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History of the Website

A brief history of the sigma-excels.net website...........................by Earl Porter (Sigma 56-58)

 

The thoughts about a website started in late 2006 early 2007 around the time ideas about a 2007 Sigma-Excels Reunion were being voiced. At this time only incomplete lists of members, maintained by a member of each club, existed. In an attempt to notify all the members of each club the lists needed to be expanded. To accomplish this, many phone calls (many of those long distance) were made trying to get a more comprehensive membership database. For reunion notification purposes contact had to be made either by phone or snail mail (the US Postal Service) if an email address was unknown.

Kent Green (Sigma 57-58) used Mac software to build a Sigma website that was hosted on an Apple Corporation server. This site had a list containing all the member's information from the Sigma membership list, but updates to this list became viewable only after a re-build of the entire website. As the 2007 reunion approached, Kent (who played a major role in the planning and financing the reunion) incorporated into the website the capability to pay for the reunion ticket using the website. It was available to any attendee, even though the website contained only Sigma member names, and used his company's online payment services. When Apple stopped hosting sites Kent's site became inactive. Kent passed away in 2013.

I used Mac software also and wanted to try my hand at building a website. I made a site similar to Kent's but made the member information into an interactive database where it could be changed 'on the fly' and be searchable with various parameters. It ran in parallel with Kent's until Apple discontinued hosting sites; after which I hosted, and still do to this day, this Earl's Sigma Site on my home computer.

A website really needs a domain name to be easily accessible. And, not having one for my site, I started to look for a domain name registrar on the internet. I found a company that offered site building software and site hosting in one package. It's named Class Creator. Class Creator (CC) was originally designed with HIgh Schools in mind, implying both male and female classmates, hence a 'Maiden Name' capability, and usually the one graduating class year. In my case I needed multiple years and only male classmates (members) --- 'Maiden Name' was not needed. At this point I started a new Sigma Delta Pi website, started to learn about the capabilities provided by it and also what could be done to use it in my particular case. Thinking about a 2012 Sigma-Excels Reunion---10 years being too long between reunions---I realized the Reunion Planner capability of this new website could be used to advantage. I also realized that since Sigma and Excelsior always planned reunions together Excelsior names should be added to the site database. This implied a joint website, where old collegemates, once friendly rivals, could re-unite, keep in touch and renew their friendship. And so the sigmadeltapi.net website became the sigma-exels.net website.

Since the CC database format does not have a 'Club Designation' field, I used the 'Maiden Name' field for that purpose. And, because Sigma names were already on the database, only Excelsior member names have a club designation using the 'Maiden Name' area. Changes and improvements have taken place over the years since the site's introduction in 2010. Site Design capabilty has changed, functions (Pages) have been enhanced and new ones added. Some of the links to the new pages are the What's New Page, the Aparrel Stores, the Other Sites and since Facebook is so popular with many people, a link to a Facebook application called Class Connection.

The What's New Page allows members to post comments that can be for a particular member or for all members. This is in addition to the Message Forum function, where discourse between one and all can also take place. The Apparel Stores offers two online stores, one for each club, where club logos can be selected to be printed or embroidered on the clothing article selected to be purchased. Purchases are made online, directly with the store and delivered directly to the member. Other Sites offers the selection of either viewing the Sigma Delta Pi Website (the old Earl's Sigma Website) or the Member Search Website, which contains the combined Sigma and Excelsior membership information and can be searched using many different parameters. I host these two sites on my home computer so the available 'up' time varies, usually sometime in the morning to about 9:00 PM daily. Class Connection (also CC) is a Facebook aplication that displays the Class Creator website data in a slightly different format. Class Connection is completely isolated from Facebook. They are completely separate systems and Facebook cannot see any Class Creator data. You could say that CC is used to go to CC. You decide which CC your referring to in the previous sentence; either should be valid.

During the 2012 Reunion enough money was collected to pay for the website subscription to Class Creator until the end of 2018. If the subscription is not extended (currently about $100 a year) the site will not be terminated but commercial ads will be displayed. How many ads and how often they're displayed I have no idea. Whether the site administrator (currently me) will still have any capability over the site is also unknown.

In closing I will say that building the site was a fun learning experience and administrating it is still enjoyable. At least it keeps me off the streets at nights.