[balug-admin] Fwd: Re: BALUG website [BALUG stuff to do (site, etc.)]

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu
Sun Jun 25 16:45:24 PDT 2006

Works better to the list if I don't drop a character, and duplicate that

----- Forwarded message from Michael Paoli <Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu> -----
    Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2006 16:30:16 -0700
    From: Michael Paoli <Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu>
Reply-To: Michael Paoli <Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu>
 Subject: Re: BALUG website [BALUG stuff to do (site, etc.)]
      To: mikron <mikron1234@gmail.com>

Thanks for volunteering.

I'm not aware of much/anything in the way of database stuff to do
presently, but regarding the site in general, you might start with some
of these items.

Get yourself subscribed to the "admin" list <balug-admin@list.balug.org>
It's probably a fairly good idea to read/skim a moderate bit of past
archives (e.g. about the last 1 to 3 years).
You can also grab those from the archives:
if you grab the gzipped stuff, and gunzip those, they're in mbox format,
so those could be browsed/skimmed with most mail client software, if
desired ... can probably also just concatenate them all into one long
mbox format file (something like that may be more convenient than trying
to browse lots of them via the web interface).

Anyway, reviewing a fair bit of the "admin" archives will give you a
fairish overview of various issues which have been discussed and such.

Probably good to also likewise at least skim the Subject: lines for the
last year or so of of the "announce" and "talk" lists.

On the website itself, you probably want to look it over and get
familiar with the various portions of it.  Some are probably in the dead
to semi-dead range - e.g. haven't changed in a very very long time, and
may not have been actively used for similarly long time.  Opinions might
differ on this, but perhaps some of those could be turned into static
archives, rather than exist as "dynamic" stuff that nobody updates or
actively uses (other than looking at older/historic stuff).

It's probably a *good* idea to preserve backwards compatibility, in
terms of content.  E.g. folks do find, reference, search out, link to,
etc., various stuff on our web pages, so, preserving most of that
functionality - at least in terms of preserving references, can be quite
useful.  Unfortunately some older stuff has been lost and/or
significantly munged (e.g. I've been active with BALUG since sometime in
2003, and since then the mailing lists have gone through 3 very
different configurations, and in at least some cases access to the older
archived stuff has been effectively lost (I think the data still exists,
but not in a format we've been able to make use of)).

The most active areas (at least in my opinion and as far as I can tell)
are the lists, and a few relatively "high level" web pages on the site.
Most notably (interpreting / tersely paraphrasing) there are the lists:
"announce" - low volume, moderated, "highly" important/relevant stuff to
  BALUG (e.g. information about upcoming meetings/speakers, etc.)
"talk" - open unmoderated (must be subscribed to it) discussion (should
  be reasonably topical to BALUG, but we haven't carved out a highly
  specific policy for that list.)  Traffic volume varies from quite
  quiet, to very active.
"admin" - administrivia - basically for discussing (it's publicly
  archived) BALUG administrivia stuff (the "business" of running
  BALUG).  Stuff that shouldn't be publicly accessible should go in
  private e-mails (e.g. often communications to/from prospective
  speakers arranging speaking engagements, passwords (unless very
  strongly encrypted), etc.)

I think we've got a fairly reasonable handle on the lists and their
management presently, so that's probably mostly okay.  What could
probably use more attention is the website itself.

It's hosted by Dreamhost, so, as long as that's the case, and the
interfaces are as they are, we can't go in a freely muck about with and
change things in any and/or all ways we might want to.  Unfortunately, I
don't think we have, or know that we have a way to set up a "beta" or
"test" site, such that it would effectively be a copy, yet would have
the same interfaces when it comes to changing stuff - so that we could
safely test out changes without mucking up the main site.  Unfortunately
some of the interfaces definitely leave things to be desired - not only
do we not have the lower level control of the site, but it is possible
(e.g. via a HTML error) to introduce error(s) into the site that cannot
be corrected via the same interfaces that introduced the error(s) (at
least from what I've been told and seen thus far anyway).  So, ... one
does need to be rather to quite careful with at least some types of
changes on the web pages - at least given our current interfaces to
manage them.

If you poke around some of the Dreamhost support and related web pages,
that'll also give you a rough idea of what we can and can't do, and how,
and also the types of problems/issues others have run into under our
present hosting arrangement.
e.g.: http://www.dreamhost.com/support.html and related pages.

There's been occasional talk of switching to a rather/quite different
hosting arrangement.  For that to be feasible, however, various
conditions would need to be met, e.g.:
o it would need to be quite affordable
o it would need to be rather/quite reliable (e.g. probably in a colo)
o it would need to be "sufficiently easy" to maintain - a web hosting
  situation (such as dreamhost) may not give us the flexibility and direct
  access we might like, but it saves someone from having to also do all
  the OS and hardware maintenance, etc.  Covering the OS and hardware
  isn't particularly trivial ... unless that's just someone's N+1th
  similar system (real or virtual) in an existing large managed set of N
  systems - otherwise it's a fair bit of time and work for some person(s)
  to cover, and do so reliably and regularly.

Yes, ... Post Nuke, ... get yourself set up with a login on the web site
using the New User? Sign Up! link on the main page, continue to get
yourself familiar with the site, and one of us with admin access to
the site can then grant that access to you presuming we're then settled
upon that.

Again, thanks for your interest in volunteering to assist with this.

Quoting mikron <mikron1234@gmail.com>:

> Hi Michael,
> It was interesting to hear about the state of the BALUG website last Tues,
> and I look forward to  contributing to a fix up.
> I took a quick peak at the site, and discovered what content management
> system it runs on.  It uses Post Nuke, and I discovered that by looking at
> the HTML source meta tags.  The post nuke site is here: 
> http://postnuke.com,
> and a demo site is accessible here:
> http://www.opensourcecms.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=130&Itemid=159
> Presumably, someone has an admin login so we can manipulate our content.
> Not sure what the next step is, but at least we know what we are dealing
> with.
> Mike

----- End forwarded message -----

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