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5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com

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Offline Casa Grande

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5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« on: December 04, 2007, 10:09:01 AM »
In the spring of 2002 as I was sitting in my cubical working for "the man," I grew extremely bored of my situation.  My situation was an office lonely web designer/developer/photographer for an Austin millionaire.  Being creative wasn't exactly on the top of his priority list.  I took picture of his products with a white background, displayed them on the web..handled the network systems in the office, etc., etc.  Boring.

During a down period of the office day, I was searching for a new job on the net  (:eusa_naughty:).  I searched all the popular job search sites and came across an intriguing technology, virtual tours.  Turns out there was a company out of San Francisco that provided virtual tours for real estate, developers, etc.  They needed a contract photographer in the Austin area.  I'm your man, I thought. The technology was something I had no knowledge of.  So I downloaded their software, took a mini-virtual tour of the Arboretum in Austin and showed them my work. Apparently, they weren't interested in what I had to offer.  But, it got me to thinkin'.....

Over the next several months, I did exhaustive research on this fairly unknown technology.  I downloaded, played with various softwares, read tutorials, performed some of the most awful looking virtual tours for months and months and months.  Finally, in the fall of 2002, I think I had this virtual tour thing down fairly good.  I had certainly come a long way since the spring.  I started thinking how I could 'use' this technology and create some kind of online interactive experience.  All the while, sitting in this small cubical with my crappy little job, finding myself identifying with Office Space more and more everyday and longing for my next chance to escape it all to the wild vastness of Big Bend.   :eusa_think:

EUREKA!!

VirtualBigBend.com was conceived.   I was getting really excited now!  I finally had a vision, something to create...something to enjoy during my boring day job.  I could sit at my desk, spinning the views around on my PC when I was feelin' blue.  During the Christmas of 2002, my wife and step-son and I headed for the Big Bend.  I shot several interactive views of Fort Davis, Big Bend Ranch and then finally, I shot my very first interactive panoramic view of Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon.  It was shot on Christmas Eve, 2002.  I guess you could say this was to be the start of what would become a life long obsession, passion of mine that continues to this day.  Here is that view, re-released for the first time in 5 years:  http://www.virtualbigbend.com/tour/santa_elena/old.php  It is a poor representation of what would become VirtualBigBend.com but it had to start somewhere and it reminds me of the beginnings.

To be honest, VirtualBigBend.com was really started for my own selfish reasons.  I wanted to be able to get a small dose of my own Big Bend fix anytime I wanted. So, for the first 6 months of VirtualBigBend.com, I was the only visitor.  Then, in the Summer of 2003, I began to receive emails from poeple telling me things like, "Wow, I can escape to the park anytime I want to, Thanks!" etc., etc. I realized there were far more people like me out there than I realized.  It was an inspiration to me to make more.  So, that summer, I went on a Big Bend trip blitz.  I took more trips to the park that summer than ever.  I redesigned the website as I realized there were actually others out there looking at it and it wasn't just me.   I went from only a handful of views in the beginning of the summer to more than 20 by the end of it.  I then started an online email list to give the folks a notice whenever I had a new view to show them.  I kept getting fueled on by the praises and accolades.   The email list grew and grew.  The site visitors grew and grew.  My interactive views were growing and growing.  My trips to the park suddenly became a necessity.  I upgraded my equipment, refined techniques, learned more and more software, constantly refining my abilities...

More than 2 years later, I had hundreds of people on my mailing list. Dozens and dozens of new and improved interactive views, and I was getting emails from all over the world telling me how wonderful it was to visit the park based on my site.  It one point, I had Koreans visiting my site more than any other country on Earth, including the United States!  I received emails from Europeans saying thanks for turning them on to the "most magical place on Earth."  I kept getting email from people asking me for advice, tips, etc.

Then, the old board came crashing down.  Some of the people on the old board (and eventually becoming some of the 'stars' of this one) asking me if I could do something about it.  I had always wondered, "what if I hooked up all the hundreds of people on my email list with each other.  The amount of knowledge this database of folks had of the park would be as breathtaking as the views......"  :eusa_think:  VirtualBigBend.com begets BigBendChat.com.... and the rest, as they say, is History.

Anyway, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who have been there since the beginning of those days back in 2003 when VirtualBigBend.com began taking off, all the way to the newest members of BigBendChat.com.  Happy 5th....thanks and here's to another 50 plus!

The first interactive view of Big Bend National Park on VirtualBigBend.com


BTW---Remember that virtual tour company that started all this query?  They eventually did hire me as their Austin contractor a year later stating , "VirtualBigBend.com was the best they'd seen."
« Last Edit: December 04, 2007, 10:16:30 AM by Casa Grande »

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Offline badknees

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Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2007, 10:18:18 AM »
Good story........GREAT JOB!
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline xseption

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Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2007, 10:28:36 AM »
Congrats! I guess I need to check the website after all ...

:cheesy:
Be the kind of person that you will want to meet!

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2007, 11:34:35 AM »
Great Job...Great Story...Great Guy: Thanks for everything Buddy. :beer_chug:
Stay thirsty, my friends.

Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2007, 03:45:16 PM »
David,

Thanks for letting us know how it all began.  I had wondered, but had never asked.

More importantly, thank you for your vision, determination, and hard work.

(I suppose we should also thank the Austin millionaire who provided you with a frustrating situation that gave rise to your dream--and also the California folks whose initial delay in taking you up on your offer provided an additional incentive for your creation.)

Cheers!
"No, that did not happen to me.  You have me confused with someone else."

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Offline jim2

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Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 07:12:02 PM »
thanks david . what a great place you have created for us benders! we are grateful.  jim2

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chisos_muse

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Re: 5 Year Anniversary: VirtualBigBend.com
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 09:50:02 PM »
Hard to believe all of the changes that have taken place since 2002. Overwhelming, I'd say? :cool:
Life is really good...isn't it? :eusa_clap:

To 50 more! :kaos-cactus06:

 


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