Webmaster Report, September 2018

September 10, 2018

From time to time, I use this space to let everyone know what’s happening on the PSEC website. I haven’t done one of these in a long time but since we are starting a new program year tonight I figured I’d put down a few words.

I am Stan <webmaster@pseconline.org>. I have been operating this website for many years. It has largely been a solo effort but I would much prefer that others join me. Besides being more fun for me I think it improves the site if it reflects the input of the community of engineers. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to help out or have ideas to share.

The site is running the same as it has for several years now. We run the WordPress software here with only a very few customizations. WordPress has finally made upgrading the software very easy. I can now make updates in minutes without bringing down the site for any time.

If you are not familiar with the site, I’d encourage you to look around. There is a lot of unrealized potential for reaching out to our membership and the representatives. There is also much we could do in the way of advocacy and outreach to the broader community. It is also fairly easy to contribute to the site itself. You just need to have an account. You can put up announcements, post reports and photos from events you attended, or anything else you can think of. I know there are a lot of neglected corners on the website that could use some attention. Please consider adopting one of those sections and helping to make it better.

If you are involved in any way with any of the PSEC Events whether it is the banquet, the mentor nights or the ISOW, please consider how you might use the website to advertise and market them. You should contact me if you want to discuss ideas.


The calendar events page is also worth a look. The PSEC maintains a calendar of our own events but we also publish the events calendars of our member societies. You can view events from any of the participating societies and they are updated live as their respective owners edit them. You can also subscribe to them such that they will appear on your own calendar in most cases.

If you don’t see the events calendar for your society, it is probably because they haven’t contacted me yet to get it added. If your society maintains a calendar I can probably add it to our list. All you need to do is put the person in charge of maintaining that calendar in touch with me. It generally takes only a few minutes to get up an running.


The primary means for PSEC Representatives to communicate is via the PSEC Reps mail list. If you are a PSEC Rep you should subscribe to that list via that link. I only request that you refrain from sending file attachments over the list. The mail list software blocks attachments that are larger than about a megabyte. File attachments are a primary source of bad things happening on the Internet. Various forms of malware get transmitted via attachments and make their way onto other computers that way. Plus, it is generally more considerate to your recipients to not make them open another program to read something that could have been typed into an email body anyway.

If you really need to send a photo or spreadsheet file or something there are good alternatives available that are far superior to attaching it to an email. For example, the PSEC maintains a DropBox folder. If you are not a party to that folder, let me know and I can add you. When you add or edit a file in the DropBox folder on your machine, it automatically gets updated everywhere else. This is super convenient and simplifies collaboration involving files. It also means you don’t have to download large files manually.

As a side note, if you have materials that you want to be shown on screen at a PSEC meeting, I maintain a specific folder inside that DropBox for them. Simply place them in the Meetings folder and I will get them.

The PSEC also has a limited social media presence. We maintain a Facebook Group and a Twitter Account. We also have a LinkedIn group but it is somewhat difficult to maintain so it does not get updated by me as often. I post general announcements and links to things on this website on those social media accounts so please join/like/follow/share/etc. if you participate. I try to follow back from those accounts where possible.

If you want to make an announcement, whether it be to the engineering community or the broader public, the best way to go about it is to get it posted here on the website or if it has a date/time associated with it, on your events calendar. Work with me to get it up here. If the President approves, we post it and then we can then boost it by linking to it from within our social media accounts. In all cases, you should include the URL to your announcement post in all your later communications. If the details change, we can edit it without changing the URL. We can schedule multiple pushes to social media also.

Well, that’s probably enough. If you need to get in touch with me I’m at webmaster@pseconline.org. Please think about how this website can better work for your goals and contact me or if you have an account here leave a comment in the comments section below


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Calendar Updates

March 14, 2018

I have made several changes to the PSEC Calendar that I wanted to highlight. Hopefully, they will make it easier to see what events we are sponsoring and also see the events of our member societies.


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Webmaster report, February 2018

February 4, 2018

I haven’t done one of these in some time but since I won’t be able to attend the February meeting I will post my report here. There was quite a few changes over the last month.

  • Thanks to the help of Carmen Cejudo I was able to add the ASHRAE events calendar to our site’s Events Calendar. I wrote up a post that demonstrates it. If you would like to have your society’s calendar displayed I encourage you to put me in touch with whoever handles your website. Carmen and I were able to get their calendar in place in less than an hour.
  • I added posts for each of 2018 award recipients on the website. On that page there is a link to the general announcement as well as links to each of the individual award recipients. I pushed out announcements for each recipient to Facebook and Twitter over the week of January 28th. Thanks to John Schaufelberger for getting the bios and photos together for me.
  • I put up Luis Leon’s post announcing the Seattle Central mentor night on January 25th. I would encourage someone who was there to post a report on it for the website. Reports from the Banquet and the Engineering Fair would also be welcome!
  • I also added the North Seattle Mentor Night to the calendar for March 1st.
  • I updated the PSEC Background page‘s Past Presidents section to include links to obituaries for Milt Tiede and Don Northey. When Don Goehler died we created an In Memoriam post for him so I thought we should at least link to other past presidents who have passed. If there are others on that list that you think should be added let me know.
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ASHRAE Events Calendar is Now Viewable Here

January 16, 2018

The ASHRAE Website maintains a calendar of events page. As of today I have made it available on our Calendar page as well. Now you can see multiple events from PSEC and other participating member societies in one view.

There is a grid display at the top that allows you to view by week, month or as a list view. There is also a dropdown in the upper right corner that lets you select which calendar to display on the grid.

Calendar Grid

Select one or more calendar to show on the grid.

Some other features:

  • You can generate a nice printed view of any calendar
  • Events are live so as our society members add or change the events you always see the most up to date view.
  • You can import calendars into your own personal calendar so that you can have updates at work or on your phone.

There is also a list view below the grid that provides event details. This list is also dynamically updated.

If you are a member society and also maintain a calendar that you would like to make available here it isn’t usually too difficult. Just ping the site administrator at webmaster@pseconline.org and let us know you want to join.

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Site Posting: Things to Know

January 18, 2017

This is a meta-Post. A Post about Posts. It is produced within the site editing environment which looks like this.

Wordpress editor

It works very much like any other word processing environment that you may be used to. You can style text with bold face or italics. It will even allow you to copy formatted text from other locations and paste it here.

You can also do lists. Lists are good because they break up a page and in many cases make it easier to read. Here are a few things you should know when writing a Post (in list form)

  • There is no need to put a heading at the top of your Post. The title serves that role. You should keep the Post title short and descriptive. Long titles don’t look good when they are displayed on the side navigator.
  • Keep your formatting simple. You should spend the majority of your time making sure the text you type is informative and compelling rather than how it looks on the page. Remember that they way the text is formatted on your screen isn’t necessarily how it looks to anyone else. Your readers may have different screen sizes, or they may be viewing on a small device like a tablet or phone. They might even be vision impaired and viewing in a special high contrast format. The point is, you don’t control a good portion of how your page looks.
  • Don’t play around too much with text size and fonts. The style dropdown in the toolbar should be used for all text formatting. The reason for this is that the formatting of the entire site is (more or less) consistent with the styles that are defined in that dropdown. Because of this, it is possible to reformat the entire site very quickly with a simple template change. If there are Posts that are not consistent with the rest of the site, they will stick out whenever a style change is made to the entire site.
  • Use the Headings styles for headings. The Post title will appear as Heading 1 so any headings you use should start at Heading 2 and go from there.
  • Use links! Linking to other sites and to other posts/pages on this site is a major feature of any web page. Use them liberally. Creating a link to a Post or Page on this site is extremely easy. Just click the chain button on the tool bar. It will bring up a small text box. You can just start typing a word from the page you want to link to. There is a pretty good search feature built in that will present options. You can select an option and it will insert the link. External links will require that you type or paste in the URL. One pet peeve of mine that you should avoid is this: don’t create a link with text that says “click here” or lists the URL. As this best practice article says:

The link text should always describe what the user will see when they click on it.

Placing your Post

The next most important thing about your Post after the content is how it is placed. It doesn’t matter how great your Post is if nobody is able to find it. Bear in mind that there is usually more than one route by which a person might find your post. It might be on the Front Page. It might be listed on a Page that groups other like content, or it might even be linked to via a social media site like Twitter or Facebook.

You should keep this in mind when you write a Post. Does it stand on its own? If not, does it provide links that readers can click on that provide more context? It is perfectly ok to link to other Posts or other Pages within your Post, even multiple times. It’s best to assume that your Post will be the only thing your reader will see. You need to either provide the full context in the text of the Post or link to another place that does.

That said, there are several other things that you should do with your Post to help it get placed properly. I will spell these out using headers instead of as a list.

Assign a Category

The Post editor screen has a “Categories” box on the right that contains a list of check boxes. We have defined a set of categories for the site that helps to place your Post. If you are writing a Post about an Education topic, you should assign the “Education” category to it. A Post can (and usually should) have multiple categories assigned to it. For example, the “FrontPage” category, when assigned to a Post will ensure that your Post shows up on the front page of the site. Get to know the category set and use it appropriately. If you have questions about how you should use a category or suggestions on new categories, please get in touch with the Website committee.

Write an Excerpt

Beneath the main editor text area there is another text area with a label that says “Excerpt.” It is usually a good idea to put a short 1 or 2 sentence summary of your Post in here. The reason is that the WordPress software has the ability to display Posts in a summarized list form. This alternate view allows readers to scan a number of Posts and click on the ones they want to read. This summary view usually shows the Post title and the Post excerpt. If you do not provide an excerpt in the Excerpt box it will use the first paragraph or two of your Post which is not always an appropriate summary.

You should think of the excerpt as your chance to convince someone that it is worth their time to click the Post and read the whole thing. A well-written excerpt can mean the difference between nobody seeing your Post and your Post going viral and getting you a guest spot on the Today Show. It’s worth spending some time on it.

Adding Media

A Post that just has text, even if it is broken into lists and headings can still be boring and tedious. A good way to add interest is to add Media (i.e. pictures, video, graphics, etc.). For example, I often do Posts like this that provide instructions. When doing this, you can provide written instructions, but it is often more instructive to just screen capture an image.

Say I want to describe how to publish your Post. It might be good to start with an image of the Publish box. Like this

Post Publish box

The Post publish box

Now I have a picture of something I can talk about. You can “Save Draft” or “Preview” or “Move to Trash” or “Publish” and various other options.

One thing you might guess from this is that it is pretty important to understand how to produce screen shots on your computer. Usually, there is a keystroke combination that I can type that allows me to take a “picture” of some area of the screen. This saves the picture to my desktop or some other location.

To add an image file to a Post,  you need to click the “Add Media” button at the top of the page. When you do this it gives you the option of dragging a file to the screen or selecting it from a traditional file picker dialog box. It is also possible to select an image or document that has already been uploaded perhaps by somebody else.

Once you have the image uploaded (and there is a limit on the size of file allowed so try to keep things small) you will see an “Insert Media into Post” button. Before you click this you should usually make sure that the image has a caption and alternate text. Once the Media item is uploaded it goes into a “Media Library” and is available for any other author to link in their Posts.

When you click on an image in your Post you get options to edit it or to change its justification settings. It is also possible to drag the image around to place it though it is often difficult to get it to exactly the place you want it to go. If you have difficulties remember that simple is usually best.


There is a lot more that we can talk about with regards to creating good Posts but I think this is a pretty good introduction. I think the best way to learn more is to create example Posts and play around. Your Post will never appear on the public site unless you hit the “Publish” button. You can save the Post as a draft and come back to it later. Of course, you should always feel free to ask questions if you have them.

One nice feature of the site software is that it allows interaction from readers via comments. If you are logged in you can type in a comment below and submit it. The author of your Post will be informed of the comment and can reply. Since in most cases a question that you have is also a question that others have, leaving your question as a comment (as opposed to sending a private email) allows other people to see that someone else has the same question and allows everyone to see the answer. Feel free to leave comments below.

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I’ve added the SWE-PNW events to calendar

December 19, 2016

Thanks to help from SWE-PNW representative Katie Elliott I have been able to integrate the SWE calendar with our own. If you look at the Events Calendar page you’ll note that it now includes events from the PSEC calendar as well as the SWE calendar. Updates to both should appear automatically. The embedded calendar at the top can be filtered or changed to week or month view. There is also a print icon that you can click to generate a printable version.

Below the embedded calendar is a list view that also includes both calendars and shows events for the next 7 months.

If your organization has a calendar of events and you would like to get it included on this page, please let your webmaster know by emailing webmaster@pseconline.org.


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Webmaster Report, October 2016

October 3, 2016

webmasterA couple of administrative items this month:

  • We are due for an update to our web hosting this month. Our current renewal is for 36 months at $4.95 per month. This comes out to $178.20. I assume this is good but we can discuss at the PSEC meeting.

    Lunarpages Plan


  • I have an update to the WordPress software to do, probably later this month. It shouldn’t cause much if any disruption in the site.

I’ll be talking a bit more about the Website Subcommittee at this month’s meeting. If you are interested (or know someone who might be interested) in having a say as to what goes on the Website, let me know and I’ll add you to the distribution list. It won’t take up more of your time than you want it to.


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Webmaster Report, September 2016

September 12, 2016

webmasterI will be unable to attend the September meeting as I will be returning from vacation on the 12th. Instead, I will submit this report.

I think we made some good progress on the website last year and I would like to see that continue. Jason made a lot of improvements to the Mentor Nights page and it is looking good. I also am pretty happy with how the agenda and minutes posts are working out. I’d encourage you to look through the site and think of how the various sections could be improved.

There are a couple of points of emphasis I’d like to work on for this year.

  • I’d like the various committee leaders to take charge of maintaining the section of the website that pertains to their area. So, in the same way that Jason keeps the Mentor Nights page up to date, the Fair committee should make sure their page is up to date and so on. I am here to help, though! Expect me to get in touch with you if you are in charge of something this year and we can work out what needs to happen. Who knows, you might even have fun doing it.
  • I’m going to continue to try to push on having a Website Subcommittee. This group should be the people that decide what goes on the site and if necessary, assigns the people to do it. I’ll be talking more about this at the October meeting but if you are interested in being a part of this group or know someone who wants to be involved in the website, let me know about it and I can get them set up. There are no “meetings” per se but I have set up an on-line discussion board that we can all use to discuss topics and make decisions.

That’s it, I’ll see everyone in October. I hope we have a great year.

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Webmaster Report, May 2016

May 1, 2016


Items of Note

  • There is a new WordPress update that will need to be installed. I plan on doing this sometime in May.


Website Subcommittee

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just go here and start reading. You’ll want to register your email address so you can write replies and get periodic updates. Here’s some topics from this month:

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Webmaster Report, April 2016

April 1, 2016

webmasterItems of note

  • The site was down for a bit this month as lunar pages upgraded a database without telling me about it. Steve reported it to me and I put in a ticket. I was getting on a plane as I reported it. It was resolved by the time I landed in Seattle.
  • We are coming up on the time when we have to renew our domain registration there. I assume everyone is ok with their hosting so I’ll renew. If this is a problem we can discuss it on our new…

Website Subcommittee

The main news this month is that the Website subcommittee has launched! If you are interested in seeing what we are talking about just go to the committee discussion site. There are several topics of discussion that you can follow.

You don’t have to just follow the discussion though. Anyone is welcome to join at any time. All you have to do is register on the site. Here are some of the topics we are currently discussing

Photo Attribution

I had an action item to look at how to do photo attribution on a WordPress site. I didn’t find anything specifically in the WordPress software that supports this, but it is possible to attach license information to any page where photos are posted. For example, say I post a photo on the website like this one.


This is my photo

Say I want to attach a license to the photo that makes it available for others to use as long as it isn’t for commercial purposes. I can just go to the Creative Commons choose a license page. There is a form there that you can fill out that let’s you specify the details about the license. It produces a snippet of HTML code that you can paste into your post next to the photo. Mine looks like this:

Creative Commons License
Stans Overlook by Stan Dyck is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

You can put this wherever you want on the page, preferably close to the image location. If it applies to more than one photo on the page, just put words to that effect in the text.

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