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Brent
January 10th, 2000, 3:25pm
Hi everyone,

First off, I just want to thank all of you for making this site such a success. You are all a very important part of this site and I can't thank you enough for your support. Without you, this site wouldn't be possible (and I'd have to get a REAL job :)).

Now, back to business.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be gradually moving the site over to a dedicated server.

Right now, this site is on a shared "virtual" server which means there are hundreds of other web sites being "served" from the same computer (a server). All of these sites have to share the same resources, file space, and bandwidth and because of that, there are quite a few limitations placed on what I can do.

With the dedicated server, not only will the connections/processing be much faster, but I can do absolutely anything- and believe me, I will take full advantage. :) And though it was a bit more expensive, I went with digitalNATION- hands down the best dedicated server company around. Nothing but the BEST is good enough!


Here are my thoughts:

My goal from the beginning has been to develop a sweepstakes site that makes it as easy and simple as possible to find, enter and organize the sweepstakes that YOU want to enter. The closer I get to that goal, the less time it will take you to enter a larger number of online sweepstakes, and naturally you will be more likely to win more prizes.

A much more advanced MySweeps application and the form fill feature that I have been promising for some time will go a long way toward that goal.

The biggest bottleneck is the amount of time it takes me to find and add sweepstakes to the database. And I have to admit, I'm getting a little burnt out after 2 years of spending most of my time finding and adding sweepstakes. :( I want to be able to add a lot more of them a lot faster- giving everyone many more choices and opportunities to win.

I see MySweeps becoming the focal point of the site. After the move, the MySweeps information will be stored on the server so that all you have to do is login from any computer, anywhere, and have full access to the sweepstakes that you want to save. MySweeps will be 100% more reliable and you will no longer have to worry about losing your cookies, ever.

You will be able to customize what information will be displayed and even add your own comments/description for each sweeps. I want to add a time stamp feature that will keep track of the time and date that you last entered each sweeps and I want to make it simple for you to add your own sweepstakes to your list.

And of course the form fill feature will attempt to complete the entry form for any sweepstakes you have on your list. I have most of the programming done for the form fill feature and it does work, just not perfectly for every form. It's something that I will have to gradually improve upon.

When you want to add a sweepstakes to your MySweeps list and it's not already in the site's database, you'll have a customized bookmark/favorite in your browser to click on that will do much of the work for you. Anytime you click on it, a simple add form will pop up in a new window with the URL (web address) and title (you may want to change it) of the sweepstakes already filled out. All you'll have to do is type out the description you want with the expiration date and click submit. That's it.

I could either make it so that every sweeps added to MySweeps this way also gets automatically added to the site's database for everyone to see, or I could make it an option if you wanted to keep some private.

Either way, I think the number of sweepstakes available would sky rocket and Online-Sweepstakes.com would quickly become the largest online sweepstakes database on the Internet- by far.

Of course, I would still have to check each sweepstakes myself and add some of the other information (eligibility, official rules URL, drawing date, ect.) to the database, but it would be a lot easier than doing everything myself. I can easily see 20, 30 or even more sweepstakes being added to the site each day, every day.

There's a million other things I want to add and improve upon during/after the move. I'll probably end up building the site almost from the ground up again, but it will be a vast improvement.

How long will it all take? Well, I don't want to commit myself to a time frame that I can't keep. Most of this stuff is new to me so I'm just kind of learning as I go along. I would like to have the site completely moved to the new server before the end of January. Once the move is complete, I'll start knocking this stuff out as fast as I can.

In the meantime, I'd really like to know what you all think. What are your likes and dislikes about the site now? What new features and/or improvements would you like to see? Is there anything about the site that seems unnecessary to you? How would you feel about shorter, less detailed sweepstakes descriptions? What bits of information (link to the official rules, drawing date, winner's list info, how winner's are notified, ect.) are absolutely essential to have about each sweepstakes and which can you do without? Please post all comments in the "Comments" section of the forums. I look forward to reading them.

Thanks again everybody. I couldn't do it without you. Here's to building a kick-ass sweepstakes site, or at least one that doesn't suck! :)

Brent