An Update from the Avalanche Center
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This is part of an end of year series which will highlight the different sections of our website. We hope it will also remind people that we rely entirely on user contributions and store purchases for funding to support the project. This edition will focus on the News section.
An End-of-Year Note
This project relies heavily on two things for it's existence. One is a great deal of time and effort. I provide most of this at no cost, with some help on various things from time to time. The other is money to pay the overhead costs, which we rely on you for. Remember that contributions that are made before the end of the year can be deducted even if the credit card bill or check cashing date is later into next year.
The Avalanche News Section
This part of the website, http://www.avalanche-center.org/News/ , has news stories and a few other related materials. The archived news goes back to 2003, with a total of 104 avalanche related news stories.
Everything in this section is free with no membership requirement. There is a map/directory page that has a prominent link at the top, this is entirely up to date as of today and is the best way to browse the headlines of all news stories. There is also a Freefind search box, and if you check the box underneath it for searching only the News section you can look for particular articles, or particular topics. Freefind crawls the website once per week so the very latest additions will take up to that long to appear in results.
The news stories come primarily from our scouring of the web for incident information. As a result we often include some mention of additions to this section in the Incidents email updates, which members can subscribe to. (This is used during much of the season to announce incident updates as they are made. Sometimes when we get busy there are some lapses though.) The section also has an RSS feed and can be followed that way. The pace of News updates allows the feed to be kept up to date pretty reliably, in contrast to the Incidents feed which can get behind due to the rapid pace of things at times.
It is unlikely that we are finding everything that is worth posting here, so submissions of articles are welcome. If you come across something that should be included you can either send us a copy of it or a link to it. We also have a listing of conferences and meeting in this section and additions to this are also welcome.
Finally, this entire section was checked and cleaned up tonight. It is an easy one in comparison to some of the other sections, but the work done demonstrates the attention to detail that goes into this website in general. A link checker was run to find any moved or extinct links. These are corrected or removed. Orphaned files are sometimes found and these need to be fixed. (These are pages on the server with no way to get to them.) The link checker generates a section map which is the basis for the one we maintain and post. This report allows us to find pages with missing or incorrect titles. Tonight it was discovered that the index page for 2003 had gone missing, or blank at least. This was fixed, at least for now, by using a copy of that part of the section map. The section map you see posted in then brought up to date by using the one generated by the maintenance script.
The overall website has in excess of 3000 pages of content and maintaining it to this level is not a trivial task. There are many sites around that are filled with bad links and other problems, even ones that consist primarily of links with very little hosted content. By using some basic tools that are available we work hard to avoid this stagnation problem.
This week we will continue with updates highlighting various website sections. If you haven't visited the site in any detail for a while this will bring you up to date on what we have to offer. It will also show the depth and breadth of the site and give some indication of what goes into expanding and maintaining it. We hope you will find it to be a valuable enough resource to contribute something so that it will continue to be available.
Best wishes for a happy and safe holiday and end of year season as we head towards 2010.