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Member's Only AMSAT.ORG - Update

It's probably a good idea to update the membership on why a member's 
only sub-site of AMSAT.org is not in place. I am not going to 
apologize for this - but things have been proceeding.  It's actually 
part of my presentation at the Symposium, so I won't go into too much 
detail.  So if you are attending the Symposium or purchase the 
Proceedings afterwards you will learn more about what is coming.

A big reason for the delay isn't laziness or lack of effort - it 
begins with the reality that there were other priorities.  These 
priorities included building the AMSAT Store, building systems for 
tracking volunteer in-kind hours, giving field operations an area 
coordinators space, writing other software tools such as the pass 
prediction and tracking model, building and populating the Satellite 
Database, giving presentations, supporting AMSAT at two Dayton 
Hamventions, organizing this year's Space Symposium and as you all 
know I designed and deployed EaglePedia in this time frame.  FYI - 
making EaglePedia "member's only" was part of the discussion, but 
that brought us back to why there isn't a member's only sub-site in 
the first place.  And EaglePedia couldn't wait.

The biggest reason was that there was no way to validate members.

Although I wrote quite a bit of the code to support a members-only 
website two years ago just after the website makeover was launched, 
when it got to the point to interface it to the AMSAT membership 
system to validate memberships there was no way it could happen.  The 
current membership database is a DOS application that could not 
connect to the primary site.

So in addition to all of the other tasks I've been doing, I have also 
been quietly working behind the scenes to resolve the validation 
problem.  On and off for the past 16 months I have been designing, 
coding, testing, migrating data and deploying a new AMSAT volunteer 
and donor management system called AIMS (AMSAT Information Management 
System.)  AIMS is in beta test and I am going to DC in August to 
finish up interfacing AIMS to the office printers, migrating the last 
of the data and training the staff.  In addition to an extensible 
member support system AIMS will be able to validate memberships so 
that the store can appropriately apply discounts (Martha currently 
has to do this manually) and the member's only feature can validate a 
member who logs on.

When AIMS goes online we still can't completely support a member's 
only sub-site. In addition to content issues (again - we need 
volunteers) there is an initial startup security issue we will have 
resolve.  We can't just let members sign up because too many people 
publish their AMSAT membership numbers and other personal data is 
available in other public systems like QRZ.  The alternative is to 
mail out a temporary password (like Log of the World did.)  Most 
likely the LOTW approach will be used - I'll have to write code so 
that members can signup online, and AIMS will send a temporary 
password via snail mail to the member's mailing address of 
record.  That way someone can't "hijack" someone else's account.

Just a final note - the member's only section will not be called Area 
51.  It will be called "My AMSAT" and will be rolled in as part of a 
redesign of the website.  You can see a screenshot of what I've been 
working on here (shown partially localized into Afrikaans by Hans 

It is still in the early stages, but in addition to member's only 
content (again, if someone produces it) you will be able to customize 
the user interface, customize the navigation language to something 
other than English, and keep other preferences including custom 
satellite pass alerts. There are many other features we could add 
however I'm sure these will be a source of discussion at the next 
Board meeting.  Part of that discussion will likely include moving 
some existing website features over to the member's only section.

But the biggest issue will always be content, and as Ken pointed out 
in his post, we need volunteers.  So volunteer!



At 04:48 AM 7/2/2006, Kevin Schuchmann wrote:
>My My how time flies!!!  2 years old Today! I remember when the members
>only page first appeared, My what high hopes We had for it! maybe a 
>PDF archive
>of past Journals, maybe a first peek at some eagle info, or something else to
>add value to the  membership...
>But like many other things there it sits getting old...   lets just 
>hope something
>actually appears in it one day before its old enough to vote!
>Kevin WA6FWF
>Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
>Not an AMSAT member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
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Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Not an AMSAT member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
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