Tech connoisseur Ryan Yu talks of gadgets and the human connection
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
IT’S one thing to be abreast with all these tech items coming out left and right, and another being able to explain it all to someone who doesn’t have a clue. Ryan Yu is one of the rare few who can do both considerably well — practical with his choices, articulate in his words — just the kind of go-to tech guy whose number you would want to have on speed dial.
It helps that that his know-how in all things tech didn’t arise from the fact that he’s in the business of it, but rather it was born out of genuine enthusiasm. “I was always into gadgets,” he said, “I used it to improve personal productivity, to improve things at home, and, quite common in our age group that grew up in the 90s, gaming.”
Ryan studied information technology in college and eventually had his first computer retail shop, Arctech Solutions.
In the early 2000s, he joined the old RCTV and started hosting a tie-up show under the same name, before changing it to My Tech Island, a label that has since expanded to an online platform and consultancy, and of which he is known for up to today.
“I wanted a well-rounded show that caters to helping people know about the new tech products available, and — since at that time not everyone had Internet and weren’t accustomed to using Google yet — the products available outside the Philippines,” he said. From how-tos to reviews, Ryan had it covered, and he even recalls that in one of his earlier episodes, he discussed how to use flash drives, which at that time had just been released.
Today, My Tech Island already has an online platform and airs on MYTv Channel 30. He has also extended to doing consultancy services on the side, specifically, designing information technology systems in houses.
“I don’t really consider My Tech Island a business, but I do have special projects for those building their new homes,” Ryan said. “When you build a house, you talk to the electrician, the architect, but on the IT side, which is very important for making smart homes, there’s nobody to talk to. I’m opening my services to that, from Wi-Fi, Internet ports to audio-video setups.”
As for his main venture — it has evolved as well, and he now dedicates his time to Fine Upgrades, a firm that’s the exclusive nationwide distributor of select gadget brands. In 2013, he also started his own brand called Fine Upgrades Plus, a pioneer in the USB smart plug, that is, an electrical outlet with a USB port enabling instant charging for gadgets. Ryan said that aside from supplying to retailers, they have installed it in some hotels and commercial establishments.
Contrary to stereotype of tech guys, though, Ryan does not stay glued to his computer screen 24/7. In fact, he is also a triathlete, and finished his first Ironman in 2014. A health problem he developed a few years ago pushed him to that route, and since then it has taken most of his time outside of work.
“It was a concern for me because I have kids who are still young. That triggered me to biking. I became a biking enthusiast at that time, and then I got into triathlons. I’m not a good swimmer but I can swim and I can… walk,” he quipped. Apart from it, he said he also enjoys doing photography and spending time with his three kids.
In dealing with kids and gadgets, as a parent, Ryan said it’s all about content management. “The problem is not the (tablet), but the content,” he said. “What if they’re watching something educational? There are tools and applications that they can use to gain knowledge, instead of having to buy so many things to be able to do so.”
That doesn’t mean he allows them to do whatever they want with it either, putting certain rules in place for it. No gadgets during meal times, no watching of YouTube when he’s not around. And being the outdoor buff that he is, encourages outdoor time for them as well. “Make sure they can differentiate it from the real world,” the techie dad stressed.
Gadgets, after all, are there to make things easier and faster—not a status symbol, not a replacement for reality. As to what he would advise those scouring for new ones, Ryan said, “Every gadget we buy should be measured on how fast it can do a task for us. If it improves the time doing that task, then that’s a good gadget to have, but if it’s too complicated that you end up doing it manually, then that’s not the right one for you.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome | Grooming: Carlo Damolo & Jerwin Bastatas