Chad Von Hagen - Electronic Communications Chair 2017-2018 / 2018-2019

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Last year was my rookie season with the Northern Alberta ASHRAE chapter.  It has been really exciting to be part of such a passionate Board team.  My current position is the NAC Electronic Communications Chair, although I have spent the majority of my time trying to learn all of the new ASHRAE acronyms.

I am also new Edmontonian, having transferred up from Calgary with my wife and three girls.  I currently work in HVAC Technical Sales, which has given me the opportunity to meet lots of new people. 

We are truly lucky to have such an engaged HVAC community in Northern Alberta.

We have a new website!

Just for fun, I looked back through my records to see when I first became involved with building the website for ASHRAE Northern Alberta Chapter. Yeah, I'm that nerdy.

My name is Kent Signorini and I've been maintaining the ASHRAE NAC website since 2005! Since then, we've gone through four major iterations of the site, with this "new for 2018-2019" version being the fifth major change since I started.

When I came on board, our website was a conglomeration of Microsoft Word-to-HTML files, Microsoft Frontpage, hand-coded files, and some Dreamweaver thrown in for fun. It needed an upgrade for sure.

In 2006 we commissioned a new website, completely hand-coded by a contractor. Although the base code was simple enough, maintenance was a headache. Within a year or so, I rebuilt the site in Wordpress and went through two iterations with Wordpress as a base. Some of it was customized and I re-coded some of the PHP and HTML by hand to give us the functionality we needed. I had a lot of help from Jennifer McKenzie (our ASHRAE NAC administrator at the time) who helped with initial design ideas and took care of the week-to-week maintenance and updating of the site.

In 2010 we went through another iteration, this time moving to Drupal. Drupal was amazingly powerful. Many features were built into the site that we, ultimately, just never used. That version has stayed in operation for nearly eight years. Eight years! Again, it was time for a change.

All of these self-hosted sites were stored at an online webhost that provided us storage space, database access, and FTP and SSH (secure shell) access. Much of the maintenance was done at the shell command line or by using web based UNIX tools like PHPMyAdmin. For a nerd like me, it was great fun, but it was also a ton of work. No need for that anymore...

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Today's websites are dynamic, clean and crisp, easy to maintain, and require little (if any) hand-coding.

The version of the website that you're reading right now is built on Squarespace; an amazing platform for website development and maintenance. I would recommend Squarespace to anyone looking for a web presence. It's easy to set up, easy to lay out, and easy to add content to.

Our new site has a simple but useful landing page with quick access to upcoming and past ASHRAE NAC events, links to a few "Featured" Nic-NACs e-Newsletter articles, lots of information on the Chapter, links to our ASHRAE Region and Society, and a simple menu system.

We've sorely missed our newsletter Nic-NACs over the past few years and now have an all-new "e" version to share with you. Visit the Nic-NACS e-Newsletter page to see both current and past articles on many subjects, written by volunteers within ASHRAE NAC. You'll find Board of Governor and Chair updates, technical articles, and more! Check back often!

I hope you enjoyed this very short history of the ASHRAE NAC websites. I look forward to seeing what can be done with this new site in the years to come.

Kent Signorini, Website/Newsletter, Past President 2009-2010