Interview: Q&A with Low End Talk Moderator Jcaleb (Jonathan Tan)

Interview with Jonathan Tan, LowEndTalk Moderator

Today we are keeping it in the family, with another interview with the Low End Talk moderator/administration team – this time around it’s Jonathan Tan (aka @Jcaleb). If you’ve not already checked them out over the past few weeks we’ve recently published interviews with current Low End Talk moderator Raindog308 and past administrator Jarland – both are worth the read. Many thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to answer some questions and share a little bit more about his background. So without further delay, here we go!

Tell me about your background? How did you get into IT?

I graduated from De La Salle University in 1999 with a degree in Computer Science. I experimented early in my career, trying different things: research assistant in university doing artificial intelligence stuff, 3d graphics programming, mobile game programming back in the days of Symbian, client-server coding with Delphi, mainframe stuff, and web programming. After around 5 years, I ended up sticking with Java development. I am now a developer in a multinational fintech company doing buy-side software.

Aside from my day job, I do other programming stuff for fun. I do PHP stuff, wordpress plugins and themes, all for my personal needs.

Have you worked in the hosting industry?

No. I am actually intimidated with Linux and sysad work. I envied my friends who knows how to setup things on the internet. I don’t even know back then what is a DNS or an A record. I am just plain ignorant.

It is actually through LowEndBox/LowEndTalk where I learned how to touch servers. It was actually very easy. And I am forever grateful with all the community members who helped me through the years.

How have you seen LowEndTalk evolve since you joined?

So much evolution as Raindog308 explained in his interview.

It was first an educational medium where all articles by LEA were so unique and valuable. Like who would forget how to config a server with 64MB RAM and host 18 websites? It was a game changing article that made significant impact on many readers.

And then the change of ownership from Lea to Chief, and Chief to CC were the drama ages. There was so much fun like people were as passionate as discussing politics on religion. There were so much debates and accusations.

Now is much more stable. But I know many old timers misses the LEA days. To be honest, articles and tutorials posted on LEB were not even 5% the quality of LEA’s output.

What are your thoughts about the recent changes at LowEndBox? What would you like to see happen in the future?

I am optimistic with Jon Biloh being the owner now. We share the same name so I know that he will do good.

What I hope for in the future is for kickass tutorials to come back. Make the website rock again. Hire some great sysads from the community to contribute epic stuff. I am praying that Jon will invest a lot to make this website a better place.

What is life like as a moderator?

Every long term member of LET knows that I stay away from controversy. I am an only child and I run from confrontation. So I just quietly stay in a corner just approving new applicants and such.

What’s life really like as a moderator?

Community members here are really fierce. Do something a little stupid and people will pounce on you.

What are some of your favorite moments of LET history?

I really don’t like dramas. What I love with my experience here is I came to know many people who are really gems. Ryan Arp, Jarland, Uncle Sal, Maonuque, Spirit, Anthony Smith, Maarten, and many others. Very good people and I like them so much.

What are your favorite technologies?

I am a simple guy with simple needs. I feel that NGINX solves more than 50% of what I need with servers. From hosting websites to doing live streaming, NGINX is a gift from heaven. The other chunk of what I do with servers is Java. I write my personal projects in Java and host them on VPS. Mostly I get good deals from the wonderful hosts at LET/LEB.

For my personal projects, I always use MySQL/MariaDB database. I am a relational database geek and I love working with MySQL.

What do you think of the hosting industry now?

Once upon a time, the the deals you get from LEB/LET are bang for the buck. But now, the price difference from the big boys went down. There is little difference in the spec you get from a big provider vs a Low End provider. It’s a cut throat environment from the past few years and growing fiercer as time goes by.

What advice do you have for hosting providers?

For any new comer wannabe: stay away from this business if you don’t have any angle to work with. I believe the margins are so thin and it’s so hard to compete in this space.

For those who are already in the business: I hope you keep on innovating. For example, Fran did great with Stallion and the slices – BuyVM just keeps on moving forward. It’s hard but there is no choice. Fight or die.

What do you do when not reading LET?

I am a very normal IT person. I am in front of my laptop the majority of my waking time. Big part of my day is spent on coding work and personal stuff. I also love reading financial books – Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger kinda things. I listen to podcast when I’m on the road – Business Wars, The Inverstors Podcast, Money for the rest of us, etc.

Oh yeah, I also have a wonderful son who is the love of my life.


Jon Biloh

I’m Jon Biloh and I own LowEndBox and LowEndTalk. I’ve spent my nearly 20 year career in IT building companies and now I’m excited to focus on building and enhancing the community at LowEndBox and LowEndTalk.

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