Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Minor version upgrade

We're currently running an FTP upload to install all the files for a minor verison update that cures some of the problems that Internet Explorer users have been having.  IE breaks some accepted internet standards for some unknown reason, so their browser hasn't been working too well with the forum software.  IPS have written some new code specifically for them, so IE users that didn't get sick of nothing working should have a better experience from here on in.

While we're updating there will be the occasional transient error when you click something or refresh a page.  I've had a few already myself, and pressing F5 after a few seconds has succeeded in loading the target page that generated the error.  As soon as the software has finished uploading, I'll run the upgrade process after taking the forum down.

All being well we should be back up soon after unless I've screwed up, in which case I'll keep you updated here :)

EDIT: Apart from our posting toolbars disappearing temporarily, and the drop-down menus not working, everything went fine, and it didn't take long to get them working again.  One of the developers looked into what was happing, and it was an out-of-date cache file that was preventing these things from happening.  Now it has been deleted, we're good to go :)


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Lingering DNS issues

If your DNS service provider hasn't yet updated their records, you'll still be seeing our "We're moving" message on the old server, as it's been left switched on but idle while the new one beds in.  We're also getting some email bouce-backs while the DNS records for our email server propogate too, so if you're not getting notifiactions, be patient and they should clear up.

Meantime, if you're still not able to get in, and I believe there are a dwindling number of you, try any of the below if you feel comfortable with fiddling round in your settings:

1. Turn off your router and leave it off for half an hour, or more if you can manage it without getting all twitchy. That might force your router to update its own cached DNS records if it has them.

2. Go into your router’s settings and change one of the DNS server IP addresses to taking care to note down the previous number before over-writing it. Save changes and reboot the router.

3. Go into your computer’s settings, bring up the properties of your network card (wired or wireless), and in the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) properties, click Use the Following DNS Server Address and enter and click ok to save.

I’ve been deliberately vague with how to get into your router and network card’s properties because if you don’t know how to do that, you probably shouldn’t be mucking about in there. I don’t mean that in a condescending way, but if you were to cock something up, you might disconnect yourself from the internet completely. Also, I have no idea what hardware you’re running, so vague is probably more use anyway BTW – is one of Google’s own DNS servers, so is a very good backup to have anyway. If Google don’t update regularly, I don’t know who will!

Good luck, and see you on the forums soon :)


Monday, 21 July 2014

We moved

Well that was fun! :)  Actually, as server moved go, it wasn't too bad.  The DNS took only about 2 hours to refresh my end, but your mileage may vary.  When it came back, there were some weird text and graphical glitches that it turned out were caused by a folder not copying across properly.

So far so good, but keep your eyes peeled for any errors, and if you should have any, report them all with screenshots, full text and descriptions of the issue to help us in resolving it sooner.

Now I need to relax.  What's on telly? :)  No rest for the wicked!

Looks like some unfortunate folks are still looking at the old "closing down" notice on their computers, because their DNS hasn't yet updated, or their computers have stored a cache of the site. 

Flushing your DNS Cache (Windows)
To flush your DNS cache from a Windows machine type "ipconfig /flushdns" at a command prompt (don't omit the space before the slash) or in the RUN box on the start menu. Then hard-refresh your browser using the instructions below:

To Hard Refresh your Browser
To speed browsing, Browsers cache commonly used files, which reduces the download on a page that shares files and code with other pages you have been viewing.  That's cool until the page is updated to clear a bug or similar, when a hard-refresh of everything on the page becomes necessary.  To do that, Press CTRL+F5 in Firefox & IE, CTRL+SHIFT+R in Chrome, and Opt+Cmd+E for Safari in Mac.

If any of your buddies can't get in yet, pass this onto them :)


We're Moving!

Hello folks.  With a little bit less notice than I'd have liked, our far-too-efficient support people have transferred all the data to the new server, so I've switched us off for the time being to stop anyone from posting things that will be lost when the DNS propogates.

The propogation could take between 4-6 hours to take effect, so please bear with us.  The main change you'll notice is that the new server will be online, and if you refresh you'll see an open forum rather than the "we are closed" message.

Once the DNS has propogated, I might take the server offline and carry out a few post-move preventative maintenance tasks, but I'll make sure that a different offline message takes the place of the old one.

Bear with us, thanks for your patience, and if you're having to talk to the family, do some work or something else to fill your time, I'm truly sorry for your loss ;)

UPDATE:  17:50 The new server is running, but a lot of the graphics and buttons are screwed up due to caching issues.  I'm working on those, so please refrain from posting until I can actually take the forum offline to do it behind the scenes.

Owner -

Monday, 14 July 2014


The server went down earlier today and was repaired by around 9:30am UK time.  Support were quick to get her back going again, but on checking the database, it needed a repair, which is why it's down at the time of writing this.  We'll be back again shortly, so keep trying now & again :)

EDIT:  We're up again after some repairs to the database.  We're starting the process behind migration to a new server shortly, so will keep you updated on the situation and warn of any planned down time.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why you should never clean up.

I was running some admin tasks on the database earlier, and when it came to the largest file, the one that contains all our words of wisdom, it crashed while parsing the one million plus rows of drivel we've produced over the years.  It doesn't look like it's going to come back without some intervention, so a support call has been put in.

Over the last couple of months we've had a growing concern that we might be outgrowing our current server, and we've been discussing a move to a more capable box behind the scenes for a couple of weeks now.  If we decide to go for this, the monthly cost will increase, but I'm hopeful that we'll then be running a better machine that should see us through the next couple of years.

Watch out for updates as we progress with the decision.


UPDATE: The server was rebooted this morning after some work overnight, and it wass clear that there were still some problems, so I switched off the forums, and some of you might have seen the "offline" message.  Support later switched off the server's HTTP Daemon, which serves up all the web pages to the users, so you'll now ge the "Unable to connect" message from your browser.  Once the next lot of repairs have been carried out, I'll do a bit of testing, and if everything works at that point, I'll bring the forum back online.  There may be a few missing posts after that, but if you have any errors, just report them and include the actual text of the message to help us with our repairs.

I think this incident has demonstrated that having grown a LOT during the last year to 18 months, we've out grown our relatively new server, so we're already looking at replacing it just as soon as we can.  We've been deliberating spec and pricing with Support for over a week now, and are getting there, but just ironing out a few wrinkles and trying to keep the costs as low as we can manage.

More news as and when it happens.


UPDATE: The server is now right-side-up, and I'm running some re-indexing tools to syncronise the posts and threads with eachother after the database repair.  As you can imagine, that's a big task, and it'll work better with everyone out of the site, so it's still switched off :)  The biggest job is out of the way, but I'm re-syncronising everything else for completeness.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

It's a trap!

The site has gone down, possibly related to a Hard Disk check we're running with Support.  We had a SMART message about one yesterday, and they've been testing it since.  It might not be related, but they're aware of the site being down again, so we'll be back soon(ish), with luck :)

EDIT 15:32 BST: I've got FTP and Control Panel up, and it looks like the site is waking up slowly too.

EDIT: 16:34 BST: I think we know why the crash happened, and now we have a couple of options of what to do about it.  One will involve several hours offline, the other will require money.  Was it ever thus?

Saturday, 31 May 2014


Hi guys,

The site has just become unresponsive, and support have been contacted with an urgent ticket.  We'll get 'er up and running again just as soon as possible.  In the meantime, some music... that's your cue to put some tunes on :)

EDIT: We're back.  I've done some precautionary maintenance of a few tables that can be corrupted after a crash, but if you get any error messages, copy them down and let me have them, as they give me information as to what might be broken.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Morning all... except the server

She's gone again, and I'm in touch with support already.  I've also reminded them about the extra memory, so please wait out.  Now.  Breakfast...

EDIT: Sometime before 11:30am we were back - I forgot to take a note of the time.  I closed the forum briefly to do some repairs, and it seems to be working fine now.  Someone had tried to post a topic 5 or 6 times, and they were all broken, so had to be deleted, and there were some small errors in the database that needed tidying up.


Saturday, 22 February 2014

What was I saying? Oh yeah... memory!

We've been talking to our service provider about ways of increasing the stability of the server, and they're of the opinion that given that we have over 1.2m posts and a database that exceeds 2gb (which I get the impression is a bit big), we should really have more RAM on our server to give it some breathing room when it gets busy.  We typically have in the region 400+ people browsing the forum at any one time during the daylight hours, and we shift some sizeable chunks of data around.  The last time I looked at the stats (also the first time!) we have an average of over 8 million page impressions each month, with almost 46 million hits from 675,000 visits.  That's a lot, and it takes its toll on our server.

We're currently looking into installing extra memory and are waiting for quotes from our hosts before proceeding.  The server will need to be powered off to install the RAM once we've decided how much to put in (as much as we can afford), but we'll post up a warning, and try to make it happen during the European night, where the largest percentage of our membership resides.  It should be pretty quick to do once the technician gets to our box in the datacentre, as it's just a case of opening the box, taking out the old RAM (if necessary) and slotting in the new DIMM(s), then closing up the box and pushing the power switch.  They may run some diagnostics on the new configuration in order to check it works, but we shouldn't be down too long unless there's a problem.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

You snooze, you lose

I woke up to a down server and a number of messages on my phone from friends that help out with keeping me informed when I'm away from my PC.  I couldn't even get in via the text based SSH interface, so Support were called, and they're working on it.  I'm a bit late posting this as I was busily sanding away at the intakes of the L-29 Delfin I'm building during the down-time.  Sorry 'bout that! :$

EDIT:  As of 15:41 we're back :)  A reboot was done after some investigation, so the forum is back and running.

EDIT: 11:29 21st Feb 2014 and it's off again.  We got a quick response from support and they're looking into it.  Sorry for the interruption folks, but we'll resume normal service as soon as we're able :)

EDIT: 12:50 and some database errors that weren't immediately evident have cropped up now we're using it again, so I've set a repair process in motion.  The server will be unresponsive or slow until this has finished, so bear with us.


Saturday, 25 January 2014


We're off again, and I've been onto support both at our hosts and at Invision, who supply the forum software.  Each time the server goes off, we get it back up and running again reasonably quickly (providing I'm not asleep or elsewhere), but we never quite get to the bottom of the cause.  This is what I'm going to try & do this time around.  Wish me luck!

Quick update 5:30pm Sat 25 Jan 2014: Support are going to get the actual box in the data centre on screen to see what info they can glean from the box before trying another reboot.  We're working on it, so bear with us :)

Late Update: I've disabled some 3rd party hooks (think add-on apps), and the last one to be disabled brought the load right down.  I'm leaving it at that for now, and have passed some information to Invision for them to study.  Thanks for bearing with us ;)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Uncle Buck

That may well be rhyming slang for something... The site and server aren't responding and I've informed out hosts, as there's nothing I can do from here.  Have a beverage whilst you wait, and enjoy the peace and quiet.  It'll never last!


Friday, 17 January 2014

The Phantom Menace

...and other film titles.  The site has gone down for reasons as yet unknown, but support are informed, and will be working on getting us back on our feet again shortly.  Have a cuppa, and maybe do some modelling/work depending on where you are. :)