|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:
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:
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.
|Posted on January 28, 2012 at 7:10 PM||comments (0)|
Some of you, visiting for the first time, will immediately recognise my somewhat wordy ‘blog’ style of writing. For the last three years, I have posted on a number of internet watch forums, initially as ‘PaulS’ (on the old Network54-hosted SCWF), then ‘Seiko7A38(Fan)’ on the UK RLT watch forum and as ‘Seiko7A38’, sometimes with an underscore as ‘Seiko_7A38’ on various others. What I should really have been doing was working on this site.
If you google 7A38, with or without Seiko, or any 7A38-xxxx model number, you’ll no doubt come across some of my previous online ramblings in the search results. Much of what I wrote back then is still good, though in the early days of my collecting, it was something of a ‘voyage of discovery’. Finding that Seiko (Oceania) still allowed (limited) public access / searches on their database was an absolute godsend. Not only did it allow me to find Seiko part numbers for those all-important spare parts, but it enabled me to quantify the number of models Seiko manufactured using the 7A38 caliber – there were over 80 individual model variations produced.
Inspired by the likes of ‘DaveS’, ‘DWJQuest’, 'Time2Fly' and others, who had posted photos of their substantial collections online, I once dreamt that it might eventually be possible to build up my own collection of every single variation of 7A38 that Seiko made. You may have noticed at the end of the first sentence on the front page, I wrote ‘and their derivatives’. That’s where I‘ll admit to having allowed myself to have been side-tracked. Whereas most Seiko collectors will own a balanced mix of the more, let’s say, desirable of the 7Axx calibres: 7A28, 7A38 and 7A48; I decided, from the outset, that I would try ‘limit’ my collection to ‘only’ the 7A38’s. What I hadn’t realized, at that time, was that Seiko Corporation had either sold tens of thousands of ostensibly badge-engineered 7A38 movements, (perhaps covertly) or possibly licensed / out-sourced their manufacture to other watch producers.
I like to think of myself as a pretty good ‘online detective’. Some of you may recall a couple of cheeky photos I’ve posted of two of my rarer yellow-dialed 7A38’s, with a ‘Dick Tracy’ figurine. I’ve probably spent what most normal people would class as an obscene amount of time researching these watches. Though, to my enquiring mind, many questions still remain unanswered, including the true nature of Seiko Corporation’s involvement and their supplier relationships with the other ‘7A38’ manufacturers. Although these other (non-Seiko) 15J quartz movements may have differently signed back-plates (the alleged makers’ markings are stamped on some, but others are simply printed), their otherwise identical shared components are immediately obvious, on removing the watch’s case-back.
As far back as March 2009, only four months into my collecting spree, I stumbled across the Yema N8’s, produced by Seiko’s French subsidiary CGH (Compagnie Générale Horlogère). The ‘discovery’ had already been made by an online Japanese watch dealer, who trades under the name of ‘Antiwatchman’. Because I was still concentrating on building up a core collection of Seiko 7A38’s, I didn’t actually get around to acquiring my first Yema N8 until November 2009, but a Kamatz 517000 (also manufactured by Yema / CGH) soon followed. The proverbial floodgates were swung wide open, and I was on the road to potential ruin. Soon, fellow collectors were keenly pointing out other obvious 7A38-based ‘clones’ by Jaz (also N8’s); Junghans ‘High Tech', Orient J39’s, Puma Y19’s, and the slightly more exclusive (accordingly priced) Cartier Ferrari Formula quartz chronographs.
The rest as they say is history. I may not own the largest, nor even the most complete collection of Seiko branded 7A38’s; some of the watches in my collection certainly aren’t necessarily the best examples in collectors’ hands either, but I think I can safely lay claim to owning the most diverse collection of 7A38’s in the world.
With Thanks to the following:
For their advice, assisting with my collection, for past and future contributions and giving me the idea / incentive / impetus / inspiration to finally start my own dedicated 7A38 website:
Dave(s) / David(s) (all 5 of you); Derek (especially); James, John, Julio, Kurt, Lee, Hung, Mark, Michael / Mike, Pete, Paul(s) Paulo, Rod, Skip - and my apologies to anyone that I've omitted to mention by name.