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State of the Site: May 2024

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  • State of the Site: May 2024

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500703.png Views:	0 Size:	1.18 MB ID:	2304519 Where has the year gone? Here we are almost in the month of June, my granddaughter is out of school again, and my wife's tomato patch looks to be off to a good start. Still waiting for the cicadas to hatch up in our neck of the woods, but I can't say I'm too concerned if they don't manage to show up. They're ugly and the dogs will probably be a bit freaked out...

    This week got off to a very interesting start... a perennial favorite here at Trainsim.Com has an update: the Full Bucket Line 4.0.

    I know fictional railroading is an anathema to some, but having seen the old and the update, it's still fun. Check it out in the library.

    In addition to the route itself, there are another 20+ releases of locomotives and rolling stock that have been updated to ORTS standards and of course, lettered for the FBL. New activities can't be too far around the corner, and there will be additional rolling stock and locomotive packs added in the coming weeks.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500704.jpg Views:	0 Size:	172.2 KB ID:	2304525 You might have noticed that the store's shelves got a little bit fuller this month -- several more 3DTrains options from years past were made available. If you've made purchases in the last two weeks, I made a quick change so that the for-purchase products are no longer intermixed with memberships, which I know was confusing to a few members. Hopefully the new layout is a little bit more intuitive.

    We're glad to have been able to bring back some of these classics, particularly the ORTS and v4 F Units. For those who want 3D Cabs, you'll need to check out the ORTS F-Unit set. That cab will likely make it over to a few of my other favorite E and F units.

    Some members have asked if it's possible to do multiple purchases on a single transaction. While the store itself doesn't support a shopping cart, I can accommodate a grouped purchase via the manual purchase link which appears at the top menu bar in the store. This option will let you pay a planned amount via either Stripe or PayPal. Within the order form, please indicate which items you would like to purchase. I've been trying to get to those as quickly as possible, but please understand that it may take up to 24 hours for me to receive and enable those orders.

    If for some reason it's still not showing up, send me a PM and I will get to it as quickly as I can.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500708.jpg Views:	0 Size:	18.8 KB ID:	2304522A few of you have also noticed that Stripe is presented as the only form of payment for certain items. I'd like to take a moment to explain why...

    If you weren't aware, neither Stripe or PayPal are free services for us. Both charge a fixed fee on every transaction, and also take a percentage of the transaction total, regardless if it's a membership fee or an item from the storefront.

    I've been with PayPal for many years, and added Stripe as an alternative last year to try and offer options for our members outside the United States and Canada. In addition to handling credit/bank card payments, Stripe also offers several alternatives for the "unbanked" and those without traditional credit cards, including AmazonPay, Google Pay, Flex, Klarna, Cash App, and WeChat.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500707.jpg Views:	0 Size:	18.3 KB ID:	2304526 As I've analyzed those fees side by side over the course of the last year, Stripe is turning out to be a lower cost option for a site like ours. Their fees are lower, and they offer more alternative payments that skip the normal banking networks.

    While I don't see PayPal being eliminated as an option, I will say that if you're presented with an option to choose between the two payment options when renewing a membership or picking up something in the store, I hope you'll remember which one is taking less money out of our pocket in the process.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500706.jpg Views:	0 Size:	25.8 KB ID:	2304523The File Library Search continues to be tweaked as well. Last week, a new option was added for doing file searches by simulator.

    This is really targeted at the Microsoft Train Simulator and OpenRails crowd (clubbed together as MSOR), but also has some applicability for those who use the various Dovetail Games products (DTG) including Train Simulator Classic, Railworks, and the various Train Simulator 20xx versions.

    Within the legacy file Library, each of these unique simulator versions has had its own category, which has made it a little more challenging to find items written for one version but still possible to use via backward compatibility in a later version. It's now available as an optional filter for searching, and may help narrow things down a bit.

    As an example... earlier today, I did a search for the "261" (specifically looking for Milwaukee Road 261). Without the simulator specified, I received 373 search records. By filtering it to "MSOR" I was able to get that search down narrowed down to 233 items.

    Another change is the ability to indicate you're looking for a specific file ID number. It's not mandatory, but as some of the activities or rolling stock car numbers might overlap with file ID numbers, those items were appearing in what was intended to be a single fire search.

    A good example here is looking for file 4850, which has some British Rail Class 33's. Searching 4850 brings up over 20 results, including three different engines numbered 4850, trains 04850 and 14850 for Indian passenger activities, and BNSF hopper 480583.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500709.jpg Views:	0 Size:	23.1 KB ID:	2304607 A user setting option is also available now to to set your preferred region and simulator, which will save you a couple clicks on each search.

    If you want to override your preferences, update your search form and the new setting will remain for your search session.

    In the coming months, there will be a few more small adjustments, specifically to consolidate some of the individual file sections within the library. Since the site's beginning, the library has had separate sections for certain categories based on global region e.g. starting with World Diesel Locomotives and North American Diesel Locomotives, and later adding Indian Diesel Locomotives as that segment of our membership grew.​

    How will that affect you and your file searches? It should be pretty simple -- instead of selecting the separate section, you'd select the common section and your desired region.

    I'm sure there will still be a few miscategorized items on a regional and category basis. If you find these, please use the Report option in the search view. I get a couple of these a week, and sincerely appreciate your letting me know what's needing a correction.

    I'm more than aware this will be a bit of a change from how searching has been done over the last 15-20 years.

    Most of the filtering and search results are handled through lookups and cross reference tables, so that leaves a path for a quick rollback and recovery if things do indeed go badly, but I'm hoping that won't be needed, and that everyone can approach it with an open mind.


    Click image for larger version  Name:	capture_500702(00001).jpg Views:	0 Size:	160.4 KB ID:	2304527 If I keep going, it will be June before I finish, so it's time to wrap this up...

    Thanks to all who contribute to this site and to the community at large, be it the conversations we have in the forums, the sharing of work via the file library, and especially to those who help keep the lights on with your memberships.​

    With summer coming up quickly, I know people will be doing more outdoor things and hopefully a bit of traveling.

    While that always cuts into the time we have for our gaming and modeling, just remember us on those rainy days or perhaps whenever you find yourself in the passenger seat for a while, and stop by for a quick visit as time permits.

    We'll leave the lights on, just in case.
    Last edited by eric; 06-01-2024, 04:32 PM.

    • Whatever2006
      #1
      Whatever2006 commented
      Editing a comment
      With the re-release with some of 3DTrains' content, I'm slowly gaining some interest on buying a product from Melanie. she got some great stuff that's now available.

      As for the site itself, I do like the stuff here and it wouldn't hurt for me in joining in some of the conversations along with a bunch of things that suits my needs.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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