Yep, it’s been a while since we had a post (or an actual site for that matter) hasn’t it? Well fonefrenzy wasn’t completely dead, we just took some twists and turns along the long bloggers road. And I can say that it has been a humbling learning experience. Basically, I fucked up, more than once.
Before starting fonefrenzy (the website) in 2009, I was on twitter as fonefrenzy pretty much just retweeting cell phone news and especially webOS. This guy named Phil got a hold of me and asked to me to write for his site. I started writing for PreThinking and broke the news with the first screen shots of webOS. It was pretty exciting to say the least, having every major blog in the world link back to PreThinking for our exclusive story. The site was started by Philip ‘Phil’ Lam, the same brilliant kid that got busted for selling authentic white iPhone 4 conversion kits to the masses. I guess since he spoke fluent Chinese, he was able to find a connection for the parts. I wasn’t privy to the entire story of what happened because by this time, I had already moved on my own with fonefrenzy. Though I did have a ball writing for PreThinking during that period of my life, and I thank Phil for giving me a change to get started.
I hooked up with Daniel Rodriguez from SoCal on twitter and asked him if he wanted to write for FF. We were both pretty jazzed by webOS and both of us started becoming mobile tech addicts. Later, I met with James Patterson, over Google buzz when I posted I was looking for mobile tech writers and we became friends since he was local. James told me about his friend Dillon Hanson, who at the time was stationed in Germany as a medic in the Army, but he has some pretty decent mobile chops too.
Twitter was an avenue to meet a lot of interesting people and I was very fortunate to meet tnkgrl (Myriam Joire) and Matt Bennett. We shot a several mobile video podcasts together called “talking with tnkgrl” (I showed up in the later episodes), Matt and tnkgrl had already been doing this for a while. I was always impressed with tnkgrl’s ability to get hardware. Not only did she have dual degrees but she was a mobile addict too. Myriam and I become pretty cool friends. I just wished I lived in the city, that way we could have shot many more podcasts together. We had hard times with our schedules, particularly mine at the time, to get together for more podcasts. It was fun because I would roll up from the central valley and meet her and Matt at Farley’s coffee, and she would litterally pull out a bag full of phones. Matt and I were awestruck with the shear amount of hardware she’d be packing every time. We would have audio or video problems occasionally but all in all, we had fun and got information out to the masses.
Later on, I went out to cover webOS events like the first dev meetup at Pivotal Labs (the company that coded the Tweed twitter app for webOS). Then I covered the webOS first big dev meetup a Palm’s HQ accompanied by tnkgrl. I met Luke Kilpatrick who, to this day I still have not had the opportunity to have a board session with on the coast. But we will soon Luke! Both tnkgrl and I got to meet and speak with Mitch Allen, Palm’s CTO at the time and he was one of the most down to earth people in the world. I remember earlier when my soon-to-be wife at the time saw Mitch at the Pivotal Labs dev event and she proceeded to tell me as we were leaving that she thought Mitch was hot for an older guy. I was like whatever, because had I said the same about same about Tomomi Imura, I would have received the stare-of-death from my girl.
From there, I attended the Mobilize in 2009 event in S.F., again with tnkgrl and got to meet two of the nicest guys in the blogosphere, Chris Ziegler and Ross Miller, both editors at Engadget at the time. Both of them were really cool and remembered me from emails I had sent them. I also caught up with Chris and tnkgrl earlier this year at the S.F. Engadget meet up when I brought my other buddy James Patterson editor/coder/hacker along with me to the event. And then went to CES the following January as a blogger. I got to peek inside the Engadget trailer and see their setup which was sponsored by Sprint. In retrospect, I truly had no clue as to how to put all that I saw in writing, all by myself, as it was so much information to cover in a short amount of time. I had no direction or plan for the show and that hindered me. Also, I had really lame laptop and a cheap camera I got a target. The whole experience was pretty overwhelming, but I learned what it took to become a blogger, in addition to the tools that were required to get the job done. I felt pretty lost.
Time passed and we kept sporadically writing when each of us had time. Looking back, we were trying to hard to be like the bigger tech sites: Engadget, BGR, Gizmodo, Android Central, etc., doing reviews, reporting news and such. Instead of focusing on ‘our voice’ we tried to emulate these larger sites, competing with paid writers and the ability to write full time – which we didn’t have the time, nor money to do so. None of us had that ability and we were all struggling to bring fresh daily content to the site. So in haste, I made a very bad decision to get more readers on our site; I turned fonefrenzy into a scraper site. I did this to test and see how it would affect our stats. While they improved slightly, our bounce rate was off the charts. We didn’t keep eyes on our site because content was coming from other sites. I did shut down the incoming feeds on my own because ‘our’ posts was getting lost in the massive amount of news that was coming through the site each day. And then I got a phone call earlier this year (2011) from Myriam. She never called, so I knew something was up.
I was left with a frantic message to call her back right away. I was at work and had a client with me, so I called her as soon as I could. When I returned her call, she proceeded to tell me that she was now the Senior Mobile Editor for Engadget. At this time, several of the Engadget editors split to form their own site This Is My Next, soon to be renamed The Verge. She called to offer me job as a mobile writer for Engadget. I was stunned. She told me to submit an app and she would talk with Darren Murph, the managing editor for Engadget, about hooking me up with a job. I had an ‘in’ for a dream job of my life. And believe me at the time, I had gone through two different employers and was not happy in my career at all. I am an extremely hard and dedicated worker but my compensation plan changed several times, and not for the better. In addition, my hours got worse each month.
So I submitted my application and three stories to Myriam and she passed them along to Darren. Well, my decision to ‘scrape’ other sites content totally backfired and bit me in the fucking ass. You see, all of the articles we wrote, over 1,000+, were obscured by all the feeds I had pulled into the site as a test run like Techmeme. Myriam gave Darren my URL and he started reviewing the site. He then saw posts from scraped posts from Engadget. Myriam hadn’t checked my site in a while and wasn’t aware of what transpired at all and was a little taken back. So I wrote an email explaining that I had written over 660 articles by myself on FF, not including the 160+ over at PreThinking. But the damage was already done, and I was not given the opportunity to write for Engadget after that fubar of a decision. To put salt on the wounds, I got a C&D letter from AOL’s attorneys, which weren’t happy about me scraping content from their newly acquired flagship tech blog. I fucked up and I had nightmares about it for weeks. I got so depressed, I wasn’t even associating with my coworkers, friends and family at all. It was pretty disheartening to have such a wonderful opportunity to do what I LOVE, only to be stripped away from me because I wanted more content on our FF. So I decided to shut down the site and start over with another blog with James.
Well, although the concept was pretty good, an all tech site with ‘buddies’ didn’t seem to work out to well. Dillon got back from the Army and started going to back to school and wanted to spend time with his family. Daniel didn’t like the direction of the site and had other stuff going on in his life, so he took a vacation. James and I had been working crazy hours and we both had families, which made it hard to contribute to content of various formats of technology. I want to say that James put a shitload of time into coding the new tech site to make it all pretty and running smooth, but to no avail, besides James and I throwing up posts, no one else contributed much. So I decided to shut it down.
So what now? Well, my first love is mobile tech and always will be. Each day we get glimpse of how much better the future will be every six months with better processors, better hardware, better cameras, refined OS’ and the like. Fonefrenzy will continue as a site dedicated to mobile news, just not ‘breaking’ mobile news. We are going to become a more tutorial/opinionated site, whereby we try and strive to give you unbiased and sometimes hard core fucking biased thoughts of products, services, business related news, hardware reviews, video and audio podcasts and other mobile tech tidbits. Basically, back to our roots but better. If you love us, great. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, etc. If you don’t, leave your hate filled, profane rants in the comments section and if they are good enough, we will respond accordingly. If they suck, we’ll just ban your IP 😉
And last, thank you the many readers over the years for checking out our blog.