ARRL North Texas Section News
New NTX ARES Email Reflector LaunchedOct 9, 2017
The NTX ARES reflector that's been hosted on YaHoo! for several years will be closed down on November 10th. Registering on the ARRL NTX Website and the new NTX ARES email reflector is easy.
In a few easy steps, amateur radio operators in the North Texas Section can register an account on the new ARRL NTX website, then sign up for the NTX ARES email reflector. This is just one of the many goals that were set for automation in the section when Jay Urish W5GM took office.
The announcement was made yesterday afternoon in the NTX ARES YaHoo! group that users needed to migrate or be "left behind," and the response has been mostly positive. There have been more than seventy new registrations on the NTX website within twenty-four hours. Sixteen of those registrations were Emergency Coordinators in jurisdictions across the section, equating to roughly 30% of all appointed ECs.
"I'm slightly concerned about the amount of registrations on the website compared to the registrations on the reflector," said Jerry Goodson W5BFF. "Roughly half of the people who have registered for an account on the website have completed 'step two' of the instructions provided. They'll be missing out on ARES emails until they register their email address on the reflector."
First, go to http://www.arrlntx.org and click on "Register" at the top center of the page just under the "Login" button. The first thing the site will request is simply your call sign. Note: You MUST be a licensed amateur radio operator to register an account. ARRL membership is not required. The website loads your information from FCC license records to simplify the form process. You only need to provide your email address and choose a password. If you've registered for a FEMA SID (Student ID number), you can optionally enter that for your convenience.
After completing the registration process on the NTX website, you can click on the "ARES" tab near the top center of the page. Scroll down to "Step Two" under the "Getting Started" heading, and click the "Register for the ARES Reflector" button.
NOTE: You MUST be logged in to see the registration button.
One important thing to consider is the email address used to register. The ARRL provides a nifty forwarding service (<callsign>@arrl.net) for members, but members can only receive email at that address, not send. If you use one of those forwarded email aliases, you'll be able to receive emails from the reflector, but you won't be able to send emails.
"I feel so dirty using Yahoo," Section Emergency Coordinator Chris Ebert NA0D said.
Using third-party vendors to handle certain communication methods usually requires creating accounts with those providers. Examples include GoogleDocs for submitting reports, and YaHoo! for the email reflectors. This has excluded several members in the section who refused to create accounts with the various services, while others disliked the overhead that comes with those providers such as security breaches and unwanted advertisements.
Another primary purpose is continuity of operations with automated services in the section in future leadership changes. Required reporting by ECs, DECs, and the SEC will change seamlessly when new names are "plugged in." Management of the website, as well as the section facebook and twitter pages can be passed on with greater ease in the future.
The transition didn't happen flawlessly. Instructions on how to register on the ARES reflector is pretty simple, but the instructions initially provided weren't as clear as the instructions provided above. This has led to approximately half of the new registrants on the website still not on the ARES reflector.
The deployment was pretty rapid, and that led to some bugs that weren't fully tested prior to deployment. Fortunately, they've all been worked out in fairly short order. One SQL table had to be completely rebuilt, and some SQL queries needed fine tuning, but nothing was catastrophic. The worst problem faced, thus far, was a few hours delay when the website registration wasn't working properly.
Everything appears to be working correctly, now. If there are any problems encountered, please notify Jerry Goodson W5BFF at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone/txt at 430-342-3376.