Monday, July 24, 2023

Celebrating Ten Years of Techtronix!

Yep, I hinted at this a few weeks ago in #lounge but it is true: Techtronix officially celebrates its 10-year anniversary today.

I thought for a while about what I would want to write in a post like this. I think this is the first time I have really written something regarding the network's history since its founding, so I want to put some effort into it.

Without further ado, let us get started. How about a trip back in time?

The History of Techtronix

Before The Network

I first joined IRC back in 2012. My origin is actually thanks to Jupiter Broadcasting and its Linux Action Show! podcast. Back then, the show was recorded live and there was an IRC chat displayed on the bottom of the screen. The Jupiter Broadcasting chat also served as a place for the community to hang out even when shows were not being recorded. I admit - I was a crumby Mibbit user back then. Not knowing about IRC, I just used the embedded web client to jump in. I imagine that a web client is how quite a few of those on the younger side (less than 30 years of age) got their start in IRC.

A lot of you know that I also run my own blog/personal website, Techman's World. Well, looking to create an IRC channel for my own community, I registered #techmansworld on GeekShed. It was a really interesting time. IRC, as well as running my own channel, was new territory for me. Do you know that feeling when you are exploring something new and having a blast? Well, it was like that for me. Despite having a very small following, I was having a blast getting more involved in something that would end up becoming a long-running hobby for me. Probably a lifelong hobby, if I am being honest.

There are a few folks that I remember that used to be a part of #techmansworld back then. I will try to list them all here and might update the list if more come to mind after this post is published.
  • Spock/Yoda (Yep, the Techtronix staff member)
  • Adam/Allred58
  • macwolf74/guppy
  • Queenie
  • Nocturne
  • Hammy
  • SoulSwordzz
The BotServ bot I used back then was ChuckNorris and I used Adam's MindyC as the general channel bot, which was a Supybot botnet running some kind of "AI." Botnix or something like that. If you know what I am talking about, sound off in the comments!

Unfortunately for me, I do not have much in terms of IRC logs from during this time. This was during a point in life where keeping history such as that was not important to me. Actually, it was more that I never considered the value of such things, and thus did not take care. Due to this, I cannot write much about what was talked about.

Techman's World existed on GeekShed for at least a few months, I think. The good times there eventually ran out, though. I do not believe it is a secret that I did not get along well with GeekShed's IRC operators back during that time, and their strictest IRC operator at the time, CCMike, was not especially fond of me.

#techmansworld was eventually closed down due to "botting, drones, and clones" by CCMike. I cannot say much about his thought process behind this decision, but I believe there were some attacks on GeekShed where I was framed as the culprit. I will say now what I said back then: I have never once run an IRC botnet and have never attacked GeekShed. Ah well.

I was quite upset by the channel's forced closing. To this day, I think there is still a FORBID entry in their OperServ that automatically kickbans anyone who attempts to join the channel. There is something good that came out of this, though: Techman's World IRC. While I am now unbanned on GeekShed, I have been banned and re-banned on GeekShed multiple times over the past decade, long after the events of #techmansworld.

Techman's World IRC

Techman's World IRC is the IRC network I created to serve as the new home of #techmansworld, free from the tyranny of other network operators. I could have easily moved to another (better) IRC network, but I decided that I did not want to be beholden to anyone else when it came to moderation decisions, and I did not want to be something that power-tripping operators took out their anger on.

There are a few posts that I made about this initiative on Techman's World:
Techman's World IRC started out as an UnrealIRCd network. GeekShed ran Unreal, so it was a natural choice. I had the most experience with Unreal's channel modes and the most popular service package to pair with it - Anope - was also used by GeekShed. At the time, Unreal was in its 3.2.x series, and Anope was still on version 1.8.

It was a bumpy start, though. Before the network was actually created, I was so inexperienced in running a server (much less an IRCd) that I forgot to reload Unreal's modules after making a change to its configuration.

Eventually, Techman's World IRC Underground became Techman's World IRC and lived under the domain. From the best that I can tell, this is how the network ran for a little over a year.

There have been quite a few long-timers that existed back in these days. I want to say the following folks were around:
  • Spock
  • Allred58
  • macwolf74
  • Nocturne
  • SoulSwordzz/Arrogance


Techman's World IRC rebranded to Techtronix on or around 2014-12-06. I say this due to the domain's WHOIS record. As far as I can tell, I made no official blog post announcing the rebrand, but I remember talking a bit about a rename as a way to solve two problems:
  1. A three-word name for an IRC network is unconventional and causes issues.
  2. The community was becoming more distinct from my personal blog, so it made sense to branch it out.
[Also, sometime in 2014, the network switched to using InspIRCd + Anope for its IRC services. It used InspIRCd-2.0 and Anope 1.8. Anope 1.8 was eventually upgraded to 2.0 when it was released, but I remember running a modified version of Anope 1.8 that had SASL support with small caveats. Thanks again, culex!]

Nevertheless, the network was rebranded to Techtronix pretty much instantly after the domain was registered. This part I am sure of, knowing myself.

The folks I remember from back then are pretty spotty. The reason is that I have no essentially no IRC logs of Techtronix from 2013-2016 due to an unfortunate issue involving archiving of IRC logs which caused them to be lost to time. However! If you, the reader, have logs from 2013 or any time before 2016 of #lounge, please send them to me! Contact me on IRC.

Here are the folks I recognize (from ~2014):
  • Spock
  • Allred58
  • SoulSwordzz
  • Jasper-Deng/JD|cloud
  • DennyTek
  • Barthalomew
  • Leonylyner
  • KindOne
  • Twigler
  • binaryhermit
  • Amiga600
  • gbyers
  • GreenLantern
  • Phil_J
  • Kadynce
  • PikachuInTheShower

The Modern Day

These days, I want to say that Techtronix has firmly settled itself as a small community-based network. While I always had bigger ambitions in terms of network size, I suppose it never quite happened the way I wanted. I have learned to accept this, though. I am actually quite happy that IRC still continues to exist in the way it does now, considering all of the competition it has faced over the years: XMPP (yes, it still exists too), Telegram, Discord, and Matrix.

I remember the old days, though. Back during the ~2014-2015 days especially, I used to fight fiercely against other IRC networks trying to be the network of choice for new and existing communities. It probably caused a lot of folks to hate me back then. It also did not help that I was very young as well, so I was especially lacking in maturity. Even though I was pretty mature for my age, I can still tell looking back at old logs that I was pretty young.

I know IRC is an old protocol, but there is a lot of effort to keep it going. On the client side, there has been plenty of work done to spice up existing clients and new ones have been created with the idea of multiple devices in mind. On the server side, IRC daemons have become more feature-rich. At the protocol level, the IRCv3 Working Group, composed of client and server authors, has worked to introduce modern extensions to the IRC protocol that make it closer to what other proprietary clients support, such as typing notifications, batched messaging (think of pasting multiple lines at once), and so on.

As for what is next for the network - I have nothing planned at the moment. I think the days of serious experimentation with the network itself are long behind me. All of the insecure parts have been removed, and I highly doubt that I will switch from InspIRCd or Anope to anything else anytime soon. Something drastic would need to happen to force that kind of change, I think. However, I still keep an eye out for potential features to add to the network that I find cool. I am a developer, after all.

Giving Thanks

I have been giving thanks to various users throughout this post, but I also wanted to have a dedicated section just for this. Even if I have not mentioned your nick during certain time periods of Techtronix, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for using Techtronix. The community would be nothing without you guys, after all. And, if you were around during certain time periods and want to be included in the list, drop a comment or contact me on IRC.

To the communities that use Techtronix - thank you as well. Techtronix may be a small network these days, but I always build the network with the intention of hosting communities in addition to my own, and I am glad to say that Techtronix still does this, albeit to a smaller extent.

Here are some of the communities Techtronix has hosted, past and present:

Ten years down...and here is more to come! Once again, thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride, even those who have since come and gone.

[If you are one of those who have come and gone, drop by #lounge and say hello!]

No comments:

Post a Comment