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Old 01-19-2012, 11:27 PM   #15
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Just to say congratulation on working on this project and to everyone else doing their part. This will bring the WBCCI together and move it forward. I'm looking forward to it. I can only post on this forum so I don't think I would be of any help but if you would PM me I will forward your Help Wanted Ad to our Oregon Unit, we have a lot of IT type members I'm sure will step up to help. Not only do we have quantity we also have quality members ready to be part of this new WBCCI.
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Old 01-20-2012, 10:05 AM   #16
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Thanks for spreading the word to your unit. I sent a PM with the basic info. Let me know if you need any more information.
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:23 AM   #17
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Ok, just spoke with my better half, and she approved of my getting involved. I haven't done Joomla sites; all of mine are more or less custom jobs done with Expression Web plus added code for scripts of various kinds. If I can be of help, please let me know!

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Old 01-20-2012, 11:44 AM   #18
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Excellent - I'll PM you! Thanks for jumping in!
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Old 01-20-2012, 04:38 PM   #19
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Is This a Typo?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
... we can save the club lots of $$$ and help propel the club into the 20th century.
I'm sure this is a typo but you gotta admit.... It's really funny! Are we really moving backward to the 20th century?

Now on to more subtantive matters:

I've been giving this "transition" some thought and I hope the following things can be incorporated - not all at once mind you - but by laying the building blocks the other items can be achieved.

1) I see reference to a database. Granted it's outdated and it's almost certain that it is nearly useless moving forward. This "database" needs to be something along the lines of Oracle, SAP or some other relational data that can be used in a wide variety of endeavors. For example, an Excel spreadsheet is not the database this club needs.

2) With a real database many things become possible and changes can be made in the future. For example, the membership directory can be updated real-time and paid members can be provided access to the data (not just a PDF copy of the data) so they can easily search the information.

3) A true database will allow members to pay online for various things - membership renewal, retail items such as hats, jackets, etc., and best of all signing up for rallies and caravans can be done online. Just think... you could actually have a real waiting list for rallies and caravans and as people drop out/cancel a member would be notified they have moved up on the waiting list. Why it's almost like we're in the 21st century.

4) The database will be the repository for all the national rallies and numbered caravans you've participated in and for that matter any number of additional fields can be added as needed. Wow, a database! Who woulda thunk it!

5) After laying the groundwork with the database, many things become possible. Each unit web site could easily have similarities for membership, asking questions, finding general information, searching (wow, you mean a database can be searched?). Of course it's not necessary that all unit sites look the same, just that they would have a base to start from and this would provide some amount of common user interface for the entire membership.

I'll post more at a later date but dinner is calling. Oh yeah, one last thing - I'd love to post this on the WBCCI but that doesn't seem to be an option at this point.

Lucius

P.S. I realize my post has "tone" but I really do think this is the place to start. The WBCCI database provides the cornerstone of all the other electronic changes this club needs.
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Old 01-20-2012, 04:46 PM   #20
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@nvestysly: As an Oracle professional, I can pretty much assure you that Oracle is not in the budget. PostgreSQL provides all the "real database" functionality that's likely to be useful for this sort of database and it's open-source, and MySQL can be made to do most of it as well (also open-source, but some of the nice transactional bits are add-ons there.)

Oracle makes sense when you either have truly massive data needs, or it would cost your business more to have downtime or some other bug than it costs you in licensing fees to use Oracle, and that's coming from someone who pays his mortgage with Oracle work.
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Old 01-20-2012, 05:23 PM   #21
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Agreed, and MySQL is integrated with Joomla very closely, if I remember correctly. You can do a lot of things these days without knowing the first thing about databases and still using them extensively, which is really good, because I don't. Even way back when I was looking at Joomla (probably the equivalent of the Middle Ages...), there were extensions that made setting up and working with databases extremely easy, and I'd bet it's even more plug and play now.
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Old 01-20-2012, 06:01 PM   #22
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1) The database we are asking the club to use is FileMaker. It is a package that a few of us in the ECC have experience with and can build maintain without the need to call for outside help. We have already built a demo database and layout(s) and were successful in importing data from the old FoxPro database the club is currently using. However, a member of the executive committee is comparing Filmaker with other database systems to be sure that the best option for the club is chosen.

2) We are looking into all of the things we can do with the database after it (and the web site) are fully established, Real Time data is one item. Another is modernizing the workflow for the office staff - that means printing envelopes, membership cards, using Constant Contact. With a new member management system, the doors are open to streamlining lots of things that are probably more manual tasks.

3) Online renewal and joining are items that have been requested by the executive committee and we are working to get that established as quickly as possible. One issue we have is that the current system is a bottoms-up approch wherein a member joins at the unit level and the dues are sent up to International. Online joining/renewing will probably require us to reverse that process and HQ will have to send dues to the unit. This will create more work for the office staff. We are discussing ways to accomplish this without creating more work on the staff than is necessary - they are pretty busy gals working there!

4) There is already a database for caravan information. But with the new system we will be able to integrate that information into all of the members other details. Currently, they are really maintained separately.

5) At this time the new database will not impact or alter the way the regions and units web sites are operated or what they display. The problem is that we have most units and regions on the WBCCI.net site, which the club just took over. But we have a large number of sites that are not operated on that platform. They are using their own hosting and content management options. So, we will not be able to benefit those units & regions as directly as the ones we are servicing inhouse. However, part of our efforts are to upgrade the WBCCI.net infrastructure and then integrate that information into the new WBCCI.org site so that things like searches can be done on that content. This has nothing to do with the membership database efforts.

I have to say that the efforts to modernize the club membership database does not stem from all of the great things we could do with a new database. Rather, we are working to upgrade it simply because the existing platform, FoxPro, is outdated and the club is being quoted a hefty price to upgrade it as it exists now. The ECC believes that it can do this itself with the efforts of volunteers and save the club a ton of money. But as a secondary benefit, yes, we will be able to accomplish many features that will directly and indirectly benefit the club membership and improve the way we do business.

Now - back to looking for volunteers.... I am setting people up now so they can start to get their hands dirty. Who wants to step up next?
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Now - back to looking for volunteers.... I am setting people up now so they can start to get their hands dirty. Who wants to step up next?
Volunteer for what? Create some web pages, copy & paste some pictures, scan the Blue Beret and post it online?

I've read this entire thread and I don't see anything that tells me the fundamental changes that are going to lead this club (electronically) in the next several decades. It appears that we are basing the entire electronic future of this club on $300 software.

Oracle may not be the right answer. I'm not a computer jock but I've worked with some so I'm sure there are solutions other than Oracle. However, Oracle is at least one of the things that should be considered or at a minimum used for comparison.

I've worked with college interns that do this stuff in their sleep. I realize that's not really true but you get the idea. By the way, many college interns will work for next to nothing.

Why do we think that updating a few web pages and adding some fancy graphics here and there will accomplish much of anything? We need a seamless electronic interface for our members and the outside world. This club needs to put forth a cohesive, user-friendly means of dealing with this members and potential members. Most people don't pick up the phone or send letters via snail mail. They send email, they tweet, they post on facebook, they compose electronic photo albums and share information electronically. People expect this in day-to-day interaction. Our web site needs to be dynamic (and supported by a dynamic database). Individuals updating web pages periodically and working around members vacation schedules, other commitments, etc. is a losing proposition in my mind.

You can put a short-term bandage on the electronic face of WBCCI and make it look good temporarily but it won't last without the buidling blocks to support it for the long run.

So I'll ask again. Volunteer for what? Give me a URL and a password. I'll make a web page. I'll upload the Blue Beret. Is that the kind of volunteer you want? That does not fix the electronic problems this club is faced with.

Lucius
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Old 01-20-2012, 08:04 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post

Oracle may not be the right answer. I'm not a computer jock
well, thats pretty clear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
However, Oracle is at least one of the things that should be considered or at a minimum used for comparison.
Why? if we were building a kite, would you suggest we consider engaging Boeing?



This is a camping club with a few thousand members; not amazon.com.

And there appears to be quite a few IT professionals in the club who understand the scope of the club's needs, and understand what the appropriate tools are to fill them.
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:11 PM   #25
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Until my post #19 and a response in post #22 there was nothing in this thread that posed what the problem was that needed to be addressed.

While I have gone off the topic of volunteers I was simply attempting to get ECC to understand a point of view which I think is very valid - this club needs an electronic makeover and it starts with a robust database. I do not want to see volunteer time used to patch together short-sighted solutions to BIG problems.

In post #22 there was a reasonable outline of what the ECC is attempting to accomplish. However, it still seems premature to be enlisting volunteers to update web pages without a well-defined roadmap to what this club needs in terms of an electronic database.

I don't consider what WBCCI needs to do as analogous to building a kite. It's probably much more akin to a radio control airplane. I think there is probably much more similarity between a radio control airplane and Boeing than there is a similarity between building a kite and what WBCCI needs.

Oracle in itself is not Boeing. It simply allows you to grow to Boeing size. Using Oracle does not necessarily mean lots of dollars have to be spent. Yes, there are alternatives to Oracle. Most of the alternatives will probably build a pretty good radio control plane. But if we want to build a kite we're on the wrong path.

Okay, so we're not Amazon. But we certainly need a comprehensive make-over and the database is at the core of the changes. There are a number of IT people and capable volunteers involved. That's good. Why then the need for a "shot in the dark" over here on Airforums asking for volunteers? If we're building a kite then build it. In a year when it's damaged, and somebody wants to change the color of the tail... Oh well, guess we'll have to take the system off-line for a few days, maybe weeks, while our volunteers fix the system. Oh, that's right, it'll take few months - the volunteers are at the rally, then they're going on a caravan, then they're sick, then, then, ......

We've seen this time and time again. It's the proverbial penny-wise and pound-foolish method of fixing the problem.

Many of the issues with this club are the shortsighted methods of its leaders. It certainly seems to me that we are going down the same ill-fated path. A path that will be considered a major improvement by IBT and touted as a breakthrough for the 20th century (sic) and I still will not be able to pay my renewal online, I will not be able to obtain and real electronic membership list, I will have to order my red numbers via fax and snail mail, nobody will know if the caravan is full (or not), signed checks from my bank will be the norm, the Blue Beret will be a PDF (at best), I will still have to vote with a piece of paper, and people will still be carrying around little blue books and telling me which paragraph I've violated.

I hope I'm wrong.

By the way, I'm willing to help. But show me the roadmap and time-line before I spend my energy working on 20th century (sic) ideas.

Lucius
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:19 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvestysly
Until my post #19 and a response in post #22 there was nothing in this thread that posed what the problem was that needed to be addressed.

While I have gone off the topic of volunteers I was simply attempting to get ECC to understand a point of view which I think is very valid - this club needs an electronic makeover and it starts with a robust database. I do not want to see volunteer time used to patch together short-sighted solutions to BIG problems.

In post #22 there was a reasonable outline of what the ECC is attempting to accomplish. However, it still seems premature to be enlisting volunteers to update web pages without a well-defined roadmap to what this club needs in terms of an electronic database.

I don't consider what WBCCI needs to do as analogous to building a kite. It's probably much more akin to a radio control airplane. I think there is probably much more similarity between a radio control airplane and Boeing than there is a similarity between building a kite and what WBCCI needs.

Oracle in itself is not Boeing. It simply allows you to grow to Boeing size. Using Oracle does not necessarily mean lots of dollars have to be spent. Yes, there are alternatives to Oracle. Most of the alternatives will probably build a pretty good radio control plane. But if we want to build a kite we're on the wrong path.

Okay, so we're not Amazon. But we certainly need a comprehensive make-over and the database is at the core of the changes. There are a number of IT people and capable volunteers involved. That's good. Why then the need for a "shot in the dark" over here on Airforums asking for volunteers? If we're building a kite then build it. In a year when it's damaged, and somebody wants to change the color of the tail... Oh well, guess we'll have to take the system off-line for a few days, maybe weeks, while our volunteers fix the system. Oh, that's right, it'll take few months - the volunteers are at the rally, then they're going on a caravan, then they're sick, then, then, ......

We've seen this time and time again. It's the proverbial penny-wise and pound-foolish method of fixing the problem.

Many of the issues with this club are the shortsighted methods of its leaders. It certainly seems to me that we are going down the same ill-fated path. A path that will be considered a major improvement by IBT and touted as a breakthrough for the 20th century (sic) and I still will not be able to pay my renewal online, I will not be able to obtain and real electronic membership list, I will have to order my red numbers via fax and snail mail, nobody will know if the caravan is full (or not), signed checks from my bank will be the norm, the Blue Beret will be a PDF (at best), I will still have to vote with a piece of paper, and people will still be carrying around little blue books and telling me which paragraph I've violated.

I hope I'm wrong.

By the way, I'm willing to help. But show me the roadmap and time-line before I spend my energy working on 20th century (sic) ideas.

Lucius
None of which has anything to do with databases.
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:26 PM   #27
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Many of the issues with this club are the shortsighted methods of its leaders. It certainly seems to me that we are going down the same ill-fated path.
Lucius
Golly, Lucius, it sounds like you are far better qualified to direct this effort than the present ECC. Since the ECC is appointed by the Executive Committee, you need to introduce yourself to the Executive Committee and explain to them what you have just explained to us. Then you can volunteer to lead the new, improved ECC.

And you know something? It will not be the first time the Executive Committee has heard this. Nor the second. Nor the third. . .
.
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Old 01-20-2012, 10:18 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by nvestysly View Post
It certainly seems to me that we are going down the same ill-fated path. A path that will be considered a major improvement by IBT and touted as a breakthrough for the 20th century (sic) and I still will not be able to pay my renewal online, I will not be able to obtain and real electronic membership list, I will have to order my red numbers via fax and snail mail, nobody will know if the caravan is full (or not), signed checks from my bank will be the norm, the Blue Beret will be a PDF (at best), I will still have to vote with a piece of paper, and people will still be carrying around little blue books and telling me which paragraph I've violated.

Lucius
WOW - A tremendous amout of criticism without seeing or knowing the whole picture (game plan / roadmap). Give Buttercup and the ECC a chance.

It sounds like your for Oracle or nothing.

Anything will be better than what the WBCCI now has. Let's not kill it before it can even get started.

This is the viewpoint of a non techie just reading this thread.
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