Andrew Church' farewell message

There are probably very few readers who know me, but I've been involved with the GIA since the time of its predecessor Square Net's predecessor, the UnOfficial Squaresoft Home Page (UOSHP). I was the one who answered site creator Andrew Vestal's call for a .wav file of Kefka's laugh from FF6--this was back in the day when we all called it FF3, for those who remember that era. The UOSHP continued to grow, and eventually outgrew its ISP's size limits; as I had just started college and had an Ethernet connection to my dorm room, I offered AV space on my computer, and so began a long, arduous yet fulfilling adventure.

I could go into all sorts of details that would bore 99% of you, but that would be, well, boring. So to sum it up, I'm the one that handled much of the behind-the-scenes server maintenance for all three of the websites with which Andrew Vestal has been involved. There were a number of interesting episodes over that period from a technical point of view, like a period when I first started hosting the UOSHP when pages and graphics came up garbled--a programming error on my part--or the infamous near-heat-death of the GIA server last August (I'm the one who wrote that allegorical story that got posted in DA a month or so ago), which had me on the phone for about $100 worth of overseas calls with incompetent inexperienced tech people, and made me yearn for the days of running things off my own server in my own room.

What made it all bearable, and even fun, was watching the growth of the site. I had been running a small FTP site for a few months, and I still remember being astonished at how easily the UOSHP overtook it--and kept on growing. There were AV's first experiments with frames; there was the page's move to (and later from) Square USA's servers; there was its transformation into Square Net, and its subsequent change of hands, which led to the formation of the GIA.

But what really impressed me was the vitality of each of the sites--much of which came from the readers. These days, of course, user interaction and contribution is a given on a lot of sites, but when the UOSHP first went up, there was no such word as "blog" (except possibly in my little brother's vocabulary), and it was truly a wonderful thing to see the sites evolve through such interaction. And the GIA, I think, has best embodied that sense of "community" while maintaining a reliable information site, taking the best things from its predecessors and bringing them together. The sense of humor on the part of the staffers is of course a welcome delight, but so are the frequent letters from Ian P., the jabs at Double Agent writers, and all the other contributions from readers.

As they say, though, all good things must come to an end. As great a thing as the GIA has become, it takes time and effort to keep it that way; the GIA's founders are all out of college and into jobs, which seriously cuts into the availability of both. And I think that, rather than let the site slowly fade away into obscurity, it's best to stop now, while the GIA is still respected as a good site--the memories are so much nicer that way.

Well, it's been a fun ride, but I think I'll be getting off at this stop. At least for a while, anyway.

--Andrew Church

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