MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey

Tina Sieber 14-05-2013

MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey makeuseof logoLast week I >invited you to a MakeUseOf Hangout. This past Friday, six loyal readers joined me and contributed to a great conversation around MakeUseOf and technology in general. We received a lot of valuable feedback from this chat. Moreover, participants seemed to really enjoy to talk tech with fellow-minded people, which was also reflected in their comments after the Hangout was finished.


This actually wasn’t our first meet & greet with readers on Google Hangouts. Several months ago Jackson ran a spontaneous and open-to-all Hangout on which James and I joined him. It was a very good learning experience and really helped me in preparing this second attempt.

The Invitation Process

My public invitation contained a brief form, based on which I chose participants. Given the short notice and the specific time zone, the response was not overwhelming, but I still couldn’t invite everyone who responded to the form. I picked nine readers who seemed enthusiastic to join and most of whom I had seen commenting on MakeUseOf before.

MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey Hangout SignUps

In my personal invitation to the Hangout, I was very clear about expectations. My intention was to avoid people talking over each other, being rude, or trying to control the conversation. The trick with these expectations is that you should never mention what you don’t want people to do because you risk planting an idea in their head, which might have an undesired impact. Just try not to think of pink elephants for a moment. So instead of making a list of rules, I shared with them how I envisioned our get together. Now I have to admit that I don’t know whether this actually worked or whether we just have the most awesome readers on this planet; I will leave that up to your own judgement.

MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey Personal Hangout Invitation


The Participants

Unfortunately, not everyone could make it in the end. However, the smaller size of the group allowed everyone to participate more and we could cover a broader range of topics.

The readers who joined me were (left to right in image below):

  • Alex from the US, college student majoring in web design.
  • Kay from Germany, working in the test department of a European mobile operator.
  • Nazim from France, high school student, music composer, and writer for the French website Fandroid.
  • Paul from the US, retired Marine and self-employed in IT support.
  • Rajaa from India, freelance IT consultant.
  • Siddhant from Singapore, middle school student.

MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey Hangout Participants

We had quite a range in terms of age, origin, and professions, which made for interesting conversations.


When & How Did You Discover MakeUseOf?

One of the things I am really interested in is how people discover MakeUseOf. With five loyal readers being my guests, I made this my kick-off question. Kay was the first one to take the chance and share his story.

Kay’s employer was looking to do more innovative stuff and while looking for resources online, Kay found MakeUseOf. With time, it became his first stop for inspiration.

If you surround yourself with innovative stuff – software, hardware, whatever – you will be much better in creating your stuff, it’s very inspiring. – Kay

Nazim found MakeUseOf two years ago while searching for Windows application reviews. He read a few articles and found the website so attractive that he subscribed to our RSS feed.

Actually I’m now reading [the feed] every day. In the two years, I read every article of MakeUseOf. – Nazim

Nazim appreciates the diversity of articles and the comprehensive nature of each of our articles.


Alex discovered MakeUseOf in 2008 and has been visiting it on a daily basis since.

Rajaa doesn’t remember how he came across MakeUseOf, but probably through Facebook about a year and a half ago. What attracted him was the variety, ranging from Windows to mobile environment. What really got him hooked was the Q&A section [no longer available], where he has been an active volunteer in answering questions.

It gives a lot of satisfaction if you can help someone. – Rajaa

When I ask them what they feel is missing, Rajaa brings up MakeUseOf’s lack of a mobile app, a question that has come up occasionally on MakeUseOf Answers. Rajaa recommends us to look into this environment to make it easier for people to follow feeds. Alternatively, he says we could plug our feeds into Pulse.

What Gadgets Do You Have?

Alex, Nazim, and Kay show off their gadget collection. Alex uses one of the first Nook eReaders and Nazim recommends the Nexus 4 as one of the best Android phones. Kay loves his Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet because his hands are quite big. Rajaa has an entry level Android with a QWERTY keyboard, which he prefers over touch input. Kay and Alex chime in that they prefer keyboards too, and Kay wishes that a new Android with a keyboard would come out. Alex says his last two phones had a QWERTY keyboard and points out that if you really need a keyboard, you can just attach a Bluetooth keyboard. He refers to one of his favorite MakeUseOf articles, which was about turning your smartphone into a desktop replacement Ditch Your Desktop! Turn Your Smartphone Into a Desktop Replacement Want to ditch the desktop and just use your smartphone? You can do that! Read More .


MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey Nazim with Favorite Gadget

Who Are Your Favorite Writers?

Since we are on the topic of writers, I wonder whether they like anyone in particular. Alex is careful to say that he is not paying attention to the writers (obviously he isn’t!) and immediately adds that everyone has good articles, so nobody stands out.

Rajaa on the other hand openly confesses that he is biased towards Saikat because he is from India. He has also been enjoying articles from Kannon and, as he says, obviously James. Rajaa feels that James is our most technically sound writer, which is of course reflected in his articles.

Being our resident über geek and a routine podcast host, I asked James to stand by for emergency support in case things go awry. So I have him on GTalk and the moment Rajaa’s statement is aired, I receive a very happy comment from him.

MakeUseOf Hangouts: When Geeks Talk Turkey James on GTalk

Rajaa continues that he really enjoys the opinion polls and the We Ask You section hosted by Yaara and Dave Parrack. He bemoans that it has become harder to find those articles since we removed their dedicated URLs (category or tag).

Like Alex, Kay admits that he doesn’t follow authors, even though he has written articles himself for several magazines. Nazim explains his impression that everyone on the team has their niche.

So I ask them whether there is something that unites our writing and makes our articles recognizable as MakeUseOf articles.

I think it’s the whole group combined that gives [MakeUseOf] the power. I even think it’s better if no one stands out. – Kay

Like Nazim, Kay thinks everyone has their specialty. He compares it to his work of reviewing mobile phone features and says it would be awful if he started writing about topics he isn’t comfortable with.

On Gadgets & Technology

After receiving so much MakeUseOf related feedback, I switch to more general topics that I hope are close to our geeks’ hearts. Last year Ryan wrote an article on Why You Never Forget Your First Computer 3 Reasons Why You Never Forget Your First Computer I think for geeks, that first computer is a little bit like a first love. You remember it longingly, even though it isn't anything that would make you at all happy today. It has nothing... Read More , which received a flood of engaged comments, so I ask them about their first computer and their favorite gadget.


We also discuss the challenges of IT support.

I have to learn what [my customers] want and learn to get them what they want with their equipment, if it’s possible. – Paul

Paul recommends Soluto and we learn that he is an alpha tester for them, helping with developing the application. Erez has reviewed Soluto Be A Super-Geek With Soluto's New Version: An In-Depth Look [& Invites] Let’s face it, if you are reading this, you’re a geek. People come to you for tech help, whether you like it or not. It could be family, friends, or maybe your significant other. Whether... Read More for MakeUseOf.

From IT support, we move on to discussing the future of operating systems, Cloud security, software licensing and subscription models, innovation at Apple, and much more. If you would like to see the whole conversation, you have the chance to watch it on YouTube.


It was incredibly rewarding and inspiring to host such a knowledgeable and geeky group of people. In review it would have been nice to have a co-host to take care of the chat and some technical details. Sometimes it was hard for me to focus on the conversation. For next time, I’m hoping our YouTube channel will be properly set up, that we will give readers more of a heads-up for participating. We will promote the event more beforehand and maybe take in live feedback from a bigger audience.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Alex, Kay, Nazim, Paul, Rajaa, and Siddhant for joining me. It was a pleasure to have all of you in this hangout! I very much appreciate your patience while I was prototyping what will hopefully become a regular event at MakeUseOf. Thank you very much!

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  1. BiG eViL.......
    May 15, 2013 at 10:52 am

    wow this is great stuff...would love to join the next google hangout session.

  2. Rajaa Chowdhury
    May 15, 2013 at 7:06 am

    First, thanks a ton to allow me as a participant Tina. As this was my first Google Hangout experience ( I never even watched one before ), I was super excited and probably that caused my interrupting and talking over other people a lot. I am really sorry for that. Next time, if given another opportunity to participate by MakeUseOf, I promise to act more civil. I really enjoyed the interaction. :D Wishing all the best for future MakeUseOf Hangouts.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      May 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Oh Yea!!! I have again started participating in the Hardware GiveAways. Just keeping my fingers crossed, that I may actually win something interesting here in the coming zillion years, as that is how usually my luck goes. hahaha. :D

  3. Kay Fritz
    May 15, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Thanks for letting me join, it was indeed a great experience and I would sign up again.

  4. Alex Downs
    May 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    This was a great experience and i had a lot of fun with it as well. I do think it's funny how you displayed our little blurbs about wanting to be on. Everyone says their peace and i just have this wall of text lol.

  5. Joshua Lockhart
    May 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Tina, I think this is one of the coolest things that MakeUseOf has set up. Great job. : )

    • Tina Sieber
      May 14, 2013 at 9:33 pm

      Thanks a lot Josh!

  6. Chris Marcoe
    May 14, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    So, was it possible for others to sit in as viewers on this? Seems like that would make it much bigger, yet keep the time overhead and facilitating by you small. would be nice to watch it. Or, in the future, could it be recorded and posted?

    • Alex Downs
      May 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      I was streamed live via Youtube with the Hangout, but Tina said she hadn't given much notice or put out a link so only like couple people who knew about it sat in listening.

    • Tina Sieber
      May 14, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      The Hangout was also recorded and I embedded the YouTube video above.