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Thread: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

  1. Angry Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Since 2006 a wonderful community from all parts of the world has gathered at The Stamp Shack to share in the pleasure of rubber stamping and card making. As the Shack Host we have been deeply impressed by this community of caring and giving people. For this reason we have attempted to continue the traditions started by the absolutely incredible Stamp Shack Wish Fairy (original Shack members know who we are referring to) who founded this community and dedicated her time and talents to all.

    Admittedly, as the hosts of this community, we have paled in comparison, but we do hope that Shack members have continued to enjoy the inspiration and friendship that is unique to The Stamp Shack. For the last nearly two years we have kept The Stamp Shack an ad-free community in hopes that supporting Shack Plus members would be enough to cover the server, bandwidth and technical support expenses required to keep the site running. As server and technical support expenses increase it has become increasingly challenging to maintain the site and deliver the level of customer support Shack members expect.

    We have had a number of stamping companies want to advertise on The Stamp Shack, but have turned them down in the past in an effort to keep the community ad-free. In an effort to keep The Stamp Shack alive, strong and growing for years to come we feel it is time to consider advertising on the site. So our challenges is how can The Stamp Shack benefit from advertising sponsors, but not upset Shack members who are used to an ad-free community? After much thought and concern we thought a fair compromise would be to only have advertising for quests and junior members, while Shack Plus members would continue to have an ad-free experience. This approach gives every community member an opportunity to choose participating as a junior member or receive the benefits of a Shack Plus membership by contributing $12 a year (that’s only $1 a month) to the community.

    We have learned that it is impossible to implement changes that satisfy all so we know there will be some who disagree with this approach. We sincerely hope that most Shack members will understand and support these changes. We can assure you these changes are being done with the best interest of supporting The Stamp Shack community for all to enjoy.

    So, now that we have covered the topic of advertising on The Stamp Shack let’s talk about the positive changes we are working on to enhance The Stamp Shack. Over the next one to two weeks we will be performing a major upgrade to The Stamp Shack software. What this means is…

    The Stamp Shack will be upgraded to the latest security scripts and settings. This ensures we are taking proactive steps to keep spammers and hackers out of our community.

    Features and Functionality
    This upgrade represents a significant enhancement to The Stamp Shack software. We expect to see some current features of the site modified and/or enhanced. During this upgrade period some features of the site may not work correctly or may work differently then you are currently used to. We ask for your patience and support through this process. We also expect to see some new features to improve Shack members experience with the site. For example, since many Shack members are on Facebook, we are exploring a Facebook plugin that will link some of the features of your Stamp Shack account to your Facebook account (more details to come on this).

    Look and Feel
    Since this is a major software upgrade we have learned that our current site theme is not compatible with the upgrade. This means we will need to update the site theme which may result in changes to the look and feel of the site. As with works of art, not everyone will like the changes, but we hope most of the community will. And, as previously mentioned, advertising will be added to the site for guests and junior members…Shack Plus members will continue to have an ad-free experience.

    With a major upgrade like this, we expect there will be some bugs that need to be worked out and a period of time where The Stamp Shack will be offline. You may experience error messages or times where the site will not load. We ask for your patience and support over the next two weeks as we work through these items to complete the upgrade. If you experience an error or issue, we invite you to report it us (PM to ShackHost)…please note that we may not be able to quickly respond to every request during this time, but will review your messages to ensure any bugs are corrected. Don’t be alarmed if we do not respond to back specifically to use as we are juggling a lot of communication during this upgrade.

    Well, that just about covers it for now. I’m sure we’ll have more to cover as we move forward with this major upgrade to The Stamp Shack. Thank you for your support and more importantly supporting The Stamp Shack community. It is our hope that these changes will allow The Stamp Shack to thrive, grow and continue to inspire stampers from all over the world.

    UPDATE 7/24/2010

    Just a quick note to let everyone know that the upgrade process is going well, but we have run into one item that will cause this project to take longer than expected. It turns out our custom code swap board also needs to be upgraded to be compatible with the upgrade. We are working with a programmer to get these changes in place so we can more forward with all the enhancements. This may take another two to three weeks to get done.

    UPDATE 8/17/2010

    Just a quick note to let everyone know that we are still working to upgrade the swap board so we can complete the overall upgrade process. The swap board has been much more challenging than expected, but our programmer is making progress. We're hoping to have this wrapped up in the next two to three weeks.

    We're excited about the enhancements coming to The Stamp Shack. Thank you for your continued support and patience through this process.

    UPDATE 8/30/2010

    Wow, we are finally ready to fully implement the upgrade changes. The implementation will begin in the early morning (Eastern time) of Wednesday, September 1st. The upgrade may take the entire day to complete and it is highly possible we will have some bugs to work out for a few days following. During this upgrade time The Stamp Shack may be unavailable for long periods of time.

    This has been a much bigger project than we anticipated, but it is super exciting to see the improvements. Technology is always changing and needing to be updated to stay secure and have the latest features. The Stamp Shack is already build on the best forum software in the world and now we will be on the most current version ensuring the best security for our members and the latest features to stay connected.

    The swap board has been updated to be compatible with the upgraded system. During this compatibility upgrade we sneaked in a cool new feature that has been requested by Shack Plus members...hostess email notification every time someone joins or 'unjoins' your swap. If you have been a hostess for a swap you know how great this new feature will be. Everything checks out great on the test server with the upgraded swap board so we're keeping our fingers cross all will go well when we make it live.

    Also, as a reminder this will be a very significant upgrade including having to update the site theme (look and feel) as our current theme is not compatible with the latest version of the forum software. We are also adding some additional features which may seem a bit overwhelming or confusing at first. Please be patient with us as we get everything in place, work out the kinks and learn some of the new features available to Shackies. This will also be a time where Shackies can help support each other as there are some members more 'tech savvy' that will catch on to some of the new features quickly.

    We're excited about the enhancements coming to The Stamp Shack. Thank you for your continued support and patience through this process.

    UPDATE 9/26/2010

    Wow, what a journey this has become! During the upgrade process all of the security and database enhancements went great, but we ran into challenges with the new template design for the site. Some of the sections of The Stamp Shack were not being 'friendly' with our new design and did not look right. So, we have had to revert to a more basic design for right now so we can get the site back online for all Shackies to use.

    You will notice that some pages on the site will look awkward or the formatting will be off. We are still working in the background to get the template design of the site fully configured and hopefully update the look and feel to the new design we had originally planned for. Also, once we get the template design issues resolved we will then be installing the additional features and enhancements that we are excited to introduce to you.

    So, in summary, The Stamp Shack under the hood is doing fantastic, but the outside look and feel is rough and still in the works. Rather than keep the site down longer we thought it best to bring the site back online even while we continue to work through the formatting updates.

    Thank you for your patience throughout this process. You will continue to see changes hear and there as we are working in the background to fully complete the site upgrade. We're still very excited about these enhancements for The Stamp Shack and having everything in tip-top shape soon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Cape Cod, MA USA

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    I just read this message through the Shackie Updates email I received.
    I am so pleased to read about the improvements you are planning for the SHACK!
    (Not that I'm thinking it needs improving!)
    I like your idea for advertising...and hope others will too.
    Thank you for continuing to provide the Stamp Shack with your support and care.

  3. #3

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Wow! Thanks so much for filling us in on future happenings and what can be expected during this transition. I, for one, am very excited about changes and keeping up with the latest and greatest and look forward to the end result of this upgrade. I know it will all be worth a little downtime on our end to keep our "second home" in tip-top shape. Thanks again.

    There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.~ Pablo Picasso

  4. #4

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Thanks so much for letting us know what is going on!!

    I'm excited to see the changes!

  5. #5

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Thanks so much fro letting us know what's going on!! I really appreciate knowing what to expect, rather than being scared we blew up!! lol
    I like the advertising idea too, and hope it will bring in more plus members. I guess this means I should print out an updated version f my swap list..I must know whta to work on!
    Thanks again!

  6. Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    I think you are doing a great job and look forward to seeing the exciting changes coming in the future! Thank you for providing a wonderful place to hang out with fellow stampers.
    My Blog: Ramblings from my Rubber Room

  7. #7

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Thank you for letting us know what is going to happen. Appreciate the heads up. I totally understand the need for it, but it's good to know that the shack plus members won't have any advertising. Look forward to the new upgrades, especially security.
    My Art Journey Blog: http://midnitecreations.blogspot.com/

  8. Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Sounds Great to me !

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Northern California

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Thanks for the info! I always feel very -cut 0ff- when the Shack goes down. I am anxious to see the changes. You are in my opinion doing a good job here!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    South Australia

    Re: Stamp Shack Maintenance and Major Upgrade

    Thank you very much for looking after this sacred place! and letting us know of the changed coming our way. i look forward to experiencing what's in store!

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