Thank you! DFE turns 12 today, a stroll through the Wayback Machine

Kind of amazing how I remember the whole thing like it was yesterday….

I was working at Sutherland at the time, working an evening shift on the Gateway Computers desk. This is right after Sutherland opened its Jefferson Road shop and long after we’d said goodbye to the smelly old digs on Calkins Rd. We had a set of web pages served from a local machine in the office that served as a rough-and-ready web resource for all the agents on the desk, helping us make sense of the labyrinthine Gateway support site. Having spent a fair amount of my “free” time on the phone playing around with HTML, my boss decided to use my avocation for the good of the desk and had recently asked me to maintain that “website.” Thus began my professional career as a web developer.

Another agent on the desk was trawling the Internet and happened upon a deal by newly-minted web host a free domain name in exchange for a commitment to 1 year of hosting on their servers. I jumped at the chance to have my own website! What the hell was I to do with it? Well, that was question for another day…

2012: Another Day

DFE in 2005! A screen cap from The Wayback Machine

Twelve years later, here we are. A lot has changed – certainly the look of the site has improved immeasurably! But a lot has stayed the same or even become more of what I wanted than I’ve ever had. We still cover lots and lots of politics, and even back then, we were very interested in science and technology. These days, we do a lot less on the music and food side, but that’s probably for the best. On the plus side, what you see in the Wayback Machine link to the right was done entirely by hand, every single page, so no longer doing that has certainly made writing a much more productive exercise.

I don’t think that, on a bet, I could have guessed that I would ever be taking on interns from RIT on the site. But I’ve been blessed to have had two great classes, thanks to Hinda Mandell’s ( @hindamandell ) partnership. And Ben Ayres, the site’s Weather Wonk (yes, he’ll be joining us again next semester!) has been a huge addition to the site. Thanks also to his professor, Nicholas Metz, for the opportunity.

But the site’s character really has changed for the better with the addition of my good friend and ever-helpful sidekick, Jillian Seaton ( @jillybean2k ). Jillian’s sense of humor and voice have only added the necessary touch of honestly and vulnerability to the site that my writing and the character of the site have missed for all these years. She’s kept the site honest and laughing, and I’m thrilled to continue working with her.

Thanks also to Rachel Barnhart ( @rachbarnhart ), the closest thing to a mentor that I have. It is in no small part because she believed in and appreciated what I do here that the site continues to operate and has expanded in the ways it has. Not only that, but she’s also contributed to this site with counseling, advice and even editing. It has been an honour also to help realize her goals as a blogger on her site, The Rochesterian, winner of the Best Blog honour in the Rochester City Newspaper Best of Rochester competition.

But there is no one I can thank more for my success than my wonderful, funny, beautiful wife. Her enthusiasm for what I do never flags. And our son Sebastian adds new importance to what we’re trying to do at this little site, hopefully making some small contribution to a happier, smarter Rochester community of which he will be a member.

There are so many others I could thank, but of course, I have to make a special effort to thank you, my readers, for sticking with me. Whether by comments, replies on Twitter, likes, shares or just adding your little blips to my Google Analytics by showing up on the site, it is because there is a small corner of our world that cares to read our work that we care to put out what we hope is quality content. We are always trying to improve and enhance what we do and we look forward to hearing from you!

The Next 12:

We’re not going to slow down, in fact, we’re just getting started! We have lots of new ideas and plans in the works, so just you stick around. Thank you!

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

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