Bay Area Miata Drivers
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by nick
Looking ahead and looking back on the Miata, sports cars, clubs, and BAMD. Plus of course updates on my Miata.
Entry # 2 (1,831 Views) Posted on December 12, 2009
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Website Upgrades and the Joy of NAs
Back in November when we launched the new web site, we thought this baby was ready to go. We'd put hundreds of hours into the graphics, content, and scripting, and we were anxious to get started. Little did we know, looking back now, that all we really had was a calendar, a forum, and a registration page. Most of the buttons in the menu took you to blank pages. 
Since then we've added event photos, blogs, a drive archive, and a links page. We've also added more forums, created a profile page, and cleaned up the login code so you shouldn't have to keep signing in to every new page (although I still have one more thing to try in that regard, in case it's not working perfectly for you).
As I see it, the most important feature a website can have is freshness. Too many websites, including those of many Miata clubs, look like they haven't been updated in weeks or months. They have old dates and promos for events in the past. As much as possible, we've tried to automate the BAMD website content. The calendar, for instance, is dynamically-generated each time you call it. It gathers event names and dates from the BAMD database, and constructs the calendar on the fly. So it always stays current. Similarly, the Miatas and Photos pages are created each time you view them, using the latest photos we've collected. 
The BAMD website is our window to the world. It's how the rest of the world sees who we are and what we do, and that's one of the things that motivates us to keep improving it. But the website isn't what BAMD does. What we do is drive. We especially like to drive in the company of other enthusiastic Miata owners who also like to drive. If the website helps us do that, if it helps bring together people who like to drive, then we have to try to make it as good as we possibly can. So we're always going to try to find ways to keep the site looking new, and most of this is going to be based on your suggestions. 
Speaking of driving, my '01 is still on the ropes, so I've been tooling around lately in the '97. Although the two cars aren't all that dissimilar underneath, there's a real difference in how the cars drive. I always thought the NB was a better Miata in just about every way it's possible to be a Miata, but there's something about the way the NA drives, a way that really connects you with the car, that Mazda gave up on with the NB. It's understandable. Cars have been getting quieter and softer over the past 20 years, and mechanical noises that were acceptable in a 1990s sports car now have to be filtered out.

Even if an NB doesn't connect you with the car as well as an NA, it still connects you with the road like nothing else made. A lot of cars are faster, some corner as well, and a few are almost as much fun to drive. But no one has that combination of light weight, responsiveness, and directness that Mazda engineered into the NA and NB Miatas. The cars can be tossed around in a way that's impossible in a four-door German sedan that weighs twice as much, and foolish in an exotic sports car that costs ten times as much. 
One of these days the '01 will be back on the road, and the NA will retire to its parking spot next to the mailbox, where it'll sit week after week watching the NB back out of the garage and motor smartly down the street every morning. But even relegated to a back-up role, the NA won't be forgotten. It's a special car in its own right, with a back-to-basics quality the NB will never quite match.
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