A few things have been happening, not all good. I had a stroke in April and am now facing daunting medical bills, so donations very gratefully received! Thank you to all who donate!
We had a site outage on May 11 which hopefully will be resolved by the time you read this. If not, I'm busy trying to apply band-aids!
Welp, 2019 came and went without a ton of progress on the codebase. Part of that is that donations are essentially non-existant, I think there were three or four total in 2019 (!). If you enjoy these sites and use them frequently, considering throwing a few dollars my way, or even set up a recurring payment of a few dollars per period of your choice. It really helps, both in the pocketbook and motivationally.
You can use the donate button in the left nav bar--thank you!
If you're reading this, I've swapped the sites over to an interim code-base, which at least won't die in the middle of the night like the previous version did. (Unless--until?--I make a typo somewhere, of course).
If you're seeing "collectordata" in your browser bar, using that domain allowed me to build this interim version, without taking the sites offline for weeks.
Even if you are "stuck" on "collectordata" (for example, "xk.collectordata.com"), the various "bespoke" domains ("xkdata.com", to continue the example) will still bring you here when typed into your browser, and any links you have bookmarked should still work just fine.
In other words, "xkdata.com" is exactly the same site as "xk.collectordata.com".
So What Happened?
I originally coded these sites in the early 2000s, and life has kept me from updating them much in the past 15 years--a lifetime in the world of web-servers. Well, that finally caught up to me. (Just to give you an idea of how time-intensive this process is, I have well over 100 hours invested just in updating the sites from that "oh crud!" moment to this "it pretty much looks the same" version--a version which assuredly has bugs lurking in the corners...)
To put that in perspective, I write code similar to this for a living (such as it is), and my professional rate is about that of your favorite mechanic or painter. So it's a significant investment. (Thanks to those who clicked the "make a donation" button after the recent outage! You can find it in the left nav-bar.)
- Searches should work accurately again.
- The photo uploader should be a lot easier to use.
- You can view more than one week's worth of updates on the "This Week" page.
- The comments form now has a small editor, allowing some formatting without using codes.
- Nearly everything should be a bit more readable.
- There are a lot of improvements in the code, so site might be a bit faster
That said, there are undoubtedly still bugs lurking, let me know what you stumble across.
I will probably need to put in another similar chunk of time to convert these sites to a thoroughly modern base, taking advantage of the tools I work with "for reals" every day. I hope to accomplish that...soon?
That should bring some nice new features for you, faithful site users, which will be most-evident in a mobile-friendly format finally being available, but there will be additional improvements, some visible, some not. I have a long list of "cool" stuff I've wanted to build and maybe a bit of that can come to pass...but I absolutely need to get the sites to pay for themselves a bit more. I would love for this to be a "job", but despite what they promised us in the 1990s, that is unlikely to happen.
(Even if I don't spend any "quality time" working on the sites in any given month, they cost a chunk of change just to pay for space and hosting.)*
So I think we will be moving to some sort of membership/subscription model for the sites. I don't plan on hiding anything, per se, but if you are not a subscriber you may only be able to do a certain number of things per [fill in unit of time] or have restricted search parameters or...as I'm noodling this idea, my aim will be to keep the sites usable for the folks visiting for free, but try to provide an incentive to pitch in a bit to help keep the sites going.
Subscriptions, if and when they arrive, will be modest in cost, though there may be some tiers (mainly to offer a show of support). I may also pursue some advertising; if I do it will be topical. My tentative advances in the past, to various well-known businesses in our hobby, made it pretty clear that there was not a rich vein to be mined there. Maybe that has changed, but...
If and when these changes approach, I'll throw another missive up here explaining how I think it's going to work.
So there we have it. I am a terrible correspondent--but I do read all of my email, so if you want to share your thoughts, please drop me a line--it will be read and appreciated. Unless you call me an arse...I mean, I already know that.
P.S. I set a "cookie" when you bopped in here, so the bright red notification in the top bar should be quieted...for now!
* To forestall suggestions about hosting: I know there may be cheaper hosting out there, but the thought of the headache--let alone time--involved in moving this site to save a few dollars per month, with all its gigabytes of data and files...I'm going to go have a lie-down