At the moment, the team has a small site hosted on a free web host, GoPBI.com. They target those in the Palm Beach area who want to hang a shingle in web space, but either do not desire or have the means for full web presence.
They earn revenue by putting banner advertising and links to businesses on the page with our material.
The entire top of the page, much of the left column, and the entire bottom (roughly 50% of the total page area) is used for advertising,
with only the remainder available to us. The space limit makes
designs like the page you are currently viewing impossible to post there. Furthermore, free web hosts offer none of the tools necessary to allow post dive inputting of the data from the home computers of our members, and displaying it, another big goal.
The vision is that we'll click on the link above, and up will come the PBCRRT web site on our favorite browser. Members can do it, family and friends can do it, even little kids in Chechoslovakia can do it. Click and view what we do.
Just like or www.reef.org, or www.oceanwatch.org, we are a real organization and deserve a real web site like those groups.
A web site has many purposes for the team:
- Introducing our team to the public.
- Explaining the team goals.
- Maintaining our calendar.
- Building team esprite de corps.
- Training the organization.
- Publicizing the results of our work.
- Providing an online reference source.
All content on our website should work toward the above functions.
The parts and the process.
To create http://www.pbcrrt.org, we need a few ingredients. The name has to be purchased, and reupped annually. A host needs to be selected, from literally thousands of choices. Once the host is chosen, passwords and interface protocols are set up by the master administrator, then the files that make up the
site are created and uploaded for the world to see by the developer(s).
The team is without funding for their own site, but I've worked that out. I have a small account that already contributes regularly to several environmental concerns, and the amount needed here is not very great. The account accrues annually as well as pays out, so funding should be good for a few centuries if necessary, I have written www.pbcrrt.org into the account's mission statement.
More important than all that is that we need to generate the content. My guess is around 500 hours are needed to bring the vision to fruition, fraught with author's cramp and
coding errors. We will need help, time, and patience. After that, only the monthly updates should be necessary.
It's well known that I travel a lot, to places where no internet exists. To cover us, I've enabled 4 team members to be full website developers/updaters. They have total control over the style and content, and can change it without prior approval of anyone. They also have a full backup copy of the files on their home computers, so in case we need some sort of reset, any can do it. The only thing they cannot do it transfer the ownership. I'll gladly add to the permission list any others who are qualified and want to help, either now, or as time goes by.
The funding account and the website name will transfer to my daughter should I go missing in the jungles of Paupau New Guinea, so contact Dana Lamas for adjudication of matters at that point.
The Fish Quizzes!
We've scored a bit of a coup, and it means immediate benefit for the team. I wrote Ned Deloach, who runs New World Publishing, the home of Paul Humann's longrunning series of books on Fish Identification. PBCRRT uses his book as our training reference. Ned granted me written permission to use the photos in the book for diver fish ID training. I've written (and copyrighted) a script to give quizzes at a level of difficulty that should train you to pass the fish test. Unlike other online quizzes which ask, "is it a whale, an octopus, a sea turtle, or a butterfly fish", these quizzes have a much tighter answer range. They also include juveniles, which we have to ID also. So have fun. Hit the ANSWER button at the bottom to see how you did, and keep at it until you know them all. Have fun.
I've been asked why we don't put the newsletter on the web site. I believe that we eventually will but at the moment not everyone has internet access. (Y2K stats were about 70%). Historically the newsletter started when there was no web at all, as a means to announce upcoming events. It was mailed out each month. Lack of funding dropped it to a handout at the meetings, and further lack of funding dropped it to be printed in black and white.
Most of the material on our newsletter is redundant with the Information section of the website, and it actually takes more work to generate the two items separately than if they were combined onto the website.
Cheri Craft, who does the newsletter, is already an authorized web developer, and currently updates the website monthly to create the link to the latest .PDF copy of the newsletter, and of course puts the new file onto the website. Right now she creates the newsletter in .PDF format, while websites are always in HTML. Since she can do both, transition would be easy when she choses to do so and she can decide when to transition to the website.
We have now migrated the fish data input from the free site to the team site, and added several new automations to the site. The following lists our current site status:
- Fish Data Input
- Online Fish Reports
- Automated State Data Report
- Dive Data Input
- Online Dive Reports
- Dive Trip Signups
- Membership Signup/Renewal
Fish Data Input
The free web site had been used for the team fish counters to input their data for use in the final report. Because the free site did not have sufficient flexibility, the inputs were prone to
errors. Each fish had to be entered one at a time, using multiple pull down windows. If a window was left unchanged from the previous fish, on any of the several inputs, it erroneously kept the previous fish data. Inputs were needed in centimeters, but the fish sheet is in inches. Sometimes months elapsed before the data was input, with no easy way to see if it had been done. This became the first data input the new website sought to improve.
Rather than a set of pulldown menus for the fish data input, we used a replica of the underwater fish sheet.
Just transfer the data straight across from the underwater sheet to the screen, entering every fish before submitting. Areas of the sheet were locked to prevent impossible entries from happening. Inches were automatically converted to centimeters. Juveniles, missing in earlier years, showed up as the lengths where automatically put into the correct category, and dual categories forced a selection. Counters reported needing only one minute to correctly entire the entire list, vs over 10 minutes using the 1 at a time method.
Online Fish Reports
The data is stored on the website for use in the annual report, but more importantly, it is immediately formatted and displayed as an online report for that reef, updating the previous entry by adding the new fish to those others have entered for the date. People could now see their data! The Fish Team Leader could see who had reported and who had not, and with a call or email, get the rest done before the fish sheets were lost. Not only has the data become more correct, it was finished in a timely manner.
Automated State Reports
The state requires an annual report of our dives, including the fish data in their own format. In previous years, this has taken an entire weekend of several people to generate it, mostly due to chasing unsubmitted data, and correcting a multitude of data entry errors in it, then finally reformatting it into the state format. With the data now stored online in machine readable format, it's simple to pull the data into the state format quickly, and by anyone.
This takes on the about an hour to do QC as it's pulled down, greatly accelerating the process. A few senior people can just write the text material per their expertise, and it's done. Just another thing computers were born to do, and we're doing it.
Online Dive Reports
We liked the fish reports so much, we replicated it for the dive reports. The Map Team Leader for the dive inputs the data on his computer at home, and it immediately updates the website with the current dive report. Click on Dive Reports to the left and have a look.
Dive Trip Signups
Fish Counters are sometimes in short supply, and always have a seat on the boat when present. Sometimes too many people showed up for the dive, and some have to be left at the dock. To prevent this, and to help the Fish Team Leader make sure we have enough, we've started an Online Signup. The sheet updates each time someone picks a duty, and starts a backup list when the available slots are exceeded. It's always visible, so everyone knows if they are needed or not, or if space is available. With 24 hours to go, the Dive Leader will fill spots from the overflow list, so check then if you are waitlisted.
Membership Signup/Change Info
We now have a membership signup page, which is sent directly to the membership chairperson. People finding the website from the internet can send their info in, and regular members can change info using the form.
[Webmaster note: I inhibited this function while up North, because I was getting too many people complaining there inputs were being ignored.]
Bigger things to come.
With introductory material, team action photos, fish quizzes, and a full suite of automations, we're on the way.
It all seems to be popular since
we get far more page hits than we have members, so I suspect they're being sent to
friends and family, a good thing. We get esprite de corps and publicity in one fail swoop, and it buys time
to work on the other stuff.
On the other hand, as Yogi would say...."you ain't seen nothin' yet." I firmly believe in the web at a training mechanism. It's open 24/7, doesn't require we burn out the few instructors we have with the many recruits coming in, and can be utilized by individuals at their own pace. We now have the fish quizzes, and they get several hundred hits as the time for annual testing arrives.
What we want some underwater maps, to aid in finding the fish stations, and some good wide angle photos of the reef benchmarks to augment them. We also want a few virtual dives, with panoramic videos to train fish counting at the real fish ID stations. Study from the comfort of your computer chair.