TG at FIVE: An editor’s reflection over the past five years

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Image: Aih./Flickr (Creative Commons)

April 1. April Fools Day – a day where the internet comes together and confuse the heck out of you with fake news stories. But did you also know that April 1 is the site’s birthday? And today, we’re five. Yes, we’ve reached a milestone that many – even I – never thought we would see.

Suffice to say, the site has pretty much grown from being a simple linkblog to a site where we embrace opinion, write original content and delve in the world of gadgets and gaming. Nibbling at the edges of technology, I am proud of the work that the team – Stewart, Tom, Chris, Adrian, Ashton, Nicholas, Shane and Gabriel (plus our past and present contributors) – has done, and I do hope that we would celebrate the next five years.

Remembering The Past

Started on April 1 2007, the site was hosted on a hosting service called ScoreRight Services (they are closed now). A couple of months later, we soon moved to our present hosting provider HostMonster – and while it has been a stable relationship, it does have problems. And for those watching, we used to joke about the constant database failings – until it became no longer a joke and after much complaining, we soon moved to another server that wasn’t riddled with competing heavy-resource sites.

And after years with HostMonster, we plan to move again, but when is another question in the air. But thanks for being such a great host for these past five years.

I can remember the constant theme revisions, and the little in-fights the team and I have had during the past five years. I can also remember the great and not-so-great ideas that were offered back in the day – such as our podcast. Oh, what fun that was.

On the constant theme revisions – yeah, apologies if you woke up one day and found that the site became radically different in a short amount of time. I can remember in one year, techgeek.com.au had about four different redesigns. I don’t know why, but it was because every blog I was introduced to, I began designing a new theme based on elements mixed in together from Engadget, CNET, CNN, The Age, etc.

Though now, hopefully, everything is now stable and this theme will last a lot longer than what other themes. What I like about this theme is that its slightly more flexible – meaning that I can create a post like What is SOPA/PIPA without any limitations on content. Each post theoretically can have their own styling – with a bit of CSS trickery – but doing that for every post would be weird.

Looking back on our previous themes – they were bad. Really bad. As a web designer – and the previous designer of all those themes – I am largely embarrassed that people had to see that. And now all of those themes are now going to the recycling bin.

And our expansion beyond the text?

We had our first dabble in podcasting back in 2008, but that lasted one episode because we never got around in restarting the show again. I initially suggested we do a podcast, but we never soon talked about it ever again. Until CES 2010, where Stewart had a great idea of starting a monthly podcast called The TECHGEEK Podcast. Again, that was left in the backburner after one episode (and you can see a worrying trend here) before we decided to restart it again in July. Again promised to be monthly, it quickly became weekly and then we added Chris, James and Tom onto the podcast. It has now been a weekly feature of our site – recorded Saturday, published Sunday as the podcast of irrelevance, tech commentary and arguments.

A nice way to round off the week in tech, eh?

Proving Them Wrong

When I launched the site, my friends – admittedly, they were right to do so – laughed at the fact that I had a website. If you didn’t noticed, I ran this site – content and all – during my secondary schooling. Our editors wrote this during their secondary schooling. In fact, it soon became common knowledge that I would wake up in ungodly hours, listen to a press conference from Apple (or Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo during E3), wait a bit for press shots and then write a quick report.

Yes, a high-school student running a tech blog.

I think they thought it wouldn’t last, it would become just a pet project that would soon collapse. Looking at today, that didn’t happen.

But for me, it was for me to prove myself wrong. I didn’t even think this site would last this long. I thought I would leave it and forget about it, abandon the site altogether. It didn’t help when I was constantly reminded by other students that I was the person running a website. The person who happened to decided to call their site “tech geek”. The person that happens to be a bit in too deep about technology and geek culture. But I persevered, laughed off their criticism and moved on. Continued writing, continued exploring the latest tech from around the world, and continued writing tips on how to use today’s technology.

It soon became that those very same students who then asked me questions like “When is the next iPod/iPhone/iPad/insert-any-gadget-here coming out?”.

I’m just happy that all the hard effort paid off.

Would I suggest another person, especially still in high school?

No. Focus on your schoolwork. Because I can tell you, it takes a lot of hard work – something that should probably not be balanced with academics (and, if you were like me, did Maths Methods and Specialists Maths for your VCE)

So don’t do it.

Don’t.

You’re going to do it, aren’t you?

Well, all I’ll say is good luck and hope to see you at a press event.

The Future

Of course, the future is video. I really envy those at LiveTech Australia since they manage to do some great stuff with video (we do some great stuff too, but we feel more comfortable between text and audio since its quick and simple). I also do envy sites like The Verge, Engadget and CNET for the amount they push out. And with recent conversations, I do know for a fact that Tom and Chris really, really love The Verge’s video – including On The Verge with all of its glitzy production values.

And while we love to have the same glitzy values – we obviously don’t have that size of budget.

As well, I do see techgeek.com.au as a place for analysis and opinion more than simple reporting of the tech news. I think based on the previous articles, I like the analysis pieces about SOPA/PIPA, or the Chris’ little rants on Windows Phone 7. So, expect to see more of that content in the near future – and you can usually find them under the “Newsroom” tab.

But other than that, our future is up in the air. That’s not a bad thing – it’s not like we are shutting down. The future of techgeek.com.au can change at any moment, and I’ll be ready for any challenges along the way.

Being Thankful

There are a few people that I have to thank.

Our partnership with AlfaHosts (Disclosure: Stewart owns) has been a fruitful one. Without them, we couldn’t have done the podcast. They host our files for the podcast (and handle the little complaining during our CDN crash in January 2012), and we are thankful for them.

I’ve also got to thank the many bloggers, journalists and other tech commentators that I have met – directly or indirectly – for being such an inspiration for me starting this site. I enjoy what you guys do, and always aspire to propel my own work to a level of quality like yours.

I am also thankful to the many writers, contributors and guests on the TECHGEEK Weekly Podcast. Without them, we wouldn’t have any content – and have an insight to some of their opinions. I especially thank Stewart Wilson for being a great friend and helping push techgeek.com.au beyond text, despite me being a bit skeptical.

Finally, I have to thank you – the reader. Without you guys, we wouldn’t know our rights and wrongs nor we wouldn’t have an audience. So, again, thank you very much.

Oh, and this was written on SkyDrive. Take that Chris.

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