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I want to pick your brains (again)...

Apr 7, 2012 7:42 AM

Bill Gehrke and myself have a website for the Adobe community, especially for the Premiere Pro crowd and it is widely used, even on Adobe TV like Todd Kopriva did.

 

With the advent of CS6 we need to make major progress with that website as well. The current one http://ppbm5.com/index.html shows its age and we have clear ideas of where we want to go, as I will show below, but both of us are severely lacking the expertise to make it happen. So we are looking for website builders to help us out, but since this is a voluteer endeavor from our side, we don't have the funds to go to a commercial firm and pay huge amounts. We are in fact looking for sponsors who would be willing to help us for a nominal fee at max.

 

This is what we want:

 

First some background.

When I started out helping Bill it was with Excel and the spreadsheet used. When we grew out of that, I had to design the current website, without any experience with HTML, Dreamweaver, website building or anything related to that. Bill did not have that expertise either, so I invested a lot of time to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL and the like to get where we are now with our website, and I think not too bad a job with that. It works with the current website, but we want to make progress with the advent of CS6 and that is where my lack of expertise in webdesign is getting a serious burden to accomplish that without outside help. Of course you can buy that expertise on nearly every street corner, but since both Bill and I do this as unpaid volunteers, we have an in-born reluctance to spend money if it can be avoided. So we are looking for 'sponsors' to help us out.

 

What do we want to improve and why?
For simplicity this has to be separated into three parts, data submission, access to results and processing. I will try to explain this by going through each item in sequence.

 

Data submission

The current data submission form lacks checks and balances. Every submission form has to be checked for inconsistencies or entry errors and unfortunately they are numerous. For instance, we ask for the rated capacity of a SINGLE disk in GB without the addition of the word GB or TB, but we get results like 931 instead of 1000, because people look at the formatted capacity instead of the rated capacity, or we get 6000 as the rated capacity in a 6 disk raid configuration, where the correct value should be 1000. Stuff like that requires me to check each and every entry, correct those data or ask for clarification. They also misspell Quadro into something like Quatro or Quodro or use only lower case 'gtx580' instead of 'GTX 580' with capitals and a space between the characters and number.

 

The idea I have, is to prevent this cumbersome error correction by using CPU-Z in our script to run in 'Ghost mode' and create a .HTML file that is attached automatically to the submission form. This can simplify the submission form and give us far more detailed, accurate and reliable data. It might even allow a user to submit his results directly into the database instead of me doing that for them. The consequence is of course that the MySQL database needs to be adjusted to allow user entries, but limited to final approval from Bill or myself. This boils down to being able to submit directly into the MySQL database, but with a provisional flag, so their results are not visible in the final results page until either Bill or I have approved them. Only after approval they will show up. Somewhat like entering a comment on some sites, that are entered but only shown after approval.

 

The second issue with the data submission is that I want to have the figures in the Output.txt file added automatically to the submitted form. I now have to add them manually, so this needs to be adjusted in the .php file that creates the submission results that are copied to the submitter, to Bill and myself.

 

Access to results

Access to all pages is granted to everybody, with the exception of the results pages. Before you can access the results pages, you need to login with your mail address and password. If you have not registered, you have to register first with full name and similar data. There should be several levels of users, that are maintained in the MySQL database, something like this:

 

Level 1: Guest, limited access to pages and limited functionality.

Level 2: Registered, limited access to pages and 'somewhat' limited functionality. Still have to define that 'somewhat'.

Level 3: Subscriber, access to all pages and decent functionality, like we have currently on the PPBM5 site.

Level 4: Subscriber and donator, access to all pages and complete functionality.

Level 5: Administrator, full access to everything, limited to Bill and myself for the time being.

 

This requires a Login module, checking against the database entries and redirecting to either the results page or to the registration page.

 

But, this also entails a kind of web-shop approach, where registered users can buy a yearly subscription and pay the subscription fee by means of PayPal or credit card. After receipt of payment, the subscriber should receive an email confirmation of their purchase, including the start and ending date of their subscription, which will then become part of their data in the MySQL database. Two months before their subscription ends, they should automatically be sent an email reminding them to renew for a new year.

 

Maybe we have to consider even more subscription levels, like 'Bronze' @ $ 15, 'Silver' @ $ 25, 'Gold' @ $ 35 and 'Platinum' @ $ 35 plus Donation. Of course each higher level goes with increased functionality to make it worthwhile. We will have to figure this out, but I would be interested to hear your initial reaction about this approach.

 

If a user tries to access a page or performs an action, selecting, sorting, etc. to which his user level does not grant him access, a popup screen should warn him that he needs to buy additional subscription rights and direct him to the subscription page to do so. I can imagine this kind of stuff is more or less a standard approach for a web-shop, but I haven't the faintest idea how to accomplish this.

 

Processing

The data form submitted, including the attached files, the .HTML file with the CPU-Z data from the 'Ghost' run and the Output.txt numbers, should be entered into the database and be kept in a 'pending approval' state until either Bill or I give them our OK, then they should be shown in the final results. This means that instead of me entering the data, the user will enter his data by pressing the 'Submit' button on the submission page. This requires modification to the .php code as well.

 

Depending on the user level, some pages may not be accessible as described above, but if the level is sufficient, there must be a way to select a record and by clicking a button, show all the CPU-Z details as when running your own system, but then for the selected system in a pop-up screen. If queries are made, the chart pages, Top 20, MPE Gain and BFTB chart, that are currently dynamic but based on all observations, must allow to 'drill down' to the same dynamic charts, but now based on the selected records only.

 

Example: Currently these charts are dynamically created from all 816 observations, but if you have selected only say 234 records in your query, the user must be allowed to drill down to similar charts, but now based only on the 234 selected records.

 

Third, for the BFTB chart, the hardware from the CPU-Z .HTML file must be compared to external price databases and CPU, mobo, memory, video card, raid controller, SSD's and HDD's must get the price information from these external databases and these figures need to be added to the MySQL database, but I can run that process every time the results are updated.

 

The user can then get dynamic BFTB info for the overall results, but again must be able to 'drill down' to get a dynamically created chart based on his selection. If the external databases no longer carry a product, because it was EOL, the old values must be maintained and not set to 0. To give you an example of a Dutch database with external data, look here: http://tweakers.net/pricewatch/

 

Finally

It would be nice to create a blog where interesting hardware news will be published as far as it relates to NLE systems, somewhat akin to http://www.videoguys.com/Blog/ where users can also leave comments. Example new products/systems that ADK will add to their line up, like Gary did with my article http://www.videoguys.com/Blog/E/Planning+a+new+NLE+system+part+1/0xea 83dda5e1137a11d5a49ed0f2fc97c1.aspx

 

That is all for now. Pretty easy to accomplish is you can spend several $ K. Nothing about this is rocket science, but for Bill and me it is just too much with our limited experience and expertise. The second factor is of course money. This a purely volunteer endeavor from our side and we are not inclined to spend that kind of money on commercial website builders. I realize nothing comes free in this world, with the exception of taxes, but maybe you know someone who is willing to help us a bit.

 

I would appreciate suggestions on parties that may be willing to help.

 

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