We’ve had a lot of questions about the new SwapFest software we’re running this year, so I thought I’d crawl behind-the-scenes for a moment and give some background, and credit. The largest portion of the programs that run the website (and, later, the day-of-event tools at the Fest) is brand new. We’ve been working closely with a software vendor who is developing this software to meet the needs of the Tri-County Club, with the expectation of being able to offer this to other groups down the road (And, yes, as a disclaimer, I’m part of that team working to make that possible). We’ll pass along any additional news about that possibility later; for now, we’re just glad to have it running HamFest 2022!
In addition to the core Fest-Info software, here are some of the other pieces we’re using this year to make this magic work. All are free downloads, and most are Free and Open Source software (FOSS), meaning you can crawl in under the hood to learn how the program works, if you wish. FOSS projects are the equivalent of ham radio in the software world, driven by a desire to make things better, not income. Most are self-funded, meaning that developers donate their time and brains to making these tools work for us, without a paycheck, so I’m glad to give this shout-out to encourage (and advertise for) the people behind the scenes making the (free) software that makes our Fest fly.
The list includes:
- SkyStudio Pro: Free download at https://skystudiopro.com/ for a program that offer time-lapse recording via web cam or other video devices. We’re using this software at Check-in with the hope that we’ll be able to assemble and post a 5 minute time-lapse video showing the whole event from end to end!
- RSYNC / Cygwin: Rsync is a standard Linux tool that we’re using in Windows, thanks to the Cygwin Project, found at https://cygwin.org/ Cygwin allows you to open a Linux bash command prompt on a Windows box, as well provides the ability to execute Linux program from a Windows Command prompt.
- Zxing Bar Code Scanner: The Zebra Crossing project offers a free, open source application to read barcodes. This includes code you can embed into your programs, a free online app that reads barcodes from images at https://zxing.org/w/decode.jspx, and a free Android app offers the same capabilities. The tool is useful if you’ve got a product with a UPC barcode and want to find out more about it, or find someplace to buy another. Our web software integrates barcode scanning into the Check-In process to allow us to do live lookups to determine if a ticket has already been used.
- PayPal and Zettle: PayPal is neither open source nor free (as evidenced from the fees they charge!!!), but they deserve an “honorable mention” on this list for making the process of offering online and in-person credit card. debit card, Venmo, direct-from-checking, and PayPal transfer payments possible and relatively easy. Zettle is the new “pay me” app for iPhone and Android. Compared to the ATM in the Fairgrounds lobby, they’re also cheaper, although that claim may be about as meaningful as saying that someone earns less than Elon Musk. Still, it gave us a way to help cut your costs at the Fest this year, so we’re happy to include them in the list.