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ORIGINAL MECCANO DINKY TOYS FACTORY BOX ART 175 HILLMAN MINX SALOON + DRAWING

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alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

DTCAwebsite upgrade 2023

Hello everyone,

Regular posters will have noticed that the website has continuing issues with notifications and uploading images - which is due to these parts of the functionality becoming obsolete.  Although I have spent quite some time trying to repair the problems, this seems fully unfeasible as the website becomes progressively out of date.  The core of the website was designed by a group of enthusiasts many years ago and the project will fully close and become unsupported by November.  So a replacement website is currently in preparation and November is the target delivery date.  This is expected to resolve all the visible problems, tighten up security and tame some of the more intrusive advertising.

In terms of commitments, I should say that I'm just a volunteer from the club membership and not retired, so managing my availability during a very intense period of business over the summer has been a big challenge. So I understand and apologise for user frustrations through this transitional phase.

Al

 

 

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Thank you, Al. Sorry for the late response, I was not checking the website for some time for obvious reasons. Happy to see your message. Your efforts despite busy times are much appreciated and let's hope we will be able to actively contribute in due time. Kind regards, Jan

binnsboy650
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DTCA MemberUK

Good news, Al. I was beginning to despair as I felt that the site might disappear.
Thanks for your efforts.

DavidT
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DTCA Member

A big thank you from me, have enjoyed this website immensely being in contact with all the experts and enthusiasts, so your efforts are very much appreciated.
Just one question with regard to the wealth of information on this site, is it all transferrable or should we all contribute to copying all the information.
We are now into October, so November is just around the corner, looking forward to noting what has been going on in the Dinky community. Myself, a few more illusive trade boxes and managed to fill a few more.
David

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

All the data and membership settings should migrate to the new website version so nobody should need to transfer anything. When I'm ready to step into the new instance, I'll retain this one as an archived fallback, until we're all reasonably positive that everything is still present and working as expected.

kasvd
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DTCA Member

I’m looking forward to posting again. Thank uou for all your effort.

RaviBee's picture
RaviBee
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CanadaDTCA MemberPostwar

Many thanks for your efforts, Al. Much appreciated.

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

Thanks, Ravie... The task is to upgrade the technology of this website to the latest version ... like going from an Austin 1100 to an Austin Maestro, skipping the Allegro that nobody wants. Easy enough, you would think, but no.

Our 1100 is still running but it's really hard to get the spares now, so things like the picture uploading are not working properly. I've been able to partially repair the email notifications. This is just a bandage and we are limping painfully along with it because, first of all, I've struggled with scheduling the time required due to intense work commitments over the last few months. Now that I have that time, I find that the dealer (aka, our web host) hasn't quite got that shiny new Maestro model to actually start yet.

There was originally a deadline for the end of this month to get our new car on the road and the old one to the scrap yard - but that has just been extended to 2025! An indication what's going on (or not) under the hood of this technological miracle. Of course, we don't want to wait that long and I want the switchover to happen in the next week or so ... even if it isn't exactly by November 1st.

RaviBee's picture
RaviBee
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CanadaDTCA MemberPostwar

I hear you, Al - this is a non-trivial endeavor.

I was wondering if it would be less painful (or even possible TBH) to migrate the Drupal site to WordPress (perhaps using "FG Drupal to WordPress")? I only say this because I've just started exploring WP as a possible alternative for my handcrafted site ravib.com which was created using the state-of-the-art technology called Notepad in 1997. :)

Although I'm a full stack dev, my front end expertise is limited to desktop and Android apps. Otherwise I would have offered to help.

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

Thanks, Ravi. I hadn't really thought about WP but, yes, maybe it could be a viable alternative. Maybe, when this site was built, WP was still more of a blogger app than a cms - but I guess times change. One disadvantage is that there's no budget for fancy themes or premium modules. Then again, maybe they are not needed. Meanwhile with the Drupal 7 to 10 migration, I've given the host a deadline of the end of the week to resolve the problems with their Drupal 10 click and build before I move on with another strategy/host. I tried a clean Drupal 10 installer of course, but the host's Apache config is blocking the creation of some dynamic css/js folders.

EDIT - After some more investigation, FG Drupal would cost 50 euros to do a meaningful data migration. This sort of cost for "extras" is typical for WP and, again, there is no budget for this. I think I'd prefer to look at a managed WP installation, if going down that road. But the managed costs are too high to make WP a viable option.
I also looked at Joomla and there are no migration tools available into Drupal. A quote from an agency that does that kind of work was in the hundreds of euros.

RaviBee's picture
RaviBee
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CanadaDTCA MemberPostwar

Hi Al, I'm close to completing an 8 hour tutorial on WP and really like what I see. With more than 40% of all websites using WP, I'm convinced it's the way to go.

I don't think a magic bullet exists to import a Drupal site into WP. However, there are are some well established WP plugins that will import CSV content (e.g. users, posts, images, etc), the most popular one being WP-All-Import, which is currently being offered with a one-time payment perpetual license for unlimited sites.

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-all-import/

If the Drupal site can be exported as CSV, I think is is a viable approach to keeping the site going with a minimal amount of support. I'm going to install WP on my PC and start building a site to get my hands dirty. Perhaps if you could export a few posts of one of the DTCA forums to CSV I could try importing it?

EDIT:
It seems there's a free version of WP All Import:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12ELo1qxsUM

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

Hello Ravi,

To answer your main question straight away, yes, the database data on this site can be exported as csv or xml.

Now, I had a look at the promo video for wp-all-import. Like almost all plug-ins for wordpress, there is a free version. Unfortunately these tasters only include the most basic features - and this one is no different. As the presenter tells us, picture importing is a premium feature. Also we would need to import all the users. If you skip to 4:22 on the video, you can see the premium version with that feature is $299. There is no budget for this - and I couldn't guarantee that it would actually work perfectly. Some of the user feedback is ... well, let's say it is less than complimentary. There's no mention that the utility can handle forum data structures and I suspect that it can't for that reason. We see the presenter showing how to import page or "post" data, but this isn't forum data. WP can install forum plugins like bbPress but, again like any other plugin, it's just the basics. Any further desired features ... uploading images... inline images... notifications... quickly turns into a premium product and there is no budget for any of that.

So my plan is to continue with the next generation Drupal when it is finally working. I see version 10.1.6 just arrived - but again my first attempt to install this with the host shows their config is still in conflict. I'll hound them again of course. Meanwhile, this website's drupal generation has had its support extended to 2025 - a truly abject climbdown after all the fanfare. There is now an update that might cure the bug that's hiding the wysiwyg editor on some pages types - which is really the only problem from a user perspective. The two year cushion might persuade me now to fix the ssl issue (might just be a dns config) and do something about the missing gdpr notices.

RaviBee's picture
RaviBee
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CanadaDTCA MemberPostwar

Hi Al,

Thanks for checking out wp-all-import. I understand your point about additional costs.

Cheers,

--Ravi

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Hi Al.
Can you provide an update regarding the realization of a new DTCA website? The target date was November, but I understand from the correspondence that it is not easy. What are the expectations at the moment? Do you think we will be able to exchange New Year's wishes with photos as usual around the New Year?
Kind Regards,
Jan Oldenhuis

DavidT
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DTCA Member

What a challenge, wondered what the noise above my head was, just wish I could help.
How would a budget help, if practical and affordable, perhaps the users would contribute, I would, and how much would be needed to get the best?
Would the club own the lience?
Useable sencable questions need to be answered. Could we then eliminate the annoying adverts?
Anyway what ever your efforts are I and I suspect all appreciate your efforts.
David

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

I second!
Kind regards, Jan

johnnyangel's picture
johnnyangel
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DTCA MemberUSA

The DTCA needs to make this its very highest priority, and hire paid help to assist Al in getting this done. There is no more important lifeline to the club for us overseas members, and any stick-in-the-mud members in the UK who do not do things online need to move into the, er, 1990s, and realise that an online presence is not a "nice to have," it's essential.

I will renew my membership for next year shortly, but after this year's events, it is not an easy decision.

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

I completely agree with Jonathan. It is now time for the DTCA board to put all hands on deck. As of March, the forum no longer works and mutual collectors' communication has come to a complete standstill. This should never have lasted so long. That is fatal for this medium and our mutual communication. It's not just essential, it's vital. You won't make it with just a DTCA Journal. I am also in doubt about renewing my membership because I have not heard any cry for help from the DTCA board to resolve this before January 1 and extend my membership. Membership with a forum without exchanging photos is of no use to me. Before January 1, decisions must be made and a solution must be found. We as members are entitled to that after 3/4 years of radio silence. I hope the DTCA board reads these messages. In any case, I am also sending this message to Chairman Michael Driver. It's a cry for help! There's no point in flogging a dead horse. Then you have to buy a new one.
Kind regards, Jan Oldenhuis

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

I am an advocate of open communication and I regret that I did not receive an answer from Al to my question about the current state of affairs. That is why I have sent a message to the chairman because I have the feeling that no budget has been made available for a new website. In Al's story I come across twice that there is no budget and even €50 is still too much. I find that worrying. Then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to carry out this work successfully. If financing is an issue, disclose how much money is needed. Perhaps we as members can contribute to solving this. So Al. Please let us know how far you are. Do you currently have sufficient tools to create/renew the new website or are you being hampered by financing problems? Can you do this alone or do you need help? I appreciate all your efforts. I wish you all the help, wisdom and perseverance to bring this to a successful conclusion.
Kind regards, Jan Oldenhuis

DavidT
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DTCA Member

Yes, as a member an appropiate budget needs to be set, the problems being encountered need to be transparant and solved. I always thought that the forum and the club worked hand in hand, clearly not, the Journal is one of the best but see that much information comes from the forum.
The forum could be the libary of all information regularly updated and accessable to all members. Who updates the infromation and what can be done to improve all. This is now the opportunity but no doubt will have a monitary cost, hence the need to get an appropiate budget.
Many members will specialize in certain aspects of the hobby and may want to contribute and make their specialty known but not knowing how to acheive that goal can be irritating, can the knew forum help in that way I do hope.
It would be a travasty if some of the more influential and experience members loose their ability to inform
Please do not wait until the next AGM for any decision the chairmen needs to act swiftly before it is to late.

Regards
David

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

Thanks for the comments everybody. I understand it's frustrating to be still waiting to be able to do picture uploads. The news on the website update is that the host suddenly resolved its build issues last week and I now have the working framework of a new website , ready to try a test import of all the content from this one. So progress has lurched forward quite suddenly if invisibly. I'll update again by the end of the week - if all goes well, with more tangible info.

Also, you may have noticed that the advertising has been heavily scaled back in response to members feeling that it was too intrusive. Ad content should now be restricted to the margins. Please feedback if you find this tolerable or still not.

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Hello Al.
Thank you very much for your information. That makes a lot clear to us and is very hopeful news. Fewer advertisements are indeed noticeable. Personally, this doesn't bother me that much, because a well-functioning website is more of a priority for me. But that's purely personal.
I also notice that when I right-click I get more options than before. The menu is longer. And I also see that when logging in, the message "not safe" or something similar no longer appears on mij laptop, but well on my IPad. Is it more secure now or is it the same? As far along as you have now sounds like music to my ears. I wish you continued success in your further work on this.
Kind regards,
Jan Oldenhuis

kasvd
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DTCA Member

Great news and thank you for all the hard work. I’m looking forward posting some interesting photo’s again.

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

Hello Jan and everybody. We would really like the website to be shown only through https:// only, so that the security certificate is picked up. If you view the site through http:// (missing an s), you'll see the security lock crossed out and likely get these unsafe warnings. This is really of a concern if we were doing any kinds of transactions or keeping critical personal data - well, we are keeping email addresses, so the security layer should be in place even just for the sake of that. The site is old, predating such innovations and resistant to retrofits. The new site should *should* cure all ills at once and make it possible to introduce new, more robust, features like classifieds/wanted and such.

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

To give a little background of the history of the website. It was founded by Peter Golden who was building and running it as a hobby project, I believe. That must have been about 12 years ago at least. I also believe he was, at least initially, doing all that out of his own resources because the club has never really had the financial scope to run something so specialised. But then the club did attempt to do it after Peter passed away... but the site was soon broken and a business hired to build a new one - but they could not import the posts and pages that had already been made. At that point, I seem to remember it was John and David who asked me to come in and make it work. It's been lumbering on for quite a number of years now... dodging all expenses that might have contributed to higher subs, largely by the advertising, nuisance that it is. But the site has just about finally reached the end of its service window. It should have been retired in November in fact ... but the axe has been stopped to 2025 because the replacement framework just hasn't been available in readiness by the (mainly hobbyist) group that has been developing it.

Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Okay Al. Clearly. Thank you very much for this security.
Jan O.

alkeeling's picture
alkeeling
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AdministratorAeroplanesPostwarPrewarUK

As a method of sharing images meanwhile ... if only as a temporary measure... there are any number of free services where you can upload pictures and share links
For example:
https://imgbb.com/
https://postimages.org/
https://yourimageshare.com/

Here's one uploaded at imgbb.com
https://ibb.co/HNr2YvX

johnnyangel's picture
johnnyangel
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DTCA MemberUSA

Al,

Thank you for all the information you have shared. It bears repeating that all of us who have complained about the website greatly appreciate your efforts. Our issue, if any, is with the (perceived?) lack of support that the DTCA board is giving you. I know that before he passed Dave Busfield aired our concerns eloquently at the last AGM.

Regarding advertising, my personal opinion is that the issue is not with advertising per se, it is with advertising that is intrusive and has nothing to do with our hobby. I think most members would accept or even be pleased with advertising from Vectis, for example, in the form of a banner that could be clicked on to learn about their various auctions. Since Vectis has apparently supported the Journal over the years, a Vectis ad on the DTCA website would not be unwelcome. They could be given a friendly rate that would be a "win win" for Vectis and the DTCA alike.

Cheers,
Jon

binnsboy650
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DTCA MemberUK

Al, can I echo people's thoughts about your efforts. We're fortunate to have continued so far, it seems.
The advertising is only a problem for me if it obscures our content. Otherwise, if it helps to maintain the site then I'm happy to endure it.
In recent months the Facebook Dinky Toy Collectors Group has gone from strength to strength, now having over 10 thousand members, so the interest is definitely there. More effort to attract some of those members should be a priority.
Best wishes to all for Christmas and the New Year.
John Powell

RaviBee's picture
RaviBee
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CanadaDTCA MemberPostwar

John, in July this year I pinned a post in the FB Dinky Toys Collectors Group advertising the DTCA. The post has been viewed by 1000 members. Hopefully more references to the DTCA in this and other FB Dinky groups might draw individuals to the DTCA website.

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