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May 5, 2004
This is our Spring site news edition. This email update has some interesting information.
Photo Contest Coming May 23rd - June 5th Last January and February Trainorders.com held the first of several photo contest on the web site. The Winter 2004 contest requested odd railroad photos showing scenes out of the ordinary. During the 5 week competition we handed out over 50 prizes ranging from free memberships to cash prizes. For the results of the oddity contest visit here.
Our Spring/Summer contest subject will be railroad night images. The contest will run for two weeks beginning May 23rd through June 5th. At the end of each week we will post five 1st prize winners who each will receive a 1 year membership to the Trainorders.com web site. Up to 10 runner ups will receive a 3 month membership on the web site. At the conclusion of the contest two grand prize winners will be selected from the previous 1st place winners. Each grand prize winner will receive a $100 prize.
To enter the contest all you need to do is post your image to a discussion forum thread during the contest period. Remember it does not start until May 23rd. The next planned contest after the night contest will take place in the fall and will be titled "Railroading in The Weather."
This will be the last you will hear of the excursion as on Thursday we depart from Los Angeles to Reno/Sparks, Nevada. We will pass up the Coast Line on Thursday, over Donner on Friday, layover in Sparks on Saturday, back to the Bay Area on Sunday and down the Coast on Monday. We will have three unique railroad passenger cars including a vistadome, an open air convention car, and a 1927 former Southern Pacific business car complete with a rear observation platform.
This trip is going to be a lot of fun. We have Espeeboy (Ryan Martin) and F40PHR231 (Chris Fussel) working aboard as roadies. I gave them the title of "slave". Actually we are letting Espeeboy off on Sunday so he can ride with his dad Steve Martin. Rumor has it that Chris and Ryan plan to paint their faces in the colors of Amtrak and Southern Pacific. We'll see if they follow through with it. Hopefully Union Pacific won't request a royalty from Espeeboy.
If anyone who can take good pictures is going to chase our train please let me know. The reason I mention good pictures is there are so many railfans who run around with cameras and don't know how to use them. It seems that a large non-railroad publication has found the site and the upcoming excursion rather unique and there will be a reporter riding with us. They will be looking for pictures to publish. We need pictures of the rear of the train showing off the private cars. Digital is preferred, but if you are shooting slides and they are good we can accept them. If anyone out there has a mini-dv camera and plans to chase the train please let me know in advance. I have some use for footage and I am willing to barter or pay for footage that I use.
We still have space available, but if you are interested in any of the overnight, multi-day trips let me know by early Tuesday morning as I will need to let the hotels know our final count. Fares start at $199 for any one day trip. I will accept two more Emeryville to Sparks round trips as well. All trips include meals prepared aboard the train. Our menu is quite exciting consisting of prime rib, chicken, steak, fresh pasta (not dried), and more. Plus as with previous trips we will offer incredible desserts. For more information visit here or telephone (661) 424-9237.
Also, I have two more spaces available for the optional trip to the Nevada State Railroad Museum and the V&T and Chollar Mine tour in Virginia City. This was a hot item as it sold out early on. The cost for this side trip is $49 per person.
TIME Magazine and Railfans
A few weeks ago a reporter from TIME Magazine joined Trainorders.com in an effort to locate railfans who have had run-ins with the law while out chasing trains. Look for the story in the magazine sometime during the next week or two.
User Video Area
If you are on a broadband connection then you will want to check out and view some of the videos added to our video sharing library. Over 50,000 videos have been downloaded since coming online in March. If you have a video clip you want to share log in and add it to the library. The address is: http://www.trainorders.com/videos.
Trainorders.com Identification Lanyards
At the Winterail Railfan Photography Show in March we handed out almost 100 name tag and identification lanyards so members could place faces with names on the web site. We received a lot of feedback from those who were unable to attend requesting name tags and lanyards. After our excursion I will make them available to all members on the web site. Although the tags and lanyard will be free there will be a $2.50 shipping and handling fee. We will also offer the option of subtracting one month's membership to pay for postage instead of mailing in a check. Stay tuned in late May for more information.
Trainorders.com Web Hosting
In June we will be bringing a new server online to function as a backup data server to hold the gigabytes of data that make up the Trainorders.com web site. Since we have huge amounts of surplus bandwidth going to waste every month we are going to offer some low cost domain hosting for up to 20 web sites. The stipulation is we will not backup your data as this server itself is a backup server. However, the deal is very good. For $10 a month you will receive 5 gigabytes of storage, 5 gigabytes of bandwidth data transfer (not gigabits which some cheap hosting sites offer), access to your own MySQL database, php, perl, your own domain name, and email. How reliable will it be? Judging from our track record it should be pretty good considering the Trainorders.com web site is working over 99.999% of the time. Look for more information on the web site about this in June.
In the last update I spoke of upgrading the Tehachapi Railcam. Well, the replacement computer is built and ready to go. But due to some circumstances it will not be installed in Tehachapi. It turns out that this Windows XP webcam software package is still not as reliable as our 1996 era Macintosh running on the Hill since 1997. That's right the camera is going on 7 years of operation. However, we learned that Dunsmuir is now in the computer age with DSL. We are considering installing the system to beam recorded sound and video of passing trains to our main file server in Los Angeles for viewing on the web. I have to talk to our programmer to see if he can write some software to catalog these videos as the library will grow quickly if we put this into service. As with other projects this will wait until June or July.
That's it for now. Look for the next update sometime during the middle of summer as we plan to announce some new web site features for the Fall.
Founder & Webmaster