Owing to the size of this site and to my reluctance to release anything half-baked, major updates generally take a long time. Sometimes many years. Here are some projects that I am working on or that I would like to take on. Feel free to comment on my ideas and to bring forward suggestions!
Automated feed creation
I currently add news to my RSS feed completely manually, meaning that I copy the text from my HTML update announcements and paste them into the RSS file. I often have to rephrase it too, because RSS doesn't allow inline links. And I have to escape certain characters. Automating this whole procedure would save me a lot of work. With the update information entered into an online form, a PHP script could create the feed and an HTML fragment to be included via SSI in one step.
An Atom feed instead of RSS may even have visually the same format as the HTML news list. Yet, Atom (or rather its parsing) is incredibly pedantic and collapses at the slightest impurity of the syntax. I tried it, and while RSS worked immediately, I gave up on Atom when it still didn't work after three hours of unsuccessful debugging.
It seems that what I have in mind has never been done
before, and this must have a reason. The feed creation script has a high
Status: first steps
Comment form and database
For many years I have been thinking of a commenting system for EAS. Ideally it should allow visitors to add a comment or reply to a comment on the bottom of each page, which would be more specific and more versatile than a guestbook. Since EAS consists of static HTML pages, there is no way I could use a ready-made PHP software or plug-in. And programming one myself would cost hundreds of hours and quite possibly exceed my abilities.
So I had a look at some off-site commenting services, although I am generally opposed to them (because of their non-permanent nature, lacking privacy and the danger of pollution with ads). I found that Disqus comments work smoothly and blend in nicely. I also developed a way to improve your privacy and speed up the loading of the page by activating the Disqus comment section only on request.
I have enabled Disqus on all static pages and will keep it
open, as long as the moderation can be handled and as long as it remains
Display of "lean" site statistics and of a counter
I have removed the Sitemeter counter, a web-based counter using a cookie to monitor visitor movements, which is not in compliance with the strict EAS privacy and security policy. Now it may be time to create an on-site counter. I would also like to post a live summary of the EAS web statistics instead of just a few figures that I need to update manually.
I have commercial
statistics packages installed on my server. But there does not seem to be
anything like a plug-in to incorporate their results into a publicly available
web page, much less to create a counter for individual pages. I could install a
less sophisticated analysis software on my server, but it would have to be a
very reliable one, one that wouldn't count double hits to pages. Maybe it will
turn out easy, but I am still searching.
Status: nothing yet, but low priority anyway
Conversion of the whole site to CSS
For a long time, the conversion to CSS was more like a dream than a real project. I originally created this site in 1998, before CSS (cascading style sheets) was supported by my editor Frontpage and by common browsers. I had to rely on inline styles and on now deprecated tags. Especially the <font> or </font> tags showed up in countless permutations and nestings that defied an automated search&replace procedure.
When I gave it a shot nonetheless and began to convert the episode reviews to CSS, I came up with regular expressions for a partial automation of the work. The debugging of the expressions took hundreds of passes to account for all eventualities in the messy Frontpage HTML source code, but eventually saved a lot of typing. Unfortunately most of the rest of the site didn't have such a systematic layout (meaning even much more variations of the code), so I went still one step further and wrote a PHP script (complete with user interface and preview on the server) that saved me from running a hundred regex search&replace steps manually. And while I was at it, I also replaced most of the site's over 20,000 image thumbnails with automatically created bigger versions. In the year 2015, I spent much more time on the conversion of the code and the creation of the CSS than on site updates.
The conversion to basic CSS/HTML4 is almost finished, meaning that the font tags are almost gone - with the exception of most tables whose conversion is extremely tricky. The site still needs the quirks mode for some remnants of the old coding style.
Status: 90% done
Optimization of the site for mobile devices
When I originally created this site in 1998, the most common screen resolution was 1024x768 pixels, but many old computers still had 800x600 or even 640x480. At some point I decided that the site should be optimized for anything above 800x600. EAS was always a site that used the whole width of the screen, even as common resolutions increased to 1280x960, 1600x1200 or more pixels. The vast majority of other websites were restricted to a fixed-size window, not making use of large screens. When smartphones and tablets came into use, both fixed and adaptable layouts faced the problem that the content suddenly needed to be squeezed into window of just 320 pixels width, half as wide as the so far smallest monitor size ever used to display websites. And all this with CSS, a concept that was never meant to enable adaptable page widths (as it was originally meant to speed up the page rendering by giving absolute values for everything).
The optimization of the CSS and (where necessary) of the code for mobile devices is an ongoing process at EAS. However, although the physical resolution is higher, many smartphones still demand web pages to be designed for a viewport of merely 320 pixels. It is utterly impossible to squeeze complex content and extremely long pages with over 100 images, as they are the rule at EAS, into a width of only 320 pixels. So the current compromise at EAS is 640 pixels, which is denounced as "mobile-unfriendly" by most tools, and penalized by Google. And even this compromise is too narrow for many of the big tables, which require horizontal scrolling when displayed on a mobile device. There is no solution for this dilemma, other than spending thousands of hours breaking apart pages and/or trying to dumb down the content, which I most definitely won't do. EAS is a site with in-depth information that was always meant to be read on a big screen, and there are more than merely technical limits to how much it can be optimized for mobile use.
Status: 50% done
Article series on warp propulsion
This project is not dead, although the last update was
in 2011. I need to do a lot of research before I take on new chapters, but I'm
planning to get at least Chapter 3: Subspace
done soon. It depends on how much work I have to spend on more
urgent tasks, although I definitely would rather like to care about this
project, which is not only very big but also quite popular, as I can tell from
frequent requests to finally update it.
Status: chapter 6 ready, more updates planned
Completion of TNG and DS9 reviews
This is the second section that visitors would like to see updated. I haven't seen most TNG and DS9
episodes in years, so I can mix "business" with pleasure. And my
Voyager reviews are waiting to become more detailed too.
Species/planet or device/weapon database
The Starship Database is complete after the addition of TAS (and don't bother to
ask, I will never add any ships from games or RPGs). So what can I categorize
next? Basically it should be something that isn't already covered at Memory
Alpha in great detail, because my small private website could never compete with
that. Still, I could imagine that a database on planets and/or species in the
same style as the ships could be a handy reference. Or rather one on the various
devices, although caring about things that were often seen for just a second may
become a bottomless pit. I could focus my interest on weapons though.
Status: nothing yet
Study of the changes in TOS Remastered
has already done a thorough job to compare TOS screen caps with their TOS-R
counterparts, it is worth doing much the same in a condensed format. I would also like to evaluate and comment on the changes in TOS-R. Which has precedence:
TOS because it was first, or rather TOS-R because it fixes or refines many
effects that were insufficiently considered or executed in TOS?
Visual analysis of TNG-R
Jörg suggested this to me when the first TNG-R Blu-ray was announced in early
2012. It has become the biggest project of EAS and will grow to 178 extensive
articles, one for each episode.
Status: in work
Treknology vs. real life
This is an idea that I am thinking about for quite some time, and that is occasionally suggested by visitors as well. How about a thorough and scientifically correct comparison of Trek devices and their (emerging) counterparts in the real world? Science journalists very often cite Star Trek whenever a new development in the real world seems to mimic some function of a phaser or of the transporter. I could add a Trek perspective (without resorting to Technobabble).
The advantage of this project is that it does not have to
stick to a certain format, can be gradually
expanded and can grow as big as I like.
Status: nothing yet
Introduction to EAS - site info in a nutshell, my motivation and viewing requirements