FTC #16537

Today our registration payment (via the rookie team grant) was visible on our team’s dashboard.  We are OFFICIAL!  And we even have a team number: 16537.

We are very excited about how many things are coming together over the past few weeks!

FTC Rookie Team Grant

Last week I started the registration process with FIRST Tech Challenge for our team. We are a rookie team, were eligible for the FTC Rookie Team Grant.  I filled out the questionnaire and hoped for the best.

Today, I received the email notification:
Congratulations! Your team has been awarded the FIRST Tech Challenge Rookie Team grant to cover the $275 registration fee and another $225 of product purchased via the FIRST Tech Challenge Storefront.

WOO HOO!  This is one more step on the long road of our exciting inaugural season!

Information Meetings

We have scheduled two information meetings at the Heritage Public Library in New Kent.
Tuesday July 9 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Tuesday July 16 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

We will covering topics such as:
What is FTC robotics (briefly – what we do, how we do it, and what is expected of the team members)
Cost & Fundraising
Meeting times & location

Click here for the facebook event

Getting the Word Out

Yesterday I posted a notice in the Facebook group Live New Kent. So far, we have received 16 responses from parents and students who are interested in learning more, and may be interested in joining a team!!  This is an overwhelming response, and Michael and I are both overjoyed.

We have also sent emails to all the math and science teachers at NKHS and NKMS.  We had to send those emails via the school’s website, and I am hoping that they were delivered.  I am a little concerned because no one has responded – after 15 hours I would expect one of them to have picked up the email and sent some sort of response.

Website Hosting

Our goal is to “get the word out”, and so we want to create website that will allow us to communicate answers to the questions that people might ask about the team.  WordPress is a familiar and popular platform for building a website, so I did some quick searches and found there are plenty of options for free hosting – even without ads!!

I first settled on awardspace, and started working on the website (yes, this website). It took all of 5 or 10 minutes to sign up and get started – which was awesome.  However, over the next few days, as I am working on the website – trying to find the best theme, colors, starting to add some content – I was struck by the lack of speed from this free website.  While in the admin area, I would click to go to a new page (like the plug-in page, or to create a new website page), and it would often take 30-60 seconds before the result would show up!  Now, I know “you get what you pay for” and this was free hosting, but I was still wondering if there was something better. 

An additional problem I was having was emails.  I was going need the site to email me when a person filled out the contact form.  Free hosting on awardspace only allows for a very limited number of outgoing emails (I can’t find the exact limit, but it is something like 10 per month.)  WordPress will allow an option to send emails via SMTP through another email server, but when I tried to set up a plug-in to accomplish that, I was met with a block saying this was not allowed by the host.

So, I went back to searching for more free hosting options, and this time I focused on the email limit offered through a free hosting plan.  I eventually found AccuWebHosting.  Now, unlike my previous signup experience, this one was lengthy and involved.  I actually needed to send them a copy of my driver’s license to prove I am who I say I am!  At first, I was put off by this, but then I realized that their more detail-oriented signup process was probably intended to limit the number of free hosting accounts, and therefore provide better quality service.  After filling out and submitting my application, it was 2 or 3 days before they offered me a free hosting account, and another 24 hours before that account was set up – a big difference from the click-and-go available from other free hosting providers.  But, maybe this was the cost under the “you get what you pay for” mentality.

What a difference!  All I can say is that now, I do not even feel like I am working on a website hosted under a free account.  The speed, the features (100 outgoing emails per hour!), the support – everything feels as if I am on an entry-level paid hosting account!  I could not be more pleased.  I plan on using AccuWebHosting for any paid website hosting I may need in the future.