Computers have been my hobby for a l..o..n..g time (over 50 years overall & over 40 with microcomputers at home). I enjoy helping people -- been the neighborhood "guru" for 40+ years, and help a lot of friends and "friends of friends." Signed up for this site a few years ago to ask a question - and basically forgot about it until mid-August 2005. I wanted to search the site and noticed that if you help folks you get free Premium services (which lets you search). So ... I decided that rather than pay $10/month, I'd just help a few folks and get the 10,000 points for a free Premium membership.
Got addicted :) Answered my 1st question on 23 Aug 2005, had my 10,000 point "goal" in 3 days, passed 100,000 points 3 weeks later, got Hardware "certified" a few days later (19 Sep), had over 160,000 points on my "1 month of participating" anniversary (23 Sep), passed 200,000 well before the end of the month (27 Sep), and had over a quarter-million by the 30th (251,900)!! Kept going for a few more weeks and had four more certifications, an upgraded Hardware cert ("guru"), and over 471,000 points by my "2 months of participating anniversary" !!! If only points could be converted to $$$ ...
Update 30 Sep 2006:
Enough!! Definitely time to s..l..o..w down :) :) :) ... or so I've said several times in the past 10 months :-) [I just removed all those comments]
Didn't quite succeed at doing that (I did slow down SOME after the 1st 4 months): ... passed 711,000 points and upgraded the Hardware cert to "Wizard" before my "3 months of participating" anniversary; had six certs (1 Sage, 3 x Guru, 2 x Master) by 5 months; hit "Genius" level in Hardware by 11 months; had 2,257,348 points on my 1-year anniversary, and now have 2,614,278 points after 13 months !!
More than the points, I've received at least some credit from over 79% of the folks I've elected to help (this is one of the best ratios on EE => I only checked the top 50 in the Hall of Fame, but it's higher than ANY of those) ... so apparently I've provided answers that were rather consistently helpful to the questioners :-) [I computed this simple statistic by calculating (Questions Answered) / (Questions Answered + Questions Participated) => which gives you a "hit ratio" of how many of those questions you participated in you received some credit for.]
Update Dec 2011
I was pleased to be selected as a Microsoft MVP for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, & 2010
But I am now ABSOLUTELY slowing WAY down !! I won't say "retired," as I will answer a FEW questions, but I will not be NEARLY as active as I have been.
If you want me to look at a question, please send a note to my e-mail with a link to the question, as I no longer plan to very actively look for questions (but I will help when asked).
I can be reached at garycase2001 at yahoo dot com.
Update Jun 2017
I no longer respond to any questions except those that are explicitly brought to my attention via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I only check that e-mail 2-3 times a week, so be patient if you'd like to me look at a problem.