Photo of Sick Firebird by @topgold using Lumia.
I'M INDEBTED TO James Macolgan, a capable Scottish electrician, for offering tips via social media to problems arising from my broken central heating. In a perfect world, he would live closer and help me finish the job.
Mac is one of 80 different voices I've heard during February 2014 while using the Audioboo app on iOS and Android. I also pull my "followed" subscriptions directly into my Lumia handset by using the mobile version of Internet Explorer. This year, those voices reflect a mature community, one that has evolved partly because it's been ignored by the parent website.
It's hard to predict whether today's shiny online community will last beyond a few years. I've moved from forums hosted on bulletin boards, to mailing lists, to the app-friendly newsfeeds many of my friends use today. But in every instance, there are a handful of people whose contributions, sacrifices and willingness to pay forward their skills will always guarantee them a pint in any venue where I'm seated.