Customer FAQ

TrackMyTrains.com has been designed as a complete inventory information warehouse for model railroaders. Every effort has been made to make the system straightforward and easy to use without sacrificing functionality. The Customer FAQs are intended to address questions potential customers frequently ask about the system. More information is also provided in other parts of this Systems Overview section as well as in the HELP section. We frequently update our site to reflect new information and features our visitors request, so if you don’t see your question answered here, please send us an email. We will answer your question within one business day and may choose to add it to this list for the convenience of future visitors.

 

What is meant by an Internet-based system?
An Internet-based system is a set of programs and databases that reside at a central site and are accessed using phone lines and a software component called a web browser. With an Internet based system, all sorts of data and programs can be accessed when needed by many different end users in many different locations.

How is an Internet based system different from other systems?
With a traditional computer system, all programs and data need to be installed and maintained on the local computer where the user is located. With an Internet based system, the programs and data are stored at a central location – the web server. This eliminates your need to copy, store or maintain these programs or data on the local computer and makes the sharing of information easier regardless of location with no extra work to copy or distribute data.

What are the advantages of an Internet-based system?
There are many advantages with Internet based systems for many applications.

Because programs and databases are maintained on the Web Server, the end user of the system never has to worry about loading or maintaining programs or files on their local systems. There is never a need to update latest versions or protect data against loss with file ups. Every time the host website is accessed, the most recent program versions and data are available.

Another advantage is that a user can access his data from any Internet-connected computer without having to bring copies of the data with him. The Internet also makes it easy to share information with others because all the programs and data are available to any authorized person just by signing on to the web site.

Can others access my information?
With TrackMyTrains.com, our design principle is to let subscribers share as much information as they want with exactly the people they choose, and nothing more.

Each subscriber’s data is encrypted and available only by signing onto the website with the proper sign-on name and password. We do allow subscribers to specify additional sign-on name and password combinations to allow others to view selected information about their collections. Currently there are three additional views of their collection information subscribers can authorize to a visitor by name and password combination:

A complete view of their information with no update capability.
Items that are marked as “for sale”
Items that are marked “wish list” – a great way to suggest gift ideas!

Are you planning any further enhancements to the system?
Absolutely! We have many activities underway that we expect to make the system even more feature-packed. We are always interested in hearing ideas from our subscribers and potential subscribers, so let us know what you would like to see. We may already have it in the works!

And one more thing – since we are Internet-based, new features will be made available as soon as they are ready and you will have to do absolutely nothing to update your programs or files. That’s just another advantage of the web-based design of TrackMyTrains.com!

What is table driven field editing?
Table driven field editing is a technique to make the data content of fields easier to add and more consistent. TrackMyTrains.com table edits many of its more important data fields.

Subscribers set up edit tables for certain fields to contain the values they consider valid and useful for their collections. When collection records are being added or modified, the contents for the field are selected from the edit table instead of typed.

The consistency provided by table driven field editing is especially useful when searching for items and running reports.

What is record cloning? How does it work?
Record cloning is a data entry technique that makes adding records easier and provides greater overall consistency of data. With record cloning, an item or inventory record (or combination) close to the new item is selected. The option of “add copy” presents a new record with all data fields already filled in. By simply changing those fields that are different about the item being added, keystrokes are reduced and consistency is enhanced.

TrackMyTrains.com features record cloning for report and download request as well as cloning item and inventory records. This makes the definition of custom reports and downloads especially easy.

What are the capabilities for finding records in the database?
TrackMyTrains.com offers many options for finding and retrieving information from a subscriber’s database. A “Find List” page presents summary information from records in a scrollable table. The data can be sorted in any of seven ways to group similar items together. This “Find List” display can be applied to the entire database or a selected subset.

Subsets of the entire database can be selected based on the contents of literally any field or set of fields in the database. Contents can be searched and records can be selected based on a condition of “equal to”, “not equal to”, “begins with”, “contains”, or several others conditions. This is particularly useful for users wanting to group records together in a variety of ways, yet have them all retrieved as a group.

This same capability eases record selection for reports or downloads.

How can I share information about my collection with others?
TrackMyTrains.com offers many options for sharing selected information about your collection with others you choose to share it with. Using its comprehensive reporting and file download capabilities, a subscriber can extract precisely the information they wish to share and send it (via snail-mail or email) to whomever they choose.

What is truly unique to TrackMyTrains.com, however, is the ability to share information via the Internet that is completely up to date. A subscriber can create additional secure sign-on name and password combinations and assign various view only capabilities to these. By giving these name and passwords to those they choose, they can allow others to peruse their entire collections, their “for sale” items, their “wish list” items or any combination of these. Future enhancements will provide even more capabilities of this kind.

Can I buy or sell items at this website?
The primary purpose of TrackMyTrains.com is to provide a comprehensive inventory system for private model railroad collectors. The system does have the capability to mark items as “for sale” or as “wish list” items. The subscriber can then authorize selected visitors to view these items using additional sign-on names and passwords.

We are considering a future option for subscribers to use the site for general public posting of “for sale” or “wish list” items.

We do not, at this time, intend to have the site handle actual bid or sales transactions as we feel there are more established and robust auction sites already available for this purpose.

What kind of reports can I get about my collection?
A general-purpose report writer is a key feature included with TrackMyTrains.com. Some “standard” report definition examples come with the system and help make the report writer easy to learn. In addition to these standard reports, the subscriber can create any number of custom reports and save the report definitions on the site for use at any time.

This report writer allows selection of records by virtually any field content criteria. The subscriber can specify any sort sequence and any report detail display fields. In addition, the subscriber can also request record counts at different levels of the sort sequence or the totaling of numeric fields such as cost or value.

These reports can be printed in a variety of font sizes or formats. If desired, they can be stored on the subscriber’s computer for later access or emailed.

Can I get information downloaded to my Palm Pilot device?
Yes. TrackMyTrains.com includes a comprehensive file download capability. A subscriber can specify criteria for files that are immediately downloaded and available for transfer to PDA devices or other local computer applications.

What kind of computer do I need to use the system?
Almost any PC or Apple Computer manufactured in the past several years and equipped with a Web Browser can be used. If you have any concerns about being able to use a particular computer, just log onto this web site from it and select the Free Demo option. This will use the regular programs just like a subscriber would to access demonstration databases typical of real user databases. You may experience some slowness initially while programs and files are downloaded to your web browser but as you use the various functions, you should see more typical response times.

Are there any minimum speed or memory requirements?
As with any application, TrackMyTrains.com will perform faster on computers with higher speeds and memory availability. TrackMyTrains.com is not a graphics or display intensive application, so its processor and memory requirements are light compared to many other sites and applications. Visiting the site and trying the demo will be an accurate predictor of how your own databases will perform on your computer. Please note that the first of any transaction type may process more slowly than typical because the system is downloading the programs on demand when the first transaction of any kind is executed.

Will I need DSL or other high-speed Internet access line?
No, any phone line connection will work, although, as with any Internet technology, the higher speed the connection, the better. TrackMyTrains.com is designed so that the majority of data transfer between the server and the local computer is done primarily at sign-on time or when the first of any transaction type is performed. This improves performance during adding, maintaining, and retrieving information. The performance advantage of a high-speed line such as DSL is most apparent during initial loading of the application and data files at sign-in and when large reports or file extracts are being produced.

How do I sign up for the system?
You sign up for the system right on this website and can begin loading your collection information today! Simply visit the “Enroll New Member” page and follow the simple directions.

You will be guided through a three-step process in which you will provide some account profile information, review and accept our simple service agreement, and select an enrollment plan (subscription length) and payment option. If you are still unsure, one option is to try the system absolutely free for one month without any payment requirement.

Can I purchase the software rather than subscribe to the service?
No, because TrackMyTrains.com is Internet based, we do not sell the system as stand alone software. It is only available on a subscription basis. Enrollment options offered are 6 month, 1 year, or 2 years, with discounts offered for the longer enrollment periods. Your subscription includes all the advantages of an Internet based system including updates as soon as they become available, automated database -up, and extensive information sharing capabilities.

How much does it cost?
The subscription price for TrackMyTrains.com is about the same as a hobby magazine subscription. A 1-year subscription is $30; a 2-year subscription is $55; and a 3-year subscription is $75. For a limited time, we are offering a promotional incentive of additional free months with a paid subscription.

If your use of the system helps you avoid buying one duplicate train car or engine, it could pay for itself!

Can I pay by any way other than credit card?
We strongly prefer accepting payment by credit card for convenience and accuracy. It is currently the only payment option we offer through the website.

However, we do have a very eager and friendly customer service department that has been known to accept payment by check or money order. So, if you really want to subscribe to the system but have an insurmountable aversion to credit cards, we suggest you email customer service (See Contact Us in the Community section of this website) and make special arrangement for an off system payment. In the meantime, you can still sign up and begin using the system today by taking the free one-month trial option in the enrollment section of this site.

Is there any maximum number of records that can be stored?
The system design has no limitation on the number of records that can be stored for a particular subscriber other than an item-numbering scheme limiting the size of any collection to 99,999,999 items. Currently we allow a maximum of 5000 items or 10,000 total records (item records and inventory records combined) and a maximum of 300 visits per month for non-commercial users. This should accommodate the needs of any individual user. If you need to exceed either of these limits, please contact our Help Desk to discuss special arrangements.

We do license commercial users on an individual basis at negotiated subscription prices with higher limits to the number of records stored and the number of visits permitted per month.

How can I be sure my data is secure?
TrackMyTrains.com ensures the security of your data in a number of ways.

Because our website is located on a professionally managed commercial class server, regular file -ups are standard procedure. This is very unlike the way most PC users manage and up their data. No matter what might ever happen to your personal computer, your information is always available at TrackMyTrains.com.

In addition, your data is encrypted and only accessible using your private authorized sign-on and password. You control any additional authorization for people you select to access your information and can change these access authorizations at any time.

What if I discontinue my subscription? How can I get my collection information off your website and onto my computer?
You will have full access to your collection information as long as you are a current subscriber. We provide regular renewal reminders via email and at the time you sign in to the website when you are nearing the end of your subscription period to alert you in advance.

Should your subscription lapse due to non-payment, we will maintain your information for an additional 60 days as a courtesy, although you will need to become a current subscriber to regain access to your data.

As a current subscriber, you can access and download your information at any time using the file download feature of TrackMyTrains.com. This capability lets you select the exact records and data fields you wish and download your information to any computer you choose to work from.

Do you extract or sell information about your customers to others?
We extract information about our customers and their collections for our own internal purposes. Examples of this include solicitation of input ideas for new system features, informational announcements, and activities we believe will allow us to improve the service we provide to our customers. We routinely collect statistics on access patterns, data patterns, and other information that will help us better manage system performance.

Subscribers are given the option of whether we will share other contact information about them with third parties we think may have information of interest to them. We get this information from the subscriber’s self-maintained profile and follow these individual customer elections strictly.

For more information on this topic, please also see our Privacy Policy page on this website.

If you upgrade or change the system, what will happen to my data?
Our commitment to our subscribers is to maintain their information as they have provided it. A big advantage of our Internet based approach is that when we introduce new features, we can centrally make changes in programs and data structures without disruption or inconvenience to our subscribers.