Resuming updates

There’s been a long, long gap since I posted significant updates. It all started when I decided I really need to improve the text emails I’ve been sending out to subscribers of version updates. Right now I have them link to their account centre in the website, which then links them to the programs they’re following. It’s not very 21st century. The new emails (not quite done) list each program separately, with a screen cap if appropriate.

This meant changing the emails from text to HTML, which is not entirely straightforward. There are quite a few ways to create an HTML email and include or link to images in various encodings, and I didn’t know any of them. Most software that’s available to help with this caters to the usual situation of sending the same email, or at least template, to a number of people. My emails are different for each recipient, and I create them from scratch, so I had to write software to write the emails, send them, track that they are responded to, and archive a copy on the web site.

This in turn led to another issue: the links to the program pages were horrible, long and insecure CGI URLs. I learned more than I ever wanted to learn about URL rewriting using .htaccess files, but it’s done, and programs now have a sensible URL like idoimaging.com/program/314. So I can include those into the emails, and it also looks much nicer in the browser address bar.

Months passed while I learned about and implemented these major features, and I had to put them aside to prepare for the Turku PET Symposium, a conference held every three years at the University of Turku in Finland. They very kindly invited me to give a talk on free medical imaging software, and I put a lot of time into preparing what I hope was an interesting 30-minute talk. The symposium was a great success and people said nice things about my talks, so I was happy. After the symposium I took five days to travel up to Lapland by sleeper train, just to see it. Lapland is a beautiful place and the people there are very special. Anyway that all finished last week and I am eager to get back to work and implement some of the plans I have for the site. Plus, list all the latest updates and evaluate and add the 30 programs that are waiting to be added.

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