Seiko 7A38 - by the numbers

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The End of an Era

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 5:50 AM

Subtitled: another once lovingly maintained website trashed by Webs.


Friday, 13th October 2017 was a particularly inauspicious day for this website - you could almost call it fateful. I hadn’t been able to access the forum much during the day, but do I know it was definitely down from at least 16:00 (UK time). For a change, it wasn’t the usual Webs ‘Page Not Found’ or that annoying ‘Uh Oh’ error messages displayed, but another old chestnut: ‘Hmm… Let’s try that again’. I got home late on Friday evening and after a couple more attempts to access the forum, gave up trying and went to bed.


In recent months, the amount of sporadic downtime / pathetically slow performance by Webs servers has increased to beyond what can only be described as totally unacceptable levels. That said, even during weekends (when there’s no engineering support – Webs’ engineers only work Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm) it was usually possible to access the forum at some point. But not this time. There were obviously bigger problems afoot – and this website wasn’t the only one affected. :( I found this new topic on the Webs Support Community, started by another frustrated website owner:

http://support.webs.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/115009242588-FORUMS-on-my-website-is-not-working-

Saturday morning it was still down, so I contacted Webs Online Chat Support. I’d chatted with this operator on numerous previous occasions. I’m not sure what she did, but during our message exchange something I’d been quietly dreading for over a year happened. The formatting of all the pages somehow got screwed up. I’ve a pretty good idea what this can be attributed to, because I wrote a thread warning about the dire consequences in the General Discussion section in September last year:

http://www.seiko7a38.com/apps/forums/topics/show/13385405-a-change-is-coming-not-necessarily-for-the-better-unfortunately-

The enforced ‘upgrade’ to Webs SiteBuilder3 seems to have finally been implemented. For over a year, I’d deliberately stayed well clear of the forum’s control panel dashboard, because I knew that any attempt to publish changes (however minor an edit) would likely result in this mess. The site’s pages (and the forum) were created using Webs old SB2 software, which allowed some limited use of custom CSS coding. This code was used to set the page widths, hide unwanted sidebars and generally control the layout of the pages. Custom CSS is not supported in SiteBuilder3. Hence the reason the forum clock on the Home page is now dangling below the header banner bar - though that’s just a minor detail in the bigger scheme of things.


The look and feel, general tidiness / organisation of the site / forum have always been important to me. It may be possible to restore it to something resembling its former appearance (the current 'Air' header and theme supposedly aren't available as an option in SB3). But there are other issues to consider besides.


Another ‘Sword of Damocles’ that’s still hanging over the forum is the PhotoBucket P500 image hosting issue. The bulk of my photos on the forum are remotely hosted by Photobucket. I have around 20,000 images in my account. PhotoBucket’s money grabbing exercise has already caused a lot of damage to many older threads. I’ve done my best to repair a few topics, like the WRUW thread, by re-hosting other users blocked photos in my account. But there’s still loads more work required. My paid-up PhotoBucket Plus20 account is more than adequate for my needs and theoretically safe until December 2018, but then I’m faced with the prospect of paying an extortionate $399 / year for the privilege of P500. No thank you.


Funnily enough, even though the forum has been down all weekend, I’ve received 5 more new member applications. Gaining new members has never been a problem. Getting them to contribute anything (let alone make an introduction) is another thing. Incredibly, the forum membership is now approaching 950, but there are still only half a dozen of us die-hards who post anything like regularly. Plus we’ve sadly lost some significant early contributors, notably Sir Alan (Simon).


I also feel the forum has lost direction. One of my original stated goals was to create a model specific topic for every 7A38-xxxx variation. There are some 85 to cover. Today there are still only 30-odd topics in that section. Yes, I’ve allowed myself to be side-tracked by the non-Seiko re-branded stuff, which is a personal interest of mine, but I’ve also wasted countless hours and tens of thousands of words bitching about eBay and dishonest / greedy sellers, blatantly misrepresented over-priced junk, shill bidding and other shenanigans; effort which could have been better spent elsewhere – documenting the watches.


So taking the above points into consideration and after some agonising over the weekend, I’ve decided it’s time to cut my losses and walk away. I’ve been more than patient – some would say foolhardy, in putting up with Webs appalling service for nearly 6 years. The website hosting fees are due in January 2018 and no matter how comparatively cheap they may be (I got a heavily discounted rate for two years last time), I won’t be renewing with Webs again. It’s simply just not worth the constant grief and worry.


Before anyone asks, I have considered starting over; toyed briefly with the idea of building a new forum based on phpBB, but quite honestly I’m not sure if I can summon up the energy and enthusiasm.


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the forum over the last 5, nearly 6 years.


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