Suggestions for board

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Suggestions for board

Postby Steve Foley on Mon Jan 25, 2010 3:23 pm

I'm responding here, rather than the general discussions, as this involves technical issues most members don't care about.

BretE wrote:Hey all,

First off I just want to say that I think that you guys have been doing excellent work. Thanks for all of your hard work!

Secondly, brevity was never my strong suite, so sorry this is a bit long winded...

I've been doing some thinking on how the process of pairing animals in need with pilots. Here are some random thoughts on the current approach. These are ideas that have been floating about in my head this weekend, so they're not particularly organized. My primary goal is to write them down, and perhaps incite some discussion.

The paradigm of posting on a forum and waiting for a pilot to find the request does not seem to be optimal. Here are a few reasons why:

-We have one party who wants a resource (a flight), and another party who may be willing to donate that resource. While I'm certain there are motivated pilots who search the board daily, I would suspect that the person with the dog staring at them might be more motivated in most cases.
-As the board continues to grow, the number of posts will continue to grow. Therefore the relevant posts will get more and more difficult to find.
-This approach does not allow rescues to see flights that have already been planned that may have additional room available.

The Google maps go a long way to addressing these issues, but I believe that further refinements are possible.

I realize that the following may be ambitious, but what the heck. Here are a few random thoughts on a system that might serve rescue, pilots, and paws more efficiently and more effectively:
-Such a system would need a way to filter out irrelevant posts for pilots who like to search the boards. In other words, a search by distance.
-It would be great if the system would automatically suggest pilots. This could be based on where you are, where you going, and how far a pilot is willing to fly (something that could be in their profile). I envision the rescue entering starting and ending locations, then getting a list of pilots, then having the option to send them each an email requesting assistance.
-The system would track the status of the request, so a pilot who received a request could follow up to see if someone has already signed up, and it would also record completion of the mission.
-Pilots would be able to fill out optional profile information about cat/dog allergies air craft capacity, etc, so that pilots could be optimally matched to rescue needs.
-After a flight it planned, the information would be available for other rescues to search. Rescues would automatically get an email if a flight is taking place that is close to a flight they've requested. This would provide opportunities to augment the flights with additional ground transportation.
-Once the flight is completed, a record of the flight would be recorded.

I suspect that this has already been discussed someplace, but what do other organizations with a similar mission do to match pilots with people in need? Has this problem already been solved?

To me, this sounds like a neat problem to solve, and I would certainly like to help solve it. I have a background in software development, and solving problems difficult problems is what I love to do, and is what I do for my day job. I'm also a student glider pilot, and I plan to obtain my power rating sometime in the next year or two. I've also worked with a local Labrador rescue, and I'm currently fostering, so I have a fair knowledge of how rescues operate as well. I'm really looking forward to helping!

Brett


What I am working on is a button to add to the screen requesting a transport that will notify all of the pilots within 60 nautical miles of the courseline between the origin and destination.

I am planning on using Heron's formula to determine if a pilot is within 60nm of the course. It works pretty well. In fact, it's the same algorithm I use on the 'pilot search tools' screen http://pilotsnpaws.org/forum/phpbb-local-rescues.php

My biggest issue is integrating this into the phpbb3 forum software. I want to get the forum to send the notifications, but it's been an interesting challenge to say the least. I'm concerned that if I don't integrate it in, spammers will end up grabbing all the email addresses.

If you know (or want to learn) phpbb, let me know. I can use all the help I can get.
The best way to contact me is via email:

steve dot foley at gmail dot com
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby BrettE on Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:53 am

Sounds great, Steve. I'd love to help.
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby BrettE on Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:48 pm

Integrating with phpbb seems like a great idea. From my brief survey it also appears that they have a fair amount of documentation, along with support forums, and such.

Did someone mention someplace that you were looking to upgrade to a more recent version of phpbb? Also a good idea I think. At that time, it might also might be the time to consider the phpbb plugin that integrates with wordpress a little better. In particular, the webpage banner would be present at the top of the page while viewing the forums. I think that this would be an easy, low risk item that would enhance the consistency of the site. It would also give easier access to the mapping tools and the rest of the site. Here's the page for the plugin complete with a forum using the plugin:

http://www.wp-united.com/

Take care,
Brett
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby Steve Foley on Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:25 am

BrettE wrote:Did someone mention someplace that you were looking to upgrade to a more recent version of phpbb? Also a good idea I think. At that time, it might also might be the time to consider the phpbb plugin that integrates with wordpress a little better. In particular, the webpage banner would be present at the top of the page while viewing the forums. I think that this would be an easy, low risk item that would enhance the consistency of the site. It would also give easier access to the mapping tools and the rest of the site. Here's the page for the plugin complete with a forum using the plugin:

http://www.wp-united.com/

Take care,
Brett


We are running the latest version. The upgrade was somewhat painful. The upgrade software kept timing out due to a server setting that we don't have control over. I ended up duplicating the system on another Linux box, performing the upgrade, and moving it back. The backup/restore code doesn't work properly on this server either (same timeout error). Loads of fun and killed my weekend.

We'll have to wait on the integration for now. Someone else is doing the Wordpress end, and we haven't finished the knowledge transfer yet. Actually, we haven't started it. Maybe during spring break in March.

I'll have to poke around and look at it. I think my son installed Wordpress on my test site, so I'll try there first.
The best way to contact me is via email:

steve dot foley at gmail dot com
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby admin on Thu Jan 28, 2010 1:00 pm

Moved from general discussions:

davidtg wrote:Hi again, all --

Another thought... If there's a way to work up a button/link to generate pilot (and even volunteer) email addresses around a given airport that would make spreading the word easier. I know I've seen some posts about the challenges of having phpbb spit out emails, so I understand that some of it could be tricky. I'd be happy to just get a list of addresses, though, to bcc: into my own email message. If I could easily send a note to all of the PnP-registered pilots at the airports near me I could better drum up interest in heading to a remote fly-in and better spread the word about a local fly-in.

Part of me worries about address harvesting and that sort of thing, but since the info is already there in the profiles and I just don't want to have to click a zillion times to assemble it manually this sounds like a call for automation :-) Of course, this doesn't have to be limited to just fly-ins, either; the first use that additionally comes to mind is looking for a partner for a leg since we have such a small plane.


HTH & HAND


Handing out email address is something I simply won't do. We've had a few instances of spammers posting on the board, and we have been able to undo the damage pretty quickly. I'm not happy that email addresses are visible at all, but that was not my decision. The potential for misuse is simply too great.

- Steve (Sorry, I forgot I had logged in as admin)
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby davidtg on Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:12 am

Steve, et al --
admin wrote:
davidtg wrote:If there's a way to work up a button/link to generate pilot (and even volunteer) email addresses around a given airport that would make spreading the word easier.

Handing out email address is something I simply won't do. We've had a few instances of spammers posting on the board, and we have been able to undo the damage pretty quickly. I'm not happy that email addresses are visible at all, but that was not my decision. The potential for misuse is simply too great.

Yeah; that's fair enough, and I know exactly what you mean. There's no IFF plugin for PHPBB :-)

If you can think of any ideas to facilitate spreading the word, though, I'd love to hear them!


HANN
:-D
--
David & Laura T-G
C172 @ KCNI - small loads - 150nm VFR (and just maybe farther & cloudier)
see http://justpickone.org/davidtg/email/
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby BrettE on Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:41 pm

Hey Steve,

I'd love to start playing with some of the mapping tools. One way I can work on developing some code is if I setup a sandbox. If you can give me a description of the interface for getting the map data, that would be helpful. I'm guessing you do a sql query to get all of the points for the map, then plot them on the map. If I know what the tables look like I can create a fake database for myself to work from.

Thanks and have a great weekend,
Brett
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Re: Suggestions for board

Postby BrettE on Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:47 pm

I haven't forgotten about you, Steve! Things have sucked at work lately. Hopefully they should let up soon, and that should give me some time to help out.

Brett
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