Creating a 'web' rather than spinning one
- Category: "Stardust"
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Unknown to many people, I started Arkansas Sky Observatories in 1971 as a private enterprise.....it remains today, 45 years later, as a private enterprise. And now that I am retired and on a fixed income, support of this huge operation is quite a challenge. All programs, outreach, educational contributions and research are accomplished out of my pocket - to be totally blunt about it. And 45 years has beat my pocketbook up.
So, when ASO.org crashed in December 2015 because our web host changed 'scripts', the website went totally black. No advanced notice, no warning and no where to turn. I had limped along keeping the calendars going, keeping alerts posted and what I could for nearly 10 years without a webmaster, knowing absolutely nothing about web stuff. My brain is full....learning to create my own website is something that, at my age, seems ludicrous and non-productive.
What does a person do in such a situation? You reach out for help. After all, in 45 years in the sciences I have provided tens of thousands of free lectures and workshops to school children, civic groups, colleges and universities and municipalities around the world. Never charged a dime. Part of ASO's outreach has always been to provide science equipment for impoverished schools when possible. Never charged a dime. People contact me hundreds of times a week for assistance in setting up an observing project or advice on buying and using a telescope. Never charged a dime there either.
I reach out for help and my arm is not long enough.....there is not enough stretch in all of my being to convince someone to help ME this time. By way of 'friends' I was sent on two different occassions to two young men who "knew how to make a good website" from what I was told. In both cases I was impressed up front and knew that I was going to have to pay for their services....I had been saving up for this.
One of these individuals took an up front deposit and I never heard from him again. The other kept requesting money, but I was the one doing all the work; ultimately he complained that "this is just not FUN for me anymore" and walked away. He wanted my money, but he wanted to have 'fun' more.
These guys floored me and unfortunately are typical of today's young work ethic. I call them webspinners .... the last thing that I would call them is "Webmaster."
American work ethic: "We want money and we want jobs.....but we want to have fun and do the jobs the way WE want."
That is NOT my work ethic.
So we went for months with an "Under Construction" banner on www.arksky.org and it almost killed the outreach that this institution has done without charge for five decades.
Webspinners.....what I needed was a Webmaster. Whatever happend to things like PRIDE, ETHICS, MORALITY?
The bottom line of all this is very simple and clear if you are reading this, posted on what I consider to be one of the classiest websites around......with nearly 1.5 million hits.
Someone stepped forward because he saw through all the 'twitness' of what I had endured and as Bill Clinton said years ago, "....felt my pain."
Mr. Greg McKay of Nevada who is an advanced amateur astronomer realized the plight that ASO had come into; not only did he use what skills he has to enhance the temporary "under construction" home page, but he set out to find someone who could appreciate what ASO's efforts had been for the past 45 years. I have no idea how Mr. McKay came to know him, but ultimately I was e-mail introduced to Mr. Troy Hall of Oklahoma, who just happened to be in the web design business. Yes, this had happened twice before, but if you know Greg McKay you know that you can totally trust him and his judgement. As we say in Arkansas, I still was "snake-bit" from webspinners......
It was clear within the first video conference that that I had bingo-ed. I had found a true webmaster in Troy Hall......and an pretty competent "web guru" in Greg McKay.
My hat is off and deeply bowed to both of these guys. What professionalism and what knowledge. The work ethic of both of them is simply amazing and the skills are astounding. The two of them working together created more in one day than I have been able to limp together in 10 years.
The website is not yet 100% but soon will be. No doubt that Doc Clay is a very hard fellow to work with. I am a perfectionist....but in this job I did not need to be: my Webmaster is a perfectionist as well, and far more intent than myself.
By no means was this marvelous website 'free'; but let me just say that the two of them "worked with me" to soften the blow. I had already lost so much investment through unscrulous Webspinners.
That changed with Greg and Troy: MASTERS at their trades....truly.
Winning rather than weaving. That is the way I will always remember them. Thanks guys: you have given me far more than an excellent website.