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New Sunday Chat


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#1 BillMagee

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 08:49 PM

The former integrated Chat feature of the On Track On Line discussion forum was discontinued in May.  We value the discussions made possible by chat and the ability to discuss plans and make decisions related to the RailFests and other activities in real time.  We have been exploring various options to restore chat capability and have decided to use a platform called Slack.
 
What is Slack?
 
Slack is an on-line service that is used by various large and small businesses for group messaging and document sharing. Slack also makes it possible for small, non-business related groups like ours to use their system.  Within Slack, “Teams” are formed.  Members of each team can log in, message each other in real time, leave messages that will be seen later, see all prior messages, and exchange documents. We have established a team at Slack called “OTOL Chat.”  Security and privacy are serious business with Slack. Team members can only see their own team’s page. 
 
Slack teams are accessed through your internet browser with a URL address unique to the team.  No separate applications, browser extensions or add-ons are required.  Flash and Java are not required. It works on all desktop platforms – Windows, Mac, Chromebook, even Linux. Mobile versions for iOS and Android are available. Slack is 100% ad-free.
 
How do I join the OTOL Team?
 
If you want to join the new OTOL chat group, you must request membership from us.  You can request an invitation by sending a Personal Message to me.  Click my screen name above and then hit “Send me a message.”  Title your message, “Invite to chat,” and provide your actual first and last name, and your email in the message body.  We will then send you the official invitation to join our chat team.  For those hesitant about providing an email, I have had no issues with spam after joining the OTOL Chat team.  Slack is used by many large businesses, including NASA.  They can’t afford to play games like selling emails when dealing with organizations like that.  Your email will be safe.
 
Once you receive the official email from the OTOL Team, the process to join is simple.
 
1.     Click the link in the email. That will open a sign-up page showing your name, pre-selected username, and a place to enter a password.
 
Change your first and last name, if needed or desired
 
Change your username, if desired.  The default username is the leading part of your email, but it can be anything you want within the formatting requirements.  User names must be all lowercase letters, numbers, some symbols, but no spaces.  You can use an underscore to separate words – example: bill_magee. Usernames can be changed later as many times as you want.
 
Set your password
 
If you do not want to receive Slack emails (there are not many, and they point out new features and stuff like that – not ads), uncheck the box.
 
Click “Next.”
 
2.     Accept the Terms of Service. You can read it first if you want. Unlike most, it is not very long and is written in ordinary English.
 
3.     The page for OTOL Chat will open.  Hit “skip the tutorial” and click on “OTOL Chat” in the upper left corner of the screen.
 
4.     On the left sidebar, under Channels, click “# General” to open the General channel (where we will be chatting).  That’s it. You’re in! You will now be able to see all the messages made to date as we’ve been setting things up. The place to enter a message is at the bottom of the page.  You can even leave us a message, if you like. We’ll see it.
 
5.     There is also an option to receive notifications when something happens at OTOL Chat. That choice is up to you. Whatever you choose now, you can change later. Notifications can be turned on and off at any time, and you can also change which events trigger notifications. You can change your notification and other preferences by clicking your username in the left sidebar and then Preferences.
 
Once signed up, you access chat by going to “otolchat.slack.com” and sign in with your email and password. When you sign in, you will have the choice to “stay signed in.”  If you select that, opening otolchat.slack.com the next time will take you right to our team page with no stop for sign-in and password. Obviously, do not check “stay signed in” on a public computer like in a hotel or library.
 
How long will chat messages be available to view?
 
Messages made on the OTOL Chat team site are stored and available for view at any time. Slack will store 10,000 messages before they start to prune off the oldest ones.  That will be well over a year’s worth for us.  Also, Slack is always on, so you can go in anytime you want and leave a message or look at prior messages.   Any messages you make will be seen by the other team members when they login.  If you say, “Missing chat this week,” “Going to be a little late this week,” “The team leader is a bonehead,” we’ll be able to see them when we login. The other side of that is, if you miss chat one week and want to see what was discussed, you can login anytime, scroll and see the entire missed conversation.
 
Are there apps for mobile devices?
 
Slack has excellent mobile apps for iOS (iPhone and iPad versions) and Android.  You can get them from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The handoff between mobile and desktop is completely seamless. You can be participating with the mobile app, go to your computer, and pick up right where you left off, and reverse.  You can use both at the same time – post a message on your laptop, the next message from your phone, then back to your laptop. On the site, there is no differentiation.  You could head off to the bathroom, take your phone, post a message, and we will not know (and thank you for not telling us).
 
We hope you give our new chat a shot.  Let us know if you have any questions or need a hand with anything.
 
Kevin, Ross and Bill



#2 KevinKorell

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:51 AM

The OTOLChat "team"  contains members who will and won't be on the Fest about to begin this weekend.  During the normal Sunday night chat period this Sunday night 7/16, the Fest group should be aboard the Missouri River Runner within the last 3 stops including our destination of St. Louis.   We are of course dependent on internet and phone signals, but I will do my best to be part of it at 8:30 CENTRAL time.   At 9:40 PM CDT we should be detraining in St. Louis, and being 10:40 PM EDT we are usually wrapping up about that time anyhow.



Kevin Korell


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