So Long, Gizmo
We started out on the web with a Christmas graphics site. We were so proud of it. I cannot even count the number of hours Darcy and I put into that site. But I can remember when we got all excited one day when we had twenty visitors. It’s still there and the copyright notice at the bottom of the page says 1998 – 2000.
Back in those days, the web was rather arcane. Those of us who used it and spent hours browsing it fell in love with it. The rest of the world didn’t know what they were missing. In fact, one of my best friends called me, sarcastically, “Captain Internet” because I used to rush home from work to get on my computer and browse the internet. I can remember getting up at three in the morning because I couldn’t sleep – I couldn’t wait to see what was new on the web.
When Darcy and I started Cloudeight Stationery back in 2000, we did it because we loved doing it. Just about everything was free on the internet back then. I get tears in my eyes now – just thinking about those days.
Our site grew up with a lot of other small mom-and-pop sites. In fact, that’s just about all the World Wide Web was in those days… a bunch of mom-and-pop sites… sites which were built with a lot of heart and a whole lot of love.
Time passed and as with just about everything else in this world, the Internet turned into a vast commercial enterprise. It became “all about the money”. And the innocence and free spirit that once was the internet faded when the commercial enterprises moved in. And while there is still quite a bit of free stuff — if you look hard enough — a lot of it is tainted with traps, tricks, and junk.
By the time Windows 7 was released, the web was mostly all about the money. Many of the free sites we grew up with and that we used to love started disappearing… one by one, the sites we grew up with and learned so much from started dying and faded away.
One site that I’ve always followed was Gizmo’s Freeware. Gizmo had a staff of volunteers who helped maintain the site. At one time, in 2010, Gizmo’s freeware was among the top one hundred sites on the internet. We were in that elite group too – way back in 2005 and 2006.
I visited Gizmo’s site at least once a week looking for ideas, inspiration, and any freeware that might have slipped past me. But then I noticed a trend. Gizmo’s Freeware grew up being a great Windows freeware site and offered Windows tips and tricks and Windows help as well. But then they changed. They added Android, Mac, Linux, iOS, and more. They tried to be everything to everybody. I’m not sure that was a very good idea.
In their fight for survival, they tried to change with the times. But in doing so, I think, they got away from their roots. They were a great Windows freeware site. And while I disagreed with some of their recommendations, I always admired their dedication to providing their readers and visitors with clean and safe software. They always cared about their visitors and members.
As I said, Gizmo’s freeware and Cloudeight grew up at the same time – them being a Windows freeware site and us being the web’s largest email stationery site.
Gizmo’s freeware sent out a newsletter whenever they posted something new on their site. I was a subscriber to that newsletter. Two weeks ago, I received a newsletter from Gizmo’s freeware that shocked me.
Here’s what it said…
“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts we announce the closing of Gizmo’s Freeware. After due consideration, we’ve decided to shut down this site tentatively by 15 July 2021 after which it will not be accessible anymore.
Many years ago Gizmo set out to be an independent, unbiased resource for anyone who wanted the best freeware. Along the way, we created an amazing community of readers and editors. We are proud of the site we created, and are even more grateful for you, the community of readers that made it grow.
On behalf of everyone who was part of Gizmo’s Freeware, a heartfelt thank you for making us part of your lives.
For many years, Gizmo paid the cost of running the site out of pocket. When that became too much, we asked you about running ads and you said yes, and we requested for donations and you wholeheartedly responded.
The ads and donations have kept the lights on, and our editors have been unpaid volunteers.
As the world has shifted away from desktops to mobiles in search of flexibility over the years, our traffic and advertising revenue declined, and the proceeds can no longer cover the costs of running the site.
This was a very difficult decision, as you, our readers and editors, have been the heart of Gizmo’s Freeware for so many years.
It’s been a fantastic journey with all of you and we’re heartbroken it has come to an end. We will miss you.
The Gizmo’s Freeware Crew”
Reading this made me sad. I had tears in my eyes when I read it. Gizmo’s Freeware and Cloudeight grew up together back in the early days of the Internet. And now Gizmo’s is gone.
And so are dozens and dozens of other sites that grew up with us.
A sad truth is that everything has a beginning and an end. Most of us don’t like to look at life or things that way. Most of us take one day at a time and try to do the best we can do. Sure, we’ll mess up along the way. We’ll make mistakes but we’ll go on. The end is out there somewhere but most of us aren’t going to dwell upon it.
No one knows better than Darcy and me, how hard it is to keep a small, mom-and-pop website business going. We have had to change our business model several times over the course of the years – out of necessity. When Windows 7 came along, the email programs (Outlook Express and Windows Mail) that made our stationery popular slowly disappeared as more and more folks adopted Windows 7.
And our stationery site slowly died.
We changed with the times to survive. But one thing will never change and that is our commitment to our friends and subscribers. We made a vow long ago that we would do no harm and we really meant it. And now our goal is to help as many people as we can via our newsletters, our InfoAve website, our Cloudeight Direct Computer Care services, and our email support system.
And we know that if it weren’t for our subscribers and members – who we think of as friends – we would not be around today either. All we can do is promise all of you that we’ll do our best to continue to help as many Windows users as we can.
But we do understand why Gizmo’s Freeware bid the web farewell. Sometimes you just get tired of fighting the odds.
We wish Gizmo and his staff all the best. So long, Gizmo. We will miss you.