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      TO THOSE REGISTERING FOR MEMBERSHIP ON UJ   01/06/2018

      To the Guests who have decided to register for Membership. PLEASE read Terms of Service, not just checking it off. This is covered there: Add more info than just "hunting" or "Upland hunting" or "birds" or "outdoors" or similar nebulous terms in the required INTERESTS field. Despite this Boards strong spam filtering function, some Spam registrations do sneak through. I need an inkling that you are a human being not a Spam Bot tagging onto key words. Also please do not use a business name as your User Name. Thank you.
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Brad Eden

IMPENDING BOARD SOFTWARE CHANGES

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Brad Eden

WHY THE HELL DO WE HAVE TO CHANGE BOARD SOFTWARE?

We have been living on borrowed time. This UJ website and Upland Talk Bulletin Board was originally launched and uploaded 14 years ago in 2002. At that time Ikonboard was one of the the best choices for Bulletin Board/Discussion Forum software. Over the years this software lost its developers, and the last available upgrade was 10 years ago in 2006. It is now completely “dead” software with no support or ownership whatsoever. In addition, being so old, it is not “mobile friendly” even when using mobile apps like Tapatalk, and the photo posting and uploading capabilities are dismal.

WHY NOW AND NOT EARLIER?

I held out hope for 10 years (since last upgrade), that Ikonboard would be supported again and upgraded. I/we have run out of time. I made two stabs at changing Board Software in the past. First time was about 8 years ago when I had the current board migrated/converted (All Member data, Categories, Topics and Replies etc.) to board software called PHPBB. The conversion results were dismal, and after trying to make it workable for Members I trashed it. I felt it wasn’t worth compromising the community. Second time, again with PHPBB, I loaded a raw version to a Server, built it to replicate the current board and started populating it with Members in small batches. Problem was everyone had to reregister from scratch, and I ran out of steam. That PHPBB board is still gathering dust on a Server in case it needs to be implemented. In retrospect I/we should have dealt with the pain and gone through with one of those board swaps. I apologize for that.

SO WHAT, CANT WE JUST KEEP USING THIS BOARD LIKE AN OLD THREAD WORN STRAP VEST?

I wish. Ikonboard is built on what’s called PERL coding. Virtually all current Boards are built on PHP coding. PERL is no longer compatible with modern Servers and sucks the snot out of the Server/Bandwidth it now resides on. It’s digitally obsolete and inferior to current Boards. It’s simply an antiquated Board that could break down at any moment with no support or easy fix.

WHAT ARE OUR OPTIONS NOW?

There are two types of Board software available. Open Source or free upload boards with community support in the form of help forums, etc. PHPBB, MYBB SmartMachines to name a few. These are perfectly fine boards and are very popular. These provide most features generally desired by Board Members. The other type are purchased via a software license with monthly or yearly fees, with built in support: Vbulletin, Xenforo, IP Board for instance. These are very powerful community forum boards with room to grow, advanced mobile friendliness and image/video/media uploading and sharing features.

SCENARIO I

I could resurrect the previously mentioned, already uploaded, and partially built PHPBB board and have Members register from scratch. Why from scratch? Because the first conversion I tried was unacceptable, and at this juncture there isn’t even an Ikonboard to PHPBB Conversion available.

What happens to the current Board in SCENARIO I?

Simply closing it down to a Read Only Archive would be great. There is 14 years of resource on this board! BUT, as mentioned Modern Servers wont accept a PERL based board any longer regardless if Active or just Read Only.

My only choice, I’m told by my host, is to have them “Archive” the entire board as HTML pages. It would not be a running, fluid archive board, just information, nothing more. At least the Posts/information would be there, but how easy it would be to access I don’t know, since there wouldn’t be any Search feature. I really have no idea what the final results would be, and the cost could run over $2000.

SCENARIO II

Ideally, Id like to try another Conversion to another Board Software so Member Data, Forums, Topics etc remain intact to some degree. Unfortunately so much time has passed that most modern Board software, as mentioned above, no longer offer any Conversions from Ikonboard to their software.

That leaves me with two of the ‘pay to play’ licensed, fully supported modern forum software that do offer a Conversion: Xenforo and IP Board. Xenforo can only do a double conversion, meaning this board would need to be converted to some other board software (if one could be found) and then to Xenforo. The other, IP Board offers a Full Conversion for a considerable cost, and also a Cloud hosting package. The Hosting option is huge, since my current host has tired of dealing with hosting Forums of any kind, and they have grown to the point that their costs have become prohibitive for a small “business” like UJ. But, I may have them continue to host the UJ website and email functions which could be affordable, but not the Board.

What happens to the current Board in SCENARIO II?

Theoretically, since I will be having a full Conversion done from Ikonboard to IP Board, with all data migrated, the Ikonboard as we see it now would be removed entirely once the new board was deemed functional and solid.

WHAT DIRECTION ARE YOU HEADING?

I am leaning strongly towards SCENARIO II. I have been working with DEMO’s of the best software and just finished a 5-day Demo of IP Board. It’s very impressive. It has built in mobile friendliness, flexible design elements, state of the art image, video and media uploading, Member photo galleries, etc. (No “traditional” Board no matter the software will ever be able to provide the kind of photo/video uploading capabilities as Facebook, but this one comes the closest) It’s not perfect, nothing is, and I have been communicating with IP Board on some issues I found, but generally its pretty cool.

Naturally, I am very concerned about how accurate a full Conversion will be from the current board, that’s in a different language (PERL) with so many Forums and Topics with close to 1 million Posts! It’s a roll of the dice.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?

Frankly the UJ contingent isn’t the digital savvy, social media emboldened 20-30 year olds. A lot of us are in the old fart category or approaching that. We seem to like familiarity, with no one more than me.  Some, maybe many Members wont read this treatise in entirety and will be broadsided and be upset. It’s going to be different, confusing, a PIA, and some Members are going to bitch and moan and probably throw up their hands and bail. Others will read this and understand why this has to happen, and will try and assimilate and adjust to a new board. New Members, particularly younger ones will be psyched to have found a powerful upgraded Upland forum. If it’s any conciliation, this whole process has been, and will continue to be more of a cluster for me than anyone else.  

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THIS?

I’m not exactly sure. Out of pocket for certain, and utilize as much of the Contributing Member Donations and ad revenue as I can. But, I expect I will be reaching out to UJ Members when I get a better handle on the final costs of the Board swap/Conversion, coordination between current host and IP Board, UJ site revisions to accommodate new board, monthly software license and support Fees, and the monthly/yearly hosting costs. When the dust settles my goal is for the entire boards financial situation to be on par with what it’s been over the years and be sustainable mainly through voluntary donations, the summer auction, and ad revenue.

IN CONCLUSION

I honestly did a lot of soul searching and seriously considered calling it a wrap with Upland Journal sometime early this year. But after reflection and talking to a few close confidants I concluded that the UJ Board, with traditional but advanced discussion forums, can and should continue to support this online community and be a resource for upland bird hunting enthusiasts-despite the competition and compromise from the social media giants. At least that’s what I hope and where I’m at as of today.

There are still a lot of hoops I have to jump through to get this implemented, but its going to happen sooner rather than later since I have a short deadline before this board is scheduled to be removed from the Server. Ill continue to update in this dedicated Forum/Topic.

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Kansas Big Dog
Thanks Brad for keeping the lights on, coffee maker perking and all the stale donuts we can eat available at the UJ general store.

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Iver
Brad, when do you expect the construction crew to show up and when do you expect us to move to our new home?

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cockerfan

For what it's worth, I think you're making the right choice with scenario II. This community has a lot of potential to continue growing, and I know that I for one truly appreciate your efforts, and plan on patronizing this board for years to come. Having a more mobile friendly board will, I think, only continue to grow the community.

I have benefited greatly from this board over the years as it has allowed me to network, see places I'll never be able to visit, and learn from others who are more experienced. Thanks for giving us the opportunity!

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NW-Gsp

Even with the social media competition they still do not have the same options as a forum like this. You can post a topic on facebook but you can not search for one or have sections for different topics.

I'm glad your keeping the board going. I think we should do a fundraiser and have people donate items to be auctioned or just have a buy it now price.

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browndrake

Thanks for the heads up.

IP board is about as nice as anything out there.  Will make a nice UJ

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gaberdeen
Thanks for keeping it going this long Brad. I can't put into words how UJ really has changed my life and expanding my boundaries. Let us know how we can help.

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bigjohnsd
I appreciate your investment of both time and resources in continuing the UJ experience.  Thanks.

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Coalman

Your reference to old farts and getting there old farts is a very accurate description of the age class at UJ from the "How old are you polls"

I don't see the younger generations coming apart at the seams to take up upland bird hunting. basically for fewer wild birds, the cost and commitment to dog ownership, and this sport has no easy button.

In saying that and after reading the whole scenario above I am in full support of your decision. And since the board will and would have updated technology features maybe more new and younger hunters will be recruited to our internet family.

I'm here for you Brad in both morel and financial support.  

Who else?

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trust me
If salvaging the old board isn't feasible, let it go.  I've got no doubt the bulk of the membership will migrate right over and have a new wealth of wit, wisdom and insight assembled in no time.

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WAGinVA

Brad I am in 100%.  Just let me know what support you need.  The pinned topic about release from body grip traps saved my dogs life and I am forever in your debt for that alone.  Thank you so much for creating and maintaining this site over the years.  I do not post a lot but I am on the site multiple times each day.

Terry

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Greg Hartman

First and most importantly, thank you sincerely for what you do, Brad.  This place is important to me in many ways - and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

Here are my thoughts, FWIW (feel free to completely ignore):

If the existing board is no longer viable in a technical sense, shut it down and, if it's expensive or difficult don't worry about access to all the old stuff.  I think virtually everyone will quickly migrate on to the "new" board.

I don't participate in many bulletin boards other than this one, but sometimes use the photo site DPReview.  I don't know what software they use, but that system is far and away the best I have seen.  It might be worthwhile to check what software they use.

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terrym
I will move into whatever you decide to run with. I honestly rarely go back looking for stuff but check in here multiple times everyday.

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Don Steese
I read the entire post and have no idea what any of it means. Brad, you do whatever you feel is best and folks like me will either be able to continue participation or not.  If we can't, so be it, it's been wonderful while it lasted. Few will miss the aimless ramblings of a few old pharts anyhow!! Nothing is forever. I'm definitely willing to offer additional financial support to keep this thing going in whatever format it ends up in, whether I am able to actively participate or not. It's a valuable resource for a lot of people and I'm more than willing to support that. You've been a blessing to many of us who treasure birds, dogs, and nice guns and for that we owe you our gratitude!

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Remo
I'm in. Let us know what you need. Really. UJ is my coffee table for the outdoors.

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