Technical Information

Domain Name
pack200medfield.org is registered via GoDaddy, currently to Bob Tormey.  The name was chosen for consistency with Troop 10 & 89's domain name - following their format.  As of September, 2011, GoDaddy's renewal pricing is $14.95 per year.  The market for cheaper domain name management is readily available, but the continuity of the domain name should be carefully guarded.  Transfer of the domain to another owner and/or registration provider is moderately complicated, but providers are usually very helpful to assure a smooth transition; most if not all of the required steps can be performed online and via e-mail.  In addition to registration, the provider's records point the Domain Name to the appropriate Domain Name Servers with the Hosting Provider.  Generally, it is a good idea to keep the registration and hosting accounts separate to reduce dependency on a single provider.  "Bundling" the domain name with the hosting could create undesirable stickiness should the Pack decide to change providers.  However, there are good reasons for bundling; in addition to convenience, some providers are "Google friendly," requiring little technical knowledge to keep the Google applications running well.  GoDaddy happens to be such a provider.

Internet Hosting
pack200medfield.org is currently hosted by HostMonster, but is currently limited to the use of their Domain Name Servers (DNS) and E-mail Gateways to point to Google.  HostMonster is an excellent hosting provider, with impressive up-time and readily available, US-based support for $7.95 per month.  However, currently, pack200medfield.org is setup as an "addon" within a master account owned by Bob Tormey; it costs nothing to operate pack200medfield.org on the Hostmonster master account.

Google, itself, does not offer this form of hosting, which is why a third-party is required.

Web redirection (www) to Google, along with specific redirection to Google for Google Sites, Google Groups, and Google Docs is setup in Hostmoster's CNAME records for pack200medfield.org.  E-mail routing to Google is setup via Hostmonster's MX records for pack200medfield.org, where Google e-mail gateways are prioritized over Hostmonster's e-mail gateways.

Application Hosting
pack200medfield.org uses Google web applications under their program branded as "Google Applications for Education."  This is Google's free-of-charge offering for not-for-profit organizations.  After providing Google with our 503(c) status, Pack 200 was assigned 200 free accounts.  A future user increase is available, but likely not necessary.  The account is limited to 10 GB of storage.  The site currently uses the following built-in capabilities: Google Sites for pack and den web pages, Google Mail for special e-mail addresses, Google Calendar for Pack and Den calendaring, Google Docs for sign-up sheets, ceremonies, etc,  Picasa for image storage, and Google Groups for Den and other e-mail lists and discussions.

Special Uses of Google Groups
Google Groups offer e-mail distribution among specified sets of users.  A discussion group is setup for each of the Dens, for the Pack Committee, for Coordinators, and for New Scout families.  The latter is a temporary holding place for communicating to families prior to their assignment to a specific Den.  There is also a Leaders group for easy communication to/from all pack leaders, and a Pack200 group which is an "Announcement Only" shell that aggregates all of the Dens, Committee, and New Scouts lists for pack-wide "blasts."

Google Groups can contain private e-mail addresses , such as those from Verizon, Comcast, Yahoo, Google, work, etc.  They are self-managed, meaning that members can add/update/remove their private e-mail addresses themselves by logging in with their Google account and navigating to their groups.  They add new e-mail addresses by "inviting" themselves to the group, and remove obsolete addresses by "unsubscribing" them.

pack200medfield.org uses Google Groups as its principal means to control access, which Google calls "Sharing."  For example, a user needs to belong to the Committee group in order to view this page; needs to belong to Committee or Coordinators groups in order to edit the main Pack 200 website content or update the Pack Calendar; needs to belong to a Den group in order to update website content for that den or to update the Den Calendar, etc.  Generally, most content is available for viewing without a login.  Updates to existing content or additions of new content require a Google login to the users "@pack200medfield.org" account as well as membership in the appropriate Google Group.  "Sharing" by  individual users should be avoided; "Sharing" with Groups is encouraged, and should be standard practice.

Special E-mail Addresses
pack200medfield.org currently uses two special-purpose e-mail addresses:
  • communications@pack200medfield.org is used as a central account to send e-mails to the various Google Groups.   It is a "manager" of every group, and can be used to check or maintain each of the Groups when required.  It is also used as the general, low-volume inbox for Pack 200, so occasional inspection of this inbox is encouraged.  This account forwards to the Communications Chair.
  • membership@pack200medfield.org is advertized as the principal means for prospective families to reach Pack 200 to inquire about joining the pack.  Currently, this account forwards to the Membership Chair and the Communications Chair, so direct access to the inbox is not required.  The BSA's "BeAScout" program directs inquiries to this e-mail address.
Google Administration
The main Admin account is "akela@pack200medfield.org."  It's password is distinct from all other passwords.  This account can add new features, change all current settings, and most importantly, has the authority to destroy parts of the website/applications, and has the power to delete the entire account.  No individual account should have such authority, so the Akela password should be especially protected.

Additionally, parts of the website or applications can be maintained without full administrative access.  The communications@pack200medfield.org account can be used for normal administrative tasks.  The communications@pack200medfield.org account also has access to many parts of the website (like Groups and Calendars), as well as access to Google Analytics.

Mail Chimp for Pack-wide E-mail Blasts
(info here about Mail Chimp)

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