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Convert
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:17 pm

drfish wrote:
I agree with you 100%. I'm also trying to be realistic about what is immediately feasible and, from my perspective, any kind of site reboot is unlikely under the current regime. To date, my understanding is that the subscription option has been a nice bit of supplemental income, but it's still significantly less than the constantly shrinking pool of advertising and referral revenue. My intention with speaking openly here (and remember helping TR costs me money, I have nothing to gain other than hopefully preserving the community that I love) is to let people know that subs will need to be a lot more than just a little bit of extra income to make a difference. I figure that hasn't been spelled out in black in white so far and that maybe now that it is, people will consider them more seriously instead of thinking "well, one sub can't matter that much." It absolutely does. That's the transformation I'm looking for and the one that I don't think has been advertised clearly enough until now. Previously, the motivation for subbing was just to get a few perks. Going forward, in my opinion, the "reward" is the survival of the site, period. That's as clear as I can make it.

I know this is a tough sell without a full-time reviewer currently in house, and I know that we've waited too long to spell this out for everyone. I just got let off the leash though, so, I'm putting it out there for everyone to read as soon as I was allowed to. It's tough, I can't make any promises about anything. I'm also trying hard to make sure this isn't coming across as begging for cash. That's not the point. The point is only to share the reality of the situation with everyone and then see what happens when people are fully informed.

As for brainstorming, I'm all for it. We're short on manpower and time, though. Makes it tricky. That's why I'm leading with the facts I know. Adam's cooking up some plans of his own, I want to buy him more time to work them out or maybe alleviate the need for his plans altogether.


We do thank you for speaking openly about it. You're in for a lot of tough love though that isn't necessarily directed at you. I am unwilling to be so cordial as Leor about this though.

It's a tough sell, but it has nothing to do with having a full-time reviewer in house. It has to do with what you first said, that the current regime is resisting a site reboot. It's a tough sell because TR is making an obvious mistake of thinking a failed model can work with a few small tweaks, or even just with the right person at the helm. Why in the world would anyone be willing to see past that logic error for any appreciable amount of time and support these plans? TR has a proven track record of not making the necessary changes to survive and from what I'm hearing, there's still some heads stuck in the sand.

TR literally wants to win the lottery so someone can pay reviewers to keep doing what TR has always done, all because the business model isn't self sustainable anymore. You will find a devout few who will keep tossing their money at you, but it won't last forever because you'll never produce the quality that can be found elsewhere on the budget you'll have. It's never going to be self sustainable. Strictly writing out long winded (I say that lovingly) reviews is dead. Dead. But having them along side what will actually allow the employees to prosper is a perfectly fine idea and one that the readership would back. The only way the site has survived this long is because it was set up as a meat grinder. Some people got paid a pittance in exchange for all of their waking hours and sometimes a good chunk of their non-waking hours. Other parts of the business were basically kept going as a volunteer basis. That's all well and good to get off the ground, but it was selfish to not make the jump to the next means of sustainable income back when you had the chance.

In order to execute, the old approach takes the backseat. It's the last thing you spend your time on. It's the last thing to get the money.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:31 pm

Wonders wrote:
But it starts and ends with the benchmarking.
Maybe as some others have suggested, TR can go "underground": We pool funds to support bare "numbers only" benchmarking of new GPUs and CPUs in the forums, and if we behave nicely then pros such as Kampman may stop by to offer a pointed comment or two (just to keep the rest of us from leaping to mad conclusions).


If TR members were to perform benchmarking and post numbers, the results would be pretty much like these:

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i5-9600K+%40+3.70GHz&id=3337
Results from the last 5 baselines: mean = 13717, standard deviation = 1548

https://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu.php?gpu=GeForce+GTX+1060&id=3548
Results from the last 5 baselines: mean = 9391, standard deviation = 1482

I don't think that would be a good idea, and no editor would be able to draw meaningful conclusions from such results.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Mon Mar 25, 2019 5:58 pm

Yeah, there would have to be some kind of moderation involved plus a spec published for what tests are acceptable and how results should be submitted. It'd be a great project, but also a huge time suck.

The youtube thing I wish wasn't necessary, but I'm also not sure how it could be avoided without things changing drastically from what they are now anyway. The attention span for digesting the type of content we've all seen on TR throughout the years just isn't there anymore. I'm not doing my best bro impersonation here(seriously), and I don't think that's specific to the PC hardware industry either. I watch a lot of woodworking/maker videos on youtube, and most of them are less than half an hour if not in the five to seven minute range. That's not because they don't have the time or resources to create a longer video. Most of them have hours of footage that never sees the light of day for every video they post. It's because relatively speaking nobody wants to watch videos that aren't short and easily consumable. I realize it may not be possible for this to be the very first thing that gets done in order to right the ship, and clearly the kind of weekly production schedule that appears common among youtubers isn't in the cards right now, but something's gotta give.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:05 am

Convert wrote:

TR literally wants to win the lottery so someone can pay reviewers to keep doing what TR has always done, all because the business model isn't self sustainable anymore.


Aside from the part where I'm literally not employed by the site any longer and speaking only in a personal capacity, you may want to recalibrate your joke-detection hardware, because duh, nobody is winning the lottery and giving the site the cash.

The kernel of truth I'm trying to get across with that bit of hyperbole is that ideas are great, but they're also not worth anything without the capital expenditures and people necessary to implement them. I can assure you that I was not sitting with my hands clapped over my eyes and ears over the past three years and change while YouTube became the primary medium through which people communicated about PC hardware. We had lots and lots of ideas behind the scenes about what to do and what to try to remain relevant in this new era and I can further assure you that I had many sleepless nights fretting about it. At the end of the day, while I occasionally found time to make video content, I am but one person, I have 24 hours in my day just like everybody else, and most of those were consumed with doing everything else necessary to keep the site running. Trying to become the next Linus on top of that was literally impossible.

The fundamental problem, again and again, is not ideas, it's finding someone willing to make the right investment in the future of the business so that you can hire the people necessary to make those ideas reality -- especially if you want the result to be motivated by a spirit of inquiry rather than creating the next YouTube or Twitch influencer marketing phenomenon. As I've already said, that's up to other people to do at this point and I hope it happens, but I just want to be clear that I was not oblivious to these challenges.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:26 am

A quick add to that, Jeff is a total camera/DP nerd and he made some sweet video content for the site. If there had been time to do more, I feel confident in saying that he would have really enjoying creating it. If you can only do one, though, which type of content do you produce? Tricky stuff.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:41 am

If there isn’t enough capital to do what’s needed (YouTube fluff), and not enough steady income to do what we want (in-depth writing), then maybe we should take the ArsTechnica route and become a news aggregator with an attached community.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:13 am

Just making a post to see my shiny new subscriber badge ;)
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:24 am

cheesyking wrote:
Just making a post to see my shiny new subscriber badge ;)

It magically appears on all of your existing posts as well.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:40 am

Jeff Kampman wrote:
As I've already said, that's up to other people to do at this point and I hope it happens, but I just want to be clear that I was not oblivious to these challenges.

I don't think anyone is inferring you or anyone else was, but this is the first open conversation we are having about something I think we have all been feeling for a while. TR went from 3 full time original content creators (Scott, Geoff, and Cyril) down to one (Jeff), down to none (with a slew of guests and part timers through each "era"). At one point I could come to the site several times a day and find something new and interesting to read, then there were no posts on the weekend anymore, then only a couple on a weekday, down to the trickle we see now, leaving a sense that the site is in decline.

I think the real question at hand is: Is it too late to reverse this, and what would it take? If the idea is for leaning on the community more, maybe we can take one of the ideas from the front page and create a "platinum" tier where we create another forum thread similar to the Smokey Back Room, and contributors can be a part of conversations like this, helping to drive the future of the site (in addition to anything else that makes sense). This would give people a vested interest TR's future as they would have some skin in the game.

We can come up with lots of ideas and evaluate what it would take from a financial/effort perspective, but *something* has to change. I think we all know what Einstein has told us about doing the same thing and expecting a different result...
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:49 am

I have my own ideas on what might work (though I'd likely need to do a bit of research), but lets hope this small infusion of cash from subscribers buys enough time to sit down and come up with a fully fleshed-out plan of action.
 
Convert
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 1:13 pm

Jeff Kampman wrote:
Convert wrote:

TR literally wants to win the lottery so someone can pay reviewers to keep doing what TR has always done, all because the business model isn't self sustainable anymore.


Aside from the part where I'm literally not employed by the site any longer and speaking only in a personal capacity, you may want to recalibrate your joke-detection hardware, because duh, nobody is winning the lottery and giving the site the cash.

The kernel of truth I'm trying to get across with that bit of hyperbole is that ideas are great, but they're also not worth anything without the capital expenditures and people necessary to implement them. I can assure you that I was not sitting with my hands clapped over my eyes and ears over the past three years and change while YouTube became the primary medium through which people communicated about PC hardware. We had lots and lots of ideas behind the scenes about what to do and what to try to remain relevant in this new era and I can further assure you that I had many sleepless nights fretting about it. At the end of the day, while I occasionally found time to make video content, I am but one person, I have 24 hours in my day just like everybody else, and most of those were consumed with doing everything else necessary to keep the site running. Trying to become the next Linus on top of that was literally impossible.

The fundamental problem, again and again, is not ideas, it's finding someone willing to make the right investment in the future of the business so that you can hire the people necessary to make those ideas reality -- especially if you want the result to be motivated by a spirit of inquiry rather than creating the next YouTube or Twitch influencer marketing phenomenon. As I've already said, that's up to other people to do at this point and I hope it happens, but I just want to be clear that I was not oblivious to these challenges.


It's all good, wasn't hung up on it being hyperbole or not. There's no need to be pedantic as it equates to the same thing - money has to come from somewhere, joking about it coming from a lottery isn't any different from wanting it to come from some other entity. I'm sure you wouldn't have turned down the lottery option if it had come up :)

This is where things get touchy. I realize my statements don't come off well to someone who has been stressed out over these affairs well before they came to a head. From what you're saying, it sounds like all TR needs is an investor and the ideas are all figured out.

Jeff Kampman wrote:
At the end of the day, while I occasionally found time to make video content, I am but one person, I have 24 hours in my day just like everybody else, and most of those were consumed with doing everything else necessary to keep the site running. Trying to become the next Linus on top of that was literally impossible.


Just trying to wrap my head around this. You mentioned you saw the impending changes and lost sleep over it. But you were so busy keeping up on the day to day that it prevented you from avoiding the iceberg? I can see why if you had the money, you would have hired the next Linus to head up that department. Was the community not given a chance to help before it was too late simply because there seemed to be a solution right around the corner to the money issue? Or is the community never going to be the answer based on what is/or would have been needed? Not that it really matters now I guess. It's just that the reasoning for how things ended up leaves those of us who view the past as a means of learning, a bit curious on how past business decisions won't be repeated.

It's never a question of how much you gave Jeff. You and all the contributors to the site deserve a life of luxury in my book for what you have done for the community. If I won the lottery I'd make it happen, and that isn't hyperbole.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:56 pm

Being stuck in survival mode sucks. I can say that from first hand experience. When you're in the middle of it it's difficult sometimes to tell the difference between the usual grind of slow and steady progress, and something which could turn into a real problem, but once you start having to triage out good ideas just to keep up with the day to day, then it becomes pretty obvious that something's gotta give. That's basically what caused me to jump ship from managing an ecommerce platform into going independent. It's still crazy, but at least now I have some control over the degree of crazy.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:03 pm

Convert wrote:
Just trying to wrap my head around this. You mentioned you saw the impending changes and lost sleep over it. But you were so busy keeping up on the day to day that it prevented you from avoiding the iceberg? I can see why if you had the money, you would have hired the next Linus to head up that department. Was the community not given a chance to help before it was too late simply because there seemed to be a solution right around the corner to the money issue?


Man, it sure is pleasant to have this difficult discussion with an inquisitive and well spoken group. Seriously, this is refreshing, even if it's a bit depressing as well.

To answer your question, and to walk as close to the line as I feel comfortable... Yes, there were a couple big reasons to believe the situation would improve and decisions were made in good faith based on those beliefs. Adam got put in a tougher spot than he bargained for when things didn't pan out as expected due to commitments not being fulfilled. By the time he realized that those promises weren't going to be kept, Jeff had given all he had to give and the tough spot got even more untenable. At that point, it's hard to go to the community that you didn't expect to make any special requests of and ask for help when you can't promise anything of substance in return for who knows how long... That was three months ago. Two weeks ago, our interim editor Seth got an offer he couldn't refuse and left the TR Slack channel with the gerbils at play and all the cats away, so to speak. That brings us to where we are now, with Adam telling me I can spill the beans to you guys and see if there's a way forward from here. Meanwhile, he's still working out his other options.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:37 pm

techguy wrote:
I can play a youtube review/news piece from e.g. Gamers Nexus on my phone while I do stuff around the house/get ready for work/work on my media server etc. Can't say the same about the written word.


I can too but I don't find it interesting or useful. Computer gear (and reviewers) just aren't sexy enough to make good video.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:38 pm

What has changed in the market, is the absolute number of visitors in decline, or is it that advertisers pay less or just entirely go elsewhere?

I think there isn't a significant demographic overlap between visitors to sites like TR and YouTube PC hardware videos. How come there's no extra value to this sort of targeting?

By the way, a different topic title might grab more readers. :)

FireGryphon wrote:
take the ArsTechnica route and become a news aggregator with an attached community.
ArsTechnica is much more than that.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Tue Mar 26, 2019 11:23 pm

From the sounds of it, it's both. There's less advertising dollars available in general, and the rise of ad blockers has put a crimp on the advertising that you can do from there. It seems like even the youtubers who make a living from their channels don't rely strictly on advertising since most of them have sponsors as well.

I'm not surprised that ad blockers have become a thing. Advertising on the web has always been fundamentally antagonistic in a way. First there were popup windows for newsletter signups and whatnot, so people built popup blockers to kill the windows. That worked until it became possible to use javascript and CSS to create an overlay which basically did the same thing. Then it was auto-playing videos, and that worked until mobile became a thing and browsers started disabling auto-play by default on mobile devices. Now there's adblockers which just kill anything that links back to a source known to be used for advertising. I'm not sure what the counter-move will be to that, but I'm sure there will be one.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:03 am

Wirko wrote:
If TR members were to perform benchmarking and post numbers [...]

Ah, no. Something more like:

Mods/junior staff to perform official TR benchmarking using Mechanical TuRk. As subscribers we'd essentially pay for a single set of vetted results per major hardware release, complete with TR-style charts and graphs, but without the rest of the song and dance that we all so dearly love. Then out of the goodness of their heart, some of the esteemed members of this community might offer their informed (or in certain cases, professional) opinions. This all stems from the fact that it's too expensive to retain an expert independent commentator on hand for every major and minor review.

But we as a community still need authoritative, independent, TR-style data on major hardware releases, and that need is here to stay. From the look of it, many gerbils' subscription dollars are here to stay, too!
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:37 am

drfish wrote:
To date, my understanding is that the subscription option has been a nice bit of supplemental income, but it's still significantly less than the constantly shrinking pool of advertising and referral revenue.

s'why I hope you end up working with the Brave model as well at some point. I unblocked sites I like AND tried to send money your way. But when it comes to my own money I just don't have much to give right now.

I stopped using that browser since it doesn't really matter yet, but I still think the fact that they're trying to do something about the problems we've got going on is great.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:55 am

Wonders wrote:
Mods/junior staff to perform official TR benchmarking using Mechanical TuRk. As subscribers we'd essentially pay for a single set of vetted results per major hardware release, complete with TR-style charts and graphs, but without the rest of the song and dance that we all so dearly love. Then out of the goodness of their heart, some of the esteemed members of this community might offer their informed (or in certain cases, professional) opinions. This all stems from the fact that it's too expensive to retain an expert independent commentator on hand for every major and minor review.


There would probably need to be some kind of minimum hardware specs for the machines running the tests also. More data is always useful, but if we're going to switch from a single reference machine to an aggregate, then we'll need a way to avoid oddballs screwing up the curve, or at least a way to see the results for each machine individually.

But we as a community still need authoritative, independent, TR-style data on major hardware releases, and that need is here to stay.


I imagine it always will be. Unless a person has the means and capabilities to do their own tests, then independent reviews are the only way to determine the capabilities of new hardware.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:00 am

Redocbew wrote:
I'm not sure what the counter-move will be to that, but I'm sure there will be one.


I was under the impression that in Google's case it's just been to serve ads from the same domain as they're serving content.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:13 am

MOSFET wrote:
techguy wrote:
I can play a youtube review/news piece from e.g. Gamers Nexus on my phone while I do stuff around the house/get ready for work/work on my media server etc. Can't say the same about the written word.


I can too but I don't find it interesting or useful. Computer gear (and reviewers) just aren't sexy enough to make good video.


Part of the reason I can't believe the YouTube model has worked so well is because it's a lot easy to read this stuff while at work than to watch it on YouTube. It's been a trend for a long time that weekdays during the day is when peak traffic is happening. I almost never watch a YouTube video at the office, but I catch up on written news and reviews throughout the day.

meerkt wrote:
What has changed in the market, is the absolute number of visitors in decline, or is it that advertisers pay less or just entirely go elsewhere?


Image

meerkt wrote:
By the way, a different topic title might grab more readers. :)


That's up to chucky or the mods. :)
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:19 am

drfish wrote:
First one, then the other.

If the absolute number of visitors is lower than, say, the early 2000s, I'm surprised.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:25 am

drfish wrote:
Part of the reason I can't believe the YouTube model has worked so well is because it's a lot easy to read this stuff while at work than to watch it on YouTube. It's been a trend for a long time that weekdays during the day is when peak traffic is happening. I almost never watch a YouTube video at the office, but I catch up on written news and reviews throughout the day.

Exactly why I'm confused as well. There's no chance I can watch videos / listen to videos at work, but I absolutely can poke at reviews and forums while I'm waiting on something to finish running/compiling/crashing. :P
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:40 am

Waco wrote:
drfish wrote:
Part of the reason I can't believe the YouTube model has worked so well is because it's a lot easy to read this stuff while at work than to watch it on YouTube. It's been a trend for a long time that weekdays during the day is when peak traffic is happening. I almost never watch a YouTube video at the office, but I catch up on written news and reviews throughout the day.

Exactly why I'm confused as well. There's no chance I can watch videos / listen to videos at work, but I absolutely can poke at reviews and forums while I'm waiting on something to finish running/compiling/crashing. :P

We're fossils, folks. People are on their phones watching these things while they're doing 3 other things. Them yungins love to multi-task.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:44 am

leor wrote:
We're fossils, folks. People are on their phones watching these things while they're doing 3 other things. Them yungins love to multi-task.

Multi-tasking: how to do multiple things at once, poorly.
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:50 am

We are fossils. I wasn't thinking about the audio aspect of video content, though. Watching a video at work might be going too far, but LOTS of people in my own office pop in ear buds for 75% or more of the day. Easy to listen to listen to a minimized video, I suppose. In fact, I've ranted many times before about how it annoys the crap out of me that people will stream a 1080p video just to listen to 128kbps music. Yep, fossil.
 
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:51 am

Waco wrote:
drfish wrote:
Part of the reason I can't believe the YouTube model has worked so well is because it's a lot easy to read this stuff while at work than to watch it on YouTube. It's been a trend for a long time that weekdays during the day is when peak traffic is happening. I almost never watch a YouTube video at the office, but I catch up on written news and reviews throughout the day.

Exactly why I'm confused as well. There's no chance I can watch videos / listen to videos at work, but I absolutely can poke at reviews and forums while I'm waiting on something to finish running/compiling/crashing. :P

Same here. I've never even considered Youtube for PC hardware. Not sure how you could make the video format conducive to analyzing specs, benchmarks/graphs, etc. That's something I was planning to look into ---- how they were making it work. I can see how a hands-on with keyboards/mice/controllers/peripherals would be useful, but not much else.
 
DancinJack
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:57 am

Waco wrote:
Multi-tasking: how to do multiple things at once, poorly.

FWIW I don't really think this is fair. Everyone is different. Just because it's not your method doesn't mean people can't do what needs to be done another way.

drfish wrote:
We are fossils. I wasn't thinking about the audio aspect of video content, though. Watching a video at work might be going too far, but LOTS of people in my own office pop in ear buds for 75% or more of the day. Easy to listen to listen to a minimized video, I suppose. In fact, I've ranted many times before about how it annoys the crap out of me that people will stream a 1080p video just to listen to 128kbps music. Yep, fossil.

I'm glad someone said it (facetiously or not :) ), at least. I'm not as "fossily" as some here, so I tend to find myself in both camps. I prefer reading but I definitely will put on a video and listen to the audio if I'm really interested and can't watch it right then, but do have the ability to listen to it.

I know you guys don't really get it because it's not your use case, but I know a TON of people (even quite a few in their thirties like me) that put on YT and listen while doing stuff around the house (partly because that particular content isn't anywhere else other than YT). If there were an audio only version I'd rock that, but that's not how things are right now. A lot of people just find it easier to listen/watch rather than read. I'm not necessarily one of them, and a lot of people here won't get it/don't like it, but it's 2019 and you should accept it.
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derFunkenstein
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:01 am

I work in silence (or relative silence; I use a mechanical keyboard, after all) because I'm so easily distracted. I can't just listen to music or a YouTube video, it sucks away my attention.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
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sweatshopking
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Re: No... not him! Don't tell me they got him too!

Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:24 am

I can ONLY work with noise. I need to turn on music or else I can't focus. I know studies blah blah but my add brain only functions with some level of chaos
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