Feature Mustang Auction History Update

I just completed some updates to the 1992 and 1993 feature Mustang auction history pages. The request to add a search by sequence number was a feature that seemed too reasonable not to have. I too had experienced the need to look for auctions by this criteria while researching a car.

I also added some other things –

  • Thumbnails for auction listings that are not on ebay anymore (>90 days old). I have been storing the main photo of every auction since mid 2005. For new auctions, I now generate thumbnail versions of each image to be used when the thumbnail is no longer in Ebay’s image cache. I also generated thumbnails for the historical auctions for which I have images.
  • As part of the auction details, added the main photo for all auctions where it has been captured (again, back to mid 2005).
  • Some database connection fixes that will hopefully result in even greater stability. The move to the new web host in July 2011 left behind most of the site stability problems. That change can be mostly attributed to the availability of more resources on the web server. The bug I just fixed just took longer to show itself on the new server but still caused an occasional crash. It was only in the code involved in adding auctions and was a problem with not releasing the database connection.

In handing these updates, I also improved the development environment that I use. I first developed the auction history in 2003 on a Windows 2000 desktop. My next machine was Windows XP where I had problem running natively the development tools that I needed to use so I ended up creating a VMWare virtual machine from the old Windows 2000 desktop that I then used to do subsequent work through the years. Fast forward to my current Windows 7 machine and that old Windows 2000 virtual machine still runs but getting it networked was an issue.

So, to do this round of auction history changes, instead of spending the time to fix the networking issue, I invested time in getting to an updated development environment much closer to the production triplewhitefox.com site. I am now using the BitNami Tomcat stack. I went with the one that configures Tomcat 6.0.35-0 running on Ubuntu 10.10. Instead of using VMWare I have switched to Virtual Box to run this on my Windows 7 host machine.

Using a pre-built VM made this pretty easy to get running. My next step, of course, will need to be to get PHP running on the VM in order to fully simulate the TWF site.

Link: 1992 Auction Results
Link: 1993 Auction Results

1992 Feature Mustang 1:24 Scale Replica

Mike G. just emailed me to provide pictures of his scale replica of his 1992 Feature car. We’ve seen one before for the 1993 Mustang but this is a nice set of pics of an outstanding effort. I asked Mike for some details on the build and he was glad to provide them –

I used a combination of three kits to build this.  The main kit being a Monogram ’91 Mustang GT convertible.  The engine, chassis, interior and main body parts came from this kit.  I bought a resin body kit for an LX coupe back in the mid-1990’s that was made to fit the Monogram kit’s chassis and I used the nose, rocker panels and rear valence from that to convert the GT body into an LX.  With the body mods completed, I used a Monogram ’93 Cobra kit for several of the finishing details such as the airbag steering wheel, exhaust with straight tips, tail lights and rear spoiler.  The spoiler required some modifications but it was a good starting point.  I can’t remember the maker/seller of the resin body but I ordered it online and recall paying somewhere in the $30.00-$40.00 range for it.

This reminded me that there was an article in the June 1992 edition of Scale Auto Enthusiast that can provide more inspiration for a project such as this. I have mentioned it but never included many details of it on this site. So, I have posted some details on it in the 1992 and 1993 “Scale Replicas” sections of this site. Also, I have given Mike’s car a permanent home on its own page with more, and larger pictures.

Despite my best intentions for attempting a project like this, I’ve never started my own. Kudos to Mike for sticking with this project and producing an amazing result!

A couple behind-the-scenes Web site changes

Alas, it’s winter and the Mustang is in storage. While many of you work on your cars in preparation for the next show season, I work on this web site. In the last week I have performed a couple web site changes you probably would never notice but, I feel, are important enough to bear mentioning. And, to let you know that, I’m still here, behind the scenes, keeping things working, trying to make things better and planning for the future.

Item #1: Installed ThinkUp in order to better manage TWF’s social presence

I  started first using Twitter to connect and then, in 2011, added a Facebook presence for TWF. Honestly, I am still trying how to figure out how best to use them relative to their strengths and weaknesses. When I have something to say it still feels like I have to think too hard about whether it should be a blog post, forum post, tweet or a Facebook entry. I hope that it starts to feel more natural soon.

Regardless of the avenue chosen, I really like to be in charge of my own data. Using Twitter and Facebook for the site has meant giving some of my data over to a 3rd party. It has been useful for building a following but I worry that I might lose it somehow, someday

I have been aware that there are tools to get the data out of these networks. I just never took action about it. I listen regularly to the TWiT series of Podcasts including This Week in Google so I often hear about a project called ThinkUp. It is a tool not only to take ownership of your social data but to get meaningful metrics back out about the effectiveness of your usage of the medium.

It is the kind of solution that most users of Facebook wouldn’t choose, though. You need your own server or at least to know someone who has one to share. It’s less service and more solution.

The TWiT network’s “Triangulation” series recently interviewed Gina Tripani, who is the brains behind ThinkUp. On the show, she conveyed that its architecture might limit ThinkUps adoption but it was, in fact, perfect for me. I have a server on which this site runs and, being a modern PHP/MySQL install, it met almost all of the requirements for ThinkUp!

The install process for ThinkUp verified the server setup and the only thing I needed to add was a package called cURL. The cURL install literally only required two command lines to be executed

apt-get install php5-curl
/etc/init.d/apache2 restart 

before I was up and running. And, I’m no Linux guru. Otherwise, it was as simple as any WordPress install I have done and much simpler than the Drupal install.

The only glitch I have with it is that I have two Facebook profiles under the name ‘John Jones’ (I know, I know, multiple profiles is a big no-no) . One is related to my TWF page and the other is my personal one for family. They are indistinguishable in ThinkUp.

And, it not just me that can’t tell them apart, ThinkUp can’t differentiate which one I want when I choose from the list and always directs me to the one related to this site rather than my personal one. I hope that gets straightened out in a future release. It is really a minor annoyance, though.

Bottom line, ThinkUp is now harvesting all of the social data from Twitter and Facebook into a database on my own server. I can feel confident that this data is still my own.

Item #2: Changed domain registrar from GoDaddy to Hover

I only mention this next one because it went so seamlessly. I was petrified that there would be a glitch during this process and my site would be down for some period of time. I had previously migrated foxfeaturecars.com over but that was easy – it is just a pointer to this site that no one really knows about.

For a little background, I had been using GoDaddy since 2003 back when they were just about the most affordable registrar. I had no problems with them really. A lot of what they are criticized for just didn’t impact me.

My main concern was domain privacy where my contact information was public. Sure, they offer privacy controls, but it costs an extra $10/year. With Hover, it’s included. The transfer went very smooth and I bet no one even noticed the brief time the transfer occurred and the site may have been unavailable.