We have had many ask the story about how Thundercloud and I met and how we developed Cloudeight… so the story begins:
Darcy (EB) wrote this in 2008 — things have changed so much in the last five years — but the history is still the same. We hope you all enjoy this little trip back to the beginnings of Cloudeight, when EB and TC first met. (TC 10/31/2013)
The History of TC and EB
It all started in a land far, far away.. well, actually it started in Michigan when I met my friends Orca and Ldy on the old IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Michigan Chat lines. We had a regular room we used to talk in and some time in 1996 TC came snooping around one day.. even though he was not from Michigan! It made him stand out, so naturally I began chatting to him. He was making a web page and was a newbie, so I took him under my wing, shared all my store of knowledge from the two months I had accumulated, and taught him how to put some images on a page. We started emailing and chatting about new things we were learning, and found that each other were eager to learn all we could! Wow.. a cybermatch made in heaven!
ok.. on with the story.. One day I was searching the web for something new I had just learned called “scripts” and set out to learn them inside out. I was playing around with one of these scripts (its something that automates something) and it made my picture appear to be scrolling. Wow! Something really cool! I sent it in email to TC and asked him if he could “see” anything. I was not sure if only I could view this scrolling picture or not!
He was as excited as I was.. instead of just answering me to say yes or no, I had to wait all day and my answer finally came.. he had created a nice graphic of his own (using skills he had obtained from the one and only… !) and had it scrolling away! We couldn’t believe something like this could be done on the computer, much less in email! We gotta tell our friends about this.. and off we went, emailing our friends with our new discovery.
We found our friends were just as excited about our new discovery, and soon they were asking how to do this. We tried to explain, but it seemed so complicated, especially for those that didn’t understand scripting, or those that did not work in PSP/Photoshop, so we “made” a stationery for them and send it to them in email. They would in turn click reply, remove all the text, change who they were sending to, and were sending their “own” stationery. It was a roundabout way of doing things, but it worked, so our circle of friends were having fun along with us now!
Soon the requests got overwhelming… just couldn’t find the time to send to everyone! So, TC and I decided to make a website page for our friends to download the stationery we had made. We created it from any pictures we thought were nice and soon we had 10 or 15 people a day coming to our new website. We were ecstatic when it hit 20! Twenty people in one day! We couldn’t believe all the traffic!
When we weren’t chatting, we were creating! We would spend days on a single stationery, sometimes editing an image one pixel at a time to get it to tile perfectly. I remember letting “the little things” go, like the dishes and the laundry so I could create! We put our hearts into every creation, couldn’t wait to show each other, and up on the web it would go! Lucky for us, Thundercloud had his very own domain… it was empty so we had a great place to put our stationery! Cloudeight had not yet been born.. but soon would be and its home would be http://thundercloud.net
Our next step was to come up with a name for our site. We pondered on this for days, tossed names back and forth, but nothing sounded “right”, until one day we mentioned something about being on cloudnine and how nice it was.. and it hit me.. lets combine our names.. (or part of our names!) and call our site Cloudeight! A step back from “being on cloudnine” but better! And finally.. a name that clicked and after all these years we are still known as Cloudeight. This explains why Cloudeight is housed on thundercloud.net!
Jump ahead to today, we have a mailing list for our stationery and tech news with over 200,000 members, and while we have created many new sites and products since then, our stationery site remains our biggest site with nearly 10,000 visitors daily and more then double that amount during holidays and winter season.
An Afterward by TC
It has been five years since EB wrote this little piece. Little did we know in 2008 that one year later we would find our dream shattered by Windows 7. Windows 7 brought an end to Outlook Express and its sister Windows Mail. Our stationery, designed for these two great email programs, was about to become unusable by users of Windows 7. Microsoft decided not to include an email client in Windows 7 and offered Windows Live Mail (part of Windows Live Essentials) as an alternative. But Windows Live Mail was a resource hungry, flaky program, noted for being very buggy. We tried desperately to find a way to make stationery for Windows Live Mail — and Thunderbird — but it just wasn’t the same. Both clients allowed little more than backgrounds in email — and that’s not stationery, at least not in our view.
Our mailing lists – once over 200,000 gradually shrunk as Windows 7 users increased and our stationery, once the lifeblood of our business, was used less and less.
For the last 4 years, we have taken a beating financially. There were times we wondered if we’d make it through the next month. We existed week-to-week – and as I’m sure many of you know, that isn’t fun.
When things were good, Darcy and I got along famously — we constantly shared new ideas and had a lot of fun with the site. But things became deadly serious when we struggled to make ends meet. We took 40% pay cuts to keep things going. We worked harder but seemed to get nowhere.
In 2011 we started Cloudeight Direct Computer Care Services and things started looking up – but Cloudeight Direct takes a lot of our time because we are the kind of people who always want to to the best we can for everyone. To this day, we try to treat each computer we work on as if it were our own — and sometimes we are too fussy and take a little longer than we should with each customer — and we would not have it any other way.
To say the problems we’ve had in the last 4 years hasn’t affected our partnership and our friendship would be untrue. It has put a tremendous strain on us both. I tend to be hot-headed and gruff and Darcy is always the diplomat. So I guess I’ve made it harder on her that it should have been — Heaven knows it’s been tough enough.
So I want to apologize to Darcy for some of the unnecessary vitriol she’s had to endure. She really is a great lady and any of you who have been fortunate to have Darcy work on your computer via Cloudeight Direct, or who have had her answer your emails, know how special she is. She has been been the “bridge over troubled waters” and I thank her for everything she has done.
But there is one thing, more than any other, which has gotten us through the thundering rapids of decline — and that is you. Those of you who have made a donation, purchased one of one of products, one of our affiliates products, or used our Cloudeight Direct Computer Care Services are the reason we’re still here.
I am not an easy person to get along with — I’m very high strung and lash out too often when things don’t go well. I’m impatient and I can be condescending and gruff — but like Darcy, I too have a heart of gold and I am compassionate — I just don’t show it as often and as easily as Darcy does.
Without all of you — and without Darcy — Cloudeight would have fallen into the sea of dead web sites, long ago abandoned, and now forgotten. All we would have had left would have been good memories — because “…what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget…”
Thank you EB. And thank you to every single one of you.
And in the words of Tiny Tim: “God bless us — every one.”
Yes I’m, angry! Look at her hair…