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February 3, 2014

We knew there would be glitches of one sort or another when the WCR upgraded its circulation software from a basic Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to a dedicated program with lots of bells and whistles. I just didn't realize that the editor himself would be the main glitch.

Just before Christmas, I wanted to know how many of the several thousand people who had purchased subscriptions had actually been entered into the database. Tinkering with the software, I found a way to export all of those names and addresses out of the software into another program.

Presto! It told me immediately how many subscribers were in the database. By performing this simple export function, I was able to keep a daily tab on the numbers in our database as four of us worked to get all of our subscribers entered prior to our Jan. 14 deadline for sending the completed list to our mailing house.

Our mailing house, Bindery Overload, labels, sorts and mails the newspaper for us.

I confess that I did notice the number of subscribers was always 150 or more fewer than the actual number of subscriber records in the exported database.

Nevertheless, when the time came, I simply shipped the exported mailing list off to Bindery Overload.

The first sign of trouble came when we got a call from an observant staffer at the mailing house wondering why some people were getting three or four copies of the newspaper.

It didn't take long to figure out that the list I had sent included not only everybody who was supposed to receive the WCR, but also everyone who had bought a gift subscription for someone else.

The people who were to be recipients of gift subscriptions did receive their papers; so too did everyone who bought a gift subscription.

When the papers began landing in readers' mailboxes, our phone began to ring. And ring and ring and ring. Finally came the call we were expecting. One generous reader had bought 16 gift subscriptions for family and friends. Now, 16 copies of the WCR had ended up in her mailbox.

Fortunately, our readers are of good humour, and many have said they will simply pass on the unexpected copies to friends or place them at the back of their church for fellow parishioners. Fortunately too that Tina, our staff member who fielded all those calls, is also of good humour.

In the meantime, your red-faced editor consulted with the software manufacturer and learned how the mailing list is actually supposed to be exported before being sent to the mailing house. I apologize to all who were worried or concerned about receiving those extra copies.

This glitch shouldn't happen again. We hope.

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Many people are asking about our online E-edition, which is currently available free and through our website (www.wcr.ab.ca).

It will continue to be available without charge for a couple of more issues when a paywall will be erected and people who want to get their WCR online will be able to purchase a $15-a-year online subscription. Those who have already sent us their $15 will not have to pay again.

In the meantime, if you are interested, check out the E-edition. As of Jan. 24, the E-edition had been visited by 336 separate individuals.

That's not a huge number, but those who have seen the E-edition have spent an average of 11 minutes and 17 seconds at the site. Considering some people take one look at any website and move on, those numbers show that most E-edition readers are spending a fair time reading our online newspaper.

Most weeks, there will be videos attached to some international stories and some advertisements will have a hotlink to the advertiser's website. You'll be able to tell which articles and ads have a link because they will light up when you drag your cursor across them.

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Finally, new subscriptions continue to roll into our office. You can subtly encourage others to buy subscriptions by telling them about articles you have read in the WCR. Or, if you think the newspaper is even better in its new incarnation, please spread that news.

It also never hurts to let your pastor know that it would be good if your parish bought a bundle of 25 copies per issue to place at the doors of the church. Bundles of five or more copies to one address get a special rate.