And thanks for all the fish ...

IDGNet's news editor for the past five years is moving on.

Today is my final day as news editor of IDGNet.

From Monday, I return to the freelance status I enjoyed before I was hired for the launch of what was then @IDG - five years older, far wiser and rather more financially secure. I feel privileged to have reported on the emergence of the internet industry in New Zealand.

When I started, there was no Xtra and the pace on consumer internet services was being set by a feisty, aggressive little company called Voyager.

The Wood brothers had moved Ihug into its Newton Road bunker six months before and begun offering a $40 monthly flat-rate account - at a time when dial-up pricing elsewhere still ran as high as $8 a megabyte or $7 an hour. In May 1996, they announced their intention to offer a high-speed wireless service - which they promised would run at a blistering 64Kbit/s.

The industry was then emerging from the era when almost all international bandwidth was bought and onsold by Waikato University's Information Services department, under the formidable stewardship of John Houlker. All .nz domain names were still registered at Waikato by the sainted Rex Croft. Domainz, which was to become a regular inhabitant of the headlines, did not yet exist.

It was a great year to take up the internet beat. Strong personalities - Voyager's John O'Hara and Xtra's Chris Tyler - faced off against each other and occasionally stooped to actions that did the industry no credit, but made for good copy. By the end of the year, Clear Net had arrived and public uptake of the internet was accelerating at such a rate that it threatened the telecommunications infrastructure in some centres.

There have been many, many stories since - and we've enjoyed being, often as not, first and best with the news. I have met (although not always in person) many remarkable individuals, along with a few I could cheerfully do without speaking to ever again.

Within IDG, I've enjoyed being part of Computerworld, and especially my involvement with the launch of one of the great recent success stories of the local magazine industry, Unlimited.

What I won't miss is the daily deadlines, the early starts and the late-night dilemmas over whether to run a potentially dicey story. Most of the time, I did, even at the cost of personal relationships. I only got sued once and, I am happy to say, received IDG's backing all the way.

My duties will now be shared between Paul Brislen, who moves over from Computerworld, and Kirstin Mills, who already oversees Computerworld's online content.

I move on to host a new media comment show on Sunday Mornings on National Radio, but I'll keep my hand in on internet issues because they matter. It's highly likely I'll contribute to IDG publications, including IDGNet, in future. For now, it remains only to say thanks to the staff at IDG, to the people I've pestered for comment and to you, the readers.

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