TinkerTry's Fifth Birthday, June 1, 2016 - momentary pause for self-congratulatory backslapping and prognostication

Posted by Paul Braren on Jun 1 2016 (updated on Jun 2 2016) in
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  • The title of this retrospective post is inspired by this long-time listener of David McCabe's Home Server Show and Jim Collison's Home Gadget Geeks podcast. It has to do with a bit of hilarious listener feedback they received about one of their celebratory milestone episodes, stating that it contained a bit too much "self-congratulatory backslapping."

    I wasn't really sure how many words I really had in me, back when it all started on June 1st of 2011, with this very short article:


    Here's exactly how that first TinkerTry article originally appeared, along with the home page a few months later, thanks to The Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

    Back then, I was just finishing my first home lab build called vZilla at the time, and I was just getting started on the web. On June 3rd, I followed up with a considerably more technical article, which already showed my interest in trying to write stuff that you couldn't find anywhere else:

    As I continued to write more and more technical articles, something strange happened. Rather than running out of ideas, instead I soon found myself with more article ideas than I could ever possibly finish. Strangely, I found this to be exciting.

    I was hooked. And I learned cool new stuff.

    While stuff began accumulating in my unpublished drafts folder, I had to learn how to decide what was the most fun for me to work on and write about, and simply "letting go" of the rest. I'm still working on that.

    I also learned that it turns out I quite love the process of discovery, followed by sharing that discovery through storytelling to others. The words I type, and the videos I record, are just the mechanism. Helping others out on a bigger scale than I ever had before is a kick, I'll admit. I've been getting in trouble to spending too much time helping others since the third grade.

    Weeks went by, turning into months. One or two long-form articles a week. I began to realize there was a lot of interest in geeky technical things like how to put together a Sandy Bridge Core i7 system for VMware ESXi, and how to get the below LSI 9265-8i RAID adapter to play nicely with VMware.

    The learning continued: page load times, CDNs, the horrors of shared web hosting databases and WordPress Plugins, online backups, TTL/DNS propagation, downtime avoidance, security, encryption, and of course, audio and video production.

    I stuck through those lean first years, when TinkerTry was far too small to attract the big advertisers. Eventually, hundreds of detailed articles that folks find value in helped grow the readership to the level required to be able to re-invest revenues into the infrastructure that runs the site. I then created "TinkerTry.com, LLC" to help keep things organized, and poised for further growth.

    Running the business side of things involves saying no. A lot. It's a constant effort, to shun the ridiculously intrusive ad-riddled, slow load mess that so many other sites have succumbed to. That's just not TinkerTry. My whole career has been about optimizing for speed.

    I'm regularly offered significant money to inject trackers into TinkerTry, a web destination I've spent thousands of hours building up. I have little interest in doing something stupid that could tear it down. I'm in this for the long term.

    Most of the world sees any TinkerTry page come up in well under 3 seconds, and that's no coincidence. All the infrastructure elements are documented here, in the usual detailed manner.

    Tradition, Retrospection.

    It's become an annual tradition for me to take a moment to look back once a year. This time, it's 5 years aka 1824 days behind me, time enough to write 753 articles. That's several books worth of words.

    The tagline 'Virtualization, Storage, and Efficiency' arrived by Feb. 2012, sample above from later that year.

    That's it, done looking back. Time to return to charging forward with endless future ideas, that tend to still relate to the tagline that arrived in 2012: Virtualization, Storage, and Efficiency.

    There are occasional side-trips into consumer tech as well, such as the very popular and incredibly long My Ring Video Doorbell story starts a new chapter with Ring Video Doorbell Pro. If you come to TinkerTry while shopping for virtualization software, servers, or other home electronics, you'll become a much more informed buyer. In depth articles for a world that's always in a rush just looking for the bottom line isn't for everybody. I realize that. But technical folks and IT Professionals sure seem to appreciate the detail.

    The Future...


    an indication in advance


    With VMware beta tests underway, further-streamlining of TinkerTry's procedures for installing VMware with VCSA in a home lab, and recent progress with turn-key Xeon D-based home labs, things are only looking up for TinkerTry. More folks are finding out about how easy it is to get started by adopting the virtualization-ready Intel Xeon D-1500 platform, evident in the Open Homelab Project, or by those who are glad they purchased a turn-key bundled solution. Given the popularity of these bundles, I'm keeping me eye on future offerings too, recently asking you, my valued TinkerTry visitor, which new Xeon D you'd like to see. I plan to be a part of the future. I'm not one to stand in the side-lines.

    There will be exciting announcements and changes coming by fall of 2016. You can stay tuned to TinkerTry by subscribing to weekly email digests.

    I deeply appreciate your tremendous outpourings of support, each and every week. It's pretty awesome.

    OK, enough self-congratulatory backslapping. Time to get back to tinkering in my home lab so I have more tales to share with you, my valued reader. Thank you for visiting!

    June 02 2016 Update

    I've just noticed that the archived first post actually went live at 10:25pm on June 2, 2011. Perhaps I had a timezone issue, or perhaps I really have been wrong about TinkerTry's birthdate these past 5 years.

    See also at TinkerTry