An Example Community-Transport Site

In July 2016, Oxfordshire County Council ended bus subsidies to 118 Oxfordshire bus routes. It’s why Oxfordshire Neighbourhoods Partnership, who I wrote about in the posts starting at “How to Use Web Pages as Outlining Tools”, was so interested in helping neighbourhoods set up community transport. If you’re over 60, these cuts are a double whammy. You get a pass that gives you free travel on scheduled services, i.e. the routes run by Stagecoach and Oxford Bus Company and others. But it doesn’t pay for services such as weekly-shopping-trip minibuses run by volunteers. And if you now have to use one of those instead, that service is probably having to fund itself by charging its users. So you’ve not only lost a free service, but ended up paying for a less convenient one. That’s why I wanted to help these community-transport setups get big donations from local businesses, so that their users would not have to pay. And part of that was building a website that carried the right kind of publicity.

In those posts, I explained how I made an outliner that demonstrated the page hierarchy and content that I thought a successful community-transport site should have. My final post, “How to Use Web Pages as Outlining Tools V”, shows my outline, with particular emphasis on content that would encourage such a site’s readers to volunteer and donate.

I based that outline on the sites listed in “How to Use Web Pages as Outlining Tools III”. Highlights include stories about fundraising appeals, and about what it’s like to be a volunteer or passenger. The excerpts from these that I copied were (of course) in HTML, and so was my outline, so pasting one into the other just worked.

But having done that, it was easy to go one stage further. Take a look at http://www.j-paine.org/cte/cww.html . This is an example community-transport site which I made simply by pasting those excerpts into WordPress pages. The site has the same structure as my outline, with the two levels of main menu being the outline tree. If a web-development company were building a new site, this would be a useful thing to show them as a starting point.

By the way, the image on the front page is from CWW Community Transport. This is a charity set up to run community transport in Cutteslowe, Wolvercote and Wytham, and the ancestor to Oxfordshire Neighbourhoods Partnership. If CWW is one particular community-transport service, Oxfordshire Neighbourhoods Partnership exists to help other neighbourhoods set up the same kind of service. Both CWW and ONP are always looking for donations. If you can help, please phone or email the number or email address on CWW Community Transport’s “Who We Are And What we Do” page.

Happy Hosting with Mythic Beasts

This post is a plug for the company who host my website, Mythic Beasts. My site has been around for a long time, and has accumulated not only research papers, lecture notes, essays, and free programs, but even a recipe book and a tribute to the Excelsior café. It also has an assortment of interactive demonstrations.

Some of these date from when I used to teach Artificial Intelligence at Oxford. There’s a game called Traveller, which follows the fortunes of a robot lorry-driver around a road network full of shops. The driver has to earn money for petrol by buying and selling goods, but must beware because some goods go off, some break if driven too fast, some are bulky and make no profit to speak of, and some are so high value that it’s very difficult to afford them. In addition, the driver must be careful not to get trapped in loops, or in desert areas devoid of shops or garages.
Traveller game board as seen in browser

Another, simpler, demonstration is a small science-fiction plot generator.
Output from plot generator as seen in browserThat particular line reflects a famous story by Damon Knight, “To Serve Man”.

For these to work, my site needs to be able to run so-called “scripting languages” such as PHP and Python. Those do the work of receiving and decoding input when forms are submitted; and, at the other end, assembling output into web pages and sending it back to the browser. In the middle, there’s probably a program written in the programming language I taught in my courses, namely Prolog.

My site also runs WordPress, because this blog is written in it. That needs PHP, and it also needs a database called MySQL. That’s where WordPress stores things like the text and titles of pages and blog posts. So, it’s very useful that I can do all these at Mythic Beasts. And that’s why in 2012 I wrote the following review at OCHostReview.co.uk:

I’m very pleased with Mythic Beasts. They’ve been hosting my site since 2003 or so. I’ve got lots of static pages, as well as PHP and Python scripts (some of which run Prolog and other languages), MySQL, WordPress, and probably a few other things. One of my more complicated scripts demonstrates a branch of maths called category theory. This runs SWI-Prolog from PHP, in order to read mathematical structures typed into a form by the user, calculate with them, and display the results as text and as graphs, the latter generated by running a program called GraphViz. Another script, in Python, generates spreadsheets from textual specifications, and feeds the results into Google’s online spreadsheet. These run on my server without any problem. When I’ve needed help, Mythic Beasts have given it quickly.

Other users have written good reviews too: at Host Review, and at SiteGeek. There’s also a New Year 2014 post from an extremely satisfied RasPi.TV (“Raspberry Pi Tutorials, Videos & Reviews”) about “New Year, New Server at Mythic Beasts”.

Over the past few months, I’ve hosted sites for a number of new users at Mythic Beasts. They include an artist, a yoga teacher, a pain researcher running an evidence-based medicine site, an exchange business, and a builder. I think they’re all satisfied too. Here are links to some relevant pages: hosting, domain transfers, PHP, MySQL, installing WordPress, WordPress managed for you.