Why, you ask. Let me try to explain without writing a book.....
I've lost three brothers. Larry, the oldest was a dreamer, an accomplished drummer,
and an artist. Rene, the second oldest was all business, but also a talented
songwriter and musician. Greg, the youngest, had the dreamer and business aptitude.
I learned a lot from all of them, the power of dreaming, the power of doing.
Greg was an internet visionary. He signed on long before it was commercially viable.
I tagged along. He quit a $50K job with an aerospace company (back in the late
80's) to take a job as a bench tech for a fledgling printer manufacturer getting
paid next to nothing. He went from that to being the manager of peripheral product
development (software) for EPSON America, chaired the International IEEE 1394
printer interface group, and was awarded 3 patents for the process of putting
full color images onto paper. Not shabby for a kid with a high school diploma
and no formal engineering education.
We would sit up till the wee hours talking about technology, the internet, music,
and our first love, our families. Greg was married to my wifes kid sister. (Rene
married another sister...).
When Greg's oldest was old enough to get involved in scouting, Greg got sucked
into scouting. See, Greg was always a geek, not outdoorsie at all. I on the other
hand used to spend a week or two at a time backpacking in the San Gabriel mountains
near where we grew up. I even bicycled down Pacific Coast Highway from San Fransisco
to L.A. Outdoors to Greg had been summer sleep overs in the backyard.
So Greg became involved. Big time. It became his passion. He set-up a website
for his pack and when they moved onto Boy Scouts one for their troop. He became
Scoutmaster. When in the area for business I'd attend meetings with him, interface
with the other leaders, lend a hand taking pictures at outings, running the computer
at the Pinewood Derby. My kids were grown, so I was involved by proxy with Greg
and my nephew.
Greg passed away after several bouts with cancer. The AgentZ has been online continuously
since early 1995. Not the first dot-com but an early arrival none the less. Greg's
wife didn't want the domain to go away and neither did I.
I took over management of the site in May of 2001. Since I had already gotten
my feet (ankles, knees, hips,... O.K. at times in over my head) wet with some
sites I had built I figured, NO PROBLEM! I was in the same position you are in,
just a much larger scale. It took over a year to simplify, re-organize, and re-work
the technology that I couldn't make work without Greg's head.
Greg always offered free sites for scouts. There weren't a lot of takers early
on. If you think its a daunting task now, image in the early days when all you
had to edit with was Notepad and you needed to know basic UNIX command line code
to upload stuff.
I wanted the tradition of the free scout sites and resources to carry on.
I was involved in an Desktop Publishing (www.jplcommunications.com) and an Arts
& Crafts business (http://home.sprynet.com/~pleclair/catalog-index.htm) with
my wife and Dad. Back in the early 90's a lot of crafts people were trying to
market their wares online and I spent a lot of time helping people debug their
sites, re-size images, etc. I set up a site for newbies to scrollsawing (one of
my loves) (http://scrollsaw.agentz.com/) to help them get started. After watching
folks upload huge images to their websites and then wonder why it took forever
for a page to load (on a dial-up) I created a Digital Imaging Primer (http://imaging.agentz.com/)
As a small business I had to do a lot of (O.K. All..) the work for flyers, hang-tags,
mailers, etc. myself. So I built up a little expertise in setting up home and
small offices (and the desktop publishing part). I have a Small Office/ Home Office
section (http://soho.agentz.com/) on the AgentZ to help out those folks with articles
and low-cost hosting options.
So volunteering time and effort was just something I did.
I also use the site for my (sometime) Bully Pulpit (http://agentz.com/blahblahblog/),
to show off my digital imaging (http://digitalimagesbyjpl.agentz.com/), and market
some products that I'm an authorized reseller for (check out - http://dakwhacker.agentz.com/
). If you'd like to poke around the site the table of contents is http://www.agentz.com/contents/
Greg funded the whole thing out of pocket as a hobby. I also did until last year
when I added Google Adsense to the site, added a few products (pinewood derby
software included) and pushed the hosting end of the business.
The site pays for itself, except for time, but I enjoy helping out. Somewhere
down the road, everyone I help will know a little more that the new guy starting
and they'll pass what they know along. I help you, you help the kids, the kids
grow -up and give back to the next generation. Isn't that what its all about?
The monetary costs are nil, the time spent is a gift for all that has been given
to me and the rewards for helping folks out are immeasurable.
Why, you ask, do I do this. Simply, because I can. Sorry about the book.......
Jean-Pierre "PETE" LeClair
President, The AgentZ
PO Box 8521
Riverside, CA 92515-8521
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own. Mt 6:34