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  • The Two Way Radio Forum gets a makeover

    Since its launch in 2007, the Two Way Radio Forum has served as an online, community based social and support resource for all types of radios and radio users. Now after 12 years, the forum is getting a complete upgrade and makeover!

    We've been planning to update the Two Way Radio Forum for awhile now and our first thought was to simply upgrade to the latest forum software, which in this case was vbulletin. However, to keep up with social media and the advances in web based community platforms, we began to consider other options. One of these is an open source discussion platform called Discourse. Danny did some research on it and we were very impressed with it. It offers many advantages and functionality over the previous forum software and a broader, more powerful arena for discussion between members of our forum community.

    Why switch platforms?

    We were running on a very old version of vBulletin (3.8) that no longer receives regular updates. vBulletin uses the PHP programming language and was built for a PHP version that is now out of date and no longer receives security patches. It is clear that sticking with our current forum version is just asking for trouble, and we need to either upgrade to the latest vBulletin (5.5) or switch to a new platform.

    Why not use vBulletin 5?

    Upgrading to the latest vBulletin was our first instinct. In fact, we initially purchased a license for it. However, as Danny was looking into the upgrade process he found out that going from 3.8 to version 5 is more of a migration than an upgrade. It would take some effort to get the data migrated correctly, and we would basically have to reconfigure the site and build a new theme. If we’re going to have to go through all of that work anyway it makes sense to see what other options are available.

    Sticking with vBulletin would have the advantage of a reduced learning curve for members, but there are definitely reasons to switch. vBulletin used to be a leader in forum software, but they seem to have really gone downhill. VB 5 itself is now 7 years old and doesn’t look like a modern platform. Also, it’s still not built to be mobile friendly. We considered that a big drawback.

    Why Discourse?

    While researching other options, Danny was repeatedly drawn to Discourse. He has a programming background and finds himself using Stack Overflow pretty often, so he likes the similar look and feel. It also helped that the co-founder of Discourse was also co-founder of Stack Overflow. That was good enough for him to consider it further.

    Here are a few things that we like about the new forum:

    • By default, the home page is a list of the latest updated threads. You don’t have to look at a list of forums that may not get new posts very frequently. There’s also a way for users to switch to category view if they prefer the old way.
    • Threads aren’t broken up into pages. Just keep scrolling and posts are dynamically loaded.
    • It is easy to use on phones and tablets
    • Users can earn badges as they use the site and the system is easy to setup.
    • The notification system is very in depth. You can receive notifications for a variety of things and it’s all configurable. You can also @ another user in a post
    • There’s an escalating trust system that helps prevent spam, but users automatically gain trust as they use the site.
    • We have the ability to turn on logging in with other services, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. This might simplify the registration process and encourage more users to sign up.
    • Automatically create a post by replying to an email notification.
    • Built-in support for a wiki could be a powerful tool for community driven content.
    • There’s a lot more, but why not experience it for yourself?

    Of course the Two Way Radio Forum community isn't here for us, it was created for you. We’re hopeful that you are as excited about Discourse as we are and it makes you want to spend more time there. We also hope it is more inviting for new users and helps grow the community. That said, we know change can be tough and there could be features that you want that aren’t here. That’s why we tested the platform first with a beta site and solicited feedback from our community members before we decided to jump in and make the move.

    We're excited about the new forum and we hope you like it too. We’d like to know if you see any formatting problems or other issues that look like bugs, but most importantly we want to know what you think of the platform. Is there anything about the forum we need to change or improve on? Is there anything missing that we need to include?

    If you currently have a Two Way Radio Forum account, your existing login credentials should work. You should also have the ability to login with your Facebook, Google or Twitter account. If you do have trouble logging in, please let us know, so we can fix it ASAP. If you don't have a forum account, we invite you to create one. The forum is free to use, and we encourage everyone with an interest or passion for radios to join the community.

    Feel free to check it out, "kick the tires" so to speak, and let us know what you think. Visit the all new Two Way Radio Forum now!

  • Enter the Two Way Radio T-Shirt Slogan Contest and win!

    t-shirt_3.jpgWe're well known for our selection of walkie-talkies and two way radio accessories. But did you know that we carry apparel as well? More specifically, our Buy Two Way Radios T-shirt. It's not an item we've promoted much in the past, but our customers still manage to find it.

    Lately, we've been thinking about re-designing our classic t-shirt to making it a lot more creative and personal. We came up with some new ideas for designs and snappy slogans so you can tell the world how you really feel about your radios.

    Then, Danny had a really great idea. Let's make it really personal and give you the final say. Thus, the Two Way Radio T-Shirt Slogan Contest has now begun!

    Since we are all about two way communications, we're going Two Way all the way. The contest is currently underway in our Two Way Radio Forum, complete with two prizes and two ways to win!

    1. You can vote on one of the slogans we created. We came up with a list of ten snappy sayings for our new T-shirts. Simply vote on your favorite and you will be entered in a drawing to win a FREE T-shirt with a winning slogan printed on it. One vote is permitted per forum member.

    2. You can create your own clever caption and post it in the forum. If we choose your saying for a T-Shirt, you win a pair of two way radios and a T-shirt with your winning slogan printed on it. There is no limit to the number of entries, so the more pithy phrases you post, the more chances you have to win.

    The first way is quick. The second way is creative. You can also enter both ways. Either way, you can still win!

    Note: The deadline for all votes and entries is Midnight Sunday, February 24, 2013. Winners will be announced in the Two Way Radio Forum, on our Facebook page in our blog and on Twitter.

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