notes from the webmaster....
Train Sheet Articles:
Help Wanted Written February 28, 2017
Written February 28, 2017
Written December 30, 2016
Written October 26, 2016
Written August 20, 2016
Written June 29, 2016
Written April 24, 2016
Written February 23, 2016
Written December 27, 2015
Written October 24, 2015
Recent news concerning the WPLives.org web site:
2/8/17: Peter Arnold and I are continuing to make progress on the Western Pacific Headlight Master Index web page. Peter sent me another update January 22nd. We now have issues 17 to 49 indexed with 263 topics and 1,118 index entries.
The election information on the Membership web page was updated several times during January:
2017-01-04 Paul Finnegan - per email from David Epling added Kerry Cochran to verified candidates.
2017-01-15 Paul Finnegan - per email from David Epling added Greg Elems to verified candidates.
2017-01-21 Paul Finnegan - per email from David Epling added Charlie Spikes to verified candidates.
On February 1st I removed the "Nominations are open" messages from the web site.
I worked with Eugene Vicknair and Patty Clawson on the 2017 Convention web page, I just received the final revision of the information for the web page, I will complete it and release it to the public.
The biggest effort on my part in January was to update the Webmaster's documentation for the website and create an automated reporting/auditing tool. The website has grown and has become more complicated with the increased automation and features added over the last year. I felt it was important to put in place a good set of documentation for myself, and future webmasters so they will not have to reverse engineer many of the things I have done. A major feature of the documentation is it is auto-updating. As the website continues to develop, the documentation is easily kept in sync by running the UNIX make utility in the documentation directory.
In addition to the documentation generator, I created a new custom wplives.org web site audit tool. It starts at the home page and explores all the web pages, images, cgi scripts and PDF files referenced by the web site. For each web page it generates a one page summary report for the web page (as a web page.) The report has a link to the actual web page, the web page's title field, the last modification time stamp, how many lines of code are in the web page and if the page uses pull-down menus or not. The report also lists all pages and PDF files that the page references. Additionally, it lists the wplives.org web pages that reference this page, i.e. a reverse look up tool.
The tool explores all references (local and external) to make sure they are valid links and highlights in red any that may have an issue.
12/19/16: The web site has been updated for the 2017 Season. The new calendars are now posted and the volunteer sign up tools are configured for the 2017 season.
10/30/16: The biggest improvement for the FRRS/WPRM website this fall has been the implementation of a new WPRM Photo & Video Gallery page. The content is the same, but the code has been completely replaced to improve load time and make the page mobile device friendly.
Photos and a slide-show style video were posted from the Pumpkin Express event at the museum in October. It is posted on both the Photo & Video Gallery and the 2016 Pumpkin Express News item in the News Archive.
The 2017 FRRS Calendar has been approved by the board and posted to the web page. Additionally a 2017 Museum Days & Hours at-a-glance web page was created to make it easier to know what days and hours the museum is open in 2017.
The Spring Operating Department Crew Training dates have been approved and the Training Sign Up system is in place for reserving space for the three training dates.
8/8/16: A major site wide upgrade was done on the wplives.org web site Monday August 8, 2016. Almost all pages were updated to support mobile devices. When a user opens any of the main pages now, the web server looks at the device being used to view the page. If the server thinks the user is using a mobile device, the server automatically redirects the user to a mobile friendly version of the same page.
If the user really wants to view the full desktop version of the page, there is a simple link to the desktop version without redirection.
Almost all of the site's pages have been upgraded. The sign up tools, the WPRM Gallery and a couple other cgi script generated pages will need more development before they can go live.
Additionally a new entry has been added to the News menu for a new News Archive web page. I plan to collect press releases and other special event information here over time.
7/8/16: A new web page has been added under the Historical/Archive Department web page. It is a Master Index of articles in the WESTERN PACIFIC Headlight magazine. As of today it has nine issues indexed, we are working to continue to index more issues.
6/29/16: A set of new web pages were put online to support the FRRS Business Sponsorship Program. There is a Sponsors page that will display information about the FRRS/WPRM sponsors. There is also a page the explains How to become a Sponsor.
6/20/16: A new membership tool was released today for allowing people to either join the society or renew their membership online. The tool is found on the Membership page or the Members pull-down menu. The user can either choose to use PayPal online or print out the completed application and mail a check.
6/8/16: The society hosted a special Media Day on May 27th at the museum. New material from the Media Day, Operating Season Opening Weekend, Members' Annual Meeting and BBQ has been added to the WPRM Gallery page.
Election vote tallies were posted real time on the Latest Museum News Update that is on several site landing pages and on the Membership page.
6/2/16: A set of web pages (some new and some ported from the old WPRRHS web site) and now under the Historical Department web page.
The Membership on-line Change of Address tool was added to the Members pull-down menu. The Guide to the new 2016 Web Site was updated to show the changes to the Members pull-down.
5/23/16: An additional menu item was added under the Members pull-down menu, FRRS/Museum Policies. This page will get populated over time with new, revised and re-approved policies for the society and museum.
5/20/16: The Train Sheet Archive is now up-to-date and online! It contains all the Train Sheets that are over one year old. The archive has all of the issues from #1 to #167 in it. Since a few issues were combined, there are 163 PDF files in the archive.
In addition to the Archive, there is a Master Index web page. The Master Index is like the index in the back of a non-fiction book. There is a column of topics, a column of article titles/descriptions, a column of the issues and then the page numbers. The article title/descriptions and issues entries are links to the articles inside the PDF files. Depending on how your web browser is configured, clicking on an article reference will either take you to the PDF for the Train Sheet or directly to the page inside the PDF file. As of today there are 1,057 index topics with 5,553 references. Since some of the Train Sheet PDF files are large, it may take a minute to download the file. In addition to the Train Sheets, a few special items are also included in the index.
As new Train Sheets reach the anniversary of their publication, they will be added to the archive and index.
In creating this archive and index, I learned a great deal about the society and museum, I hope others find it informative and useful.
5/17/16: A new online tool to allow FRRS members to update their address and contact information was put online today. If you move, or change email/phone, please use the tool on the Membership page to let us know. It is also on the Contact Us web page along with a direct email link to our membership team if you have other issues or concerns.
3/30/16: Ethan Doty, the Assistant Roadmaster, called a work day for March 26th to work on the west 1/2 switch. I added this to the Museum Event Volunteer Sign Up system. He took some photos at the event and sent them to me so I could create a new "Track Work" gallery on the WPRM Photo & Video Gallery web page under the About Us pull-down menu. Ethan also wrote captions for each of the photos. Take a look to see what the team did. If you weren't there this time, please feel welcome to come join in next time! Watch the Museum Event sign up and Latest Museum News Update on the home page for future opportunities.
3/9/16: WPLives.org now has a mobile friendly web site. The home page is now set up so that users on mobile devices, such as a smart phone, will go to the mobile version by default. Desktop users can visit the mobile pages by using the "Mobile Home" entry in the footer of almost all of the web pages. Likewise, mobile users can visit the desktop home page by using the "WPRM Full Web Page" link on the mobile web pages. Both types of users have full access to all of the web site. The mobile pages are designed to convey the critical information about the museum and the FRRS in a narrow screen friendly format.
2/16/2016: A new item was added under the News pull down menu. It is an (almost) complete Train Sheet Archive. It has pdf files of the member's newsletter, the Train Sheet, going back to the first issue. Additionally a Master Index is being created to help the user find specific articles in the archive. Train Sheets will continue to be added to the archive one year after publication. Work will continue on adding entries to the Master Index. The archive contains a wealth of information about our museum, our society and historical information related to our collection.
2/13/2016: Four new sign up tools are now online. We are now using an in-house developed set of sign up tools and will no longer be using I-Volunteer for museum events. There are four new tools, two of which update an on-line sign up calendar. All are accessed from the Members pull down menu from the WPRM web pages.
- Operating Dept Training Registration - allows new and returning members of the Operating Department to sign up for one of the spring crew training and rule exam dates.
- Operating Dept Crew Sign Up - Allows members of the Operating Department to mark up on the Operating Dept Extra Board to work the caboose train for all train operating days for the rest of the year. After a crew member marks up, the Extra Board is updated so we can all see who has marked up for which days.
- Museum Event Sign Up - In addition to the Caboose Train, the museum has a large number of volunteer opportunities throughout the year. This tool is the place for members (and non-members too!) to sign up so we can see who will be helping with the major museum events the rest of the year. Things like the Membership Dinner, RR Days, Santa Trains, the NMRA / Western Pacific Historic Convention in Modesto, the new Chili Cook Off fundraiser and the fall Pumpkin Patch provide us rich opportunities to all pitch in together, contribute to the society and have a good time - all at the same time. After someone signs up for a museum event, they are listed on the Museum Event Volunteers web page. This will allow the event coordinators to see who plans to come and help and lets other people see when their friends are working so they can join the fun!
- Sleeper Reservations - A new reservation request system has been developed to simplify requesting space in the Edenwold sleeper while working at the museum. A member uses the tool to create a reservation request, then the Edenwold coordinator will confirm the space requested or work with the member to arrange accommodations.
All of the new sign up tools are designed to be easy top use. They all use a state of the art anti-web robot tool, reCAPTCHA; you must check the box claiming to not be a robot. Then if the tool agrees with you (it really will if you are not a robot!) it will submit your request. For the sign up tools, you will get an email at the email address you provided in your request. You MUST click the Confirm button in the email for your request to be processed and posted. We had to add this last confirmation because the internet has some nasty people out there. If they don't give a valid email, they can't confirm. If they provide a real email, then turn out to be nasty, we will black-list that email address and they will not be able to sign up for anything on our web site again.
A couple other new things that are worth visiting include the resurrected Sacramento Northern web pages, the new Operating Department Web page and the WPRM Photo & Video Gallery.
The SN pages needed to have a few links and menus updated, but they have been around a long time. They did not have a high level link, so people could find them easily.
The new Operating Department web page has a wealth of material to help organize the Operating Department. One special new addition is a photo roster of our crewmembers. This is a work in progress, so if you are a member of the Operating Department and are not included, don't despair, sign up for training and send the email@example.com your picture!
The WPRM Photo & Video web page is a place for us to collect all the WPRM/FRRS Family pictures and videos. There is information on the page how to get your photos or videos added. Please help us build and maintain the history of the museum, the society and our members.