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Ten Years Of Tech Columns

Ten years ago today, I started writing a consumer-tech column for The Post's Business section. And here I am, still doing the same thing (along with a Q&A column, a blog, and Web chats, and Twitter... but that's not important right now).

I'd say I've been stuck in a rut, but the column has changed a lot over that decade.

For one thing, it's run under different names. For the first few years, we called it Logging On, since it was accompanied by other computing reviews and features under a Fast Forward heading. (Veteran readers will recall that Fast Forward debuted in the summer of 1994 as a monthly audio/video/computing magazine-- anybody still have old copies of that lying around?--before The Post moved the computer-centric parts of the magazine's coverage to Weekend at the end of 1996.)

For another, my column has appeared on different days of the week--first on Fridays, then Sundays, then Thursdays, and now a hybrid schedule (online Friday, in print Sunday). For much of 2005 and 2006, I also wrote extra columns on breaking news topics; with the advent of my blog in 2007, I now address current events there, and sometimes we "reverse publish" the results in print the next day.

Most of all, my column has changed focus. At the start, with other reviews running next to my column, I felt like I could focus on some fuzzier topics of human-computer interaction--something I didn't consistently succeed at for most of the first year. But as we cut back on those separate reviews, I started writing columns that focused closer on the "should you get this?" question. I've also found myself focusing more on tech-policy issues, since so many of those policy discussions happen within a mile of my office--and those debates can seriously limit your choice of hardware, software and services down the line.

If you've been reading my column since 1999, you may have noticed one other thing: I've yet to skip a week. That's not something I set out to do at the start; I just knew that I didn't want to make the paper run one of those "Rob Pegoraro is away; his column will resume when he returns" notices in the first few months of my column's existence, and after a while I just got into the habit of writing a column or two in advance to cover times when I'd be on vacation. I wish I could tell you that I've now set some Post record for continuous columnizing, but there's no easy way to check for that sort of thing in our index. (Hope y'all don't mind if I take a week off during my next vacation. This streak's gotta end at some point; all streaks do.)

I could go on about what I've learned over the past ten years, but I've got yet another column to write. So I'll leave it at this: Thanks for reading.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 16, 2009; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  The business we have chosen  
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So, ten years, 52 columns a year, that's 520. You've got another 1611 weeks to go in order to catch up with Ripken. But sure, we won't mind you skipping a week for vacation. Just don't do it until you catch up with Cal. :-)

Posted by: dactyl | September 17, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

It'd be interesting to look back at what you were writing about back then: Netscape, portable CD players, pros and cons of broadband...

Posted by: deduck | September 17, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I remember when your column started, I thought they picked you just because you look like a stereotypical skinny nerd.

Posted by: hesaid | September 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I would love to read a review of the "latest and greatest" computer from ten years ago. Was the Windows OS Win95 back then?
How about some links or copies from the archives?

Posted by: tbva | September 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Rob! Thank you so much for the 10 years of education you've given us.

Posted by: barnabasjr1 | September 17, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, some might say that its the first decade that always the most difficult to get thru. LOL

The flip side of that observation, however, was perhaps revealed in the Monday evening Lawyers AA Group that meets at ^;30 pm at the St. Johns Perish House across from the White House and no it is not restricted to lawyers. Since there is no particular meeting entitled the Lawyers NA Group, all are welcome at this group, which has met for well over 20 years now at the same location.

In any event, some years back some of Washington's best known lawyers were in attendance one evening along with a newcomer who was having difficulty determining if they really wanted to continue to practice as a lawyer. Strange as it may seem to some, all of the prestigious more senior lawyers present confided that if they had it to do all over again, that they would do something other than practice law, be it business, journalism, or whatever. Of course, who is to say that they would have been equally successful in these other fields, but the desire for a 2d or 3rd career, distinct perhaps from a former career seems to be on the minds of many successful folks and some not so successful ones also.

You have grown in your position and are well received by many loyal readers. Perhaps a continued diversification along the lines of the last decade is a good way to go.

Posted by: | September 18, 2009 2:37 AM | Report abuse

If you need to go on vacation more, I'll be happy to fill in. ;)

Posted by: davezatz | September 18, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

And I've been sending comments in ot hte chats, and now here, for as long as you've had them.

10 years. 10 years ago Google didn't exist, most of us didn't have cell phones, the Palm Pilot was the hottest PDA, and Microsoft was going to Rule The World.

Posted by: wiredog | September 18, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Happy Anniversary, Rob!

I've only had the pleasure of reading your work for the past 3 1/2 years, but have learned an incredible amount about tech and all it's wonders and woes from you. I thank you for that.

I remember how excited I was when DSL finally became available to me so I could check out your chats live rather than reading the transcripts afterward.

It was through your Personal Tech blog/column that I first was "introduced" to Brian Krebs' Security Fix. I also thank you for that.

You've been RSSed to my iGoogle home page for the better part of the 3 1/2 years and while I would certainly be looking forward to your return, you certainly have earned a vacation away from all of our voracious eyes!!

Thank you again.

Posted by: Kat1110 | September 18, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

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