GPS

(If you have a genealogy background… sorry… this isn’t about the Genealogical Proof Standard, but rather the Global Positioning System.)

Passion is a key ingredient to success, and GPS represented an interesting crossroads for two passions– outdoor recreation and technology. Rewind to 2005 and I had a hunch GPS would be the “next big thing” in consumer electronics. I loved the outdoors, loved maps (my sister works at the USGS), and loved technology. All of those triangulate on GPS. (See what I did there? 😉 )

Blogging was also becoming popular and I jumped in. Within days GPSReview.net was getting daily traffic and within a few months I was writing more original commentary rather than just rehashing press releases. Then reporters starting calling asking to interview me about GPS. Manufacturers of GPS devices started sending me review models and asking for product development feedback. They also started sending me threatening letters from their legal department when I broke news of new products before their announcements. I never broke an embargo and the companies got better about plugging their own leaks.

Soon the site added discussion forums, product comparisons, and video reviews. I was going to multiple trade shows each year, while still functioning as the webmaster for the site. Holidays were particularly exciting and painful as I tried to keep the servers running under the incredible traffic loads when I should have been spending time with family. People were buying their first GPS and needed help.

Eventually the site became much more than I could handle on my own. Servers were crashing under the load. I couldn’t write content, keep the servers running, and keep the peace in the forums. No way could I add new features. A few offers came my way and I led the site through acquisition.

Soon, more people had experience with GPS devices and didn’t need as much purchasing advice. More cars were coming equipped with navigation. Smart phones with GPS built-in were becoming a thing. I still manage operations for the site and there is an active forum community.

I have a huge amount of tools in my quiver, added from my experiences there. Working on a shoestring, optimizing servers and resources, the importance of passion, working endless hours, business taxes, and legal issues.

Tim Flight

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I'm a web application developer, generally working with PHP and MySQL. I'm also a genealogist with primary research expertise in New England, the Maritimes of Canada, and Sweden. And I'm a former National Champion snowboarder. Formerly I was a full-time professional blogger.

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