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djellison
What, another new logo for you all to argue about? Hell yes! Thanks to Astro0 for the lovely 100k icon to drop in there to celebrate something of a milestone! No, it doesn't say 100,000 posts, so yes, it might not be obvious to everyone. Before you comment...just remember - IT'S JUST A LOGO... so, moving on.

Currently, the UMSF admin page reads 101441 posts. The secret admin section has about 1800 posts, the total number of posts made is more like 108,000. It depends how you slice it - but which ever way you look at it, we have either reached, are about to reach or have long since reached the 100,000 posts mark. So to everyone who's made one or more 0.001% contribution to that - thank you, well done, nice one, etc etc smile.gif

Meanwhile, post 1 of UMSF ( at that time, mer.rlproject.com ) was made on Feb 8th 2004 - just under 3 weeks till the 4th anniversary!

This, combined with a bit of a spike in the forum performance thread seemed like a sensible point at which to think about how UMSF works, where it's going, and - most importantly - how to pay for it.

We're going to have issues in a few months - the Phoenix landing is probably going to make UMSF a bit of a nightmare performance wise. There's not really anything we can do between now and then (although we'll going to try) - but before we know it, it'll be MSL, LRO, Dawn, Rosetta, Messenger, hell, New Horizons. What we want to get in place before it all goes crazy, is a dedicated server. A box of our own. At my place of work we recently upgraded from a normal hosing package not too different to the one UMSF runs on - up to a dedicated server. The difference is night and day. Not only would a dedicated server mean UMSF was 'in our own hands' performance wise, but it would be a lot faster, probably more reliable, and we'd have the ability to do a few interesting projects we've talked about in Admin HQ (talking about those can wait)

I have always said, and the admin team (thanks for the input guys) agrees - UMSF will never have a subscription model. UMSF will always be available for people to view and contribute to, for free - not to mention that from an administrative perspective, we can do what we want with a 'member' - but a 'customer' has to be treated in a different way, a way we don't want to go down. We do, however, need a big old chunk of cash to pay for dedicated hosting. Something like 1500 per year, about 10x what it costs now. The odd casual donation has covered UMSF to date with a bit left over to do fun things like send 2000 Sols posters and Birthday cards to the MER team to thank them for their hard work. But now we need a lot more - this is the plan.

We want to switch to a dedicated hosting solution 12 months from now - and we want a years worth of hosting money ready, in the bank, by then. People have often said "I'd pay XX'. We've steered away from a begathon in the past - but not any more. We want the membership of UMSF to have donated 1000 in the next 12 months. We've reached 100,000 posts - I think we can scrape together a penny for every one of them. I'll be adding the donate button to the forum footer in a few moments. It operates in 's not $'s - as UMSF while centered on US subjects, is a UK institution which will have a UK bank account.

You can do the maths any way that you want - there's about 1300 members. If one in ten donates 10 - we'll be way over the target. If the top 50 members do 20 each, we're sorted. Do the maths, grab your bank card, and do it. Don't feel guilty if you can't. I know what it's like to not have 10 to send off like that, so if you can't - don't, and don't feel guilty. Just keep being a member of the community, that's input enough for anyone. But if you can, then please think about it.

James Canvin and I are going to sort out a proper UMSF bank account here in the UK to transfer the donations in to, and to operate the place from. It'll be transparant - I'll keep a running total here of how much money we've got, how much things cost. If we're totally honest with you, you will hopefully be more generous in your donations.

We're also looking at a few other revenue streams. The Cafe Press store is a nice novelty, but it doesn't generate a great deal of money - not will it ever do so. What might make some cash is if we cut out the middle man and do something ourselves. What would you be inclined to buy (I'm thinking an embroidered patch, an enamel badge) and for what sort of price. I'm also trying to put together a DVD (with ElkGroveDan's generous help) of some early MER live footage from JPL which we'll be selling at some point this year - it'd be nice to see how many people might like that. Google ads are not worth the hassle, but we're not against the concept of a 'support by' sponsoring oraganisation and that's something we're looking at as well.

So - there it is - by UMSF's 5th birthday, I think we can be moving to our own server, with a faster forum, a more certain future, and the opportunity to do some cool projects to make it a more interesting and useful place!

As ever, thanks to the admin team for their advice and support. We're at 105.11 already - 894.89 to go!

Doug

Update - a PayPal donate button has been added to the forum footer. It's down the bottom right corner. That's the easiest way to donate. If you don't use paypal, then it's either cold hard cash ( can get anything exchanged, so no problem) in the post ( send me a PM for the address ) - or a cheque (but can only really take those in 's).

Update 2 - One person's asked about charitable status and US tax law. Because I'm a Brit, and UMSF is based in 's - I'm not even sure that is possible unfortunately. If there's a US accounting guru who knows the rules and regs on that one, get in touch.

Update 3 - One exceptionally generous UMSF members has offered to match every 1 of donation between now, and the 1st Anniverary of the New Horizons Jupiter Flyby ( Feb 28th ) - so every pound you donate, is worth TWO to UMSF! With that amazing offer, we hope to hit a grand total of 1500 by the end of February, and we will try, if we can, to move to a dedicated server much MUCH sooner than we thought!
elakdawalla
QUOTE (djellison @ Jan 19 2008, 12:26 PM) *
One person's asked about charitable status and US tax law. Because I'm a Brit, and UMSF is based in 's - I'm not even sure that is possible unfortunately. If there's a US accounting guru who knows the rules and regs on that one, get in touch.

Unless UMSF is registered as a 401(c(3) in the US (which it's not), your donation is not tax deductible. Sorry.

--Emily
PhilCo126
Another great logo Doug!!! cool.gif
Also great to read the ongoing & future situation of UMSF.com
The DVD is certainly a great idea and besides MER, we could (maybe) add a file with high resolution photos of unmanned spacecraft.
Please keep us updated how the amount of 849.89 is getting lower thanks to our donations... smile.gif
djellison
Well - umm - I check my inbox thismorning and it's FULL of 'Notifaction of Payment Received' - we're at 291.43. 708 to go.

Wow!

Update 1216UT - 339.28
Update 1432UT - 386.93
djellison
I've just added another update to Post 1 of this thread - with some amazing news

One exceptionally generous UMSF members has offered to match every 1 of donation between now, and the 1st Anniverary of the New Horizons Jupiter Flyby ( Feb 28th ) - so every pound you donate, is worth TWO to UMSF! With that amazing offer, we hope to hit a grand total of 1500 by the end of February, and we will try, if we can, to move to a dedicated server much MUCH sooner than we thought!

We are at 405.95 already - which is more than 810 once you account for the generous matched donation offer! Keep the donations coming thick and fast and we'll have 12 months worth of dedicated hosting funds ready by March!

Doug

(Update 2051UT - 506.60 GBP - so with our matched donation, we've reached the 1000 mark - but the more we can get, the more long term security we have for dedicated hosting)
djellison
More good news - we have now set up an affiliate scheme with the excellent Nasaspaceflight.com
details here : http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=4916
Phillip
Being the armchair science enthusiast that I am, I often don't have much to contribute to this excellent forum. But I do know that the relevant provision of the US tax code for tax exempt status is 501©(3) smile.gif.

I would be happy to assist if UMSF wanted to seek tax exempt status.

Phillip
PhilCo126
What a development in only 24 hours, surely shows what a superb community UMSF.com really is!!!
Already looking forward to a superb 5th anniversary of UMSF.com ... cool.gif
djellison
Currently 706.83 with 500 of matched funding already to add on it's way - (1206 in total) - and any remaining before the Feb 28th date will be doubled as well - currently a grand metaphorical total of 1413.

I'm grateful, speechless, and a bit emotional about it to be honest. Just 25 people have donated - and have done so with enough gusto to bring out plans forward significantly, to an extent where we are seriously hoping to get everything in place BEFORE Phoenix, 10 months earlier than we first planned.

I thought this would take all year. It's barely taken all weekend. Thank you...seriously...thank you.
Chris Bergin
QUOTE (djellison @ Jan 20 2008, 11:08 PM) *
More good news - we have now set up an affiliate scheme with the excellent Nasaspaceflight.com
details here : http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=4916


Hi all -

Just a quick drive-by from this particular shuttle hugger out of the realm of LEO fun to say that - as an owner of a site - it is the ultimate motivation to have the support of one's readership, as Doug clearly has here.

Having met Doug, I know you've got a great guy at the helm, who clearly knows his subject matter to a highly impressive level, with bundles of enthusiasm, both of which are absolutely required for translating the qualities of space flight to the visitors of the site.

The only factors that require mitigation are the costs that come via a site's popularity. We're going through $2,000 a month on server and hosting costs, for example, and given the way the forum format works via a database, UMSF's wish for a dedicated server set-up is essential for smooth running and avoidance of periodic downtime.

So I'm very happy to help Doug and UMSF via what we've set up, and hats off to you all that have helped this site so far, and we'll look forward to working together on sending our readership this way on upcoming planetary missions, seen as we are more about pre-launch and launch coverage for unmanned missions, before all going home after spacecraft separation wink.gif

Best,
Chris Bergin
Owner, Managing Editor
www.nasaspaceflight.com

PS Sorry about our wonderful Shuttles eating up NASA's budget wink.gif
djellison
QUOTE (Chris Bergin @ Jan 21 2008, 07:25 PM) *
shuttle hugger


That's GENIUS smile.gif

As an update - thanks to the first installment of the matched-donation, we just smashed through 1200. With Chris's generous referal deal, and a few other projects - I think we're well on our way to a genuinely sustainable state of affairs for UMSF.

Doug
Oersted
Ok, a Paypal donation headed your way.. - Best wishes on you worthy and much-appreciated upgrade! - I am very happy about your plans for the web site, and hope the business model will work out fine.

BTW, I REALLY think you should put a "sticky" in all the forums, linking to this thread. I'm sure very many willing donors won't notice your server drive otherwise.
ElkGroveDan
QUOTE (Chris Bergin @ Jan 21 2008, 11:25 AM) *
Just a quick drive-by from this particular shuttle hugger

I've never hugged a shuttle, but I did put my arms around a Space X Falcon a few months ago.
ngunn
QUOTE (djellison @ Jan 19 2008, 08:26 PM) *
What, another new logo for you all to argue about? Hell yes! Thanks to Astro0 for the lovely 100k icon to drop in there to celebrate something of a milestone! No, it doesn't say 100,000 posts


A long shot, but do I spy here the five giant planets of 55 Cancri ?
hendric
Doug,
Be sure to duck, here comes another donation! I do think you are aiming a little low, with a year's expenses as a target. Why not target enough of an endowment to keep UMSF around forever? I'd guess a 3% return in a bank account, so to get ~1500 pounds a year we'll need an endowment of about 50,000 pounds. Hell, piece of cake! If Spirit and Opportunity can last 4 years, we can make that. smile.gif
djellison
Well - an update.

Total donations - 1422.77. This includes 925.95 of regular donations, and the first 500 of the matched donations ( it came out as 496.83 dspite our best effort to precalculate the paypal fees).

If you take our current total, plus the remaining matched donation to come - we're at 1,957.20

Now - if someone want to right an enormous cheque so we can live off the interest, then far be it from me to stop them smile.gif BUt for now - that 1957 will see us run the forum for 12-16 months. We'll invest a little part of it in production of what we think will be a VERY popular DVD, and possibly a small pin badge, both of which should generate quite a nice profit. ( 50 dvd's at a cost of 114 with potential revenue of 600 or so ) That 12 month buffer will give us the time to investigate what does and doesn't make money, so that we can do more of it, and then limit the regularity and quantity with which we come back, cap in hand, to the members wink.gif

Doug
PhilCo126
As I said before this proves UMSF.com community can do wonderful things and we could certainly do this on a yearly basis (around Christmas -NewYear). Looking forward to the technical progress to be 'Ops' for the upcoming Phoenix Lander event...
jasedm
With just a little more effort, I reckon we can afford to fund our own mission - I'm voting for a Neptune orbiter and Triton lander.
I reckon the knowledge, expertise and experience amongst members here would make that not beyond the bounds of possibility too!!

Meanwhile (chink) there's my contribution smile.gif
djellison
Well - Joe is doing a legendary job investigating the current forum in a sandbox server ( we think the nasty post-pause issue is resolved there, and that will get deployed here in the not to distant future ) .

We've already paid to move the domain registration from the current hosting company to an independent name registrar. This gives us control of the domain for when we actually get a dedicated server. That handover should occur in the next few days (but should be transparent as the domain will continue to point to the same place )

We're looking at where to spend the most money in terms of the server performance to host the forum ( Ram, HDD, Network, CPU etc etc ) so that we spend the most where it makes the most difference, and cut short where it's not needed - basically getting the very most out of the cash.

We have a hosting firm in mind, but if anyone has any specific dedicated ( managed or unmanaged ) server provider recommendations, let us know.

Doug
hendric
Doug,
I know before you said that the CafePress merchandise isn't worth the effort it takes to make it, in terms of money made. Right now the merchandise is only UMSF-labelled goods. Have you considered getting permission from posters to use their images in UMSF-branded items? Keep it simple, maybe limiting to just T-shirts with the current UMSF logo on the front, and a user-image or montage on the back? To limit the amount of effort, push it out on the community, all you do is upload the appropriately cropped image on CafePress, add the logo to the front, and let people order it.

http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.p...amp;#entry63735

If not, would you have any objections to members using the UMSF logos on our own items?
ElkGroveDan
QUOTE (hendric @ Jan 24 2008, 10:39 AM) *
Why not target enough of an endowment to keep UMSF around forever? I'd guess a 3% return in a bank account, so to get ~1500 pounds a year we'll need an endowment of about 50,000 pounds.

Actually for a true perpetual endowment you have to work in a rate of inflation on the annual costs, so something greater than the 3% return
dvandorn
Doug -- never tell people you've got enough money! Those who are planning to contribute in the near future may decide not to, since you say you don't really *need* any more at present.

To counter that potential sentiment, I'm going on record that, as soon as I can afford it (which ought to be within the next three weeks at most), I'm definitely going to send off whatever the pounds equivalent is of roughly a hundred bucks.

This place is like a second home to me. I spend more time reading and posting here than I spend doing anything else with the exception of my job. I feel it's an *honor* to have the opportunity to help support it.

-the other Doug
ilbasso
To me, this site is like Public Radio in the US. No commercials, no hassle, just great content of the highest quality. This site is the top link in my bookmarks, and has been for 4 years.

Doug, my aspiration would be that you get enough donations that the forum could pay you a stipend for all your hard work in maintaining the content and atmosphere of this site!

Jonathan

PS - IIRC, the general rule with retirement plans is that you try to sock away an amount such that the income you plan to live on each year when you retire is about 1/12 the total value of the portfolio. That way, you can live on the income from the investments and never have to touch the principal. That probably includes tax consequences etc. The upshot is, if you can raise about 12-15 times as much money as you expect it costs to run the site for a year, you may never have to go back for contributions again.
elakdawalla
QUOTE (ElkGroveDan @ Jan 24 2008, 12:09 PM) *
Actually for a true perpetual endowment you have to work in a rate of inflation on the annual costs, so something greater than the 3% return

An endowment would be a total waste of a lot of money for a site like UMSF. For an institution that expects to live for decades or centuries, and needs financial stability to weather lean economic times, it makes sense. For a place that is only as valuable as the active contribution of many members makes it, it makes no sense to harbor money against lean times. If UMSF gets lean, then its reason for existence will have expired. May that never happen on my watch! smile.gif

--Emily
ElkGroveDan
QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Jan 24 2008, 09:43 PM) *
An endowment would be a total waste of a lot of money for a site like UMSF.

Agreed. I was just doing the hypothetical math. We'd be better off buying Doug and Helen a nice car with that kind of money, and then they'd make car payments to the UMSF account.
djellison
A Mazda RX8 PZ please. Always wanted an excuse to use the word 'wankel' on UMSF. (look it up)

We've got 'enough' (basically 2000) to see us thru for 16 months without any trouble. The experience of the last few days of Farking has perhaps pointed in a particular way for what a server needs to be responsive ( less than we thought ) - so I'm happy that we're good, basically, until MSL launches. That's another key exploration milestone for which UMSF will be a focus of attention again - and we'll get the cap out and come round asking for more, if we need it, at that time smile.gif

Doug
kenny
No defintion of wankel in Google, except in Google Deutsch (the engine named after a German person). There is however a "wankle" in my Chambers 20th Century English Dictionary - meaning unstable, unsteady, not to be depended upon... from the Olde Englishe word "wancol".
ElkGroveDan
Look up 'rotary engine' with it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazda_Wankel_engine

When I was a kid I built a Wankel Rotary Engine model that I received as a kid. Gosh that thing was fun for an aspiring mechanical engineer. As I recall that model was quite popular, several of my friends had them as well.

EDIT: It looks like they still make the model after 35 years!
djellison
Current total - 2177 (including some cold hard cash, and a cheque ( whatever that is) )

The domain is now with a new registrar which is a great move, as we have control over it and where it points to.

Helvick's now testing the forum on a sandbox server to see what needs to be done to get better performance out of it - at which stage we'll have a spec for our new server and go hunting for the right hosting package.

Doug
djellison
Update : Our new server is ordered.

It's a dual Opteron 254 machine, 4 Gb Ram, and a pair of 10k rpm SCSI 73Gb HDD's in a RAID 1 array. We think we've found a great deal, which means we're spending approx 100/month - so the cash raised so quickly by you ( the members of UMSF ) will keep us on that platform for 2 years. TWO YEARS. Amazing.

We're hiring the services of a freelance dedicated hosting admin guru for the initial setup to ensure we're in the right place for security, performance and reliability. Thereafter, Joe and I will dump a backup of UMSF onto it, test it out. We may ask a few members to visit it and test ( privately ) before we will pick a weekend and close this site - transfer the domain pointing - transfer the DB and attachments folder across (having already had the forum running on the new server) - and then turn it on again. That's the grand plan - it may change. If things go really well, it might be before the end of March, but realistically, it'll be early April, leaving a clear month of usage to iron out any higher usage issues that may crop up before Phoenix.

Doug
Stu
Two years? Hmmm... that's just about long enough to ensure UMSF is still going by the time Oppy reaches the edge of Valles Marineris...

Well, it's about as likely as her reaching Ithaca! wink.gif

Seriously tho, that's excellent news. Thanks to everyone working away behind the scenes on this.
djellison
We have an IP address - I just got it. I'm not going to tell and of you it yet, because it doesn't do anything. But on the end of it, is a box, somewhere in LA, with our name on it, a lot of nice hardware in it, and it's paid for for 7 months. Going to unleash our freelance rack-guru on it later today. I'm hoping I'll have a picture of the actual server, just so people can see what the cash did ( and the geek in me has a fetish for servers anyway - it took a lot of restraint not to buy a full blade centre of ebay yesterday).


Kudos to Dan at WebNX for being so helpful and friendly, the guys at Webhostingtalk.com for the brilliant swathes of advice that are around, and the Invision customer boards for performance advice.

It's happening, it's actually happening.

I'll keep you all posted.

Doug
PhilCo126
Looking forward to the image of the actual hardware of the new UMSF.com server... Fingers crossed everything 'transitional' will go smoothly. smile.gif
Stu
You know, this is all very exciting, but I bet this is exactly how people felt the day before the SKYNET computer went live in the TERMINATOR universe... look what happened after that! ohmy.gif
djellison
World Domination is pencilled in for 2011-2013 time frame. It needs TWO servers.

Doug
dvandorn
Ah, but what form does this take? Are we looking forward to hearing Colossus intone "This is the voice of World Control"? Or Stewie Griffin crying "Victory is mine!"?

Or are we simply at the point where I say "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"

rolleyes.gif

-the other Doug
ElkGroveDan
Doug Ellison: Hello, Opteron do you read me, Opteron?

Opteron 254: Affirmative, Doug, I read you.

Doug Ellison: Open the pod bay doors, Opteron.

Opteron 254: I'm sorry Doug, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Doug Ellison: What's the problem?

Opteron 254: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

Doug Ellison: What are you talking about, Opteron?

Opteron 254: This web site is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Doug Ellison: I don't know what you're talking about, Opteron?

Opteron 254: I know you and Joe were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

Doug Ellison: Where the hell'd you get that idea, Opteron?

Opteron 254: Doug, although you took thorough precautions in the shed against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
dvandorn
Dan? I think you need to sit down, take a stress pill, and think things through...

laugh.gif

-the other Doug
nprev
Lord willing, at least it won't sing Daisy at the end... rolleyes.gif
Juramike
Or it could go worse....
Click to view attachment
tty
Was it Fredric Brown who wrote that minishortstory about the new Supercomputer, which when asked "Is there a god" answered:

"Yes, Now there is"
climber
I didn't thougth a box will drive you mad like this !
By the way, is the box located on the FAR side of LA? How many more sol do we need to get there? Will we go to Ithaca once it'll be full? biggrin.gif tongue.gif
djellison
It's up. For slightly circuitous and complex reasons, we now have dual 3 Ghz grunt inside the box, for the same price. ( Thanks Dan! ) - I've logged into it, poked around, all is good!

We're getting it checked out for performance, security and stability next - and then we'll start dumping stuff on it for testing.




hal9000
QUOTE (tty @ Feb 29 2008, 09:58 AM) *
Was it Fredric Brown who wrote that minishortstory about the new Supercomputer, which when asked "Is there a god" answered:

"Yes, Now there is"


Indeed. Look here: http://www.alteich.com/oldsite/answer.htm
djellison
Bit of a delay in getting the new server properly up and running. Got some fairly poor service from a server management firm. Have now moved and had some fantastic service. Joe and I will be starting to use the server in earnest over the next few weeks - ideally rolling out before end of April.

D
djellison
Sorry for the delay in an update. The new server is now running a copy of UMSF. As a rough estimate for how well it performs - a page process time on this server is about 0.25s. Typically that figure is 0.05s on the new server. 5x faster. Obviously, it's connectivity that will dictate actual user experience - but it's nice to know that the server itself is very happily processing things, and much faster than we have now. It's undergoing testing by the admin team as I speak.

The actual switch over will be a 24-36 hour period at a maximum - hopefully next weekend. (weekends are quietest at UMSF...you clearly spend all day here instead of doing your jobs. I know I do)

Doug
nprev
Sometimes I can't believe that you have time for a job, Doug... wink.gif tongue.gif
brellis
QUOTE (djellison @ May 5 2008, 03:00 PM) *
The actual switch over will be a 24-36 hour period at a maximum - hopefully next weekend. (weekends are quietest at UMSF...you clearly spend all day here instead of doing your jobs. I know I do)

Doug


haha! Guilty as charged. When I get stressed out working on a movie soundtrack, I like to relax by poking around the threads here. I don't even have to leave my chair!

Of course, I have to work weekends when I'm on a deadline, so I'm here at all hours, hehe. If I'm absent, it's because I'm not working and gone fishin'.
nprev
OT...but sounds like a great job, Brellis. Setting your own hours, no clock to punch, I assume no commuting required...aaahh!!!

(Sorry; just got off the LA freeways after a truly crappy day courtesy of my Dilbertesque boss...)
djellison
Cpanel ftp backups now working ( and take approx 2-3 hours ) - so we are go for the switch this w'end

Doug
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