HTTPS Added — Testing

I’ve added “SSL” or what most people call “HTTPS” to the site, at least temporarily.

It’s nice that it adds the little padlock icon to the address bar in web browsers, and it tends to make the Google search engine happier, which is good. But as a long-time computer administrator, setting it up and keeping it running can be a hassle, so we’ll see how this works out. An organization named “LetsEncrypt” has tried to make the process simpler and free, which is helpful. Most SSL certificate issuers charge for each certificate, which has to be renewed annually, and the validation process has gotten more complicated as time goes by — which really isn’t worth it for a small, read-only blog. But everybody is being taught to look for that little padlock icon.

The trouble is that the publisher of the WordPress plugin that makes this possible has decided to go from freeware to a pay model within days of my first installing it. I chose it because this particular one is free, which is appropriate for a small script that sets up a scheduled task to update the free SSL certificate periodically. WordPress has its peculiarities with SSL and LetsEncrypt, and a lot of plugin publishers have been cashing in on it, something I take a dim view of. So now, the plugin publisher has decided to head in that direction — although admits that the plugin will keep working as it is.

So we’ll see how this goes. I’ll keep HTTPS running for as long as it’s still workable and doesn’t cost anything. If the plugin goes away, I may see if I can write a script to replace it. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll take the site back to plain old HTTP. If that happens, I’ll pop an announcement banner up ahead of time, in case it makes anybody’s browser display any dire warnings.

We’re Back!

2020 was a banner year for troublesome times, to say the least. My hosting company added to it with hefty price increases, so I decided to back up the site and take it down. Probably for a month or two… Which stretched on and on into nearly the end of 2021.

Here we are then, back again. The site should be virtually unchanged outside of a few required updates to the underlying software. There are some other unseen changes; I now own the entire domain that this site has been a subdomain of for years. It’s long belonged to a close associate of mine who has run various IT security projects, but never made use of the domain except for internal things. So, now it’s mine to do with entirely as I want. With the move away from MSTS to Open Rails, primarily, I might work in some new naming/branding in the future. We’ll see.

I also have a partnership of sorts with a long-time friend who spends time in the new Microsoft Flight SImulator and other games. There could be some cross-over eventually.

For now though, look for an entry or two on the newest release of Open Rails, and whatever else comes this way.


We’ve Moved! (Again…)


We’ve Moved! (Again…)

With thanks to an associate of mine in the information technology and security arena, the site has been moved to sub-domain on a new host. The old host just wasn’t keeping up, and tended to serve up pop-under ads in spite of a no-ads promise. If you entered the old URL, or clicked an old saved link, you should be redirected here to the new host.

Everything should be in place — I spent a day importing the old files and database, and re-configuring references so the images and files all work as they should. If anything is missing, I’ll probably track it down in the next few days as I double-check the site.

Open Rails 1.0 Released

Open Rails v1.0 is finalized and released. Enjoy!

It’s a huge milestone to effectively say OR has met its initial set of goals. If you haven’t tried OR, now is the time. It’s already capable of more than MSTS, and development isn’t pausing at all. There will be refinements and new capabilities to add; the experimental and unstable versions will continue to be offered for testing and evaluation.

Right now, Open Rails can do virtually anything that MSTS could ever do. Any remaining differences are minor. Known bugs exist that will be addressed, but they’ve generally been found to be less significant or “edge cases”, in development terms, that typical operation won’t see effects of them. The “showstopper” bugs appear to be resolved. At this point, moving the focus beyond MSTS will allow more new approaches to old problems – and that alone may provide for ways that will both solve old remaining bugs and open up new capabilities.

What’s in the future? Not only further refinements and improvements in functionality, but now the editors and tools will come into closer focus over time. We already have basic path editing in the Track Viewer, the completely new and realistic Timetable Mode and the solid foundation for multi-player capability. Ideas are already circulating for how to achieve an MSTS-style activity editor and a route editor. And gradually, OR will grow beyond the MSTS “box” and into its own environment that will encompass MSTS content plus its own capabilities.

So, for anyone still wondering if there will ever be a train simulator to replace MSTS, it’s safe to say it’s here. Open Rails is ready and will continue to grow.


Added Link to Elvas Tower


Added Link to Elvas Tower

After much deliberation, I’ve added a link to Elvas Tower. It’s become more well-known in the trainsim community, particularly for users of Open Rails. It’s more focused than the other well-known forums; it’s populated mostly by content creators and active testers and users of Open Rails. It also has a high standard for courtesy and thoughtful posting. So please, if you visit and wish to participate, do try put your best foot forward.

Site Development Poll


Site development Poll is Closed

And the results are… No changes for now! While there’s some interest in a small forum function, it’s most likely limited to a fairly small group. There’s enough room on the existing train sim forums to go around, and I really don’t want to have to moderate one.  🙂

ZDSimulator Version 5 Is Here…


ZDSimulator Version 5 Is Here…

I’ll replace this post with more details once I’ve had some time with this newest version. In general, it appears many of the refinements the developers have been working on were finalized and put into this update.

And, a hint of things to come — version 1.6.1 of the route editor is downloadable from the ZDSimulator website. The main interface is now in English, but the documentation is yet to be translated.

…Aaaand — We’re Back!


It’s been a while! The new host has been stable, and aside from a brief issue with false positives for some sort of spam or adware activity on the host’s domain early last year reported by a couple of visitors, everything has been running smoothly. You may notice the “Contact” option on the menu now; it’s working as it should. Occasionally, I may open a posting for comments as well as I have a working anti-spam module installed on the site.

Have a great 2013, everyone!