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The time is upon us...for a change

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About 8 months ago or so I had shared with the rest of the staff and probably some of you that we were going to head down a different route with the site. Not as in what we are here for, but how we are used. Since the only two things really used here are the forums and the gallery I thught about a what would be a good alternative?

When this site was started 4 years ago we had a entry page, a custom built members page for all twelve of our members and then we had a forum and eventually a Gallery.

I also ran the site on a linux box in my house with a DSL connection which for twelve users was great. Over time our user base grew as a whole, though our core is still a relatively small number is seems to hold steady. Along with the growing number of members, we have grown in terms of content and valuable information that draws many internet searching car enthusiasts to our site.

After spewing all this I know, get to the point. The point is we are going to make some changes in software. Which I hope makes for a better experience for everyone. There are pros and cons to doing anything.

First off it will just be forums and the gallery. I will try to ad back in an arcade, and I will also work on porting over the reviews and useful links. All this takes time and relaly I need to do another trial run for our conversion.

We will be moving to Simple Machines Forum with an integration for Gallery2. The porting over is pretty labor intensive as we use something pretty modified and there is no prebuilt 100% convertor out there so I have to take the closest one and modify to accept our data.

Once thing is certain from my previous tests. We will LOSE ALL PRIVATE MESSAGES. I repeat LOSE ALL PRIVATE MESSAGES. I have no intention or desire to maintain two sites. So once the conversion is done and everything is working this code and database will be zipped up and archived and stored off in the depths of a hard drive for eternity.

The new software has private messages, but I don't believe there is an easy way to convert them. Yes it can be done, but I don't view them as an important part of the site. If you have something important in your PM folder I recommend saving that info or emailing it to yourself or something.

I have not set a date for this conversion yet. I need to do one or two more practice runs and then I will let you know when I expect to do it. When I do the conversion the site will be down until it is complete. Meaning hours or possibly a day or two.

I know that is miserable, but something is bound to go wrong and I don;t want to have to keep accounting for new data by leaving the old site up in the process.

Some other issues, any links you have out there in the interweb on other sites will probably stop working. I will try and find some time to get some 301 redirects in place, but that is very tedious and may take some time. Though for our search rank sake I should probably get on it.

You can see a sample of the fite at:

Anyone who signed up after around September 15, 2006 will not have access to that test site but you can create an account and dink around if you so choose. Everything is viewable, but the Gallery is only available to registered users.

Please pray that the conversion goes well. I have been wanting to do this since last fall but had worked out a plan to do it in January, then I got sick andw ell now it;s May and I want to get it done again.

The good news, is since last fall, Simple machines released a full version of the software we are going to use and the integration of gallery2 has improved greatly as well.

Thank you, the users and members of this site for all your support and dedication to the community and hanging tough through this conversion.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to add that is probably one of the greatest built in features of SMF. Mobile device access! Yes, it is built in and I tested it today while at the hospital on my phone. It is very cool, needs a little color tweaking, but very cool.

So if you have a mobile device with web access hit that URL I provided and check it out. I didn't try posting using mine though, just reading.

Jay -

I LOVE the new look.  I think it will be a hit.  if you need help with anything, let me know.

Thanks Andrew, I am running through the conversion as we speak on another test domain to see how it goes. I will need to implement a different advertising system and the other things mentioned above so wehn I get to that point I will be seeking help from willing participants. :)

I like the new look, especially the smiley message on the upper right of the home page :)

Well I'll be damned the nuke converter they have worked great! I just did a whole site conversion in like half an hour and private messages even made it!

So the caveat will be, once I pick the date and do this for real, that some folks may lose privileges. It is not intentional, but it could happen. The conversion unfortunately makes everyone an admin so I have to remove that from everyone then go back and add permissions as needed.

Fortunately we don't hide anything in our forums like some other sites. :P Well except for that one super secret forum that has all the best stuff in the whole world! What you heven't seen it, then you must not be in the know.

Ok, well that's it for tonight, I'm going to bed. I'll work on the Gallery2 test integration tomorrow and maybe by this weekend we will make the switch.


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