As many know, I'm a poor old pensioner on a fixed income. Like your old grampa or the creepy guy who lives in the house with all the weeds in the front yard. This fixed income covers my expenses, INCLUDING the costs associated with TMU/TMOA (approx $150 a month), but doesn't leave me a huge amount of disposable income. My soulless EHow writing, which was providing more disposable income (at the cost of my eternal soul) has mostly dried up recently, and may stay dried up. And frankly, I'd rather be spending my time working on community-related stuff than writing how to use DiskPart to format a hard drive.
"But hey, Ken," you ask. "What do you need more disposable income for? Weed, wine and women?" No. I have that factored into my current budget. What I don't have factored in is...
Community Expansion and Development
I regularly see add-ons and other stuff that will improve the community - forums, radio, movie site. Some of it's free, and that just takes the time to get it going (and time I got). Some of the better stuff, though, is not free, and that's the problem with a fixed income - I don't have an extra $50 or $100 to spend on things not on the budget, no matter how useful they might be to the community. For instance:
- TMU Competitions: We're in the earliest stages of putting together some kind of official TMU filmmaking competition. And I believe one of the keys to a successful comp is prizes (see the huge success of Harb's Passion Competition). I know Harb does his comp on a shoe-string, and beats the bushes for sponsors for the prizes, but I'd like to be able to offer cash/gift card prizes so the winners can choose what they want as a prize. No extra money, no money for that.
- Community Add-Ons: Just as one example, when I was investigating the chat thing you see at the bottom on the screen, I was looking at CometChat, which has a lot more features (including file transfer, screen-sharing and...cough...video chat, among other things), but as cool as it is, the $50-$130 it would cost was outside my budget. I'd like to pump up the TMOA chatroom as well. And there are other add-ons and scripts that would make the community more...community-like.
- The Movie Site: This is more long-term (because of the expense) but eventually I'd like to move it to a different platform. When we started 3 and a half years ago, Sharemixer was the best solution available, and well-worth what I spent on it. Since then, Sharemixer has ceased production (so no exciting new updates) and in any case, the features of video hosting platforms have increased exponentially in these past few years. To switch to a new platform would be expensive though - the cost of the script and modules (which could run from $50-$300), the cost of beefing up Server 2 for this kind of site or going to a dedicated server for all of our sites, which would be an additional $50-$100 a month more than we're paying now for hosting, and perhaps most important, having the money to hire somebody to do the conversion from Sharemixer to a new platform - which means moving the films and user data from the existing platform to a new platform, intact and ready to use. I DO NOT want to start the site from scratch on a new platform. I don't have the php/SQL skills to do it myself, but there's no doubt it could be done if we had somebody with those skills. No idea how much it would cost to hire somebody with the required skills, but I'm guessing $500+. Like I say, it's a long term goal, but we could start salting away some cash for that over time.
At we've discussed expansion, more than a few community members have suggested donations as a way to fund it. So I'm making it available. If you've got some extra cash, and feel like this is a worthy cause, you can click the donate button and use PayPal to either subscribe (monthly fixed donation) or make a lump-sum donation. If you don't have the money, or don't feel it's a worthy cause, don't click the button. Either way, the site will continue - this isn't a "Help, save us!" call. If we get donations, I'll use the money to offset hosting costs and free up money for more community stuff. If not, I'll continue to scour the internet for free stuff. Either way, we roll on.