When I was a teen, I had a Commodore 64 computer. I learned how to make that thing do my bidding, and even managed to earn enough to pay for a full year's worth of tuition with it. But probably the thing that influenced me the most was when I got myself a shiny new modem.

That little thing with the blinky red lights connected me to people. Put in the phone number to a local BBS, and we were in a new universe. One with people who were like me. People who liked to play with computers. People who liked to talk at all hours about anything, new ideas and old. Good jokes, bad jokes, and no judgement. We even got together for picnics in the park!

Then while at university, there was this new thing called the Internet. Nothing like today, with all those dot coms and Facebooks. But at its soul was still a group forum, called Usenet, which was fundamentally the same as chatting on a BBS. Except now it was global!

Coming out of university, that's what I wanted to help accomplish. Bring people together, help them communicate. Any group of people, no matter how small, no matter how far-flung, if they had access to this new Internet thing they could find each other, talk to and support each other. Really, it's our modern age's biggest miracle.

And that's exactly what I did. It was literally Usenet that got my foot into the door working at a local ISP. I made myself indispensible, and was part of the crew before the first paying customer walked through the door. I'd like to think I performed quite a few minor miracles, making Linux servers do weird and wonderful things, all on a near-zero budget. And after over twenty years, of that original crew, I guess I'm the last man standing.

That was my gift to you. I helped bring you together. Most of you didn't even notice, because I did it quietly and almost invisibly. But as the maudlin saying goes, All Good Things. You don't need me anymore, now that Facebook and Twitter and Amazon now fit on a tiny little gizmo that you carry with you everywhere.

Whatever this next chapter of my life brings me, it will be something new. I just haven't the foggiest what that will be yet, nor when that new door will open.