SVR Site outage

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SVR Site outage

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Jun 06, 2006 9:26 am

Salvete omnes...

A few days ago the SVR Web site and this Board were taken offline by our host company. Seems there was a billing dispute. We won. We're back.

Bene, it wasn't that simple. Nothing is. Getting it back took a few phone calls, many e-mails, a bunch of money, and a little bit of old-fashioned Roman persistence (think siege tactics!).

There had been some uncertainty as to when our lease expired. We thought it was next May; our actual site administrator sent queries to the hosting company, but they did not have his current e-mail address, so any replies they might have sent wound up in an empty box. At midnight on the 31st, though, we found out the hard way. I had been working the CollPhil on the server just that morning; but when I returned everything was solid gone. All our hard work was replaced by an error message: "Site Not Available: If you are the site administrator, please call [their billing department] as soon as possible."

I first had to reassure everyone I could reach that the site had not been deleted; we had just been locked out. A call to the host on 1 Jun (Felices dies natalis Societatis indeed) confirmed this, and that nothing would be deleted until 9 Jun at the earliest, and that the site would be put back up as soon as payment was received. A two-year contract, like the one we had, would cost $166.80 US plus a $50 reinstatement fee; one year would be $95.40 US plus the fee.

There was much discussion among the Rectores about what we were going to do. Tiberius Draco found an antique (by 'Net standards) version of the site, from just before the Board was created; he and I made full backups of it, in case we'd have to start from scratch somewhere else. You may see it at:

http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/col ... istoricum/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/collegium_artium/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/col ... osophicum/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/col ... eligionis/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/collegium_latinum/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/collegium_graecum/
http://home.tiscali.be/mauk.haemers/col ... ilitarium/

(The home page only refers visitors to our current site; it does not link to any of the others.)

I started looking at other Web-hosting and bulletin-board services. Others looked into ways of making the payment, and, if possible, transferring ownership of the site to someone who was still an active member of the Societas.

On Friday, 2 Jun 06, M Horatius Piscinus made the payment that secured us another year on the host server. Various of the other Rectores pledged to help reimburse him. And M Claudius Octavianus, who runs his own server and offered to host us free of charge a couple of years ago, said he'd be happy to have us once that year is up. (His original proposal fell victim to our somewhat xenophobic politics of the time.)

Still, the SVR Web site did not come back on line until just this evening. I'm not sure what the holdup was. I gave our hosts the site owner's correct e-mail address; perhaps they were waiting for the old admin to make out transfer paperwork; or maybe whoever was handling us just took his or her weekend a little too seriously. (I doubt the latter, though, as everyone I spoke to, at least, was very professional.) I kept the Rectores (and as many other sodales as I had e-addies for) updated on the changing status of negotiations. But nothing really changed until this afternoon.

And then everything changed. Instead of requiring either the old owner or Piscinus to submit domain-transfer paperwork by mail (with a $25 transfer fee), the host company took the info directly from me by telephone. The site was back up before I got off the phone. Now all that needs to happen is for Piscinus, the new site owner, to appoint a deputy admin if he wants one...and to go introduce himself to the server!

The whole incident, especially when we were contemplating moving, has brought us to an opportunity: We are now in a position to redesign the site, in an unhurried way, for an orderly transfer to Octavianus' service next spring. I was given this mandate: "Think. Design. Do it right. We don't have to worry about a rush job."

I turn to you, sodales and interested guests, for suggestions. What would you (plural) like to see? A different format, a better application form, sound files of Latin pronunciations, a Members' Photo Album? A cafepress.com shop, maybe? Design that makes the site easier to navigate or more friendly to disabled people? "What is your pleasure...?" If I know how to do them, any suggestions will be seriously considered.

Magnas et profundibus gratias to:


M Horatius Piscinus
Primus Aurelius Tergestus
Ti Dionysius Draco
Gn Dionysius Draco
M Claudius Octavianus
Cleopatra Aelia
Q Servilius Priscus
Q Pomponius Atticus

newbie Helena Iulia
Drusilla Valeria Concordia


...and, from one of my role-playing groups,
Matthew Goran for a clunky but touching Latin expression of moral support.

I hope I have not forgotten anyone. And my deepest gratitude to you also, omnes, pro patientia vobiscum...and for not panicking. A great deal of trust was placed in me; I hope I have carried it well. Regardless, I stand humbled in your collective presence.

You're awesome. Ita est!

In fide,
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:40 am

Salve Mari,

Yes, sound files would be nice! It would be cool to compare pronunciations of classical Latin of different speakers.

I think with our current site design, Garrulus left us with a poisoned gift. He was an excellent webmaster, but to date we haven't had anyone with his knowledge of site building, which makes the site hard to maintain and change. To be honest, for less experienced webmasters our old site was better. It wasn't as brilliant as this one because it was all plain old html, but at least it was very easy to edit and had a clear, pleasant lay-out. Just my 2c.

Optime vale,
Draco
Gn. Dionysius Draco Invictus
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Simplicity

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:45 pm

Salve, mi Draco...

...and I strongly agree! Our virtuoso Webmeister did not make things any easier for his successors. I'm still feeling my way around a lot of what he did, and all my own work is in bare-bones HTML, thank him very much!

I have a complete backup of the old site, in all its elegant simplicity. And to any future hosts, I set only this parameter: If you can't teach me how to run it, we don't need it. I do not want us to again end up at the mercy of the Only Man on the Premises who Knows What He's Doing!

In fide (and all for a bit of Catonian austerity),
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Postby Q Valerius on Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:18 am

If there's something web-related that you cannot figure out, I do HTML/CSS/PHP myself and may be of assistance.
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More fun...

Postby Aldus Marius on Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:41 am

Salvete omnes...

The SVR site and this Board have been going up and down like a bucking bronc all day and night. Near as I can figure, it's because the host company is upgrading our site management tools. (No, this was not Mari's idea this time!!)

Expect erratic behavior until the bugs are worked out of the upgrade. Right this moment, everything's working; we're just experiencing slow connections, dropped connections, and the last few days' worth of posts and PMs seem to be missing (although some are trickling back in as we speak).

Hang in there...! >({(:-)

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Postby Q Valerius on Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:59 pm

Something's freakishly weird - when I view this topic logged out, I see it as Aug 4th, but when I view it logged in, I see it as Aug 8th.

We need to complain to the host that whatever they did, they lost much of our information in the database.
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Hmm...

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Aug 09, 2006 5:30 am

Salve, mi Scerio...

Yes, that *does* seem to be a bit more of a difference than could be explained by the time-zones... (I routinely log on from the central US and see posts from Belgium lose an entire day...but in that case, the time I see after login is earlier than the one I see as a guest, as the Board adjusts itself to my preference.)

Nothing else from between 1 and 3 August has reappeared. The site and Board themselves do seem to be stable and running at near-normal speed. But I'd say a Ping to our Gracious Host is in order... (We received no notice, for starters.)

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