For archive (Updated on February 11, 2019)
by Ko Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ, EC76)
It seems to me like it was yesterday, but it started somewhere in February or March 1999. I started to receive regular email messages from U Hla Min – affectionately known as “Ko John” in the circle of friends and colleagues from Universities’ Computer Center (UCC), Thamaing, Rangoon – with an attached Excel spreadsheet of RIT alumni list.
I remember the first message has the attached list of 100+ alumni, some of them I knew but most of them I had no clue at all. I kept receiving those regular messages from Ko John for a couple of months – the attached list kept growing, and I wondered how he could keep the list up-to-date even with the help of all alumni. I guess I did not have much interest in this alumni list at the time, since I did not know most of them and was glad that I was not maintaining the list.
Then along came the reply to one of his messages, from Saya U Soe Paing, our mentor from the Universities’ Computer Center days. Saya said some of us, RIT alumni, should start looking into creating a website so we did not have to pass around email messages and spreadsheets of alumni list. It was a wake up call for me, I have been working on the web technologies for several years at the time, for my employer, and I could create an alumni website with minimum effort, or so I thought.
I immediately contacted Ko John that I could start working towards the creating the alumni website. We exchanged email messages, including the possible names for the website, costs incurred for the site, setup costs as well as operating costs and the initial contents for the website. Our email exchanges started with one or two messages a day, then escalated to several messages a day. We agreed on the name of the RIT alumni website, ex-rit.org, and decided that rather than using a free Service Provider, we would have our own website free of advertisements. I calculated the initial/setup and operating costs of the site, and figured that the cost was minimal, I could foot the bills. I figured it was going to be a fun project to work on, little did I know what I was getting into. I promised Ko John that I could get the website up and running in no time, boy what an idiot I was, and not to mention that I failed to foresee the amount of time I have had to put in to make the site stick. I told him that I would work on this project on one and only one condition — he must provide me with contents. I had seen enough websites, especially of special interests and hobby-like sites with stale contents, the information never get updated for months if not for years. I told him I would not wish the RIT alumni site to be like those sites, and he agreed with me that he would work on the content side of our website. We also agreed that we would keep our website away from politics, and commercialism, so our alumni will have their peace of mind when they come to the website.
Well, as usual, I promised and I disappeared. I sat on the project for a month or so, until he could not wait any more and started sending me messages after messages asking the status of the website. I started working on the conceptual website and told him a week later that the site was available for the Quality Assurance (QA). I was not expecting this conceptual site to become a real website. Ko John, unbeknownst to me, passed on the address of the site to several alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area. We did not even have the domain name [just a temporary URL] correctly registered, due to a snafu with the InterNIC company. To make this long story short, the web site stick, and it became the actual RIT alumni site, www.ex-rit.org.
We were very happy even at the beginning; we saw web traffic coming on to our site, thanks to all the alumni spreading the news about the existence of the site. On the first week, there were around 50 daily visits, and three-to-four hundred names in the alumni database. Now, over a year later, there are 150-200 daily visits with 900+ names in the alumni database.
About a month after we had the site running, Ko John got an offer from some alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area led by Saya Allen Htay (C58) regarding the continual support and operation of the site. Ten alumni pledged US $100.00 each, set up the Fund, to support the website. These ten alumni are now known as Bay Area Alumni group, with Saya Allen Htay as the leader of the group, and Ko Maurice Chee (Mech 75) as the Treasurer/Controller. The group picture is posted in the “Photo Gallery”, under “Miscellaneous” album. Another alumni, Ko Ivan Lee (Khin Maung Oo, M69, New Jersey, USA), contacted us around the end of 1999, and eventually sent us a check to cover a year of operating cost of the site.
I am very thankful of the unwavering support from these alumni, as well as alumni all over the world who had contacted us for various reasons; to have them listed in the alumni database, to send in their appreciation of the website, and to provide constructive criticism for the improvement of the website. Now with the first release of the website over a year old, I am in the process of redesigning the next release, version 2 if you will, of the website. This release will incorporate ideas and suggestions sent to us by the alumni worldwide, so stay tuned.
At the start of the millennium, some of us started discussing about the Reunion. This discussion had gained momentum next several months and with the support from all alumni, we are having the first RIT Alumni International Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe.
I am also very glad to be part of the group who eventually pulled together to stage this Grand Reunion and Saya Pu Zaw Pwe. This event was unthinkable a year ago but because of the untiring efforts by all the members of the Steering Committee, Executive Committee, Working Committees and Organizing Committee, it is now a reality.
Turn on the music, and let’s have a party on the October 28, 2000. Don’t forget to pay your respects to all the Sayagyis, Sayamagyis, and Sayas who patiently taught and guided us at the Institute (BOC/BIT/RIT/YIT/YTU), we would not have been here if not because of them. I am very grateful to all the Sayas and Sayamas who have played a critical role in my education over the years.
Ko Khin Maung Zaw (KMZ) represented RIT and/or All Universities in Hockey and Rowing.
He put in countless hours (nights and weekends) designing and implementing the [original] RIT web site. He set up special web pages for SPZP-2000, Ko Htay Lwin Nyo’s Memorial, and Saya Dr. San Tint”s Memorial.
Good for KMZ but bad for us, he transferred from his 4 day 10 hour work to a more challenging and lucrative job at Microsoft. After being an eligible bachelor for years, he found the love of his life.
Version Two of his web site turned into “Vaporware”.