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  Who's Who at YuleLog? (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Who's Who at YuleLog?

Posts: 477
From: Walnutport, PA
Registered: Nov 99

posted 01-21-2001 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for andi   Click Here to Email andi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I'm so glad I asked!! Thanks to Todd for sharing your fascinating story, and to everyone else who has responded so far. It has been so interesting reading everyone's stories. Its nice to get to know you all better!

I live in a small town now, and haven't met anyone to share my interest in collecting Hallmark, so this board gives me a great escape when I want to talk about ornaments! I work at home so that my schedule can be flexible for my husband and 7-year-old daughter. I do medical transcription, although my degree is in Anthropology - not the most marketable area of study in small-town PA! When I need to take a short break from typing I log on and see whats happening here. I found the board over a year ago when I did a search for secondary market ornament prices.

Thanks to Todd for giving us such a great place to get information and share our "hobby"!


[This message has been edited by andi (edited 01-21-2001).]


Mary F.

Posts: 3732
From: Milwaukee, WI USA
Registered: May 99

posted 01-21-2001 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mary F.   Click Here to Email Mary F.     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good question andi. Thank you Todd for filling us in on your beginnings.


Sue in Tenn

Posts: 190
From: Brentwood, TN USA
Registered: Jul 99

posted 01-21-2001 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sue in Tenn   Click Here to Email Sue in Tenn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I think I have been here forever! I remember the old board. Have had Herald visit Nashville for a week in early 1998. Have a purple yulelog t-shirt that I wore to KC in 1998. And have met our rulers, Todd and Donna, on three different occasions. Plus, I might add, have been doing business with one of our club sponsors, Roadrunner Hallmark in California for 5 years. Plus, I have Yulelog.com as my home page!!!!



Posts: 4577
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-21-2001 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cathy_Tex   Click Here to Email Cathy_Tex     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great topic, Andi! I have loved reading everyone's stories.

I don't remember exactly when I got online, but it wasn't all that long ago, early 1997, I think. I used to read the old Hallmark bulletin board, and that's where I found out about YuleLog. It was the old one page style back then, and I much prefer this new updated version. It just keeps getting better, and better, ....

Visit my home on the web!

Cathy Metcalf - Houston, Texas



Posts: 1067
From: Lawler, IA USA
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-21-2001 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ta2dldy   Click Here to Email Ta2dldy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember HEARING about such things as Prodigy and asking someone what it was, and after finding out you needed a computer, I gave up. Are you kidding? I am still trying to figure out the microwave!

Well, a couple of years passed, a friend of mine who is into computers told me she had found a way to connect to the internet at home. (NE Boondocks of Iowa) My husband had it at school, so I talked him into a computer. A whole new world opened up to me. Our internet at home was short-lived however, when we found out our connections were black market, boot-leg, whatever you want to call it. (Somebody somewhere made a fortune off our monthly fee). But a reputible company finally did come into our area.

With Yahoo.com as my homepage, I soon discoverd the CLUB. I joined Ornamania and am still a member, but hardly ever go there, it was way too slow. Then one other member of the club suggested I try here. That was the old board, and I fell in love. I'm still here and YuleLog has gotten me through some really bad days, I can always find a laugh, or sit here and quietly pray for another and their family.

I bought the software for the first time 3 years ago, I think. The first year I bought the update I could not install it. I contacted Todd and he called me on the phone and for an hour we tried to install this software. We finally came to the conclusion that I had somehow erased all my stuff from the previous year. I had to start all over and enter all the ornaments again. But what a help he is. Thank you Todd for the board, the software and for being you!

Karen (Ta2)

I plan on living forever.
So far, so good!


Mark Sockwell

Posts: 92
From: Vineland, NJ, USA
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-21-2001 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mark Sockwell   Click Here to Email Mark Sockwell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, well, well, so that's how it all began.

Great story, Todd. You should copy your response and set up a seperate link (YuleLog Beginnings -- how it all started) on your home page so that "new" people to the board can always check out YuleLog's history. Thanks, Andi, for asking the question. I've always wondered how YuleLog got started, but never thought of starting a topic on it.

I started using the internet in January 1997. I got a new computer and signed up for the internet (fortunately, I get it free -- through the college I work at -- the college has it's own server --- it's been one of those great perks) . Anyway, once I had access to the internet, I started doing some searches. I don't recall exactly how I came across YuleLog, but I remember it was one of the first web sites I visited (and now 4 years later, I'm still visiting) --- It's been a great place to "hook" up (no pun intended) with many people with a passion for collecting (especially, Hallmark ornaments).

It's neat to know that I'm almost one of the original users (within a couple of months) of accessing and using the original YuleLog bulletin board (actualy, I thought it had been around longer than Nov. '96). And yes, I was one of those early users of the "old" style YuleLog board who somewhat resisted the "new" board --- I still miss the "old" board in some ways --- simplicity, mainly. But I'll have to admit this "new" board is much better in many ways.

As many of you know, in December 1997, I literally threw together a project called, "YuleFriends Santa Beanie Project". In 1998, Todd set up a special web page to handle this special project (now called Operation YuleLog Santa Beanie). It still amazes me how so many YuleLoggers came together to help out perfect strangers.

In 1998, I came up with a brain storm to have a contest called the "YuleLog Herald Mystery Contest". As many of you know, YuleLog Herald sort of became the YuleLog mascot - it's a one legged elf (poor thing) --- of course, a Hallmark ornament -- and he's famous now.... he got to hang on Nancy's (the comic strip) Christmas tree --- I still can't believe that I got Brad Gilchrist to do that for me. Todd was very supportive and nice enough to set up a seperate web page to handle this contest. That contest was one of the most fun things I've been involved with in my 4 years on the internet. Just one of those magical moments.

In 1998, I had the privledge of meeting Todd and many other YuleLoggers at the Hallmark 25th Anniversary convention. It was a neat experience to finally meet many who you only knew by their words posted on this bulletin board. I never would have had the privledge of getting to know any of these people had it not been for YuleLog (sort of reminds me of "It's a Wonderful Life" and the influence one person can have on so many lives).

I hope that Todd is able to continue providing this excellent forum for all of us (dare I say "nuts"), to have a friendly place to visit and chat about our passions and life struggles. A million thanks, Todd.

Mark msockwell@cccnj.net
Vineland, NJ

[This message has been edited by Mark Sockwell (edited 01-21-2001).]


posted 01-21-2001 09:45 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've asked for YuleLog software as a present for years and finally got it this year! I've been so pleased. I'm up to 440 ornaments entered, and still have a ways to go. I'm limited to doing it only when the baby is asleep otherwise he wants to play with all the ornaments.
Thanks, Todd, for a great program and an interesting story.
My mate does a lot of geeky things, too, he was on the web back in 1991 (using internet back in 82 when I had no idea it existed!). He made some kind of compression program info zip and zlib ages ago and still gets requests for customizing it. His best friend, Gus Solomon, wrote the error correction code that made CDs possible (and earned nothing from it!) but always said that Mark would be a millionaire if he followed programming instead of working on exploring space. Anyways, even with all his tech savvy, I could never get him to help with logging my ornaments and I very much appreciate the YuleLog software!
I joined ages ago when the board was all on one page. Then disappeared for awhile when having our second child, but now that he's a toddler am getting back in full swing! I love the YuleLog boards!



Posts: 1361
From: La Porte, TX ... USA
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 01-21-2001 03:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cnichols   Click Here to Email cnichols     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's been a "great read", Todd! I've never been an AOL user; but, I remember Prodigy days. It's amazing how far things have come when you really think about it (and I don't know if I truly understand it all, even now). Sounds like you had everything you needed----knowledge, some well-placed friends, and the demand.

I still haven't loaded all my ornaments into YuleLog; but I'm working on it.

Also, I appreciate the way you try to keep "comfort" here.




Posts: 1693
From: TX
Registered: Jun 99

posted 01-21-2001 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ChrystinP   Click Here to Email ChrystinP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, Marietta, I had forgotten about the AOL boards filling up and us taking over other boards. AOL acted like we were cannibals and all we were doing was visiting, lol. It was so much fun trying to post and not get caught. Now, I go over to AOl once a week or so for old times sake more than anything. I really do miss the old aol boards.

I really dragged my heels signing up over here, visited for quite a bit longer but didn't post for ages. Now I visit this board like I used to visit the AOL side.


Karen Fain

Posts: 332
From: Portage, Indiana
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 01-21-2001 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Karen Fain   Click Here to Email Karen Fain     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I loved your story of how YuleLog got started. Thanks for making it all possible. It's great.



Posts: 131
From: SE Michigan
Registered: Jul 99

posted 01-20-2001 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marietta   Click Here to Email Marietta     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow great post, but I have to admit that I wasn't quick enough to pick up on Yule"log"... and I'm a wordsmith too! But, hey, better late than never, and I'm glad I know what it means now. I can say that I visited Yulelog in the very early days, probably from a post on the AOL boards when the boards used to fill up and we had to go and raid other boards... those were the days...we would get in so much trouble, and be scolded like little children! and then AOL severely limited the buying and selling and trading posts... so I think I did my first trade via Yulelog, (it was for the NHS painted lady that I missed in 1996, I think I traded a Lionel or maybe Luke for it, the most recent trade was/is with Barb for the Bedtime Reading with Mickey ornament I missed this year - Thanks Barb, and of course Todd for making it a possibility... I wouldn't even consider doing a trade with anyone else except here.) I don't think I ever went back to the AOL boards after Lora, (LWelch) jumped ship, and declared her devotion to Yulelog from that point forward, or something like that. What I liked the most about this board was that it was accessible to so many more collectors than just those on AOL.
Thanks again for the community Todd and Donna.
A little side note, I tried to distribute bubble wrap for a while to ornament collectors and was even on the ornament collectors web ring Lora started. My husband works for the box industry and I tried to get him to design me a storage box for my Hallmark ornaments to my specification... but he wanted too much money from me to run the first prototype!

[This message has been edited by Marietta (edited 01-20-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Marietta (edited 01-20-2001).]



Posts: 478
From: Virginia
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 01-20-2001 07:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Frosti   Click Here to Email Frosti     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gee Todd you have such a heartwarming post! One day I will order the YuleLog database, as soon as I can afford to!
Anyway, who am I? I am one of those people who has been here since late 97 when I started collecting. Despite my name saying I have been here less than that, I was one of those people who were on Yulelog when Todd's server went down which was at least over a year ago...the boards were all blank and it was a lonely hour in my life! I started collecting ornaments in 1997 to Commemorate my daughters birth...yeah well you know the story...it is a drug and I couldn't pass that Hallmark store by ever again. Coming home from my first Hallmark Shopping adventure I noticed www.Hallmark.com on the flap of the ornament box and back then they had a decent board and I found people selling older ornaments and I had to buy everyone that would commemorate something in my life that I had missed! From their everyone was always talking about Yulelog and I think it was Drewster that told me the url and drug me here! Almost 4 years later, I still have that Hallmark ornament collecting addiction! My husband Brad, thinks this ornament thing is insane, but does collect the Star Wars and Lionel and our 2 children are being raised on Hallmark ornaments!

Visit my piece of the web-Frosti's Igloo

Happy "Dreambook" day!



Posts: 1145
From: Massillon OH
Registered: May 99

posted 01-20-2001 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sharon   Click Here to Email Sharon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gee, I enjoyed reading the story of how Yulelog was started. I guess I never thought about it. Thanks for the info Todd and for Andi's question!

COLD here in Ohio!!!



Posts: 1384
From: Pasadena, Maryland,USA
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-20-2001 05:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Sue   Click Here to Email Sue     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
hey Andi!
I'm sure glad you asked that question!! Nice to hear how this all got started. I was led to Yulelog by a fellow McDonald collector. When she found out that I collected Hallmark, she told me I should check this site out...many months later I finally did...and I've been coming back ever since! Like Todd said, back then it was only one page...all the buy/sell/trade and discussion was mixed together and it was really hard to keep a discussion going. I am happy to say that I did not drag my feet when he set up this new board!! I knew immediately it would be a success!
As for me personally, I have been collecting Hallmark since my first after Christmas purchase in '78 ...now the number of purchases have multiplied many times over and the ornaments are only getting better every year!!
Pasadena, Maryland



Posts: 1563
From: North Carolina
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-20-2001 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mickey1   Click Here to Email Mickey1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Todd, you went over "your" 40 line limit. Just kidding, I loved reading all the details of how YuleLog got started. Thanks.


Todd Ray

Posts: 1519
From: Southaven, MS
Registered: Apr 99

posted 01-20-2001 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Todd Ray   Click Here to Email Todd Ray     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well gosh! Thank you for asking! Its a long and dull story, but you asked!

My name is Todd Ray, I own and operate YuleLog Software. I have an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Memphis, and a masters degree in Engineering Management from Christian Brothers College. For my day job, I am a Data Network engineer for FedEx.

In the early 90's one of my co-workers (at that time I was working for Dover Elevator), was doing pretty well selling a program for Horse owners called HorseTrak. It was a data base for people who own horses. It was only available for DOS based (before Windows!) machines, and he knew that I was a Macintosh user, so we worked out a deal for me to develop a version of HorseTrak for Macs. I worked with him for a couple of years (with him getting most of the money!), and I figured that perhaps I could find a niche of my own. More on this later...

My wife, Donna, has a brother in law who owns a small Hallmark store in Batesville, MS. Every year, since the early 80s, she would buy an ornament or two from his store. I didn't pay much attention to them. In 1991, she bought me the Starship Enterprise! Of course, being a geek (he said with pride!), I am a big Star Trek fan! I was pleased to get the ship. The next year we bought, the Shuttle Craft. In 1993, Donna's brother-in-law saw our tree and commented that the enterprise was worth over $150 dollars! I was floored. I had never heard of the secondary market! We got one of the printed price guides, and I discovered that we has several that had appreciated nicely!

Well again, being a geek, I had to inventory the ornaments and calculate what they were worth. I was impressed! I also realized that I might have found my niche! I wanted to be able to quickly see a list all of the ornaments, their prices, and to be able to inventory my collection. I was sure others would like this too! Who knew! Perhaps I could sell a copy or two per week and help pay for my collection!

I bought all of the printed price guides I could find and the only collectors data base program that I could find. The program ( I won't mention any names...) would only run on DOS/Windows machines, and it didn't run very well... I found it clunky to use, and very unstable. It also used prices that I found to be a little hard to believe. When I went to secondary market shows, I didn't have to pay those prices and no one would offer me those prices! (I still don't understand where they get those prices!) Most of the printed price guides were similar in nature. One was different. Ellen Gordon, had a simple, printed price guide, The Collection Connection, that listed a low, high, and average price. I found these prices to be much closer to reality! Ellen achieved this by collecting lots of price lists (not guides) from secondary market dealers all over the country. She then spent days, typing these lists into her computer. From this she calculated an average price and extracted the high and low.

I contacted Ellen and we worked out a deal where she would license her price guide to me. I wanted to create a program for Macintosh users, but as a bonus, the software that I used to create the program could run on Windows machines too! I wanted a catchy name (the competition's name was as clunky as the software!) So I brainstormed. Let's see, Santa's List..., Ornament Inventory..., Ornament List..., Ornament Diary..., Ornament Log..., Yule Log! Yes! No wait lets do that computer name trick of running words together with capital letters in the middle! YuleLog!

After weeks and weeks of evenings and weekends, YuleLog 1.0 was ready. This was July 1995. The World Wide Web was just barely there... I was a charter member of America On Line. Back when AOL was Macintosh and Apple only (bet some of you didn't know that!) I remember when there was only one chat room and it would only hold 27 people! I had frequented the AOL Hallmark forums (as well as Prodigy and few others) and when I first started thinking about YuleLog, I had posted the idea and lots of folks said they would be interested. So when I finally had a product to offer, I posted on these boards. The response was slow, but encouraging, considering it was July! Sales were steady, and people were pleased! I asked for feedback and listened when it was offered. Sales have increased every year since and I have a very impressive rate of yearly update customers! In 6 years, only three people have returned YuleLog. One of those bought it again later when they got a faster computer! I now have customers in every state, and in several countries! While it hasn't grown big enough to be a full time job, it more than pays for my ornament and computer habit! And it has helped me make dozens of friends all over the country!

Most of my marketing has always been on-line. First it was mostly AOL and Prodigy. I have advertised in some of the printed Ornament periodicals, but of course my target market has to have a computer, so on-line works best! I remember, in 1995, asking my local Collector's Club, the River City Collectors, if I could tell them about my program. Being a geek, and not a public speaker, I was very nervous speaking front of this group of about 30 people! I was talking too fast, being too technical, and I was getting a lot of blank stares! So I asked how many of them had computers, and three people raised their hands! Oppps! Luckily, times have changed and now lots more collectors have computers!

When the World Wide Web first started getting popular, another of my co-workers started a small business as a local Internet Service Provider (he offered to let me in, but I told him that he would be put out of business pretty quickly by AOL and Compuserve! Boy was I wrong! He is still going and doing very well!) and he helped me to set up a web page for YuleLog. This was in November of 1995. The web was young, and traffic was sparse! Hallmark didn't even have a web site. My site was sort of an on line sales brochure. I would post about it on AOL and the other sites. I knew I needed a way to build traffic. I remembered the AOL and Prodigy Hallmark forums and looked around on the Web for something similar. There wasn't anything! I talked with my friend and he set me up with a little freeware Guest Book program and the YuleLog Bulletin Board was born in November of 96. It was the first place on the World Wide Web where Hallmark Collectors could come and talk about their hobby!

The original YuleLog Bulletin Board only had one page. It was a combination of chat and buy and sell. I had used on-line bulletin boards (dial up! way before the web!) and the AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy forums for years, so I knew that they could turn ugly quickly! So I have always insisted on people being polite. Most of the people who use YuleLog, understand and appreciate this, so YuleLog is usually a pretty comfortable place to visit! I try to monitor it every day (usually several times a day) and I try to keep it pleasant. Most of the time that is an easy job, but it can be tricky at times! This little virtual village is populated by people all over the country, and sometimes there are misunderstandings. But, for the most part, Hallmark Collectors are good people, so it usually goes pretty well! (Another indication of the goodness of Hallmark collectors is that in 6 years of selling YuleLog, I have never received a bounced check or had problems with Credit Card payments!)

As the traffic on the YuleLog Bulletin board grew, it became obvious that I needed to expand. The first expansion was to add the Beanie Baby board. I had to do this, just to keep the Hallmark board from being flooded with Beanie posts! Of course, the Beanie craze is tapering off now and that once busy board is kind of lonesome now... During the peak of the frenzy, the Beanie side was just as busy as the Hallmark side.

About two years ago, after much foot dragging, I changed the format of the board to its current version. This upset a lot of the original board users, but I think most will now agree that the new format is better in lots of ways! It is a little more complicated, but offers so much more! A little over a year ago, the YuleLoggers were formed and now is one of the largest members of the Keepsake Ornament Collectors Clubs!

When CD-ROMs became widely used, it gave me the opportunity to add photos to the YuleLog software. I contacted Hallmark to see if they could help me with this project, and our own Beth Wall was the representative who helped me obtain permission from Hallmark to use their photos! Thanks Beth and Hallmark! This made YuleLog software so much better! Hallmark has always been very helpful and gracious!

So, in summary, YuleLog, the company, is pretty much just me! My wife and kids help out when it is time to mail out all of those update order forms each year. We set up a huge assembly line in the living room and dining room to stuff and stamp boxes and boxes of envelopes! My wife puts up with me spending too much time at the computer answering eMail and monitoring the bulletin board. My kids dutifully carry the days orders to the mail box when I ask. Donna helps me with the data entry each year when we add all of the new items. I get lots of input from my customers and the YuleLog bulletin board users. The YuleLogger's club is ran by volunteers and elected officers.

However, YuleLog is much more than just a company now. It is quite literally, a community. We have members from everywhere! We share in each other's joys and sorrows! We have witnessed births, deaths, tragedies, sickness, weddings, graduations, layoffs, retirements, birthdays, anniversaries and of course holidays! We sent a one legged elf all over the country and to Japan and Canada! We have conversed via eMail, Bulletin Board, chat room, telephone and we have met at the Hallmark events and secondary market shows!

You have brightened my life and I thank you! Y'all come back now! You here?

[This message has been edited by Todd Ray (edited 01-21-2001).]



Posts: 477
From: Walnutport, PA
Registered: Nov 99

posted 01-20-2001 09:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for andi   Click Here to Email andi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is something I've wondered about, and since we seem to have a lot of new faces lately, I thought this might be a good time to ask. How did the YuleLog board get started? Would anyone like to tell us a little of its history and introduce the people involved in making this such a great place? I know that its Todd's board, related to his software (by the way, how did Todd get started with that?), and that Beth from Hallmark visits the board regularly. Does anyone else from Hallmark post here? I know that Hallmark people lurk here sometimes, as I've had a couple of e-mails from "Lurkers"!

Anyway, anyone want to introduce themselves and fill in the newbies on what we've missed in the past? Thought this might be a good time to ask, since we've gotten the online Dreambook out of our systems (or have we?) and we haven't reached a frenzy for the March Courier yet!


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