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December 2004 Newsletter
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to all our Trainorders.com members. I also want to thank my staff which includes Chris Toth, Kevin Burkholder, Bruce Petty, and Brian Moon for all their Work over the past year.
I also mourn the passing of Dave Burton our Tehachapi camera host in November. Dave had become a dear friend over the past eight years and I will really miss him. Visiting Tehachapi will not be the same anymore. Without the encouragement and hospitality of Dave and Helen Burton Trainorders.com would not be here today. It was the Tehachapi webcam that brought all The railfans to Trainorders.com in the beginning.
I want to thank everyone for their continued patronage of the web site As that turned out to be the best Christmas present we could have asked for. November was our one year anniversary of the premium membership program and I did not know what to expect in regards to renewals. We had 90%+ of our users renew for a 2nd year!
With the good news regarding renewals in hand I have drafted a new set of goals for web site improvements for 2005. Here they are:
Complete web site redundancy so in the event of equipment malfunction The site will keep operating with backup equipment. We are almost halfway through Phase 1 of this project. We have a backup web server that with a key stroke can put into service within 30 minutes after learning of a failure.
The backup is freshened up hourly. Phase 2 will be a backup server for our database. That will be a little more complicated project to complete.
We are going to be expanding our web site media library. We recently acquired an optimized video workstation for editing and compressing video clips. We hope to expand the Trainorders.com web site video library to more than 1000 clips during 2005.
We are currently working to replace the Dunsmuir RailCam with our next generation camera system. This project has been underway for more than 9 months now, and the end is almost here. I will be visiting Dunsmuir in early January to install a new computer system, DSL, and camera. It won't be available on the site until late February at the earliest as there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. This system will be unlike Anything else on the internet and will fulfill my vision for what a railroad webcam should have been back in 1997.
This past year saw lots of upgrades to the web site. Many of the new features are maturing very nicely as folks get use them. The classified ad system is doing quite well with about 250 ads read each day by prospective buyers. If you have something you want to sell try placing an ad in the classifieds. There is no charge for paid members.
If you have a broadband internet connection you may want to check out the video and sound library as well as it now contains almost 300 media clips submitted by our members in the video trading area.
As many of you know all paid members receive a place on our servers to build a web site. Recently we increased the allotted web space to 40mb per member. So what can you do with the space? Some members create web sites, while others use it as a place to store their family pictures. This is a bargain when considering so many of the once free web hosting sites are now charging for this service. Plus we don't show ads with your web pages. On Trainorders.com it is included with your membership. For more Information about utilizing your web space area visit the hosting area.
I have found over the years that many railfans tend to be transportation fans. For those of you who are maritime fans this may interest you. On January 10th through the 12th six tall ships will be racing from Long Beach, California to San Diego for a parade into San Diego Bay on the 12th. The operators of the Hawaiian Chieftain and Lady Washington are selling space for this three adventure. The fare is quite reasonable at $350 for adults, and $250 for children. This also includes your food and lodging aboard the ship. I am traveling with my 8 year old son Mason aboard the Lady Washington which is a replica of a trading ship by the same name built in 1750. We rode with the Hawaiian Chieftain last year on a mock battle cruise and it was a load of fun. Sadly, when I booked over the weekend it looks like Mason and me might be the only passengers on the trip to San Diego. If you have a passing interest in sea transportation and adventure don't put pass on this opportunity. If you want more information call (800) 200-5239. You can also visit their web site at http://www.hawaiianchieftain.com . I have no connection with these trips, but I would like to see them succeed.
As a reminder Trainorders.com members that don't subscribe to Railfan & Railroad Magazine can receive a one year subscription for $24.95. This is a real bargain for such a neat magazine. To take advantage of this offer log onto Trainorders.com and click on the "R&R Magazine Offer" link in the upper left hand corner.
This year we are also offering Trainorders.com gift memberships. If you have a railfan friend who is not yet a member think about giving them a one year Trainorders.com gift membership. As a bonus, for each gift membership you purchase we will add 2 months extra to your own account. The cost is $29 and you can purchase them here.
That is it for this year, stay tuned in early 2005 when we announce the re-release of our Dunsmuir webcam and our first train video contest.
Have a safe and Happy New Year,
Founder & Webmaster