This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
August 8th, 2005

From This Side of the Screen

My view of what happens on Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) may differ a bit from yours - or your vision of what we do here.

My husband, (you know him as JC or Castwell) is up before I am - actually I work late, usually well after midnight, and he turns on the first computer usually around 6:30 am, PST. He checks the Guestbook first, we've had a problem with some unwanted porn links being posted, and then runs the Bulletin Board. By then the first pot of coffee is brewed, and he dumps whatever is left of the cup he took out of the nuke machine when he got up, and gets a cup of real coffee.

When he's pretty much awake, he turns on my computer, and if there aren't any major problems on the website to be addressed when I get up, he downloads the email for me.

JC gets me up at 9:00 or so. It might be a bit later if he knows I had a 'bad' night. (That's another story for another time - allergies.)

If there is bad stuff to be removed from the Guestbook, that becomes my first priority. We keep a list of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) used by the porn merchants and those are passed on to the proper authorities. At this point we have 'blocked' three ISPs from accessing FAOL. We can either do that, or several times each day remove the porn and hope we don't have any one who has read it. We may have lost some readers because of the porn problem, folks who used those ISPs who can no longer get to FAOL. Sad but true, and in my opinion, a form of terrorism used by the porn merchants...if we block them, we take the chance of blocking some of our regular readers. How sick.

After I've had a couple of cups of coffee, I check the email, download any new articles which have come in and put them in their proper files. They are printed out for the Editor to go through. Inquiries from potential Sponsors are also printed out, filed, and their websites and businesses checked out. I usually respond to those inquiries within 24 hours.

Sometimes our readers just send 'atta boy' notes, or cute stories as something possible for our Lighterside. Occasionally I'll hear from someone who was very active on our Bulletin Board or Chat and just seemed to disappear. Illness, death in the family, divorce, change in jobs are all part of life, and it is always nice to hear from our FAOL folks and catch up.

There is also something called maintenance; archives to be checked, error files to be read and the errors to be corrected, logs to be trimmed or deleted. Sponsor pages to be updated or corrected (new phone numbers, email etc.)

Pages must be created for new Sponsors, graphics done, text created and the whole thing checked and rechecked before the Sponsor ever sees it. Oh yes, and there is the job of attracting and contacting new sponsors - companies, businesses recommended to us by others (and yes our readers too).

JC also makes a 'town run' every day except Sunday. He gets the mail at the Post Office, runs errands and picks up the groceries.

That gets us to about noon.

Not true, but that is only part of the story.

Each week we create a new issue for the following week. There is a 'run sheet' which I created, similar to what your daily newspaper uses to schedule what articles go in which section. Some sections do not get a new article each week. For example, we haven't added anything to our Bamboo section lately. However, I did have an offer recently for an article for the Bamboo section on building 'poor man's quad rods' which will be very unique. As we are contacted by folks who wish to write something for FAOL, we schedule it - or in the case of the Readers Cast section, we may have enough articles to run several months.

This is a really good situation for our readers, since it allows us to create an issue with a variety of articles on several different subjects and try and have new and fresh ideas as well.

Then there is Fly of the Week. We really could use some help on this one. We do have tons of books and permission to excerpt from them - and in fact, this week's fly is from a brand new book. It's a great idea and a neat fly - but the truth is, we would rather have flies from our readers. Ones which work for you - they don't have to be complex, but it is okay if they are. I believe our readers would rather see your fly than one from any expert out there. We are grateful to the 'experts' - but many of them are overexposed and it makes it difficult to know if they are tying a fly for a book to sell the book or because the fly really works. Where getting one from a reader we pretty well know it is going to work or the reader wouldn't send it.

Back to the schedule. By about Wednesday the run sheet for the next week is done, and the code work begins. We average between 40 and 50 new pages each issue. It is all coded by 'hand' - no programs, just written (typed) as it is created. All of the graphics are done by JC and we coordinate which is used where. For those who have asked, yes, it is just the two of us who produce the whole thing each week. Note, I said produce. Without the help of all the writers who contribute we would be totally out of gas.

From Wednesday until late Sunday night I'm pretty much chained to my computer. It takes that long to get all the new pages coded, graphics added and uploaded onto our server ready for the 'rename' process on Sunday night. The 'old' week is transferred to the archives, a new front page created and put online.

One of the things which makes me feel very proud is the Bulletin Board. The sense of community which exists there is just incredible. Getting an answer to a tying question, or someone asking about a piece of equipment rarely goes unanswered. The help our readers offer to each other in times of crisis can't be matched. It is a marvelous resource. And yes, there are times when my eyes fog up too.

We spend far too much time working on FAOL - and not fishing. But on the other hand, if we weren't doing this, how could we possibly have met so many wonderful people. ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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