About 2000, Duncan McIver & Vectec web developers began our 1st LAA Website using WordPress “middleware” to simplify coding. This served LAA well for 20 years, but cost LAA $614/yr. Retiring from LaRC in 2005 for a 2nd career at Oak Ridge National Lab, I recently joined LAA to serve on our Board & as Webmaster. Why? At a 2020 LAA Zoom meeting I suggested LAA’s website cost may be reduced to $49.95/yr using HDL as I’d done for years. (I created/hosted Family History, Church, Sons of Norway, Travel, Beekeeping & Ecology Websites on HDL & 6 home servers). LAA supported the idea & saved $600, (6 $100 LAA life memberships). Thanks to Damodar & our LAA Board for supporting the switch to HDL!
Our talented Web team of retired NASA techies are sticklers to optimize LAA website speed. Our WordPress Website code initially took 9.8 sec vs 1.4 for our native HTML Website code and Google’s PageSpeed Analyses rating of 51% for our WordPress Site vs 100% for our HTML Site. HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the native language of the Web, the fastest possible. On May 11, Steve Scott, a veteran WorPress expert, helped us and deactivated all WordPress plugins, reducing our time to 1.3 sec. Thanks Steve! For web security, we did need to reactivate the required Web security plugin, WordFence which brought our final time to 1.5 seconds.
Five questions reveal our LAA Website goals & give a glimpse of what our future holds.
1. Why does LAA have a Website? Who’s involved?
Our LAA Website shares and communicates info to/from LAA members. Not just a one stop for ‘All LAA”, but soon we’ll have online forms & forums so not only can officers share info but members will have options to ask questions, participate in online polls & sign up for events, an alternative to email which is easily lost. You’ll find LAA history, officers, how to join, accomplishments, meeting minutes, current & future events and slides & video recordings of speakers at past meetings you may have missed. Former Webmaster Duncan offers sage advice & computer-savvy Rick Ross is invaluable updating our Website plus editing the inaugural issue of LAA’s Newsletter to appear in June. Wayne, Damodar & Dan also offer advice and encouragement along the way and we welcome others.
2. Why switch Website hosts to HDL? Identical? Was it easy?
Our April 13th switch from Vectec ($614/yr) to HDL ($49.95/yr) gave us more capability for less. To be safe, we kept Vectec as a backup until April 30. We overcame some annoying WordPress latency issues by using pure HTML with 1 sec response, rated A by GTmetrix & 100% by Google PageSpeed Analysis surpassing NASA & Langley Website performance. Although a fun learning experience, it’s definitely challenging. In retrospect, LAA’s at a much better place by reducing our biggest expense.
3. Any big worries?
As a longtime HDL customer, I shared my enthusiasm for HDL with LAA, prompting LAA’s vote to switch to HDL. Following our vote, after 27 years with no data loss & little downtime, HDL went down due to fire. Fortunately, I had backed up my personal HDL site so it was back up the next day. HDL plans another 27+ years with no data loss. We all know backups are critical, so we backup our Website (1MB) daily (1 min), as we link to large videos (talks etc.) stored on our private LAA YouTube account.
5. Can LAA members keep up with modern CyberGeeks?
By all means! Working at NASA, you’ve demonstrated research & logic skills bringing the Cyber realm within your grasp if you are interested. We welcome your help & Website feedback to [email protected] I’ll share more in my LAA talk June 8 & here.