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Mindat News 2000-2001

Last Updated: 27th Feb 2017

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

I have been doing some spring-cleaning and found some old expired pages including what used to be our news page before we switched to the new layout. It includes a bunch of old news items that, for historical reasons, really should be archived. Note that many of the links are no longer valid! Dates are all, of course, in UK format (D/M/Y).

More on those 'fake' silvers (18/08/2001)

I noticed a letter in the latest Mineralogical Record from a German mineral dealer defending the authenticity of the suspect wire silvers that I have reported on before, and giving yet another new locality where these are supposedly to have come from. Unfortunately yet again there is no hard evidence to back up these claims that the specimens are genuine. I imagine many collectors and dealers will truly 'want to believe' that they have bought a genuine mineral, but it is increasingly looking likely that they are man-made artifacts.

Mineralogical Record (18/08/2001)

More welcome news in the latest Mineralogical Record, this very site is now listed in the top three mineral databases on the 'Best of the Web' page. Thanks to John Veevaert for making this possible. And a big warm welcome to all new visitors who've arrived here from the Mineralogical Record - hope you'll like what you see and contribute to the project!

Fake Enhydros Geodes! (14/07/2001)

If you see unusually cheap polished 'enydros' geodes - small geodes containing water that you can feel moving around as you shake them - be very careful before buying - they may be faked! Clever people in Brazil have been taking cheap geodes and filling them with water, and carefully plugging the hole and polishing them to hide it.

New Improved Mineralogy! (02/06/2001)

Thanks to our contributors the database is getting better and better. We are now getting better definition of mineral species, groups, series and varieties, and of course the locality listings are now far more comprehensive.

Mindat Mall (01/06/2001)

Opening soon - the Mindat Mall. If you like minerals and want to view some of the world's finest minerals for sale, then come to our virtual mall and take a tour round the best of the dealers showrooms. There's even a room with 'Club Tables' where you can offer your own minerals for sale or exchange - this is a free service for mindat.org users. Click here for mineral sales.

[2017 Note: Although this never got passed the title screen and a 'coming soon' message on mindat.org, the concept was eventually redeveloped, to some extent as https://www.minfind.com ]

No news is...(24/05/2001)

Oops. my fault. I've been doing so much recently, and adding new features and sending out mails to everyone that I've neglected this news page. The latest news is that of course we've grown phenomenally. 30,000+ locality mineral references, nearly 6000 localities, 1000+ photos. Astounding growth! I've improved locality pages - this is just stage one of the improvements, and I've announced plans for a 'mindat mall' for mineral dealers etc. to advertise on a special section of the site (hidden away from the important data pages).

Himmelfürst Silvers - The controversy continues (01/05/2001)

Georg Gebhard, Jochen Schlueter and Ernst-Peter Uerpmann have continued their research into the dubious silver specimens from germany that we reported about last month. The evidence continues to mount up against them, and the latest results of chemical analysis from Georg Gebhard's site mineralnews.de make interesting reading, click here for the latest article.

Message Board (28/03/2001)

Have been working hard again, now the messageboard is functioning (thanks to Phorum), and we have an amazing 25,000+ items of locality information in our database now - thanks everyone the growth of mindat.org is phenomenal.

Chemical Element Searching (25/2/2001)

After a few late nights I've got the code for my periodic-table element selector working (hurrah!) and now you can search the mineral database by chemical composition. This is still in beta - and it probably needs some caching to speed it up - I'll add that tomorrow - but wanted to put what I've done up so far because I really think you'll like it!

Latest changes (20/2/2001)

Again, another server fault brought mindat.org down last weekend - many apologies for this - we're looking at alternative hosting possibilities at the moment to avoid these problems, but we are trying to keep problems to a minimum in the meantime. I got one of my outstanding tasks on mindat done tonight - a better view for locality listings on mineral pages - please have a look, I've left the old code available but commented out, so if anyone really prefers the old way I'll add it as an option. I've made some minor changes all around too to respond to queries and suggestions.

A couple of people have asked what my next plans are for mindat.org - immediate plans are to implement (roughly in this order) search by chemical composition - eg show everything with Copper and Lead but without Oxygen - and believe me, this one will be good! Update physical properties data - there's a lot of physical properties data missing from mindat, it's not been my priority to add this - but I'll try to speed this up so I can do search by any field to match physical properties. I'm also nearly finished adding a message board here so everyone can tell me what they would like next.

Recent Problems - and latest update (12/2/2001)

Firstly, apologies for some recent problems with using mindat.org - we had some server problems (DNS problems) which are now fixed - unfortunately I was away in Canada at the time things happened and wasn't able to sort it out until my return. In future, if you have problems connecting to mindat.org, use our alternative address: http://geevor.mine.nu/mindat

I think it's pretty safe to say that mindat.org is now the largest mineral locality reference resource on the internet - and it's growing daily - I've been given a whopping batch of over 4000 new UK locality entries to be added in once I've converted the data format. If you've got locality or mineral data in your own database or your own website you'd like me to add to mindat, let me know and I can try to convert and add it in one go.

Great thanks are due to John Veevaert of Trinity Minerals for permission to use his mineral photographs. We now have some of the best minerals from the best mineral photographers on the web. Make sure you visit the website for Trinity Minerals, and our other friends at John Betts Fine Minerals, Mineral Mining and Crystal Classics. Are you a dealer? It doesn't cost anything to add your name to this fine list - just send me your photos!

Happy new year, and sorry Netscape users (2/1/2001)

Happy new year everyone - I hope you all like the recent changes to mindat.org - and you probably will unless you use Netscape. Now, I know a few of you still use Netscape by choice, but unfortunately, at least with the version 4.5 I have installed, it seems unable to be able to cope with multiple code pages in a single document - and that means you won't be able to view the latest foreign character set changes to Mindat.org, and the correct mineral names with diacritical marks may well come out with ? characters in them. For that I apologise but I've made a decision and I will carry on with the data in this format - I prefer the correct names, mindat.org is an international resource and shouldn't be limited to just a US representation of what a mineral name should be. Netscape will still work with mindat.org apart from this restriction, but to be honest, if you've got a Windows PC, you'll have more fun with mindat.org if you use Internet Explorer V5.0 or above. If you're using Netscape on Linux or Unix (we do here) then I'm sorry, there's nothing much I can do. Maybe more recent versions of Netscape will work - I haven't tried them. And for netscape users who don't know what they're missing - we now have Greek, Eastern-European, Russian and now Chinese mineral names & synonyms added to our database. Don't ask me how to type them in - I just construct them from the characters in the Add Symbol box on Word 2000 and then cut & paste.

Waiting for Santa (25/12/2000)

Now it's just crept into Christmas Day, and I'm still fiddling. Latest changes allow me to have extended characters (beyond the normal PC character set) on screen. This won't necessarily work with every browser & OS, but it's so cool and important for the future that I'm carrying on regardless. It means I can write in greek text, such as the Alpha & Beta symbols, and I can even add greek or arabic should the need arise! No more mineral names that have been stripped of their diacritical marks - we'll be showing all names correctly here, as soon as I get around to fiddling with them all! Minor side effect of this is that links to other sites who don't use full diacritical marks won't always work - I suggest pestering them until they get their names displayed correctly :-), or better still, pester me to fix my link database so that the problem won't happen.

Merry Christmas! (24/12/2000)

As we approach the 7th anniversary of mindat's creation I am sure you'll allow me a little time to reflect. Back then it was a text-only DOS database written with Borland C++, running on my 386 laptop PC (with grey LCD screen!). I shunned traditional databases because they couldn't do what I wanted - and developed a text-based markup language (like XML or HTML). That evolved into a Windows 95 program a couple of years later - despite most people telling me that it'd never sell unless I made it work with Windows 3.11! In 1997 I got a new job and never found I had much time to improve Mindat (or Mineral Explorer'97 as it was called then) - the big problem was I wanted a way to distribute the updates, and to be honest, to do that was a big heap of work! In September of this year I dusted off the source code, and wrote a basic shell in PHP/MySQL to run the Mindat database on the web - after about a week carefully converting the data. Then I started fiddling, and now we've got mindat.org online! I thought I'd make good use of my Christmas break (all 2 days of it) and deal with two issues that have been outstanding for 2 months (really sorry Dave!) - I've put in the new mineral data that webmineral.com kindly donated, and I've built the basic links section on the pages. Not all links will work, not everyone spells minerals the same way I do! I try to be accurate with international spellings, including diacritical marks, but I'm also guilty of my british bias with some spellings - Baryte, Sulphur, etc. If you think I'm wrong - convince me and I'll change! Probably no more major code changes for a while - I want to revisit the locality display code to allow nested displays from regions (you'll see!) but doubt I'll have chance for a while. Merry Christmas and a happy new year from everyone (um, that's just me) at mindat.org. If you really must email me xmas cards, or complain about my spelling of sulphur, then email to jolyon@mindat.org.

Minor changes (17/12/2000)

Only minor changes today because I've been snowed under with programming work recently and haven't had time to devote to mindat.org. One problem is that registered users have been filling in fields incorrectly when updating localities - this has been a bit of a nuisance - so I've changed the entry system to make it more obvious.

No news is... (9/11/2000)

No news recently - because nothing much has changed - I've been busy recently working on the redesign of my company website - not yet finished but will be this weekend. Once that's out of the way I'll get back to fixing all the problems with mindat.org.
I've heard a couple of people tell me they couldn't register on mindat.org - if you have had problems then please jolyon@mindat.org and tell me what web browser & operating system you use, and what problems you've had.

A New look (5/11/2000)

Well, it's been a busy week. Received over 17,000 page impressions last week alone. Had no idea mindat.org was so popular, but now i know it is, decided I would spend a little time updating the graphics. Added some more locality data today too.

New Photos and bugfixes (2/11/2000)

Firstly, a big thanks to John H. Betts at John Betts Fine Minerals (http://www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com) for giving me permission to use his excellent mineral photographs here on mindat.org - (are you a mineral dealer with photos to spare? email me at jolyon@mindat.org). I will be adding more of these photos over the next few days.
Secondly, I've fixed a few bugs and annoyances that have crept in recently - photos with more than one mineral now display correctly for example.

Varieties (28/10/2000)

I meant to finish the new mineral editing tonight, but realised the way I was dealing with mineral varieties (as opposed to synonyms) was fundamentally stupid - a side-effect of the transfer from the Mindat32 software. So, after some fiddling I've changed the way it works. However, by making it more sensible some of the entries look a bit repetitive - they say at the top 'a variety of xxxxx' immediately followed by another line saying 'variety of : xxxxx' - the difference is the latter is a proper hyperlink. Also quite a few varieties have (temporarily) gone missing because they couldn't be linked properly yet - but I have a long list here and they shall return! Off now to do mineral editing.

Now you can edit (part 2) (26/10/2000)

I'm back from Canada, and at last had a chance to finish the work on Photo uploading - have a go, it's great fun! Please make sure your photos are of a 'reasonable' size (no greater than 800 pixels wide) and JPEG format only! I think you'll be impressed - it generates thumbnail images for you automatically.

And now you can not just edit locality information but you can add new mineral localities too - so log in, select a locality, click on the 'edit' button, select the option to add new minerals at this locality, and type them in. I've been adding a few more tonight- we've now over 12,600 different mineral locality references! Put in another 20 or so photos as well. Lots of new localities for Namibia added.
Still have plenty to do - half-way through mineral editing (the important one!) then got a small task to add some new mineral data kindly donated by Dave Barthelmy of http://www.webmineral.com/ - then I'm open to suggestions - tell me what you want me to do next! email:jolyon@mindat.org

Now you can edit (part 1) (17/10/2000)

Several important things to mention - firstly thanks to David Barthelmy of http://www.webmineral.com/ for putting links to mindat.org pages on his excellent mineral database - the URL database is under development here and that will start off with a huge amount of links to webmineral.com - I'm happy to support David's excellent database - please don't consider this site a rival as that is not the intention.
Registered users can now edit locality information - you can't do much else yet but that's the way it goes! I have to approve all changes before they become permanent. Adding new locality information doesn't really work yet.
Finally, fixed an awful bug that crept into the last upload - not sure how that happened, must have been when I was fiddling with the mindat2web generator. But different varieties, etc. all got strung together into one long word.

Better formula display (15/10/2000)

Having rewritten the formula code already to support Netscape 4.5, I thought it was about time I completely changed it once more so that it can display both super and subscript items - currently the mindat database contains no oxidation state information - I was always unhappy with website compromises - the superscript and subscript items should be displayed vertically aligned, that's not easy using plain HTML. However, with a few messy table constructs I have now got the formulas working right - no doubt it'll break in Netscape 4.5 - I'll try that later!

I've edited one item in the database Magnetite - this now shows correct oxidation information in the formula. I don't intend to update the rest of the formulas that need to be changed until I've finished the database editing functions.

Also improved the picture list on the front page. It now shows those pictures that have been visited the least - so you should usually see different pics each time you visit the page.

[2017 Note: The code for this formula display was only replaced about 2 years ago with a better version that doesn't require tables. Remember when you couldn't copy/paste a mindat formula easily? That was because of those tables.]

I'm still working on the database editing functions. Lots of work still to do. More soon...

First Public Reactions (13/10/2000)

As I sit and write this I am still working on my laptop editing the site - as I fly from London to Toronto for a few days break from the office! I can't get away from mindat.org however! I posted a notice about mindat.org on usenet and got some positive feedback and, of course, people started seeing plenty of things I've been doing wrong.

Firstly, mineral formula display was badly broken on Netscape 4.5 and below (strangely it worked fine in Internet Explorer and Netscape 6). I'd love to blame Netscape but it was almost entirely my fault - I was incorrectly closing SUB tags when they weren't being opened - Netscape thought - subscript is over, let's put the character position back up a little, and the script crept up the screen in a spooky manner! This is now fixed!

Secondly I was asked about if references could be listed for localities, and that got me thinking about the whole way I was storing reference information - which up till now has been really in the most basic way. Having had the benefit of a couple of hours thought over this as I waited for my plane - I decided to rewrite the database structure to give references their own database structure, and link them to minerals and localities in the same way that minerals & localities are linked. It means I have to rewrite my C++ mindat32-to-web conversion program yet again, but the end result will be worth it.

Sorry - photo updating has been delayed yet again, but I'm confident by the time I get back from Canada I'll have the database structure fixed, and I can start editing the many mistakes in the databank itself, and add all those photos I've got waiting to plug in.

Tsumeb Mine reopens (29/09/2000)

The Tsumeb Mine in Namibia is being re-opened for specimen mining - for further information visit http://www.mineralmining.com/. (Yes, I'm the webmaster!)

[2017 Note: And now it's closed again!]

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