GOLD COAST, Australia, Oct. 2, 2009 - Ots Labs may be currently marking 10 years since the first release of OtsJuke DJ, however, another important milestone hasn't escaped our attention! It was on this very day 9 years ago that Jeff Main, known to many as Jumpin' Jeff, took that first significant step in creating a place where fellow Ots users could meet and discuss. The rest, as they say, is history. With the announcement of official Ots Labs forums due to commence later this year, we thought today would make a great occasion to hear Jeff's story! Accordingly, he has graciously provided the following text.
I remember the beginnings well...
A little backstory.
It was August of 1999, and I was desperate to change my DJ system's configuration to include my computer. At the time, computer hard drives were very small, but still capable of holding a reasonable amount of music, allowing me the capability of leaving my physical media at home. I searched high and low for software music players on the internet that would allow me to play my music files from my computer in Wav, or the newly popular MP3 format. I was looking at two big players that were being advertised at the time in this new digital DJ market. I had downloaded the demos and settled with a single software I was willing to purchase, with the hope that the release version was more stable than that of the demo software. With several updates in a very short time, I found it wasn't. Features were apparently more important than stability, so I continued my search of download sites for a solution. I had even considered creating something myself in Visual Basic.
In October of 1999, I stumbled across an application called OtsJuke, on hotfiles.com, downloaded it, and began to play with it. I was impressed, intrigued, and excited, to find a program that seemed so responsive, and amazingly stable. The only downfall was the current version, 1.0.44, was too basic compared to other more fully featured (and buggy) apps that were available at the time. It was nowhere near ready for my needs. Regardless, I was so impressed by the software, I purchased it on the spot. The future of this new software appeared to beam brightly!
With the release of OtsJuke version 1.0.46, and the import folders capability, I felt it ready to replace the unreliable software I had purchased previously. Ots immediately replaced it, putting it to pasture. I had determined that stability was more important than functionality. With this release, in March of 2000, I was finally confident enough in both my hardware, and software, that I was able to convert completely to a computer based playback system. No longer was it necessary to carry cases of CDs, crates of vinyl, and boxes of tapes, and the associated turntables and decks required to play them. I was finally free to move to a new level of entertainment.
I soon discovered that I was able to spend less time looking for music, and more time looking after my clients and their guests.
Soon after, I admit, I grew impatient with Ots Labs progress (as were many), and wanted to see more capabilities from the program, so I took an external approach to the problem. As Ots of the time was completely mouse driven, I began creating my own keyboard shortcuts, and I had even discovered a way to control Ots via an RF remote control. I was anxious to share this with whoever would listen, and began actively looking for everyone on the WWW that had OtsJuke, wanting to gather, share experiences, tips and tricks. I found a few here and there (some helpful, while others harsh). They were spread out everywhere.
I was frustrated! I wanted Ots to do so much more than it was then capable of, and was obviously not alone, so I decided to do something about it.
I have always respected Ots Labs for their morals, and attention to quality. Unlike others, I had no problems waiting for new features, as I had first hand experience of applications that were rushed out to the customer. I wanted, and required, quality software, and Ots had been providing me this. What was missing, however, was a centralized user support group. Therefore I took it upon myself to create one, for Ots users... a kind of fan club. On Oct 2, 2000, I opened an MSN group to the public, and began sending invites to everyone with an interest in OtsJuke. This included the Ots guys!
I had several members in no time at all! I soon found the MSN groups to be quite limited, however, in its ability to do the task desired of it. I was shocked when Wavy Davy, the creator of the DiscJockeyAmerica.com forums, invited me immediately to move to his forums, with a special dedicated sub-forum for my needs. This included special moderator capabilities on his site. So it began!
From here, the timeline for things begins to blur...
Wavy Davy eventually sold DiscJockeyAmerica.com to Mark Ferrell, a leader in the DJ industry, known for helping many get what they're worth. The fan club was offered a stay and did remain for a time, but things were much different under Mark. It wasn't long before an overhaul of the site caused concern for the non-DJ members. I decided it better to split off the OtsJuke fan club to its own dedicated home site. Thus a new Ots fan club was created on EZBoard. Eventually, it was determined that the sub-forum on DJA was no longer a good fit with the Worth Movement and that forum was removed completely, making the EZBoard forums a great choice and creating opportunity for some much desired expansion.
It wasn't long after, however, that Mike Faulkner (gopher), PM'd me and convinced me that I needed even more control than what EZBoard had to offer. He provided the server space, the domain name (with cooperation of Ots Labs) and the forum software -- and we started over again, clean of advertisements, while requesting small donations to help pay for the server space. I became great friends with Mike and with his system admin, Glen Millar.
I'm sorry to say that Mike, a major contributor to this community of friends, is no longer connected to the web for reasons unknown. Glen, however, another major contributor, remained for some time after to continue serving and supporting the site. He did this until it was no longer in his ability to do so, from which came our final major contributor, Lane, who took the forums under his wing with help from Ed to bring otsusers.com to life, hosting the current incarnation of Ots Peer Support. Glen is still a good friend and remains an active contributor today.
Throughout the years we've seen many transitions, witnessed many exciting releases, and seen members come and go. We've had many good debates along the way, but now, on the 9th anniversary of this community, I would like to thank everyone for their continued support in the creation of this amazing community, sharing new ideas and helping others, to make it what it is today: a friendly place to meet new friends, share ideas, and experience the joys of the Ots line of applications in a creative, and positive way.
What have I learned along the way? I've learned that with patience, comes rewards. Other products I've tried along the road failed me because they were not paid the attention required to make a stable, quality application. In my opinion these other products were rushed to market. I respect, and thank, the men and women of Ots Labs for their attention to detail, creativity, values, and devotion to their line of applications.
From the beginning, I have been confident that Ots would have a bright and lasting future. 10 years later, I can only say that I could not have been happier with my selection, or the wild trip it's presented me. It's been a valuable tool to my DJ business, and it has allowed me the opportunity to create this community and make many new friends along the way.
Thank you friends, and may the future of Ots Labs, and this community -- no matter where it may go -- become brighter!
Ots Labs would like to take this opportunity to publically thank Jeff for his dedicated, persistent and incredibly loyal efforts throughout the last 9 years. He, along with the moderators he has hand-picked, have worked tirelessly to make the Ots community what it is today.
With regard to the Ots Labs "official" forums site arriving later in the year, we'll have more to announce at another time, but one thing that can be said now is that as long as he so wishes Jeff will continue to be a central figure.
Thanks Jeff, and congratulations on 9 top years!