Welcome to a new feature from your POB magazine: rpls-dot-com connection. This bulletin board for surveyors has become so popular and such a rich source of surveying information that it seemed a logical step to periodically feature some highlights in print. That’s the plan: to select parts of message threads of particular interest and print them in these pages. We plan to get permission from a message’s author before publishing it. In this introductory page, we’ll explore some interesting general facts about rpls.com.
For those who may not be familiar with the venue, herein lies a little background. Oklahoma surveyor and all-around computer whiz Mark Deal created rpls.com way back in the 20th century. As the word spread, and as the site began to show up on the search engines, Mark found that he was spending more time maintaining the bulletin board than he had anticipated. After all, every surveyor has a computer and loves to argue—I mean discuss—surveying. So Mark and POB worked out a transaction whereby POB would assume sponsorship and responsibility for the board’s administration. That transfer was finalized in October 2000. Since that time, rpls.com has grown even more, and continues to do so. Days with more than 200 messages posted are not uncommon.
To access the bulletin board, simply go to www.rpls.com. Visitors are immediately provided the ability to read messages and post messages, either originating a thread or replying within a previously created thread upon completion of a simple login. Using the search capability or other features also requires logging in. The login screen asks you to enter a username, a password and an E-mail address. Nothing whatsoever is done with the names and E-mail addresses furnished upon login. The name is merely for messages to have an associated identity, and the password is only there to prevent an imposter from posting under somebody else’s name. The login information is stored in a “cookie” on the computer on which the login information is typed. That relieves most participants from having to login each time they access the board. A user's machine’s cookie will trigger a message welcoming you personally. If more than one user accesses through one machine, login is required with each new user. It sounds harder than it is; it’s really quite a simple process.
Speaking of simple—rpls.com is really easy to use. The last message of each thread is followed with the invitation to “Post a reply to this thread.” To do so, you simply click on those words and an empty message box appears on the left part of your screen, complete with a heading consisting of the thread’s subject. To originate a new thread, a user simply clicks on the “Post Message” item in the main menu at the top. Other pertinent menu items are “Login,” “Update Profile,” “Search” and “Statistics.”
Enough about the mechanics! Rpls.com is about content. Frequent posters would be hard-pressed to think of a surveying-related topic that hasn’t been addressed. Messages cover everything from horror stories about jobs from hell, business practices, the differences in boundary retracement in PLSS states versus metes-and-bounds states, equipment and software questions... the list goes on and on. As of this writing, the champion thread of them all is one originated last March. It very simply posed the question, “Does this board have participants from all 50 states?” The response was amazing; there were 103 replies. Obviously some were duplicates, but sure enough, replies from surveyors in all 50 states came in within a couple of days.
Some of our regular visitors have posted several hundred messages each—some into the thousands! For those, and many others, rpls.com is as much a part of the day as their morning coffee. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see a link pop up one day for a 12-step program for recovering from too much rpls.com.
There are even subsidiary boards for more specific subject matter. Ashtech, Topcon and TDS have their own venues within rpls.com. Specifics about those products add to the rich trove of really useful information available—for free. Those boards, too, are accessible through the blue main menu.
Give it a try; go to www.rpls.com and login. Ask a question…or answer one. Click on “Search” and type in some key words for the subject you want to check out. You just might learn something—or teach something. Or find an old long-lost pal. Who knows, maybe your message will end up in these pages for posterity…with your permission, of course.
See you there!