Elsmar Cove - Significant Site Changes - 10 August 2001

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
My Cayman Cove Friends:

As you know, many changes are happening on the internet - and the Cayman Cove web site is no exception. For almost 6 years the Cove has brought people free information in many forms - from the Cove Forums to the free files in the 'old' pdf_files directory.

The Cove has reached it's server disk space limit and a new server has been set up which, over the next month or so, we are migrating to. But - the question is, what are the changes and how do they affect you?

********************************************
For most Cove visitors and patrons the changes will mean little or nothing. Access to the forums and the main site pages will not change. You do not need to re-register or get a new password for access to the forums.
********************************************

The MAIN change is in our past policy of allowing UNRESTRICTED access to a number of directories on our server. Recently someone even uploaded a file with a virus in it. Server security has become a significant issue for all of us. For this reason, access to previously unrestricted directories has had to be stopped. The internet is changing and we must change with it. Because of this, access to free files (Freebies) now requires a password and a user name. You can obtain these easily and auto-magically at *** DEAD LINK REMOVED *** Just look for the link.

In addition, over the years I have accumulated many files. Many are ones I produced, such as the Cove Guides. Some are files users have contributed over the years. As Cove 'old timers' know for years I gave most away at no cost. However, as everyone knows, the internet has changed radically in the last 6 years. It is more and more becoming an advertisement paradise and the realm of big business and all the accompanying hype. The big companies can afford a large, professional presence while more and more domain names are for sale cheap - and we all know why.

As you Cove 'old timers' know, at the Cove I never advertised (other than my own blurbs here and there). No blinking links to Amazon. No flashing banner ads telling you that you can win gambling online at such and such. I turned down offers from registrars and others who wanted some space. I chose to keep the site as neutral as possible and it remains so today. This said, it is obvious that the Cove is not supported by advertisers. It is as neutral as I can keep it. This does not, however, preclude the possible eventual use of advertisements in the distant future. Advertising is not in the current business plan, however.

With consulting business down for me, as it is with many companies, I want a way to keep the Cove online and, for all intents and purposes, free. Especially the Forums - which I believe is the "Heart" of the Cove site. Server rates have doubled and recent upgrades have run over US$1000. In addition, software costs have exceeded US$500. Because of this I have put almost all editable files into a restricted 'PAY' directory. You can get details here: http://Elsmar.com/join.html

As most of you know, I have also been selling what I call 'Guide' file sets. Information on them is at http://Elsmar.com/courses.html

In addition, I started a second 'PAY' directory called Premium which gives you access to ALL the Cove guide files in addition to all the other files. In addition, you receive access to many 'unpublished' guide files. Information on Premium Access is at: http://Elsmar.com/join.html


In Summary: The changes to the site are:

1. To access the Free Files directory you must now 'sign up'. Access to this directory is as it was before -- access is Free. You can sign up for and access the Freebies directory at: *** DEAD LINK REMOVED ***

2. A PAY directory called "Members" now exists - yearly memberships can be purchased.

Some of these files were in the free files area. I have left pdf copies in the free directory, but have moved actual data files (Excel, WORD, PowerPoint, etc) to this PAY directory. While I'm a liberal, let's face it. Up until 2 weeks ago these were all free. At the price, you can't go wrong. A couple of Powerpoint presentations, a spreadsheet here, a spreadsheet there, several sample procedures - everyone will get their money's worth and I will have some funds to pay server bills.

I do hope many Cove regulars will consider joining the Members group as a way of contributing to keeping the Cove up and running. Many people have gained considerably from the Cove site and the Cove forums over the years. But there is no requirement to do so.

I do plan to set up an upload link where any Member who uploads (contributes) a file for the Members group will receive some type of credit, such as an extension of their access period. This may be a while before I can get to it, however.

Take a look at the listing to see everything you get access to: http://Elsmar.com/Member_Files.html

3. A PAY directory called "Premium" now exists - yearly memberships can be purchased.

In addition to all the files you have access to in #2 just above, these are mostly courses I have put together over the years. But there's lots more than that. Of course, as I stated earlier, you get access not only to all the files 'Members' get access to and access to all the individual guide files for sale, but many more 'unpublished' guides as well.

Take a look at the listing to see everything you get access to: http://Elsmar.com/Premium_Files.html

As with the Members group, I eventually plan to set up an upload link where any Premium Member who uploads (contributes) a file for the Premium Members group will receive some type of credit, such as an extension of their access period.

-------------------------------------------------

Other than that, only cosmetic changes to the site have taken place.

In short, almost everything that was available for free before still is.
However, there are NEW options which, unfortunately, are NOT free.

The Cayman Cove is still The Cove. Like CNN, we're expanding and changing our format a bit. Some folks may not like the changes. I realize change is not always pleasant. Coming home to a completely rearranged house, or moving into a new house, is not always a pleasant experienced. One has to learn to find ones way around all over again. I have tried to make most changes as transparent as possible, but - obviously - this is not always easy and sometimes it is simply not possible.

As always, if you have any questions don't hesitate to call or e-mail me.

Marc
 
Elsmar Forum Sponsor
E

energy

#3
Yea!

Al, My comment is this: In 40 days or less, I can create a website just like this for free. Yea. What I said. Other than that, no problem here.
If had only known how to do this, :) it would have been clean. or ;)

energy


[This message has been edited by energy (edited 23 August 2001).]
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#4
Originally posted by energy:

Al, My comment is this: In 40 days or less, I can create a website just like this for free.
Besides, since you're active in the forums I sent you free access to the 'Members' directory. What 'cha bitching about?

Now - no kiddin'. Get that web site up! I'm in suspense! Just remember the catch - it's gotta be free! And more than just a 'freebie forum' at Excite or somewhere like that with all those idiot advertisements flashing and popping up everywhere. :rolleyes:

[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 13 August 2001).]
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#5
After a look through the site financials, the Cove forums will soon close, as will most 'free' aspects of the Cove site. I want to take a minute to thank energy for offering to put up a site to take the place of this one! Energy can do it free, which is a lot cheaper than I can do it for.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#6
Since 'freezing' the forums 2 days ago, I have received several phone calls and a number of e-mails - all very nice except one e-mail.

Let me give some history here.

When I started this site it was late 1995 and it was only available to a few 'select' people by IP number. I started it so that I could communicate with some of the few people who had QS-9000 experience.

In the first week (?) of January I 'bought' the qs9000.com domain name and 'went public'. The site retained its purpose and, until about February 2001, remained entirely free. It was during late January or early February that I started selling 'Guide File Sets'.

Up until about 1 1/2 years ago I was literally swamped with business. I usually put the time necessary into 'maintaining' the site from hotel rooms - and what better place - away from home and I'm not a bar person. In addition, I was making over US$125 and hour week in and week out.

At that time server costs were not an issue. Server and software costs for 1997, for example, came out to just over US$2100 a year. That's 4 years ago - and prices have not gone down.

From 1995 through 2001 server usage (hits/pages viewed/ bandwidth - you name it) has gone 'through the roof. A lot of that was because of the site becoming well known, but it was also because everything was free. The pdf_files directory usage went through the roof. Mostly by people who were not at all involved in the forums - they would come and download every file they could and move on.

My last server report gave me the following daily averages:

Avg hits per day -- 51839
Avg page views per day -- 8120
Avg unique users per day -- 7696
Avg data (bandwidth) per day -- 787.85 MB

See http://www.searchenginewatch.com for interpretations of log file analysis

Approximately 90% of unique users (and thus single page views) are from search engines where the person searching got the Cove listing hit but it was not relevant to their search. The rest are people who are visiting the site.

To top that off, the forums, which it seems many people enjoy, eat up more and more disk space every day. Not much daily, but the software I'm now using first went online in here at the Cove during June of 1998. Easy math tells us that's 3 years of messages - well, more than three since it's now August. But - the point is between 'free' files and space for forums messages I surpassed my server space quota. The next jump is another US$100 a month (where my 'main' site is now). For those of you with a mind for figures andf cypherin' (as Jeb Clampett used to say when talking about Jethro), that comes out to another US$1200 a year. Well, there goes my cigarette budget....

So - let's jump ahead. For close to 6 years, everything was free. But - for over a year now, jobs have become sparse as everyone and their brother is an 'ISO Expert'. In addition, the nature of the internet has changed. It's more and more a world owned by big business - and you don;'t get too many freebies.

For a long time this was much fun, as well. But after almost 6 years it isn't so much fun any more. It's more of what I define as work. Combined with a dismal year so far, the financial part also comes into play.

Understand that I have sat here for over 3 weeks doing everything from reviewing software to talking to 'Hosts' to try and solve some problems. Then I spent almost a week getting a secondary host set up, bought software (which as always promises far, far more than advertized) for several hundred bucks and - all in all - ended up with about a US$1200 bill. To add to that the software required a good, working knowledge of perl scripting - so, although I'm pretty fair on the basics, I've been up to my ears in perl scripting. I've drank more coffee than I did when I was in college some 30 years ago - I'm a tea drinker for years, but I'm briefly back to coffee -- the 'cheap speed' drug of those years of all nighters and endless studying.

Now add the final straw - I understand Apache and directives fairly well - or so I thought. Not only was I getting heavily involved in perl, I had to go back and dive into Apache directives (and, of course, how they work in concert, which is processed first, what stops processing, etc., etc.) including htaccess and conf files (just to name two).

In all this I was up almost all night on several nights trying to pull this all together so it would 'work' and was also affordable (for me as well as for users). As 'energy' wrote me in an e-mail this morning "Stress Kills". This has been a very stressful month.

When I read what energy wrote:

-> Al, My comment is this: In 40 days or less, I can create
-> a website just like this for free. Yea. What I said.
-> Other than that, no problem here.

I ask you to put yourself into my shoes. I received a number of e-mails expressing shock and dismay (for lack of better words) about that message. Particularly the 'free' part. While energy did write me an e-mail yesterday late wherein he said that he was actually referring to the 40 day free offer we were discussing in another thread, I (and from the e-mail I received others as well) took it very hard and I took it quite personally. Here I am wracking my brain on how to bring this all together in a way where people can find free information on ISO and other 'quality' issues yet still have the server pay for its self and I 'freaked'. If you want to call it a 'breakdown', then be my guest. I came very close to calling the two hosts I now pay for servers from and just telling them to shut down the servers and say to hell with it. I spend too much time sitting in front of a computer screen anyway.

I did not because of several e-mails, including:

-> Is there a treatment process for those of us in
-> withdrawal? *grin* Hope you're doing well Marc!

and

-> Marc -
->
-> In response to you 14 August 2001 memo in the Cayman Cove
-> Forums, I would just like to say thanks. Over the past
-> two years I have enjoyed following the postings of
-> everybody in the forums. I have personally benefited from
-> the information exchange and will be sorely missed.
->
-> I understand and support your need to start the " 'pay'
-> parts" of your site. And as soon as my own personal
-> budget constraints permit, I will gladly contribute and
-> become a member to support your continued work.
->
-> So again.... Thanks

I did get one e-mail I want to respond to:

-> Couldn't you have at least warned people who were in the
-> middle of conversations before you wiped us out? What
-> about all the stuff that has been contributed by outside
-> people who are professionals and contributed while your
-> site got the credit for it and no one minded? Are you
-> going to sell the stuff I contributed also?
->
-> My only problem with this is you gave us no warning and I
-> would really like to get in contact with the people who I
-> was in the middle of some issues with.

To which I say: When one gets something for free, one should expect little and be happy for what that person has received. As far as 'all that has been contributed', I suggest that I have contributed far more than any individual over the last 6 years.

I could go on and on - as you all know - but the bottom line is I am seriously restructuring the site. Including removing 'old deadwood' such as the files from the 'old' board. I really like them - I hate to dump them - they allow one to look through the history of ISO and QS - specifically interpretations issues. But - so it goes.

How this will turn out is still a mystery. I would still like to convert the forums to a much better software package (read set of perl scripts - some people don't consider perl scripts software per se) and some other things. But, just to remind, there is the financial end. And I'm just not sure how to approach it.

I do take some comfort in the fact that so many 'dot coms' have failed miserably in the last year - so I'm apparently not the only stupid one around (of course I won't mention that in most of those cases the 'upper echelon' actually did quite well financially).

For now everything will remain 'status quo'. I'm going to take a few days off to recouperate from my 'breakdown' and think about this whole mess which I so lovingly know as the Cove. In the mean time, you'll just have to bear with me. Or - if I have offended you in some way (or simply pissed you off) - you'll just have to find another site to keep you informed and entertained.

Marc
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#7
Marc,

I considered e-mailing you, but figured you had been slammed pretty hard by lots and lots of mail. And what I want to say, I want to say openly...

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!

You have provided a valuable service in many times of need. And in return for all the help, I have tried to contribute on occasion, both thru postings and file up-loads (btw..you have my permission to sell- and keep the proceeds- ANYTHING I have sent....least I could do!).

As for the jackass who had the nerve to complain about the changes - let's not forget it is YOUR site....let them put their money up for it!!!

Thanks again, Marc. I, for one, support what ever decision you make with regards to the site.

Respectfully,
CarolX

[This message has been edited by CarolX (edited 15 August 2001).]
 
J
#8
Marc,

Just want to add my thanks to others you've received. Whatever you decide is certainly OK. It was just a shock to us all when it came so suddenly.

James
 
A

Alf Gulford

#9
Ditto (I was going to say 'Amen' but thought it might be mis-interpreted).

Alf

[This message has been edited by Alf Gulford (edited 15 August 2001).]
 
J

Jim Biz

#10
Marc - Although we talked on the phone this morning - I want to take the public oportunity -(and may every professional here join me in saying) THANKS for what you have done... (Probably one of what Demming described as an unknowable) - you will never know what impact you have had World-Wide to countless quality systems and Truly the COVE has been exactly what it says on the home page A PLACE TO TAKE REGUGE FROM THE STORM.

I for one will support whatever decision you make for the future of the Cove.

And to Barb / Al / Kevin / Dawn / Carol / Rick / Howard and all the other "regular wizards & contributors" its been nothing less than a privledge talking and discussing quality issues of the day with each of you.

With best Regards!
Jim Biz
 
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