A word on the technical status of the forum.

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Dale
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A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Dale »

Thanks to all of you for your patience regarding the technical aspects of the board, particularly the outages. Here's a little summary of the situation.

Some weeks ago Rich and I noted that the board users were getting lots of errors. Discussed options and decided to try a couple of things. Rich did the software upgrade. Also moved the forum from one server on Dreamhost (our hosting company, at least for now) hoping that the relocation might help. Seemed like it did for awhile. But, we've had some rough days.

Rich has also been bowing out, although he continues to try to help.

I'm filing support requests regularly with Dreamhost and other than the general observation that the size of the database and the traffic on the board might be posing a problem, things haven't gotten better.

One option under consideration is to move to a virtual private server option on Dreamhost. It looks to me like that would triple the monthly cost. Maybe it would take care of the problems. We could fund it through the Google ad revenues, which I'm scheduled to start getting soon. (Hey, I've never really been able to make money on C&F. Why start now?)

Another option is to research and move to another hosting service, in hopes that we can have a more robust forum without increasing the monthly fees. That's time consuming but probably needs to be done.

If anybody out there is a real expert on this stuff, do let me know.

So there you go. I apologize for the problems in the interim.

Dale
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by kkrell »

Would it help at all to archive very old threads off in their own closed message board, for viewing only, and only have to manage relatively current activity in the active board?

Kevin Krell
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Dale »

kkrell wrote:Would it help at all to archive very old threads off in their own closed message board, for viewing only, and only have to manage relatively current activity in the active board?

Kevin Krell


Actually, Rich and I once talked about a purge of old posts. Frankly, there's a large number that wouldn't be missed and we developed a set of rules for eliminating some. And, we actually did delete a good number, although not as many as discussed. Deleted the old Political forum.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by kkrell »

I probably asked this once on a previous search for new hosting: What are your requirements? Is there a spec sheet somewhere that could be sent to me (email or PM)? This would include what size the database is (indexes, text, etc.), and monthly bandwidth usage, current or projected, and any other special hosting requirements (software capabilities besides the phpBB).

As I understand it, the message board databases should only consist of text messages (wordy little b*stards aren't we?), formatting codes, indexing, member profiles & avatars, PM boxes. All other posted images and mp3s, etc. are linked to off-site hosts at various locations (box.net, imageshack, etc.) and not managed by the message board. Such images should not contribute at all to your site's bandwidth requirements, as they're pulled in by the viewer's browser via connections to those other sites.

BTW, any possibility that the most recent problems are due to the Internet outages due to the 3 cables cut near Egypt?

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by hpinson »

Dreamhost has outages in some regard almost daily. They are upfront about it, and you can see current status at:

http://status.dreamhost.com/

It's bad enough that I have moved several clients away from them, despite the low cost, technically nice platform, and generous storage.

You specifically want to be looking for MySQL outages, and outages on the various clusters that host the MySQL dbs.

It might be worth looking for an alternate host. EApps offers some decent CentOS virtual hosting that would support this board. There are many others. But moving hosts is not easy or fun.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Jack »

I would keep the informative posts on the whistle board, flute board, etc. These posts prevent the same things from being asked over and over and over (in theory at least), and are useful to keep around because they're directly relevant to C&F's main purpose.

Conversely, I would allow the posts on the Pub and the PROCTology forum to be deleted after a set period of time (a month, six months, a year, or whatever you decide) because most of them are not really relevant in the same way as the instrument and music ones are (especially the ones that change with the election cycles, seasons, weather, etc. and are then no longer relevant). This kind of move seems like it would free up a bunch of space while at the same time keep the good stuff where it is, no?

I belong to one message board where after a year, all threads that haven't been posted in are deleted, except for sticky threads. And I'm pretty sure locked threads are automatically deleted after a certain amount of time, too. That board has never had problems like C&F has recently had. I don't know if it's related or not. My hunch is that it is, though.

I'm not too terribly well versed in these things, so if what I said doesn't make sense, never mind. :)

P.S. I miss Rich already.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Dale »

Update: I've ordered an upgrade at the hosting service which should be in place in a day or so.

Wait 'til you guys get the bill.
:)

In the meantime, I think resident genius moderator MTGuru may have come up with the idea that's going to explain why the last 36 hours have been so bad, and hopefully this had led to a bit of an improvement.

I had asked Rich to help et up the RSS feed and he did and sent me the directions for setting it up and activating it. Since I did, we've had much worse problems that normal with the functioning of the board. That's deleted (I think) as of 10 minutes ago, so I'm hoping that will make a difference.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by MTGuru »

Meanwhile, let me add that there's something everyone can do that might help while we're waiting for the upgrade to take effect.

Some of you are probably used to keeping multiple browser windows or tabs open on the board while you're reading. But each window/tab may use up a bit of additional memory on the server. And right now, shared server memory is at a premium.

So if you can keep the number of your C&F windows and tabs to a minimum for now, and log out and close your windows/tabs when you're done, that might help to allow everyone access.

Thanks!
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Lambchop »

I only use one! :wink:
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by MTGuru »

Lambchop wrote:I only use one! :wink:

Bless you!
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Dr. Mierzwiak: Well, technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by fearfaoin »

MTGuru wrote:Some of you are probably used to keeping multiple browser windows or tabs open on the board while you're reading. But each window/tab may use up a bit of additional memory on the server. And right now, shared server memory is at a premium.

That's interesting. I thought that once a page was served,
the browser's connection would be released. I'm surprised
it's persistent.

Have you guys considered a tip jar? I'd be willing to pony
up for continued uptime. Of course, I guess that opens you
up for "I donated good money, and I still get 404'd. Waaaaa!"
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by MTGuru »

fearfaoin wrote:That's interesting. I thought that once a page was served, the browser's connection would be released. I'm surprised it's persistent.

I've been told the same thing by a very knowledgeable friend. The thing is, our hosting service seems to use a resource restriction protocol based on a number of things - including, apparently, IP hits, pages served, etc. So the idea was to keep the hit count lower for now and hope for better performance.

But it's obviously not working, and we honestly have no idea what's going on. IMO, there's no reason a minimally robust server, even shared server, shouldn't be able to handle the fairly simple requirements of the Chiffboard. If resources are the issue, then VPS should give us instant relief. If not, we're preparing alternatives. Believe me, Dale and the mods are as tired of dealing with this as anybody. :-)
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Dr. Mierzwiak: Well, technically speaking, the procedure is brain damage.
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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by djm »

If the alternatives are going to be costly, and if ads aren't covering the costs of maintaining C&F, what would be a reasonable monthly or yearly membership fee? I ask because I have no idea of the costs involved. I would not want to put too onerous a burden on Dale, and if we can all chip in a moderate amount to keep things running smoothly I think it would only be fair.

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Dale »

The ad revenue should cover the new costs. If I ever need to, I'd just put a Paypal Donate button up some place. I'm good. Very nice of you, djm, to ask, though. Money's not the problem. It's logistics and the fact that all of this hit at Christmas and with some stuff that's going on with me and my family.

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Re: A word on the technical status of the forum.

Post by Gabriel »

I also guess that the problem lies in the web server configuration. Persistent HTTP connections are of course possible (and probably allowed here), but they can also be closed server-sided after a HTTP 200/OK has been sent. MySQL connections also can be persistent, but you have to open a persitent connection yourself (in the program/script), they normally are not persistent as a standard.

I doubt that you'll be able/allowed to change the web server configuration if this is a standard web hosting service. You could ask, though. I ran a dedicated server with root access and all that stuff for two years, and it's amazing to see how many tons of stuff can be configured. We ran loads of software on that machine and never ever brought it to it's knees.

Let me know if I can be of help, I'd love to.
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