It’s been some time, 12 odd years in fact since I wrote a blog or owned a website or forum. Back then I was a young new dad with little experience of the internet. I wasn’t a gamer, I wasn’t a pc builder or a hardware reviewer, I had no knowledge of how to post or edit in a forum let alone run one. The only tech I really owned or knew anything about was audio gear. Whether it was my Hi Fi or my DJ equipment. But back then budget was near enough non existent and again, I refer back to my lack of internet experience or presence.
It was a normal day when I decided to boot up my very rapidly ageing pc that was handed to me by some dodgy neighbour. I think it was running a very laggy and bloated version of XP, Or was it ME, Memory fails me…
I wanted to see if I could get connected to the internet with an old modem my father in law had passed to me and start exploring the web. Well one thing led to another, Fast forward some “odd” internet searches on Yahoo ( I didn’t know about google at the time ) And I came across a site that had just recently changed it’s name from Pimprig to PcApex. Little did I know that after an initially very cringe worthy first post, A horrific looking “Case-Mod” called “The Claw” and a few months down the line of annoying, pestering and talking the ears off some of the members that I would become a moderator & hardware reviewer. Little to do with audio I know, Just bear with me….
PcApex became like an online home and family to someone that didn’t have a social life due to becoming a carer ( Another story for another time ) and as time went on I got a good number of reviews under my belt. I loved that forum and I loved the close friendships I had made there. I still remember them all sending me various PC parts so I could build my first gaming rig. I’ll always be thankful to them all for what they did. Rob, Ollie, HighTechRedneck, Slay, Dave…. If you ever read this chaps, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to lay the foundation and propel me into the online world I now use so much for so much. You gave me my wings.
A time came when I received a message from my good friend & Overclocking legend Pat ( SolidNecro )… Someone owns a forum called VoidedWarranty and it’s collapsing in on itself. Pat has been asked to come in as an admin and Pat in turn has asked me if I want to step in and help out as lead moderator. Well as much as I loved my place at PcApex, I felt it was time to spread my wings and take on a challenge. GK aka Glitterkill gave me his blessings to go forth and do what I could. Another one of those people who deserves thanks and doesn’t really understand what he did for me back then. So stood against that virtual backdrop with my now mentor and close friend Pat, We went in against vehement rebellion and abuse from an eroding and toxic member core that had over run the forum then pretty much given up on it. I think It was then even though I didn’t realise it that I made my decision to aim higher. Pat gave me the green light when I decided I needed a team of mods to help regain control over this unruly bunch. We managed to a decent enough degree. But membership was slowly falling and eventually the owner decided he wanted done with it all. After all the blood sweat and tears we put into that site I was damned if we were just going to let it go, So with a bold plan in mind mixed in with some proper nerves, I rallied some of the gang from “VW”, PcApex & HardOCP ( Blake, Steve and Casey, You guys were my A-Team!!! ) together and suggested we buy the site out and take on the domain. Much to my surprise they all agreed and between us we bought the site, Its domain and all its rights out from the previous owner. Soon after we had a name change, a redesign from the ground up, We were offline for two weeks getting it just right! Soon after Solid handed the reigns over, Making me Sole Admin & Webmaster. We took on more team members and most importantly starting making and maintaining contact with industry vendors, designers, manifacturers & developers. Reviews started going up, Traffic grew. Membership increased tenfold and we had ourselves a pretty nice website and forums under the new name of AppetiteForTech or fondly remembered as A4T. I changed the name as my plan was to gradually make the site a place for more than just PC Gaming related content, And after some time I started getting reviews online covering audio gear, Photography and gadgets. it went well for some time and I started pulling in some of the bigger players, I even had something lined up with Sennheiser. That’s when it all came to a grinding halt.
My family suddenly went through some BIG upheavals and as a result I ended up sofa surfing/homeless and all I had worked for slowly but very surely slipped through my fingers to eventually become a part of internet history. RIP A4T and all who sailed in her. She was a giving ship until her last. At the time I was too messed up to think about it, But now when I look back I wish I had held on for dear life and kept her afloat. I miss that site as much as I do PcApex, But more on that another day….
Sometime during all of this, Facebook appeared out of the fog and began to swiftly gain momentum, And I still to this day attribute this advent to the demise of many popular at that time online forums. At least it was a way to stay connected with the world and the few people left in mine that I trusted.
Since then I have dabbled here or there with various facebook groups that didn’t really take off or just weren’t sitting right with me. My own disabilities reared their ugly head and life has been rough at times. But hey, Less of that! I’m not that person. Nor do I ever intend to be again.
Through determination and probably some divine intervention I worked with my then ex to repair our relationship and create new memories. Now we’re happily married in a new home with a rapidly growing teenager. ( No longer that little baby sat next to his young dad learning about the guts of a computer )
Being a Disabled carer, It really doesn’t give you much flexibility with employers and so I am unemployed. However, Being the determined git that I am and coming from a father who taught me to never quit, I decided yet again, I wanted to do something fulfilling. So now armed with some internet experience ( Ok for those who know me mentioned above, I know we’re Internet veterans now. Lol Bite me! ) I pounced on Google and Youtube and started looking at anything and everything a guy could do from home, Possibly earn some money and still do it all within the rules and regulations…
I ended up refreshing my IT skills because by now I’m not that young man who didn’t have a clue about computers and I wanted to get up to scratch with this new era. I got certified and then researched some more… I came across a channel on youtube and after watching almost every video from it’s beginning I had a yearning to get some tools,, Some wood and have a go at building a guitar kit. ( Baby steps now )
It’s not complete yet and I’ll most probably use this blog to share my progress, But I will say for now, That for someone who hated woodwork in school, I’m doing a pretty damn fine job if I don’t say so myself. And I’m learning all the time. I always will be.
Not happy in my now 40’s to take on one project I also out of no-where decided it would be really clever to get involved in politics, A subject I despise and get very frustrated with. We’ll get into this maybe some other time, But as of this current moment I’m my Local Branches newly elected Vice Secretary & Social Media Coordinator. Who knew?
So after this long and winding essay we find ourselves asking, What exactly is the point in this and what the hell has it got to do with an Audiophile Cafe?
Remember I mentioned earlier that I was into Audio gear from an early age? Remember me also saying like a few seconds ago that I was getting into politics? Right. So how do they relate and we still have no idea where this is going Paul!
Haha Ok, Ok….
I was in a few audiophile groups on facebook at the time and started noticing the very noticeable lack of the fairer sexes, genders and so on… In these groups. Being a socialist this kinda irks my freshly found passion for politics ( Did I really just say that? ) And seeing one post on a fairly normal Wednesday, Through me right off the edge and did anger me so.
Grown men objectifying and perving over some scantily clad model sat on top of a pair of JBL speakers.
A few brave women in said post getting angry and rightly so, Just to be hurled abuse in a toxic environment that no admin or moderator seemed bothered to rectify.
So I acted. Ever so spontaneously… I acted.
I went around and did the one thing those old pre-facebook forums turned their noses up at and told members to never do, And I poached, I wilfully and unashamedly poached, Not just from one, But a few select groups. I hand picked wronged members from all walks of life, Because I’m a man who sees a person equally no matter who they are.
I asked them if they would be interested in some kind of place as yet undefined that would be different in it’s approach. that would not accept anything less than excellence and respect for one another and this passion for music and audio that we obsess over.
Later that day I created “The Audiophile Cafe” I invited all of the above to this fledgling group, This tiny insignificant corner of the internet on facebook. Within days I had an admin team of men, Women and trans folk ( Yup, Really! ) including LGBTQI+.
Within only a few days we jumped from just a handful of us to as of this piece 150 members. Hailing from far and wide, Regular listeners, Industry workers, Pioneers, Producers & Recording Engineers alike. We are a broad church in so many ways. And our community is blossoming. We have created a relaxed, Respectful and informative atmosphere that I am very proud of, And proud of my team for being a part of, In it’s conception.
So the journey began some time ago, But it seems fate, life, older age, Call it what you will decided to show me now that it’s all been one big journey, That old cliche’d but apt “Roller Coaster Ride” has brought me here to this point. I decided to create this blog to run alongside the group, to allow me to express my views, My mistakes, My passion and anything else in between. I’m hoping to don that old “Reviewer” hat of mine again, But concentrate this time on music and audio. I love gaming, I love Home theatre, But I can’t do everything, So they are just pastimes.
No. this is my passion, It has been since I was 6 and listened to Jean Michel Jarre on a Revox Reel to Reel. On some Sennheiser HD400s ( If memory serves ) It was when I was a teen, I rejoiced in it in my early 20’s. I drowned myself in it as a DJ in clubs and out in the fields. And as a 40 something year old it has become a companion, A friend that makes this life so much more. There are folk who don’t get it, There always is. There always will be. And that’s cool.
Anyway, That’s me, Laid pretty much bare on the table. It’s not my life story by a long shot, It’s not meant to be. But it is a slice of me. And this is my first proper attempt at a blog!
I promise the next time I log in and write something it will be something to do with music or audio gear. What? I am not sure yet. It depends what the wind blows my way that day.
All my very best wishes on what happens to be fathers day at approximately 2:48am GMT.
Until next blog, Peace, Paul 🙂
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton