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Announcements > Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter

Date: 11/12/09 23:21
Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: webmaster

I haven’t sent out a newsletter in quite a while and figured we are well over do for one.

Photography Contest
We recently announced the winners to our 2009 photography contest titled “Then and Now” that invited photographs taken at the same geographical location over a period of time. This contest was the most challenging one we have come up with so far, and for that reason fewer people participated than in past contests. In all, we gave out more than $1000 in cash and membership prizes to those that participated. We awarded two grand prizes that were earned by team Bob Morris and Max Lin for their photo pair of Millbrae, California and to Greg Stadter for his view of Portland, Oregon. We also gave one month membership awards to everyone that participated in appreciation of making the effort to share their work. To view the winners visit: http://www.trainorders.com/contest/winners/change

Image of the Day
We are going to do something fun in December. Each day we are going to award three month membership extensions to the member that generates the image of day on the home page. We tend to prefer current events, but occasionally we choose an older image.

Train Festival Coverage
This past summer the largest railroad festival in a decade was held in Owosso, Michigan. We were at the event for four days and covered the festivities with our high definition video cameras on the ground, in the locomotive cabs, and from the air aboard a helicopter.

In July we posted some unedited video clips from our footage collection, with the main edited and narrated programs are being posted to our web site this month. While some of the footage we posted during the summer was a big hit, the recent finished programs are not as popular. What you saw during the summer was basically a commercial for the main programs that are now being posted.

Those that have taken the time to view the programs have been blown away by the quality of the production. Jack Wheelihan, long time fireman on the 4449 has said this is the best cab footage he has ever seen of the locomotive. These programs will play smoothly on 90% of computers as they are offered in both Flash video that you can watch within the web page, and, also in Windows Media Video format for those with older PC’s. These are fantastic narrated programs that you do not want to miss. To view our programs visit the "Steam Railroading" forum.

Next month we will be releasing a multi part series covering steam on the Grand Canyon Railway. We hope to make original programming a part of Trainorders.com, with plans to perform an aerial production of Tehachapi and Donner Pass this spring.

Junior high and High School Kids on Trainorders.com
For the last couple of years I had an informal policy where we extended a complimentary second membership to Junior High and High School kids when dad was a member of Trainorders.com. We now have a formalized policy for this that I want to share. If dad, or in rare cases, mom is a member of the site you can send us a scan, fax, or snail mail showing proof of their age, or that they are in 7-12 grade and we will offer a 2nd complimentary membership to the site as long as the parent has an active account. I know there are several on the site sharing accounts and you can continue doing this from the same household. If you want a dedicated account for your teen we can do that too. Contact us if you wish to take advantage of this.

Web Site Activity
In the last few months we have noticed a drop off in the number of postings on the discussion forum. While our membership ranks are higher than last year and traffic is off only slightly, we are seeing fewer discussions. We are only the keepers of the discussion forums, we do not create the discussions as that is up to the community as a whole. There is no such thing as a stupid question, or a stupid observation. So very often the simplest observation will result in an interesting discussion. If you are lurker and have never posted give it a try. It opens up a whole new dimension to the site experience. If you need help on how to post feel free to contact help@trainorders.net.

For the most part we are holding up very well through this recession. Our membership count is still above last year, though site visitation and page views have dropped slightly. Here is a link to a screen shot of our Google statistics from July until yesterday.

Trainorders.com statistics: http://www.trainorders.com/newsletters/google-stats.jpg

The green represents last year, and the blue this year. We are pretty much flat with last year. The big jump in September 2008 was due to due to the Chatsworth Metrolink crash when our traffic spiked and then slowly leveled off in the following months. If it was not for that spike our July ’09 traffic to date would have been level with last year.

Smart Phones and Steam Locomotive Tracking
This will be kind of long winded, so please be patient. I am embarrassed to say that I got my first real cell phone this week. I always had the belief that if I am not home, then I am unavailable. Instead I carried a T-mobile prepaid phone, using less than $75 a year in service. I stay online with the website using a Verizon Broadband card with a notebook computer (currently a Macbook Pro). People that know me will attest that I carry the notebook everywhere I go and is nicknamed the football as it allows me to run the site and handle most emergencies.

This week after much procrastination, and research I settled on the Motorola Droid smart phone from Verizon. I chose this as it runs the Android operating system and supports a fantastic secure shell program that allows me to talk to my servers, something the iPhone and other smart phones can’t do very well. Now the Trainorders football has shrunken from a notebook to a tiny pocket computer. Other than sucking the battery, it is a nice smart phone. If only I had seven year old girly fingers to touch the keys like my daughter.

I am in talks with one of our programmers to write a smart phone(s) tracking application that would allow for fans to climb aboard a train and have their location mapped to share with the connected world. This is particularly geared towards steam trips, but could be used for any train ride. It is still in the early planning stages, but the initial idea is to offer it as an open system, not requiring membership to follow a tracked event. The idea is one could install the app on their smart phone and be on the train. Our server would do the rest and offer the location on a Google map.

In the past year we completely replaced our server infrastructure and upgraded our software. I am not expecting to perform any major upgrades until late next year when our web server is scheduled for replacement. Early next year I plan to make some modifications to improve image posting and transition all of our previous video to the new video system.

One item to note is we recently increased the private message quota to 150 messages which should solve some capacity issues until we upgrade the system.

Tehachapi Camera
As many know the Tehachapi camera was removed from service a few months ago. Not to worry as we plan to bring it back at a more reliable location inside the new Tehachapi Depot being rebuilt after a disastrous fire last year. I don’t have a date for the return, but I expect to have it back the first part of 2010.

Web Space
As a reminder all members receive 50mb of disk space to create their own web site or to make images available online. Some use it for hosting images for ebay, and others use it to learn web programming. For more information visit: http://www.trainorders.com/hosting

If you have a web site, be sure to include it in your public profile. With that your site will end up in our directory and will help your rankings with Google as your address will be listed on our link page which has a high search engine rating: http://www.trainorders.com/members/

Railfan & Railroad Magazine
Looking for a good deal on a Trainorders.com membership and magazine? Consider subscribing to Railfan & Railroad and receive a special annual introductory rate of $27.95. Then in subsequent years you will receive $5 off renewal to Trainorders.com. For more information follow the Railfan & Railroad link from the home page.

Gift Memberships
With the holidays coming I want to remind that we offer gift memberships. Every year this has become more popular and as a result we have automated the entire process. When you purchase a membership for a friend, you receive 2 months free onto your own membership. For more information visit: https://shop.trainorders.com/secure/gift/

That will do it for this newsletter. Thank you for being a member and we hope to see you online.

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA

Date: 11/18/09 17:54
Re: Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: AgentSmith

Hey Webmaster..
Hows about a Model railroad photo contest? Three photos of of favorite models? How about that for an idea?

Date: 11/18/09 21:49
Re: Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: webmaster

AgentSmith Wrote:
> Hey Webmaster..
> Hows about a Model railroad photo
> contest? Three photos of of favorite models? How
> about that for an idea?
> Steven

We are planning one for the spring.

Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA

Date: 11/21/09 21:31
Re: Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: espee2

I'm thinking about having an alternative "mobile" friendly version of my tunnel13.com website soon. now that you have the smart phone, are you thinking of having a mobile version of Trainorders?

Date: 11/23/09 16:15
Re: Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: nickrgeorge

A mobile version of TO would be EXCELLENT!

Date: 11/23/09 20:27
Re: Trainorders.com Fall Newsletter
Author: webmaster

Not an entire mobile web site, but the discussion forums.


Todd Clark
Canyon Country, CA

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