An Update from the Avalanche Center
Online in html: http://www.avalanche-center.org/Organization/updates/
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This is a brief update on what is new and upcoming on the internet Avalanche Center, http://www.avalanche-center.org/
This is the first fall update for the 2002-2003 season from the Avalanche Center. A few things have been kept up to date over the summer, some improvements in our infrastructure have been made, and we are ready to announce some general changes and improvements for the coming season. Details on some of these changes will follow in future updates or will become evident on the website as more progress is made.
It may still seem early to be thinking about snow for many people, but here at the Avalanche Center things are already getting underway. It's quite a large project to operate and we'll be pretty busy from now through the end of the way as the season gets going. There will be courses to list, bulletins will begin to come out, and the annual fundraising auction takes a lot of preparation. So winter doesn't seem too far away when we look at the groundwork to be done.
General News and Updates
As we prepare for another season, our eighth on the web, we seem to have settled into a sustainable collection of funding sources. Our budget has been covering our costs for the past several seasons but is still small enough to limit the improvements we can make each year. We rely on user contributions for the largest part of our revenue, along with store sales, our annual auction, and our valued sponsorships.
One thing which has already been "rolled over" for the new
season is our contributions spreadsheet. All contributions received
now will be recorded as made during the 2002-03 season even though we
technically change seasons on October 1. We always appreciate the help
from those of you who
Contributions can be made from this page:
Our annual fall auction is another key source of funding and we've already been busy laying the foundation for this year. The auction will begin in early December and run for two weeks, so more details and promotion will follow throughout the fall. But we just upgraded the EveryAuction script to the latest version, and we've removed all previous registrations that were not active the past two years. Soon we will be sending out our first fax to the outdoor industry to see what we can round up for this years auction. This has been a successful fundraising effort due to the participation of both the outdoor industry and our website guests - our thanks goes out to both groups.
Current Conditions Section
We have several improvements planned for the bulletins which we handle directly, both on the website and via e-mail lists. These improvements focus on making better use of our unique glossary which has over 100 pages describing terms related to avalanches. Bulletins will continue to be glossed with active links to key terms, but this process will be improved and a list of keywords will be available for each bulletin in additions to the links on terms where they appear.
Improvements in the versions of bulletins which we distribute via e-mail are also underway. These changes will be described and demonstrated on the appropriate lists as we implement them, but we have done enough preliminary programming to be confident that our plans are realistic and achievable.
We've continued to list incidents over the summer, although they are few in number. (Remember that it isn't summer everywhere either!) We do get a bit lax however and the database needs to be brought up to date, some extra information in our mailbox needs to be added to some files, and even as we send this out it sounds like we have another one to post from South America.
Last season we began using a new and final format for all incidents and we also began to enter them into a database which is searchable. We worked on both of these things retroactively through one previous season and now have the past two seasons incidents in our database. This season will be the third, and we hope to be able to go back at least one additional season.
We've moved the archived bulletins which are linked to from the incident reports and put them into a directory in this section for the appropriate season. We have received photos from incidents now and then but in the past it has been infrequent and we have generally not posted them. This season we will begin to maintain a photo directory as well as the archived bulletin directory and all photos we receive related to incidents will be available from the report page. Permanently.
Last season we introduced a searchable database for our course listings and we will continue that for this season. This allows site guests to search for and sort courses by date, location and cost.
Our course listing has been cleared
from last season and is ready for new listings. We've had a couple schools
ask about listing their classes soon but so far there have not been
any submissions for the coming season. The listing usually expands throughout
the fall so keep checking back if you are in the market for a recreational
One project still needing attention is the annual upgrading of our store and all the products in it. We will be checking with all of the manufacturers to be sure we have their full selections of avalanche related equipment, and to be sure our pricing is current. There will be new products again this year, hopefully by the end of October they will all be posted and available.
If you are ever looking for an avalanche safety related item and can't
find it in our store let us know, we can probably get it for you. We
may just not have it listed for some reason, especially early in the
This has just been an overview of what's happening and what's planned at the moment. Other developments will be included in future updates, such as the return of the "Avalanche Gazette" (or so we hope, anyway).
We have also been undergoing major computer upgrades over the past week or two. Our office desktop has gone to Windows XP, which was no small task. (It's still not entirely problem free, actually.) Along with this some key software is or will be upgraded, including our webdesign programs. On the server we have installed the newer auction script, worked on our improved bulletin handling scripts, and revamped our e-mail filtering and routing.This has been keeping us busy and costing us money, but we hope that the benefits will become more apparent to everyone in our future updates as well as on the site this fall.