St Albans Roleplaying Group

Welcome to the St Albans RP Forum! => Club News & Suggestions => Topic started by: Todd on 10:46, Friday 26 Aug, 2011.

Title: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 10:46, Friday 26 Aug, 2011.
Hey everyone!

The forums are currently hosted on my old shared hosting plan.  Because it was paid annually, it hasn't been costing me anything extra.  However, in October my yearly subscription expires and I don't actually use this hosting for anything else.  As such, I will be moving these boards to my new server.

What This Means

It'll most likely be on a weekend, but I'm not sure when exactly.  Some time between now and the end of September.  When I do it, I'll replace the site with a simple page explaining what is happening.  If there are any specific days that would be bad, let me know and I can avoid them.

At some point I also need to upgrade the forum software here.  But that isn't urgent and probably won't happen at the same time.

For anyone who cares, the new server is a VPS that I already use for our WoW forums and voice server.  It's a Win 2008 R2 x64 box with 2GB dedicated RAM, 60GB storage and 2TB monthly bandwidth, running IIS7 and MySQL.  In short, it's faster and more reliable and it gives me a lot more flexibility on the backend.

And on a related topic, we have a lot more resources than we'll ever use on the new server so I'm happy to help with hosting forums or similar if anyone has a requirement :) .

I also do weddings.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Samantha on 18:54, Saturday 27 Aug, 2011.
Todd is made of win.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 18:17, Monday 29 Aug, 2011.
Thought I'd get this done today but my DNS control panel is down, which is odd since the actual server is responding fine.  I reverted everything for now (sigh) but it means about 75% of it is in place and ready.  So it should be pretty quick once I get the DNS stuff resolved.  That's a hilarious pun by the way.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 23:46, Tuesday 30 Aug, 2011.
Sorry, SQL lost a bunch of posts in the move which I only just noticed.  I did it again and I think it is all okay now (and nobody had posted except me so nothing lost).

Also fixed the issue with £ and some other characters not showing up correctly.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Samantha on 12:03, Sunday 04 Sep, 2011.
:thumbsup:
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: splat.toad on 10:32, Wednesday 07 Sep, 2011.
question - i may have misunderstood - is the forum now the .eu address?
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Nick G on 14:47, Wednesday 07 Sep, 2011.
Yeah, for the time being at least, will be back to .co.uk once the old web address propogates where these forums are now being hosted.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 15:42, Wednesday 07 Sep, 2011.
Simple version:
At the moment you need to use the .eu address.  After some amount of time yet to be determined, the .co.uk address will be back.  From then on, both will work.

Techie version:
I buy the domains from 1and1, and I had them set up to use the nameservers of the free DNS solution which is included with my VPS.  The DNS side of that was running fine, but the control panel has been inaccessible for over a week, meaning I wasn't able to add a new domain and point it at my server.  I'm going to try to claim to some free credit for that, even though it's a free addon, because it was a huge inconvenience for me.  As a solution, I tried switching the domains back to using 1and1s own nameservers, but they don't have enough options for me to do what I need to do (multipe A records).  I eventually got the original control panel working and in theory everything should be propagating now, though I'm not convinced it is working properly.  One issues I have is that my DNS server at work is in Seattle and it seems to use more caching that it really should, so it tends to pick these things up a bit slowly.  Anyway, I can probably claim a free month of VPS hosting thanks to the issues which saves me ~£18 so it's not all bad :) .
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 22:53, Thursday 08 Sep, 2011.
The .co.uk domain seems to have propagated now.  I'll probably swap the URL back on the Saturday.  The .eu address will also continue to work (forever).
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 09:53, Monday 12 Sep, 2011.
Site is now back on stalbans.talnivarr.co.uk and cookies were wiped so you'll be logged out on your next visit.  Or I guess that would be this visit since you are already here and reading this.

The .eu address will still work but if you use that one you will always show as logged out because you don't (and can't) have a cookie for that domain.  I recommend you switch your bookmarks back but if you do come on via .eu you can just click any link on the page and it'll log you back in (assuming you are logged in).

Sorry, bit confusing.  Just pretend the site is like it was a month ago and everything should be fine :D .

Summary of this post:

Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Samantha on 19:00, Monday 12 Sep, 2011.
Just pretend the site is like it was a month ago and everything should be fine :D .

That's good enough for me!
;)
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 21:32, Tuesday 04 Oct, 2011.
My host is upgrading their DNS (magical thing that turns website addresses into actual computer addresses) on Monday, there might be ~30mins of downtime.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 10:14, Friday 04 Nov, 2011.
Server crashed overnight, if anyone saw errors this morning.  Should be okay now.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Todd on 09:35, Wednesday 28 Dec, 2011.
We've had some issues with our server node (the physical machine that runs a group of virtual servers including ours) recently which looks to me as if it is either being caused by some other idiotic user or a bad hard drive.  My host denies both but I argued with them for a while and they suggested moving to a different node so we're doing that. 

Basically there will be some downtime next week but I don't know the exact details yet.  There won't be any changes to the site, it'll just disappear for a bit and then come back.
Title: Re: Site Downtime Incoming
Post by: Samantha on 10:01, Wednesday 28 Dec, 2011.
Like Nightcrawler.
Bamf!
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 15:01, Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012.
If anyone caught the site offline over the last couple of days, that was me desperately trying to fix the ridiculous chain of problems that ended up corrupting the domain admin account (in simple terms you can read this as: a really fucking bad thing).  The only good news I can give you is that I fixed it now and there was no data loss.

Does that count as good news?  Let me tell you that it does after you spend four hours hacking back into your own server!
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Nick G on 15:07, Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012.
Was wondering what was going on... Good job on fixing the account, any idea what caused it?
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 15:50, Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012.
See big post here:
http://www.bottleortree.co.uk/index.php?/topic/3338-were-back/page__view__findpost__p__79385

Short version is that SQL crashed my server and the account password got fucked, beyond that I have no idea.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: splat.toad on 16:22, Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012.
i have no idea what all that means, but am highly grateful both for your technical know-how and that you run this forum for us. Thank you for all your effort!  :)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 19:41, Wednesday 22 Feb, 2012.
Grind pepper in your eyes and then try to remove it with a fork.  It would be a similar experience.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 07:37, Friday 24 Feb, 2012.
Oh dear. Thank you for fixing everything! :)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Anrawel on 17:45, Sunday 11 Mar, 2012.
I'm glad you managed to get it sorted out !
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 01:03, Thursday 12 Jul, 2012.
There was some downtime today that people may have noticed, some other user was shitting all over our node or something, my host says it is fixed now.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 19:06, Thursday 12 Jul, 2012.
Yay!
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 10:23, Friday 05 Oct, 2012.
There may be some downtime on Sunday.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 18:08, Sunday 07 Oct, 2012.
We're back!  We're now on an entirely new server, though that should be completely transparent from your perspective.

If you have any problems please post here and I'll check it out.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Cheeky_Pixie on 13:39, Thursday 14 Feb, 2013.
Did something just go kablooie this week...?
:O
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 15:28, Thursday 14 Feb, 2013.
Short answer: Yes!

Long answer: On Monday my host decided to retire my DNS servers without telling me.  DNS is like the address book for the internet, it lets your computer turn the domain name which you type in (or click on or bookmark or whatever) into the actual IP address of the computer which hosts that site.  With no DNS servers, nobody knows where our site is and nobody can access it.  This took a bit of time to affect everyone because DNS entries are cached.  At some point your cache entry expires, your computer goes looking for an up to date address, and the internet tells it that it doesn't live anywhere.

My host gave me new DNS servers but didn't provide any way for me to configure them making them effectively useless.  And for some reason my host has been ignoring me ever since.  Even though they have not been the best hosts overall, this is genuinely odd and I'm never had them just straight up ignore me.  I've asked for a refund today, got no reply to that either, and will be putting in a refund/mediation request through Google (it was paid through Google Checkout) later today.

In the mean time I am taking full site backups a few times a day just in case they decide to do something stupid.  I have reverted us to the free DNS service that comes with our domains (there's a reason I keep my domains and my hosting with different companies), it's not perfect but it works just to get the sites online.  There was a weird bug whereby some of the image files were pointed at a slightly different domain which I fixed a few minutes ago.  Everything should now we working right here.

Through all of this the site was actually online, that's actually the frustrating part of it.  DNS is such a trivial thing but it's fundamental to accessing sites.  It's like if your postman decided to throw all your post away.  You're still there, waiting for your letters, but nobody can get through!

There is a good chance we'll end up moving hosts (yes, another server move) very soon.  That will result in a bit of downtime (techie chat: one of the problems with the free DNS we're on now is that it doesn't let me set the TTL, meaning I can't easily prepare the domains for a transfer and we basically just have to wait it out until the new address propagates, I believe they use 24 hours so it shouldn't take more than 48 before everyone can see it again, unless you use non-standard DNS caching times as some corporate networks do).

On the plus side, the new place should actually work out a little cheaper and I've heard nothing but good things about them.

Perhaps soon we will finally be able to settle in one place without all these disasters and server moves.

For updates on any downtime or if you need to contact the best way is through G+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/118332637350752086993/posts) (and give me a shout so I can add you to the circle that gets these posts).
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 23:40, Thursday 14 Feb, 2013.
Thanks again. =)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: splat.toad on 10:55, Friday 15 Feb, 2013.
Thank you!!!   :)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 00:12, Monday 18 Feb, 2013.
New server is running now but I haven't moved anything over to it yet.  I am trying to figure out the best DNS-gymnastics routine to keep things online as much as possible.

More to come...
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Cheeky_Pixie on 12:57, Monday 18 Feb, 2013.
Thank you... :D
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Gnarl on 13:53, Monday 18 Feb, 2013.
Thanks Todd.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 13:16, Tuesday 26 Feb, 2013.
Those of you who were not otherwise distracted by RPG-based Monday night gatherings may have noticed some downtime yesterday afternoon/evening.

The reason for that is that we are now finally on the new server.  I had to rebuild the web server from scratch and even though it seems like everything is working properly, it's possible I've missed something.  Let me know if you run into any problems.

If you're still unable to access the site on a certain device (especially one on a corporate network), it's because your IT Department and/or ISP are incompetent.  Give it a day or two and it should start working again.

I don't have any further downtime planned.  There's an update to the forum software I need to do some time but that's not urgent and usually only takes 10-15mins.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Aunib on 17:08, Tuesday 26 Feb, 2013.
Thank you for all your effort in maintaining this site.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 19:12, Tuesday 26 Feb, 2013.
Oh, one other thing for...whoever is in charge around here, I don't even know :P .

I can get .co.uk addresses for what effectively amounts to zero cost.  If it would ever be helpful to have something more memorable or obvious for the site address (like stalbansrpg.co.uk or whatever), just let me know what you want and I can get it set up.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 23:04, Wednesday 27 Feb, 2013.
I get in trouble* for every new person that finds us, so leaving it as it is is fine by me. :p

*Well not really.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 00:00, Thursday 28 Feb, 2013.
Last time I was there it did seem like you had filled up the entire pub!
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 09:42, Thursday 28 Feb, 2013.
Yeah...we're up to an estimated 40ish people if everyone's in on the same night.
Thankfully not everyone comes every week or else I think we might break the place.
Gamers exist- who knew? ;)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Gnarl on 13:56, Monday 04 Mar, 2013.
Quote
Oh, one other thing for...whoever is in charge around here, I don't even know  .

Well if you ever find out, tell me. I have a lot of problems with how they run this club, I wouldn't mind taking it up with them.
But most of all thanks for doing whatever magic was required to make forum continue to fora. And come back at some point, I can normally find a space for a person for a week if I'm running. Possession is (in) nine-tenths of genre, and I frequently have a player missing.

Quote
I get in trouble* for every new person that finds us, so leaving it as it is is fine by me. :p

*Well not really.

I was joking, obv. In fact, since the kids only turned up for one session so far this year, I don't have high hopes of them returning, so I have less fear of actually out-growing the pub. But I agree we don't need a change of address while we still head google for "St Albans RPG". Even if it is a link to post about a different club (or is that just me that gets that?)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 14:45, Monday 04 Mar, 2013.
:)

Yeah, Pete wanted to let us know it was there.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 18:59, Monday 04 Mar, 2013.
Quote
But I agree we don't need a change of address while we still head google for "St Albans RPG". Even if it is a link to post about a different club (or is that just me that gets that?)
That's happening as a result of the page title, because the site name doesn't include "RPG" but that thread does.  It could be fixed pretty easily (change the site name to "St Albans RPG Club" or something similar), but you probably don't care too much :) .
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 10:01, Monday 20 May, 2013.
Our datacentre is running some maintenance at midnight tonight but it should only be an hour or so.  I know it doesn't really affect you lot much but just mentioning it.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 23:56, Thursday 21 Nov, 2013.
I just deleted a dozen spambot accounts that all registered today.  I have also changed the anti-spam question.  Hopefully that'll clear things up but please do hit report on any spam that you find.  Thanks to those who already reported stuff.  I'll try to keep an eye on registration for the next few days.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Nick G on 11:16, Friday 22 Nov, 2013.
Heh, it was a few more than a dozen... I spent about an hour and a half banning and deleting them, didn't think about updating the anti-spam stuff, clearly not with it atm...
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 18:27, Saturday 23 Nov, 2013.
I saw that some stuff had been cleared before I got to it, thanks.  Seems to have stopped for now anyway.  The other SMF forum that I have also got hit so I think there's someone specifically targeting SMF sites right now.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 14:49, Monday 06 Jan, 2014.
The forum should now be sending emails again, sorry about that.

(Nerd version: We changed to a new IP address recently and I forget to add it to the connection whitelist on the SMTP server.)
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 19:44, Wednesday 08 Apr, 2015.
So my host, out of the blue, just decided to go out of business. They claim that they emailed everyone a month ago and nobody replied but it's clear from the number of angry customers that this didn't happen. There is a new company that is taking over their services and for the moment it seems that all of the UK nodes are still up but it's entirely possible that this will all just disappear randomly. In the US most nodes were just straight up deleted so we're at least fortunate in that we have some notice.

I'm taking backups of everything right now and contacting the new company to find out what is going on. I'll try to grab backups at least daily until until I have it confirmed that the current data is safe but I'm at a wedding this weekend and moving house next weekend so this is not great timing!

If you have any important posts / images / stories / whatever on the forums please do also take a copy yourself. Forum admins can also take full database backups from the control panel if they would like to.

I'll post updates in this thread when I have more.

Regardless of the outcome I'm still going to need a server for other things and the domain is registered separately so I'll make sure the site survives, there just might be a bit of downtime if things explode.

Never a dull moment!
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 19:33, Wednesday 15 Apr, 2015.
Ok Todd, thanks for the heads up.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Aunib on 20:16, Sunday 19 Apr, 2015.
And thanks for the effort on this
Title: Re: Website peek-a-boo
Post by: Anrawel on 18:51, Wednesday 22 Apr, 2015.
Yes, thank you Todd for providing us with this forum.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 13:33, Friday 01 May, 2015.
Oh, I never replied here again, sorry, got caught up in moving house. Server stuff got sorted anyway so we're good. It was mostly just a lot of confusion and the current server was fine all along. Look at how competent I am ::) .
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 11:52, Tuesday 29 Sep, 2015.
Apologies if anyone saw errors trying to access the site over the last day or so, for some reason this site failed to properly restart itself after a server reboot and I hadn't noticed because everything else came back online as normal. I just started it manually and everything looks good so I'll put it down to Windows being dumb.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 20:51, Wednesday 13 Jan, 2016.
Forum will be down for a few hours this Saturday (16th Jan) afternoon/evening as my host is doing some networking upgrades.

Edit: This got pushed back to Sunday for some reason, same time.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 15:59, Wednesday 23 Aug, 2017.
Looks like the site logo was remote linked, if anyone has a copy of it I can host it on the server and fix it.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Gnarl on 20:15, Sunday 03 Sep, 2017.
I have messaged Samantha about it as she set most of this up. If not, I'm sure I can find something. Wasn't it a Swan? It should probably be a Goat anyway.

Oh, and while I remember, the 'Monday nights from 7ish @ Number 23!' should probably be something more like 'Monday nights from 7ish @ the Goat!' or similar. I can't see where this can be changed in the Admin bit, apologies if I'm missing the obvious.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Todd on 15:22, Thursday 07 Sep, 2017.
Admin -> Configuration -> Current Theme.

The logo setting is there too.

I changed the text and pulled the logo for now, if you want a new one uploading just post it here and I can sort it.
Title: Re: Website Stuff & Other Horrible Posts
Post by: Samantha on 22:55, Thursday 07 Sep, 2017.
I may've been absent for a while and not noticed this, apologies.
That'll be from when Photobucket imploded.
Thanks for tidying up. =)