December 1999

AnalogX Year One...

    Yes, it's been one year since AnalogX first went live, back on November of 1998, and what a year it's been. It's pretty ironic, because before I did AnalogX, I had always seen freeware programs, and thought to myself "Why would someone do something like this? I mean, why not just make it shareware, but without any sort of crippling?"... Of course, I didn't start down this road intentionally, but I ended up here none the less, so I'll give you a bit about how the whole thing began.
    Originally, AnalogX was primarily about the band, and didn't have a single program on the site; until the fateful day I was looking for a delay calculator. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what this is, it just basically takes a tempo, and tells you how many milliseconds a delay should be in order to be in sync with the tempo; nothing big, it's something you can work out on paper pretty easily, or with a normal calculator, but having a small program to do it is a convenience thing. So, I started looking around for one, and was shocked that I couldn't find any free ones; there was NO way I was going to PAY for something like this; so next I checked out what the shareware scene had to offer, and finally found one that was about 2megs and cost $20 - give me a break! I was soo disgusted that I just wrote a quickie command line version of the program, wrote some quick docs, zipped it up, and put it on the website.
    I was surprised to discover that many people were downloading this simple little tool, and I thought that was pretty cool; and from the occasional email I got some improvements for it, etc; this basically marks the first key turning point that lead to what the site currently is. The next key point was when I received an email from someone who wanted to use DelayCalc (as the program became known as), but didn't know how to use DOS... We exchanged a few emails, which finally led to something along the lines of "Could you teach me DOS?". These weren't his exact words, but they were the gist of what he was after. Well, of course this wasn't a very appealing option to me, but I thought I could probably whip up a GUI interface for it, which would solve his problem, and make the program infinitely more useful to the average user. Another factor in this was that I received several emails from users who didn't have Zip, nor were familiar with it's operations; frankly I was amazed. I went into this with the mindset of "Oh, there won't be ANYONE online who doesn't know how to use Zip!", of course this wasn't true, but it leads into what I learned from this; and that is that it is VERY difficult for me to put myself in the average users shoes... As much as I would like to, anything that I assume is pretty much guaranteed to be untrue, so I've learned to just go with suggestions that users make (since let's face it, you guys know what you want better than I know what you want!). This led to the creation of the installer, and my focus on trying to make the programs as easy to use, with docs that told you what you needed to know. The final pivotal factor was when a user emailed me and mentioned that I had been releasing a program every week for almost two months... I looked back, and sure enough, he was correct! I got a kick out of the fact, and thought it would be fun to keep up that kind of momentum, and would also help to ensure that the site wouldn't stagnate; which is one of my pet peeves about many of the websites out there.
    It's really been a blast so far; it's been a LOT of work, but it's also been equally rewarding to know that some of the programs have saved schools money, are being used by non-profit companies, etc. I couldn't think of any other way I could impact so many people, in such a small yet profound way; it is nice to think that the site might inspire someone else to do something similar. Ultimately, it's a bit like how the whole computer scene used to be in the 80's, although back then it was pretty much limited to techno-geeks, and the programs were usually not too terribly useful, just impressive in the fact that a home computer could do whatever they were doing. I'd like to think that I'm bringing back a bit of that old mindset, but with a more mainstream twist, so that everyone can benefit from what I'm doing.
    I have to say one of the things I get the biggest kick out of is when I'm roaming around the net, and stumble across some site that I've never seen before, that's talking about either AnalogX, or one of the programs on the site - very cool! It's very gratifying to know that someone enjoyed something from the site soo much that they felt compelled to talk about it on their website or on some newsgroup. That's also why in the FAQ I say that all I ask people is do is help spread the word about the site; to tell their friends about it, or when they run across someone who's having a problem that's solved by one of my apps, that they point them to the website. It's really the reason that the site is happening; to put that into perspective, the site got about 500 hits a month this time last year - it now gets about 2 million hits a month - and this is due in large part to people like you helping to spread the word, and I really appreciate it!
    So, where is AnalogX going in 2000? Well, assuming that the world doesn't end, there should be some very cool things coming! One of the cooler things (that I'm especially excited about) that will be happening in the near future is that a music video is being completed right now, which will be available on the site. Of course there will be more programs, from a Firewall and other cool network utilities, to the Vocoder and many audio apps, and maybe even a little game or two, if I can find the time :) And don't forget the music; many of the songs from the HackSaw CD will be made available on , and I might even release some songs from my more Electronica CD's. I'll also be on ZDTV more, I'm sure, plus hopefully I'll be able to catch some mainstream press as well. I also want to see the site as one of the top 500 websites in the world (right now it's in the top 10,000), and with your help, I'm sure it's possible...