12 years of Epps.nl – A Retrospective

As 2022 is coming to an end and I just finished the move to a new webhost, I figured it was time to delve into the history of epps.nl. Where did the name come from? Why did I ever decide to host a site and what effect has the site had on my personal life?

2000-2010: Hyves, Blogspot and DeviantArt Days

This image has always been in the root directory of the site under the name “themeaningoflife.jpg”.

I can’t talk site history without taking you back to my teenage years. Like most teenagers I struggled a lot. Everything was changing, I felt lost, and to make matters worse I also dealt with psychological problems. I was a massive wallflower in school, avoiding intense social situations and tried to keep the peace. This resulted in me not having a lot of real friends while growing up and being a prime target for bullies.

As a coping mechanism I wrote short stories and journal entries which I would share on Hyves (Dutch take on MySpace) and Blogspot where I had a decent following. My writing later changed from coping to comedy, with me creating a lot of content on the Dutch Oncyclopedia, a satirical take on Wikipedia, where I also became a moderator. When I was around 16 I acquired a copy of Adobe Flash and started to create silly spam animations which were all the rage on Newgrounds and Albino Blacksheep at the time. These animations were posted to DeviantArt where I settled until I lost interest in animating. Later I nuked all of my old accounts for personal reasons, a move I do regret at times as I don’t have copies of all my old content.

Site v1: 2010 Black and White and Name Origins

The original logo, salvaged from an old Flash forum signature.

In May of 2010 I decided to buy a domain name and hosting package at Antagonist, a Dutch hosting company. The main reason was to have a professional looking email address, and nothing screams professionalism more than having your own domain name. While I don’t have a backup, the site itself featured a pure HTML front page, with a Coppermine photo gallery, custom url shortener and a shared folder I used for filesharing. This may seem odd today, but keep in mind this was before Google Drive was even a thing. The only thing I could dig up was the logo, based on the game Chime, a relaxing music block puzzle game.

As for the name origins, I have my old gaming clan Pulp Fortress to thank for that. Back then I used to go under the online handle Sergeant Pepper (NL), which through voice chat got shortened down to Pepper, then Peppie, Peps and finally just Epps. This nickname stuck with me and I kept using with NL added to it to let other players know where I was from, a common thing at the time. I had also build and maintained their website for years, which likely inspired me to register my own later down the line.

Site v2: 2010-2014: Minimal Blue

A cleaner blue logo, with grey icons that turn blue upon hovering over them. The main font of choice was Submariner.

Version 2 of the site was launched in late 2010, with a major redesign. This redesign came in the form of a custom landing page, complete with a new clean style and logo.

Surprisingly absent was a blog, but this was when Twitter and Facebook were peaking and had become the place to post life updates. Instead the site saw an OwnCloud installation as my hosting came with (fair-use) unlimited storage, an image sharing service as Twitter didn’t support posting images natively yet, and finally also a wiki. The wiki made sense with my previous experience on Oncyclopedia and was mostly used to neatly store information I gathered to get Fedora running stable on my Dell laptop. It saw a fair amount of data and links from forums as somehow nobody else had assembled all the information for my model, even though it was from the XPS series.

An interesting side-note is that by the end of this design I co-hosted another site based on #stopjeleven (#endyourlife), a then popular playful Twitter hashtag. It was what we now call a meme, giving people an example of asshole behaviour followed by the hashtag. The site would randomly spit out a line from a text file full of these. Looking back it truly was a product of its time, but also one which wouldn’t be seen acceptable today.

Site v3: 2014 – 2016 The Epps Effect and Epps Blog

Epps Effect logo used a green header and all caps text in Trueno Black(?).

Around 2014 my life took a dark turn, once which is still affecting me. The site had gone unused for a while by then and so, just like before, I turned it into a blog as a means to vent frustrations, feelings, music I made and life experiences. At the time I had gotten into Saturday Night Live, and one thing I really liked aside from the sketches were the quirky photos shown during the bumpers. I remember making a few of those of myself for use on the site and social media as a form of escapism and keeping up the appearance of being “fine”.

Epps Blog dropped the cool logo for lame polygons. BOOOOOO!

As my treatment progressed I slowly started to shift the blog focus towards music and making props. This eventually lead to the next stage of the site where I left my private life behind in favour of sharing things I made.

Site v4: 2016 – 2018: My Tech Playground (Orange days)

A blocky orange logo, modified from what I believe was a free animated Material Design logo generator.

In 2016 I moved hosts for the first time. Antagonist had slowly been increasing prices and introduced storage limitations, so I moved to Neostrada. Instead of migrating properly I nuked the old site and started fresh once more. I focused more on technology as at the time I had picked up my first 3D printer, learned to model, and started playing with Arduino’s.

Because the new host allowed multiple domains on the same hosting package with each domain being €2 for the first year, I ended up multi-hosting several websites. One of these sites was Abunaai, a joke site I made on a whim to tie in to Dutch anime convention Abunai! who jokingly started selling Abunaai (Abu-fucked) condoms. This site got me invited as a VIP for the next edition, which opened the door to me joining their staff on the Design team of which I am a part off to this very day.

The two other sites were a website for an online community and a site to take a piss at a “rival” community. The rival community purchased the domain of me, while my own community site remained online until late 2022. While I kept the domain names, they now simply redirect to a static page.

Site v5: 2019 – Today: EppsNL Photography and “Just” EppsNL

Current modern logo, using Nexa Light.

In 2018 I picked up a Nikon D3400 to retire my Coolshot and started to take photography a bit more serious. During the following year I made the choice to move the maker site to a subdomain, with the root domain now housing my photography. For this new site I wrote a design document complete with colours, fonts and such.

During this period I would take a lot of trips to various cities, forests and events to shoot pictures, often with friends. My style and preferences changed to one that prefers abstract photos and architecture. In 2020 the COVID pandemic commenced and the world had come to a stop. During this downtime I focused more on maker things and ultimately merged the maker site with the photography site.

In late 2022 Neostrada announced they would no longer allow multiple websites to be hosted on the same hosting package. All existing accounts would have their websites migrated to individual hosting plans, with increased pricing for packages and domains. To me this would had meant a 5x price increase, not to mention the price increase from a year prior. Needless to say I migrated to a new host Vimexx immediately where I now spend half what I used to pay for at Neostrada. This time I fully migrated my existing site and that’s where we are today.

What About the Future?

All in all this site has seen little use throughout the years. But despite that, it always served and continuous to serve as a fun personal project to come back to. It served as a venting ground during bad times, helped me acquire new skills and opened the door to leading communities and contributing massively to an event I enjoy dearly. There is no seeing in the future, but I am positive this site will remain a part of it. While I don’t do new years resolutions, I do plan on traveling again, getting back into photography and practice video editing a bit more. Knowing me I will likely end up doing something completely different, but then again these creative outlets of mine never seize to entertain me.