PART TWO OF THREEWhen I designed the web site for the Great Alaska Shootout, there weren’t very many websites for college basketball programs and even fewer for tournaments. Sure there was the brochure-ware but nobody was providing timely information (stories, photos, and statistics) during the event. I could have just followed suit, fulfilling every expectation of the Director of Public Relations, but this was a chance to push the envelop, forge ahead in new territory. It’s just a good thing that I just didn’t know what kind of corners I was ‘painting’ myself into when I decided to do something more than a regurgitated brochure. The site I developed required updates after every game including a post-game story, photos, and box scores (or statistics). All of these components were simple but it required people to do them. So on a Monday morning I began to sell the site and the ideals of sports journalism fame to any student I could get my hands on. Ever try to connivence a college student to give up their Thanksgiving break and spend 13 hours a day inside a loud, smelly, hot arena instead of a nice turkey dinner at home, with family and friends? By Wednesday morning, hours before tipoff of the first game, I had assembled two writers and enlisted the help of my wife who would end up taking photos next to the Sports Illustrated photographer. The planned site was large by previously mentioned standards and it would require a lot of updating. Manual updating, click-drag-and-drop, FTP kind of updating. Nobody at the university had cracked the barrier between databases and the web so the dynamic solution was unavailable. Because the site was so large I chose to use NetObjects Fusion which contained a nifty feature for site management. It kept track of every file on the site and would upload only those files that had been changed. This feature alone was the reason I chose to use Fusion because I would only have access to one lousy 56k dial-up connection at the arena and uploading could be very painful. After finishing the site it weighed more than two megs but the real problem came with Fusion which renamed every file with a naming convention that looks more like cryptography than file names. So it became a problem when I went to use the nifty, ‘upload only those files that changed’ and it wasn’t there. After several calls to tech support the day before the first tip-off, NetObjects verified my fear, the number one reason for using the software in the first place wasn’t part of the software, didn’t exist, nowhere to be found. Now the 15 minute upload per game (including post game story, images, statistics, tournament bracket) would now take an hour and a half because the entire site had to be uploaded. By the second game on the tournament my small team and I had some how achieved a rhythm and while it still took a minor miracle to update the site each hour, we at least knew it was going to take a miracle. All was going well until the domain could not be found. The site was dead.
*to be concluded…*