I could into the page...music, stories, and odd thoughts, and then sat back to watch it evolve. I also tried out some nifty HTML tricks, though I soon found out that most of them just make the page uglier. Relegating the tricks to the garbage bin, I stuck with your basic text-dominant interface with a few lines and buttons. It was nifty. A few people did get spooked by the Domain's weirdness, and I even encountered one fellow who flamed me for liking llamas and providing a link to his page (It was later resolved as a misunderstanding on his part). I also wrote the first rendition of the Llama Fanfare, a quirky introductory number that played when the site first loaded up.
Around December or so, I hit the snag that every homepage owner encounters: keeping the Domain fresh and new for visitors. The novelty of having a page had worn off and I was afraid that I'd fall into the pit with some pages I'd seen, where the first page promises "Tons of Updates every Week, so please check back!" with a date of "04/02/1934" in the corner. To combat this problem, I started making little interactive bits. With things like the Everflowing Story and Fan Club, people came back because they got to add to the page, and they liked seeing their ideas in print. I also had ideas for interactive games, but they also died to lack of time or interest (see the Incomplete Projects section further down in the menu).
The Fan Club was not as arrogant a concept as it might seem. In reality, it was just a group of people who visited the site regularly. I rewarded them with secret links and an irregularly published newsletter, chock full of the zaniness that epitomized the site's attitude. I did get odd looks and snorts from people who didn't get it, but the people who joined seemed to be content with their lot.
The First Edition of the Domain was heavily visited, both by online friends and high school friends. In your freshman year, you still keep in regular contact with friends back home; it's not until the third or fourth year that you really start forgetting to write. (I am pleased to report that I haven't missed a single birthday yet, and send Happy Birthday e-mails as often as necessary). When May finally came, I was suddenly faced with the problem of where to put the Domain for the summer. Net visitors are a fickle lot, and if a site isn't around for even a couple weeks, they tend to drift off to other websites. I solved my problem by registering accounts on Geocities. The entire Domain was less than 2 MB in size, and easily fit on this server. These were the days were Geocities had no ads, and you could find a "lot number" with only three digits. I still use these old accounts off and on; I wish I had been more aggressive in registering "llamaboy" to various mail servers in 1996.
When people returned to the URI! Domain in August 1997, they were presented with a Table of Contents page showing all the sites currently hosted on my server. This list would expand and contract through the years. Now that I had almost a year of experience with my webpage, I wanted the Second Edition to be "the best site ever". Long hours were spent coding during my dead-end PEPCO internship and at the end of the summer, the Domain had a really high "wow" factor.
With this new Domain, graphics gained importance, and I learned how to incorporate frames and cookies into my design. It was still very enjoyable to scare friends by planting a personalized greeting in the page the second or third time they returned. As you can see from the screenshot below, the interface was a little bit trickier with frames, and I had to come up with the yellow back and forwards buttons at the top of the page. The Domain really suffered from feature bloat this year; anything cool or exciting that I could put on the page made an appearance. Luckily, I still had enough sense not to use animated GIFs and rainbow colours.
I'd always wanted a chat room of some kind to appear in the Domain. You can read about my failed attempts at creating them in the Coding section. I had a very basic chat room on the Domain this year, although it was only used twice.
Some parts of the Domain were short-lived. Among those were the Secret Zone and the URI! Awards. The Secret Zone was a CGI device that took visitors to special pages if they typed in certain passwords. I ran out of fun secret ideas in a couple months; and most people couldn't guess the passwords anyhow. The URI! Awards were an attempt to get more recognition for my site on the web. At this point, there were dozens of awards like "Top 5% of the Web" and "Joe Booger's Cool Pick of the Week". I figured that if I gave out a pretentious award each week, I'd get more casual visitors to the site. The two sites which I awarded were quite pleased to get AN award, but weren't quite sure that they wanted to be associated with the lackadaisical whimsy of my site. They kept their awards quietly hidden and I canned the idea after two weeks.
Graphically, I spent a lot of time ensuring that images were small enough for modem download, while not appearing amateurish and silly. The entire attitude of the site became more sophisticated, and the biting, crazy humour that marked the first two editions disappeared almost completely. In fact, the only throwback to the oddball variety of the original site were the two mirrored llamas by the Domain sign, one of which appeared in all editions of the Domain through number seven.
In the Third Edition, I also released the "ME Essay", a long-winded essay on the evolution of the Domain, my biography, and some pretentious observations about life. This was the era of the Internet when every homepage creator was writing some kind of biographical essay, expecting everyone to read it and care about its contents. Now I realize that a much better approach is to just write the site normally and allow visitors to draw their own conclusions about my character and personality. Really, the whole idea of a ME Essay just sets up one more facade between me and the world that may or may not be true. The qualities that a person publically notes usually end up being more of a personality wishlist anyhow. That's not to say that many of my observations and revelations about myself weren't true; I'm just saying that you're not going to know who I am until you know me in person.
The URI! Domain was updated fairly regularly in this year, although its sister roleplaying sites closed doors one by one. I almost lost interest completely in roleplaying this year, and spent more time doing productive things in the real world. This was also the year that I did much of the work on Augmented Fourth, although the final product didn't make it out the door until 2000. In March 2000, I finally ended the URI! Fan Club. At its demise, it had 48 members.
|Name||Words of Wisdom|
|Loki||I laughed, I cried...what can I say? It's a surefire blockbuster!!|
|Rhianna Greenwood||Zeke is my hero! A True Gentlemen and Scholar!|
|John Torres||The problem with political jokes is they get elected.|
|Princess Kari||I enjoyed your page. It was very amusing.|
|Geoffrey King||Come visit my bed & breakfast in Berryville, VA!!!|
|Ernesto Longoria||All that I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy.|
|Noel Uri||Great homepage. Am I getting my money's worth or what?|
|Gwyneth Bronwynne||You are the consummate humor magnet...|
|Devlyn||The whole world's wild at heart and your page is on top of it.... Or something...|
|Tracey||Your page is cool.|
|Tristana Vordax||It's time to shave the cat!!!!! MWHAHAHAHAHAHA|
|JLunar||Confucious says, "never eat yellow snow" and "Zeke is..."|
|Bob Shrimp||Bowling is for the people who can't spell the word Supercalifragalisticexpalalidoshoosh...|
|Lady Wyndcrest||Zekey zekey zekey zekey!|
|Ben Seggerson||Brian Uri is the god of all things and anyone who does not bow down and pay worship and respect to the all mighty URI!!!! will perish in hell.|
|Tate Austin||I think that Domino's Pizza is poorly disguised road-kill, Bob Dole is actually Rush limbaugh in a mask and ultra-strength girdle, and of course that all Republicans and IRS agents should be launched into the unforgiving coldness of space.|
|Thanudir Vordax||Never give a sucker an even break!|
|Carol Uri||You're assuming that I have deep and meaningful thoughts.|
|Arragorn||They call him Cuban Zeke and he's the King of the Rhumba Beat...|
|Nate Shafroth||Brian Uri! is my idol.|
|Ann Lamond||Don't eat cheese or food with mayonaise if it has been sitting out for too long.|
|Ganain||Yo, man. I finally did it. No more poking!|
|Mike Stafford||You're weird, Brian...|
|Cate Swinburn||I think maybe we should have hung out more in high school, brian. Hey, peeing in your pants is cool.|
|Jack Wilmer||You know, other than Jean-Jacques Tou...I'm not mentioned too much...|
|Lisa Carswell||I loved your page and I'm setting up my own religion...spread the word and send me money!|
|Chris Sharp||There is a thin line between genius and insanity...I have erased that line.|
|Connie Liu||I don't think.|
|Emily Snapp||You should make a 3rd period Buckbee page.|
|Emily Keller||We need a Buckbee 3rd Period Reunion...narcotic sex...John Brown...quest for castration...need I say more?|
|Sometsianoran-Epsillianapharos||Yeah, I got teased a lot as a kid...I hate my parents...|
|~*Princess Diana*~||Well..I jus thinks that iffin ye ar finking dat us Canadians.. are.. uhh.. illiterate er sumpin'.. then ahh tinks yer mistakin.. yer tha illiterate wun, man..ahh already registah'd heer and now ahh haf ta do it agin? *eeeeeevyl gryn* love yer page, Brina.. keep it|
|Name||Words of Wisdom|
|Seye Ojumu||I can't believe there is actually a Naked Dancing Llamas page; I thought it was just a way to find out who the really perver.... *Oops* I said too much again because how would I know there was a NDL page if I hadn't seen it ....heh heh OK I'll shut up now.|
|Lord Darkness III||I think you're funny. *G* I feel stupid doing this right now. I love Llamas.|
|Greg Patterson||Synthetic Pork Products frighten me and sleep is a sign of Caffine Deprivation.|
|Celestraea||I came, I saw.....and I'm conked out|
|Ycats||I am... me. Ycats. This is me. This is me. This is .. ME. Oh.. *blink* I'm being redundant again. Damn. I'm me! Me me me! *blinkblink* And.. ooh.. man... deep AND meaningful? WITH thoughts? What do I look like? A legit professor or somethin'? Gahepers! First all the questions, then I'm supposed to THINK somethin' to share with all ya'll? I don't -think- so! I'm rebelling! No one can make me! FREEDOM OF SPEECH! *blink* Oh. Wait. There is no such thing. Drat. Uhhh... *wrinkles nose* What was the question again?|
|Ray O' The Charnist||I resent you asking about how many toes I have. This is a very sensitive topic all around the world, and I am hurt that you simply toss that down on the form like it was NOTHING. *sniffle* Number of toes just shouldn't matter between friends!|
|Madeleine||Crab Grassss! Oh yeah, I think Uri! is hot! And don't forget the "Uri! Magic Fork!" HUA! :)|
|Katherine||I want URI! for his body! He's also a former drum major which makes him cooler than words. I'm going to get the whole band to join.|
|Netty||I'm gunna regret this right?|
|Mark Porter||In 1924, and englishman by the name of Matthew Cunningham decided to try something different for dinner. He wanted a quick food. Something that did not require a knife . . fork . . or even a plate! He started with a large sausage. Then, he fashioned a long, thin piece of wood, and jammed it in one end of the aforementioned sausage. After a few moments, he decided that it still didn't have the 'Oomf!' he was looking for. He then mixed a corn-wheat batter, dipped the sausage in the same batter, and baked it. What he had produced when it was cooked was the greatest invention of all time. Known to Americans by the name 'Corn-Dog', it has found a place in the hearts of most of us Canucks (Except Ray! She refuses to conform!), and is commonly known by the name of . . . POGO!|
|Robin Langridge||Finally! A quiz that asks you how many penguins you have!|
|Stephen Louy||"You cannot impose unity on a country with 250 kinds of cheese." --Charels DeGaul|
"Eeney meeney miney moe, catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let go of the blasted toe before the tiger eats you!" --Stephen Louy
|Name||Words of Wisdom|
|Lisa Gayle||Bite me.. er.. well.. not -you-, actually.. but you're llama can.. OooOOo.. ~eg~ ~waggles eyebrows~|
|NiKKi Christine||#1~ Always wear clean panties in case you get into a car wreck.. (er.. that goes for women too).. #2~ Llama, it's the other, -other- white meat..|
|Hokienuts||How old are you... In centuries?|