North Auckland Line [0R]: Weekly Progress Report – Week 28, 2020

This past week we achieved more than expected with the maps, but only advanced progress over a total of around 5 km of the route – from Mt Albert to New Lynn. The latter has been the focus of considerable research in itself. This has involved getting hold of 2007 and 2009 historical imagery of the station as well as adding a Retrolens historical image from 1961. New Lynn has changed a lot over the last half century, but especially 10 years ago when the line was trenched to eliminate several level crossings resulting in a massive improvement in road traffic flows.

We are however still subject to the same imperatives of other work pressures as was the case last week, and given that last week was not as productive as we had hoped, we are going to have to pause or slow the effort again this week. For this reason, we have decided to eliminate the further production of historical maps (Basic+) for Volume 1. In order to speed up this volume and get it back on track, the focus for it will have to be just the current content (Basic level) rather than historical, since this week is otherwise going to be as slow as last week for progress.

This means whilst there will be daily updates continuing to be released this week, the content will all be current rather than historical. In other words we have now changed the focus of Volume 1 to completing at Basic level, leaving the other levels until a future time.

We also hope to begin this week investigating further if the NZ Rail Maps platform can be administered by a charitable organisation that can receive donations to fund the modest cost of web hosting.

North Auckland Line [0Q]: Weekly Progress Report – Week 27, 2020

Good evening. Last week we changed our planned schedule for map production and as a result, we have completed only a few kilometres of the NAL rail corridor, from Mt Eden to near Mt Albert. The reason for this is that other work has taken priority. We have determined that another pause of about a week will be needed in the planned schedule for the maps before they are resumed.

There will be another diary article this evening for the Baldwin Ave and Mt Albert stations and then there will be another pause as mentioned above, for the rest of week 27. If we have made enough progress on the other work that we need to progress this week, then we will come back to map production in subsequent weeks and speed things up towards the schedule we were following previously.

North Auckland Line [0N]: Volume 1 Progress Update 14

Good evening. After a lot of preparation, work has finally begun today on the production of the maps for the Volume 1 update. This week has been quite a slow one for maps production and is probably behind schedule yet again, but there has been a lot going on behind the scenes in this project lately. This includes a decision to solely focus on using the Project’s own resources to discuss and publicise the content production.

We are changing the format slightly in terms of documenting our progress. Blog updates such as this one will continue to appear for Volume 1, but will probably be written as a weekly summary. In between, there will be Daily Diary updates, which will appear on our Facebook page and our research mailing list. These will be highly pictorial. Map samples will be produced and updated daily on our Flickr page as well. They will be sitting there for a week or two before they are finalised and placed on our web site for official release.

So that is how the project development will be documented for our readers for the rest of Volume 1. The first Daily Diary will appear later this evening, following the publication of this blog post.

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020G]: General Considerations

Good evening. In our last project development report we wrote about web hosting options, and since writing these have been more or less confirmed in the establishment of a SmugMug site to host the map content produced by the Project. This is, however, a commercial site that involves a financial cost, and this requires the payment of a fee on either a monthly or annual basis. In addition, since the use of this site does not incorporate the ability to host the content of this blog on the same site, we are compelled to continue with this separate project development blog to document the progress of the project.

However, the site does give us the ability to create the pages of written content necessary to enable people to discover and engage with the map content in the site; it just doesn’t have built into it the features of the WordPress platform that we find valuable, such as categorisation of posts and an RSS feed. Whilst we could host the blog under a subdomain of our project web domain that we use to connect with our SmugMug site, we would have to pay additional hosting fees to WordPress with very little additional benefit.

At the present time it is not feasible for various reasons to invite external financial support for this project without taking steps to place its activities under the control of a corporate entity such as a charitable trust. This naturally involves additional work, but for reasons outlined below, we feel it would be difficult to attract and maintain support over a longer term for this Project to be able to maintain the ongoing operation of such an entity. Hence, there is no straightforward mechanism for us to seek external donations to support the project and it remains, therefore, a personal hobby funded chiefly by its key developer.

The reality of the situation for the NZ Rail Maps Project is that it has attracted only a low level of interest or support from the wider railfan community in New Zealand and elsewhere. That support is further divided and compromised by the attitudes taken by a small number of individuals within that community who have personalised their disagreement with the Project or people involved with it. Over time, these disagreements have had a material impact upon the work of the Project as a whole and have led directly to a desire to finalise the Project and bring its work to a conclusion within a definite timeframe. We don’t intend to comment further on these situations except to say that those detractors have very little understanding of or sympathy with the actual and real obstacles and personal sacrifices made daily in overcoming physical disability, financial poverty and other issues in order to move the Project forward to where it is now. Not one of those persons has made any personal contact or offered any support for the wider project at all. They seem to believe mostly that punitive actions of applying social media blocks will serve their cause, which in itself allows them to openly campaign against the work of the Project whilst being invisible to us, and therefore, as has been proven to be the case, promoting false and demeaning information about the Project and its key developer.

We therefore restate that we are firmly committed to the current stage of working to bring the Project to a conclusion within the calendar years 2020 to 2022, as previously outlined, and that we will endeavour to continue bearing all of the financial expenses of doing so within that period. Once the development phase has continued, we will commit to maintaining the project website in operation for an unknown number of years into the future. This will be on the basis that at the conclusion of the Project, we will have ceased to need to engage any further with the railfan community of New Zealand, having found more productive ways of utilising our personal time and resources in communities that are much more supportive of what we do.

We do enjoin our actual supporters to give consideration of how they can in a practical sense support this Project as a whole and perhaps think about whether they can set up any kind of corporate entity to help meet those costs involved in operating the Project’s website.

NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020G]: New Milestones

Good evening. Today is a big day in the NZ Rail Maps project. We’re launching our website, we’re publishing Volume 6 of NZ Rail Maps for the Wairarapa Line, and we’re starting to write our blog posts directly on this WordPress site.

After looking at some ideas of how we could host a website, we have decided to host most of the content on a SmugMug site which will cost $132 per year and is really a great platform for any type of graphic content, although it is mainly aimed at photography. SmugMug is the company that purchased Flickr from Yahoo several years ago, and we previously hosted our graphic content (the maps themselves) on Flickr until the free tier was cut back following its sale. We also pay $28 per year currently for our domain registration which is separately managed by a local domain registrar here in NZ.

The content that will not be hosted on SmugMug is this blog, the old blog, and the content on the old Trainweb site. All these sites will continue to exist as they do now, but will be gradually updated to reflect the change to the new SmugMug site for most of the electronically produced and accessible content. So this WordPress site is a bit of a mess at the moment until we get all the content currently linked from it, hosted on the main site. Since the new site is very much a work in progress, it will take a while to learn how to use it and fully transfer everything to it.

The publication of Volume 6 will be separately announced on this blog shortly.