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Webmasters blog


posted 14 Apr 2018, 13:57 by Surrey Bellringers

This post details changes on the website to ensure we adhere to the new data protection regulation.

1.  I'm reducing our use of third party services that track visitors to our sites.  This includes disabling Google Analytics.   As much as the information it provides is interesting it's usefulness does not in all honestly justify the amount of data that is collect. 

10 Online projects we could do….

posted 11 Mar 2017, 10:57 by Surrey Bellringers

1.     Build an online book and/or clothing store.

2.     Support online donations to belfry repair fund

3.     Provide online membership and subscription management

4.     Create a digital archive (scan some of the best items in our archive and library)

5.     Create a sound and/or video archive of Surrey bells being rung

6.     Webcast a practice or training session live.

7.     Build an online training resource and/ or provide a curated source of online learning materials available on the internet

8.     Enable online booking for training courses

9.     Provide and online group to bring together isolated learners so that they can share experiences and remain engaged

10.  Live stream training courses, meetings and other events to reach people who don’t normally attend these events

Google forms and privacy

posted 2 Jan 2017, 15:45 by Surrey Bellringers

We use google forms to collect information from members on our website.  This has raised some questions about how careful we are with privacy of members information. 

In fact using Google forms, which transmits and stores information securely, provides a significant improvement in privacy over the alternatives of email or paper forms both of which are inherently insecure and vulnerable to interception and abuse.

Googles terms of service and privacy policy are publicly available to read online: These very clearly define what Google can do with our data, they are worth reading.

When you enter information into Google forms it is stored in a Google Drive account. In order for Google to provide this service they are granted a limited licence to use the data but this is done on very strict terms which are consistent with the best standards in the industry. The following link clarifies how the standard terms apply to Google Drive in which they specifically state that "We will not use a private document for marketing or promotional purposes." :

Hopefully that puts some minds at rest.  We take privacy very seriously.

Yahoo Security

posted 2 Jan 2017, 12:06 by Surrey Bellringers

I am sure many of you will have seen recent media reports about security breaches at Yahoo. Our email groups are a very valuable resource for the local ringing community and I want to assure everyone the situation is being monitored closely and alternatives kept under review. However there is no suggestion at the moment that the Yahoo Groups service is affected by these problems.

I intend to continue recommending this service to our members and I am not closing my Yahoo account.

Please be aware that you do not need to have a Yahoo account to subscribe to the Surrey Association groups. The majority of our subscribers sign up with a non Yahoo email address so would not be affected by the problems being reported in the press.

Please see the Yahoo groups page on the website for more information on subscribing to the groups without a Yahoo account:

Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any further questions.

Drupal site archive

posted 3 Apr 2016, 13:12 by Surrey Bellringers   [ updated 3 Apr 2016, 14:02 ]

A plain http copy of the site and all the images and files uploaded to the Drupal website site server over the six years it was live between 2010 and 2016 are held on our Google drive.

A pdf of the news rss feed containing all the news stories from the site is here:

New website goes live

posted 2 Apr 2016, 02:17 by Surrey Bellringers   [ updated 3 Apr 2016, 13:13 ]

Over the Easter weekend I made the move to a new website. 

Although hosted on new servers the site retains the old address:

The new site is hosted by an established European based web hosting company who provide a fully managed service (full software stack, security, backups and recovery are all part of the price rather than extras).  Our previous host, Just Host, will continue to provide our domain management and email services.  

Web page requests to the root domain ( without the www.) resolve to a custom redirect page served by Just Host.

The new site incorporates all the map, calendar and news blog innovations we have introduced to our site since the beginning of the year.

The new site is focussed on being a 'shop window' and providing easy access to the essential and most frequently used information.  Behind this, a new wiki format has been adopted to make it easier to create, edit and discover the many other pages of mainly text based information we maintain.  The wiki is hosted independently of the main site and has its own sub domain:

Both the main site and wiki are mobile adaptive with specially designed templates used to provide a much improved mobile user experience.

All the text and photos have been carried over from the old site.  Although completely restyled and restructured the content is largely just cut and paste.  I've done a little editing but have created very little new content.  I’m confident nothing has been lost in the move and the old site is fully archived.   I aim to make as much of the historic content as possible accessible on the wiki.

Despite a very different layout I’ve carried over a couple of subtle design elements to maintain some brand continuity.  The background map is retained and the colouring of the logo uses shades that were on the old home page.

The entire transformation has been achieved for a financial outlay of just £108, of which £81 is annually renewable.

The web presence we have now is modular, flexible and open.  We can swap bits around and restyle them with ease without much effort or incurring additional cost. 

Great websites don’t just happen, they are more often than not achieved through an iterative process of trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn't.  I hope therefore that far from being seen as a finished product you will view the website as a work in progress.  If there are bits missing, not quite hitting the spot or just in need of a little tweaking please let me know about it, I will appreciate the feedback.

A decade of the Surrey Association website

posted 26 Mar 2016, 13:18 by Surrey Bellringers   [ updated 26 Mar 2016, 13:19 ]

The internet archive contains snapshots of our site taken over the past decade. These snapshots are limited in the detail they hold but they provide a fascinating look back. The earliest snapshot we have is from July 2005.

Drupal site at end of life

posted 22 Mar 2016, 10:35 by Surrey Bellringers   [ updated 26 Mar 2016, 13:02 ]

At the AGM in 2010 a brand new website was launch. This website was built using the Drupal content management system which, at that time, was at version 6. 

Six years later, on 24th February 2016,  Drupal 6 reached the end of its official supported life. After this date no more security patches or bug fixes will be available after this date.

Drupal 6 has now been superseded by versions 7 and 8 so we are certainly overdue an upgrade. Unfortunately there is no straightforward upgrade path. Upgrading to Drupal 7 or 8 would require virtually a complete redevelopment of the site, a project that will likely cost thousands of pounds.

Remaining on version 6 leaves us vulnerable. There is an increased risk of compatibility problems and withdrawal of support by other software providers. We’ve already encountered a problem in November last year when our host upgraded the server PHP version to 5.6 and took the whole site offline for a week.  We could only resolve this by rolling back the upgrade which is at best a temporary fix. 

To remain on Drupal 6 we would need to undertake immediate and costly work to protect the site from the known problem with PHP.  To do that work we need a professional developer and Styles Webbin, the company who developed the site for us six years ago, and who we've turned to for support in subsequent years, has been very reluctant to provide us any assistance. 

Even if we did this work Drupal 6 is still at the end of its life time and we can expect continued risks to our site.

That leaves us in a difficult place, a costly upgrade or an uncertain future so we took the decision to move to a brand new site.  This gives us a new platform and an opportunity to re imagine our future website. 

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