What started it all: Blade of Darkness, a PC game that I purchased in March of 2000. The primarily European community was probably one of the best, friendliest communities I've ever had a part in. The location was at www.RebelAct.net, which is the name of the developer of this game. In there was a forum where we would all talk about the game, and laugh at each other's crazy tactics on how we defeated certain enemies in the game, etc.. Eventually, a person that went by the name of marcusparcus decided to hold a screenshot competition on who could post the goriest screenshots of the game (I must mention on the side, that it is because of this guy that I found out about Google and Irfanview, two things that have changed my life to where I've no clue where I'd be without them.). Tried as I might, I could not figure out how to post images in the forum. I tried dragging and dropping it, I tried entering the location of it on my hard drive, and I even tried converting it into hundreds of different formats so that maybe one would work where others would not. It was then that I found out I had to get webspace in order to remote link an image to appear amidst the text of a message board message.
I looked up 'Free Homepages' and found Angelfire. There I was able to upload (up to 50 megs worth of) screenshots, but was unable to post them on the forum. It was then that I found out that Angelfire had just days before disabled remote linking because their bandwidth usage was too high, and needed to be lowered to save costs. So I looked for other means. After researching some more, I found that Juno, my ISP had a deal with Homestead where they would offer me free watered down home page services. It was then that the idea of having a personal home page was born. They gave me five megs of space (with a file size limit of one meg), and unlimited bandwidth usage. From there, I figured out how to upload screenshots, and then post them on forums. With Homestead, you don't just look through some templates and fill in the blanks here and there... With them you download a very resource heavy Java appelet that allows you to put whatever you want wherever you want, while resizing them(it) on the fly. Very easy, very simple, and very limitless considering you needed no knowledge whatsoever of how to make a site. The downside to it, however is that the code required to make this so easy (on the creator) would take very long to download for a visitor. For instance, my current main page hangs around 55k and 150k (depending on when I put news in my archive page, and what picture is up). If I made it with Homestead's appelet, it would be around 600k and 1200k. That's a heck of a difference. But anyway, this is back in 2000 and I didn't know anything about any of this, so I was perfectly content with my over-resourced home page. I made a music page, and I made a Blade of Darkness screenshot/fan page, and I made an 'About Me' page. All in all, it was a decent first effort.
But then roughly six months later, I got devastating news in my email box. Homestead would no longer be affiliated with Juno, or Juno's members. I had one month before everything was to disappear, unless I signed up for $20 a month. So of course I saved the site to my hard drive and moved on to Angelfire. I would no longer be able to post pics in forums, but at least I'd have a homepage. All Anelfire had was a few basic templates, and a few more half baked tutorials that taught me little. But I used tutorials at other sites, and I preservered. Tutorials for what? For learning HTML, that is. Even though the tutorials were informative, I found the best way to learn was to view the source of a page that had something I wanted to do, and remember the required code and apply it on my own page. It was this that brought new life to me, and reminded me how smart I was because being in the Army, you tend to forget that.
Then Angelfire came out with a new plan. First of all, they were reducing the free limit from 50 to 20 megs. But for $5 a month, you could get 25 megs of space, removed banner ads, AND you were magically able to remote link files (images mainly)! So I blinked twice and signed up for it. $5 a month, heh.. That's less then I spend on one visit to McDonald's. After a month, Angelfire seemed disappointed that not many people were signing up for their service, so they offered and extra 25 megs of space (for a total of 50) for anyone that signed up within a month or so. Luckily, they gave me the extra space without any hassle (because I signed up before the special offer). I made tons of pages, and did tons of things with it. After a few months, they even upped my monthly bandwidth from 3 gigs to 5 gigs, and added support for other languages like .php and .cgi... It was wonderful. But then I actually tried to use the .php and .cgi functions by attempting to throw my own forum up. It didn't work. Angelfire had placed limitations on those types of programs so that their servers would not get bogged down with CPU-intensive requests. After some reflection, I figured that they haven't upgraded their servers since the 1997 era. So I went in search of a different host.
It was then that I found Powweb, a 'professional' host, that allowed .php, .cgi, .blahblahblah, MySQL database, and a massive 650 megs of space, and an amazing 30 gigs of transfer a month, for a small fee of $7.77 a month. On top of this, if I were to sign up for a year or more, I'd get two months extra for free, and a free domain name registration for a year. I signed up. While Powweb probably has one of the LEAST user friendly interfaces (you have to download and use an FTP program to upload files, and there's no way to edit them through your browser) to ever grace my computer screen, the price more than makes up for it (similar plans at other places would run you $75 a month.. roughly..) and I do give them tons of credit for their tutorials and support forum that will help anyone willing to learn. I threw my (very underused) forum up, and I was able to get my own (pop-up-ad-less) Guestbook hosted on my own site, AND I had tons and tons and tons of room and bandwidth left over. Since then Powweb has somehow upgraded their service to be 1000 megs of space, and 45 gigs of transfer a month. And now, just recently they are allowing 150 gigs of transfer a month (at a five gig a day limit), which is completely insane considering I've yet to break half a gig in one month's time. This is easily the best host to have right now.
UPDATE (-29SEP2022-): Sucks to Powweb! After their initial price of $186.48 for two years, they kept jumping it. Several years ago it jumped to $344.80, and this year it jumped to $401.76; that is from $7.77/mo to $16.74/mo. Over the course of 19 years, it doesn't seem bad, but this forces you to ignore that Powweb went from one of the best deals you could get to one of the worst. While the previous bandwidth/disk space limitations were removed, that's the case with all the other hosts! So now this site lives on Hostwinds, $8.95/mo renewed annually. I'm sure they'll raise rates as well, but right now they're pretty competitive.
So that's how TheCrawdaddyPage got to where it is now. The main page is still set up the same way it was when I was with Angelfire (when I used one of their basic templates to create my site), which is basically a main picture, the body (with text), and links at the bottom of the page. I don't have many plans to do much else with it in the future, but as I get more ideas and more motivation, I'll surely let you know where to look.