Cotswolds Canal Cruising Club Website

The present website was designed as a platform to inform the membership and to showcase what has to be one of the best cruising clubs on the Inland Waterways.

Visitors interested in the club, including potential members can quickly and easily get some sense of what the club is about and what it does year on year.

The present webmaster (that’s me) is a volunteer. It is an unpaid post and it comes with some cost. I have funded site hosting, email service and web page creation/design software for about 5 years. This has been done as my contribution to the club. This year (2017) the first invoice for web hosting (2017/18) was submitted to the club treasurer for payment. Email & software continues to be funded by the webmaster at this point.

I think it unfair to say “Email, when it works”, the fact is it works very well almost all the time and when there have been glitches, that has been through user error or because of the way btinternet.com handles mail and has nothing to do with the service provided. I do agree though that the system we are now using is a bit “clunky” and only a few days ago I was in discussion about updating it.

During the lifetime of the present website I have become more and more convinced that it isn’t being used by most members. One of the reasons I now insert a link when a new item is posted on the site is to try and encourage you to at least look at it – I have tried to make it easy for you.

I have many times on-line, by email and at AGM’s asked members to post something about themselves on their own password protected page on the site. Some of you have identified yourselves which makes it easier for an internet based club to recognise fellow members when out and about. Some of you (very few) have posted cruising pictures on your own pages,  many have not.

Far from being impossible to post pictures to the webmaster (as evidenced by the many pictures on Martin’s Chesterfield report) the truth is it can be easy if you follow some simple guidelines. Pictures that you want to send to your friends need to be reduced in size from what they are when uploaded to your device from the camera.

Receiving emails with 16Mb photographic attachments makes life difficult for me with a very restricted broadband service (we don’t yet have superfast in our rural area). Receiving many such 16Mb emails slows down the service to a crawl. I often receive batches of them.

You can’t just upload stuff yourself and this is seen by some as a deficiency. It isn’t hard to upload it to me and I usually post anything on the site straight away. This way, I am able to maintain consistency in the appearance of what goes on site. I have never declined to upload anything that has been sent to me.

I’ve said this before and I make no apologies for saying it again (and again): Members who are cruising usually rely on their smartphones for email etc. If you post very large email attachments to everyone, you are eating into their data allowance and it just might be that they are not all interested in your pictures. Just send them to those you particularly want to share them with.

There has recently been what the Intelligence Community call “Chatter” by members on Facebook and it is clear that some members feel that the present club website is too limited. The push for using Facebook as the club host is unrelenting but it may not be as simple as it seems. To begin with, there is no real “moderation” of uploaded content and whilst your breakfast menu may be of interest to you, it may not be so interesting for the rest of the group.

Consider the hundreds of posts, many of them irrelevant, that you would have to search through to find for instance, a planned cruise in detail.

Consider the hundreds and hundreds of photographs that you may or may not view and how many pages you would have to sift through to find those that do interest you.

Most of us have far better things to do than to constantly review Facebook pages

SECURITY

This from Bill Pringle who was a senior staff programmer for the Weather Group of Unisys. Bill also worked on a variety of U.S. government projects:

“Facebook is a very popular social networking site, but there are a number of security issues with the site that can put you at serious risk if you aren’t careful. The number of Facebook account hackings seem to be on the increase, and this page is in response to a friend who asked what to do after her account got hacked.

While any online account is in danger of being hacked, Facebook has unique features that make this danger even more likely. For one thing, it is very common to post personal information which can be used to steal your identity. But the significant danger is because it is so easy to run malicious programs that can hack your account. In particular, be very careful using any application that asks to access your profile.

Keep in mind that if your account is compromised, not only is your personal information exposed, but the personal information of all your friends as well. So, even if you don’t have anything sensitive in your profile information, your friends might. Every time you take one of those quizzes on Facebook, you are risking your information and that of your friends.”

PHOTOGRAPHS

“One thing that many people don’t know is that some digital cameras encode information about the picture within the image. By posting a picture you took with your fancy new digital camera, you might be exposing much more information than you think. Of course, having a picture of you standing in front of your large flat screen gives burglars an incentive to see when you are going to be out of town.” (The metafile embedded in the image can give time, date & location information amongst other data).

Do people really have privacy on Facebook? (This from CBS)

No. There are all kinds of ways third parties can access information about you. For instance, you may not realize that, when you are playing the popular games on Facebook, such as Farmville, or take those popular quizzes, every time you do that, you authorise an application to be downloaded to your profile that you may not realise gives information to third parties.

Isn’t it in Facebook’s best interest to get you to share as much info as possible?

It absolutely is. Facebook’s mission is to get you to share as much information as it can so it can share it with advertisers. As it looks now, the more info you share the more they are going to with advertisers and make more money.

4C’s Webmaster

I have long argued that Facebook is not secure; for this reason I won’t use it myself, no matter how trendy and youthful it might make me appear.  That is not to say that I don’t have access to it. Go and Google “Facebook Security Issues” and you will find a plethora of information relating to the security of FB.

Friends

Many “Friend” requests are not from your friends at all. Far from being your friend, many of them are malicious. Don’t accept Friend requests unless you are sure that they are genuine and even then you can get caught out if a true friend has been hacked.

Nothing is totally secure from hackers, even our own website. The hackers  get more and more sophisticated at obtaining information that you don’t want them to have. All you can do is take precautions and be very careful about the personal information you are willing to share. The likelihood of the 4C’s website attracting hacker interest is small but even then, the amount of personal information is very limited.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Do you still want the 4C’s website?

What would you like to see changed?

How can it be improved?

Do you visit the site: Often, monthly, annually or never?

What would encourage you to be more proactive on the site?

Does it give sufficient information to potential members viewing the site?

Answers please by email to ged@rascal.org.uk

I have often thought that the appearance might benefit from a change but when there is so little apparent interest or input, I have to say to myself: “Why bother?”