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  • Ghosts and Zombies...

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_400744.jpg Views:	0 Size:	26.1 KB ID:	2289696 No, that isn't an error on our site.

    Have you ever seen a store that runs “Going Out Of Business” and “Everything Must Go” type sales, but never actually closes?

    I’m starting to think that way about our friends at UKTrainsim.com....

    While I gave open praise for the eight months advance notice of the site’s closing, I do have to say the ending is turning out to be nowhere near as organized.

    For whatever reason, they’re approaching two months now running in “Zombie Mode”, in that the main pages remain up and appear to be active, but bits and pieces are starting to fall off and smell bad…. Emails are bouncing, nobody can download (including premium members) and if you try, you get that error message from above. The forums have been going largely unmoderated for months, and yet, they're still accepting paid memberships as of two weeks ago.

    My mom was very fond of saying, "sh!+ or get off the pot…." which perhaps isn't as civilized as some would prefer, but that sort of gets to the point here.

    Granted, my mom was one with very little patience for indecision, and clearly passed that on to me.

    My advice: rip off the band-aid and pull the plug already, or support your site and it's users…

    The upside of having those eight months is that there have been many individuals who harvested essentially the entire file library, and some have made it available in various repositories. As such, we've received a mass upload of just over 21,000 files.

    Our plan was to eventually integrate the library’s catalog after some time had passed. That assumed the site would indeed close as was stated. But now, users of the site are trapped in a place where where the site’s not working yet is still here. Reminds me of some former co-worker who essentially quit but never left….

    Rather than wait for the zombie apocalypse to work itself out, it's time to put parts of our plan in motion. On Halloween, no less.

    As of earlier this week, all of the file listings from the UKTS library were merged into our catalog, and can now be searched by our keywords and sections, as well as the file ID that was used over at UKTS.

    Over a third of the content that was made available is for Railworks and Train Simulator Classic. For those that prefer to have a non-Steam DLC experience, there is now a huge variety of content available to try.

    Personally, I'm half tempted to go buy a copy of TSC so that I can sample some of that older TS2013 content. I've never dabbled in those simulators myself, but I know many of you have and do. If you haven't, perhaps this is a chance to try it out as well.​

    Looking ahead a few months, there will no doubt be some cleanup needed. I've already identified a few cases where there are two copies of the same file in the catalog, and it will be an ongoing exercise to eliminate those duplications.

    I've also had one author contact me to have their 50+ reskins removed from the library because they weren't the ones who uploaded or authorized the file. As has been a long-standing practice here, if an author requests a file to be pulled from circulation, it will be pulled, no questions asked.

    However, there is a balance we need to strike between preserving history and rewriting history.

    While distribution of those files will no longer be available, they will maintain their place in the catalog. It’s likely that three or four years from now, someone may try to find out what file XYZ is referring to, and it’s my position they should have the ability to see what the file was, and who created it. It won't change the fact that the file is unavailable for download or viewing the content of the zip archive, but in a best case scenario, keeping the catalog entry may point them towards the original work those files were sourced from.

    With my owner hat off, and my content creator hat on, I have to say I'm a little bit puzzled that somebody would put forth the time and effort to produce a work, share it with the general public for free, and then intentionally let it disappear as though it never existed.

    It's one thing if the work no longer meets your standards and you have replaced it, which happens quite often. It makes no sense to let work disappear simply because somebody else made a business decision to close down their website.

    Regardless, pulling back content is a choice every author can exercise if they wish.

    As part of the effort to bring those files over and merge into the catalog, there were a few “behind the scenes” changes made which will benefit everybody who contributes to the file library.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_400742.jpg Views:	0 Size:	4.9 KB ID:	2289700 Instead of an all or nothing solution, there are now three options available for authors to select which will give them greater control over what they share in the library:

    View Contents will allow for the previewing of the contents of a zip file – there’s little reason why this should ever be turned off, but if you’re retiring a file, this is an option. Download determines whether or not the file can be downloaded. Paid File is there for those who are donating items which are intended only for First Class members. More on that in a later update...

    It's been a rather large effort for folks to collect and distribute the remnants of the UKTS library, and I'm glad that it was able to be preserved albeit in a less organized way than had been presented by several others and myself months ago.

    The forums have been largely archived by the Wayback Machine at Archive.org and I know that some of the files may be available there as well. They just won't be searchable or cross indexed nearly as well as what we're doing here.

    The preservation of these files will come at some cost -- the size of the data used by our live storage as well as our offsite backups increased by between 15 and 20% with the addition of 21,000 files. Some of that will be reduced when the duplication is mitigated, but in the meantime, the file cabinets just got a little fuller.

    Click image for larger versionName:	capture_400745.jpgViews:	0Size:	6.0 KBID:	2289701 If you'd like to help offset those charges, the best way to do so is to become a subscriber. If you're a subscriber already, and would like to do a little more, there's now an option available on our Giving Page to help contribute towards the added storage.

    I know there might be some strong opinions as to what we're doing, but it's consistent with what I've been saying for months -- preserving our digital history is important, and part of this site's primary mission along with providing a repository of content that users old and new can use to make their gaming and simulation experience better, and providing a place for discussion and tutorials for those who want to learn more than what's in the manuals.

    Lastly, and as always.... thanks to those who continue to support this site and its mission with their time, works, and contributions.
    Last edited by eric; 11-01-2023, 12:57 AM.
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