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Issue #522: July 23-29, 2017

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It’s a week of celebrations here at Geek Central.  Why?  Well, it’s the column’s birthday again!  Of course, this isn’t just any birthday.  It’s one of those birthday numbers that ends in a big, round digit that makes it seem that much more special than the others.  Personally, I’m more than a bit surprised, but indescribably pleased that the column has made it this far.  Please bear with me while I take a break from answering questions to reminisce.

It was ten years ago, in July of 2007 that I approached Del Stone of the Northwest Florida Daily News after I read that the author of the computer Q&A column that they had been carrying (some guy syndicated out of the Chicago Tribune) suddenly announced that this would be his final issue.  Del and I didn’t know each other, but he graciously offered to review a sample of my writing, and after assuring me that he couldn’t pay me anything (a promise that has been kept for 10 years now), he agreed to put me to press.  The first issue appeared on July 26, 2007 in the center spread of a now-defunct weekly magazine called NEXT.  It appeared with a giant headline that said “Meet our new GEEK!” and just like that, my moniker, and It’s Geek To Me were born.  The column was later moved to Sunday publication in the Lifestyle section for a while, then to its current location, on the Business page on Saturdays.  Of course, that’s just in its home paper.  I.G.T.M. has at various times published in print and online coast-to-coast, and on various days of the week.  I’ve settled into a comfortable weekly publication cycle, although for anyone at the Daily News that happens to be reading this, I do miss seeing it in the Sunday Lifestyle section.

Since those humble beginnings there have been 522 issues of the column, with nearly 600 reader questions answered, consisting of (I estimate) between 350,000 and 500,000 words to-date.  There have also been Tech Tips, Geek Alerts, multiple personal appearances, and the creation of a website which primarily houses the online archive history of the column.  Also borne from the column in an indirect way was my Christmas lights and music extravaganza, The Geek Lights on the Corner, which also will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year.

Here are a few random thoughts to put things in perspective on just how much the world has changed since I.G.T.M. was born.  If you were using a cell phone at all when the first issue was published, it was probably a flip phone or a clunky brick-style phone, since the revolutionary iPhone was announced that same year.  The iPad existed only in the mind and imagination of Steve Jobs.

If you were running a Windows PC, you were probably using Windows XP or possibly Vista.  Windows 7 was over 2 years away, and nobody had ever heard of Windows 8 or 10.  There was no such thing as Uber, or Lyft, and self-driving cars were still science fiction.  People still relied pretty heavily on land-lines and fax machines.  Websites that are wildly popular today either didn’t exist, or were in their infancy.  Back then, Twitter was known as Twttr, and it would be 2 more years before it would begin to be widely known.  Facebook was only a few years old, and YouTube even younger.  Names like Diply, and GitHub, were years away from being launched.  Others that were popular at the time have since shut down altogether, or faded to obscurity.  Remember MySpace?  LimeWire? GeoCities? AltaVista?  All those were popular when It’s Geek To Me hit the scene.  All are now gone, and I’m still writing columns.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, I don’t have any immediate plans to retire from publication, but I’ve just about given up any dreams of the column ever getting picked-up in syndication, or bought by Google, or anything like that.  There probably won’t be an IPO, or any royalties.  Maybe someday, someone will nominate I.G.T.M. for some “Best Non-Syndicated Column” award or something.  Meanwhile, I’ll just continue, as best I’m able and for as long as people keep sending them in, to answer questions in hopes of making computing safer and more enjoyable for you, my fellow Geeks.  Thanks for sticking with me.

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