So they say that when it rains, it pours, and well, this past week at 49ers Paradise there was a storm. That’s probably the best way I can sum up the happenings of the site this past week. Before I go on and on with much overdue explanation, I do want to share with you all the positives: 1) 49ers Paradise should be fully functioning as of now. I believe I have attended to all of the user issues I have received, and am keeping up with any more that irrupt. If for some reason you are still experiencing any difficulty, please email me, and also try deleting your 49ers Paradise cookies, emptying your cache, closing your browser and coming back to the site. (If you need instruction on how to do any of that, let me know). 2) The site is clearly growing, and outpacing the rate of growth I had been forecasting. 3) The community at 49ers Paradise, the fans, the staff, the contributors, all of you, have been absolutely amazingly patient with the site, and me, and offering your support in anyway that you can. I think that is what makes this site so special, and at this time of year especially certainly needs mention.
I encourage you all to read on, as there will be some insight into the future of the site laced in through what I am writing below. But before I get there, I do want to thank everyone for the support they have given the site especially over the past few days. All of this commotion occurred during the hardest exam period of my life, and I really would have had a hard time getting through all of it without all of your support.
So it all started with the site overloading the capacity of the computer it is located on. There are certain limits that are paid for on a monthly basis for the site. They include how much I can store on the hard drive, how much data can be transferred between the site and all of its visitors each month, and how much load can be placed on the computer at any one time. It is this third limit that was exceeded that resulted in a suspension of the site. It essentially means that more people were using the site at that one time then are allowed to by the hosting plan I was on (think about going over your prepaid mobile phone minutes, eventually you just got cut off). The load was so extreme that the site was taking on 50% of the capacity of the computer on which it was on. Now 50% doesn’t sound like much, unless you consider that over 1000 different sites are located on that computer. Therein lay the problem.
After speaking with the company that hosts the site (ie the company who’s computer all the files for this site reside on) I was told what the problem was. This is a good problem to have in some respect because it means that the site is extremely popular and active. On the other hand, the only way to resolve the suspension was to upgrade to a more expensive plan (think about adding more minutes to your prepaid mobile phone). Naturally that is the down side to this good problem. In any case, I have dipped into my funds to make up the difference between what this year was supposed to cost, and what it will actually cost. I am also going to have to revise the goal for next year to double what it was initially set at.
Those of you who know me, know that I do not like to ask for money, or help for that matter. When I ask for either, it’s because it is really needed. The goal of $1000 should not be that hard to attain. After all the site is reasonably popular, and if literally every single user gave $1 we would be more than fine. Unfortunately, only a small number of people donate. And I do understand that not everyone has the means to, and that there are so many others way that you can contribute to this site. But please, if any of you can give to help keep the site alive and popup etc free for next year, please do so.
The funds that are donated each year go specifically for maintaining the site at the level it is currently at. That means no upgrades, no new backend programs or scripts, no new features. Yet you all know that I do, do plenty of upgrades and constantly add new features to the site. The funds for these features when needed come from a pool based on the commissions received from the 49ers Paradise Store (where you can do all your holiday shopping for any sports fan of any team of any league) and from the few advertisements (text based on the main page, and a few others dispersed throughout the site) on the site.
I have always made it a priority to keep advertisements on the site to a bare minimum. Specifically I really try and stick to text link ads on the main page only, and if banner type ads are added they are always on a secondary page. As you all know I do not place popups or popunders, or those annoying “layer” style ads on the site. After all, I have built this site and we as a community have made this a place that we all want to be able to enjoy. Your contributions make that possible. But as the site grows, supporting it only through donations seems to be a tough proposition. I am thus seriously considering adding Google based text ads throughout the site. I want to be upfront and honest about this, as this is not something I want to do. But if we have to jump to the next level of service to the site, it will cost over $100 a month just to run at the status quo. I have never been a believer in “click” based ads, but perhaps if it comes down to that, all of you would be willing to spend a few clicks every few visits to help the site subsist. In any case, that decision has not been made yet, but I did want to make you all aware that it is a possibility. Should it occur, I will do my best to minimize their appearance on the site.
So as I was saying, I arranged for, and paid for the site to be upgraded to the next level. It took about 12 hours to copy the files from the old computer to the new computer. It then took about 4 hours to have all the backend settings configured. The biggest issue here was making sure that database that holds all the posts in the forum, and all the user information got hooked back up to the pages on the forum properly. During this time, the entire site, with the exception of the forum (which puts the most load on the computer) was accessible.
Once this was done, I had to tackle the “name server” issue, which was when the longest down period occurred (approximately 16 hours). Basically what was happening during this time, is that the computer that told other computers where 49ersparadise.com was “physically” located had to tell all the computers where the new location of 49ers Paradise was. Once this occurred the site was back up and running on the new system. Unfortunately Google seems to have dropped 49ers Paradise from its first page of listings for the search term “49ers” as a result of this outage. If any of you have the ability to place a link to this site on a site your run, that would be tremendously helpful in getting the site’s position back on Google.
And all should have been “fine and dandy” until of course I received notification that there was a major security hole in the version of the forum software running on the site, that could lead to exploitation. Typically I try and do updates to the forum late at night, when no one is around, but this was an urgent upgrade. I processed the upgrade, which was supposed to take a few hours, but only took about 20 minutes. Finally I thought, things were going my way. This forum version does have some enhanced back end features as well, so it was worth the minimal disruption … but then I visited the site, and I realized the that “upgrade” broke a lot of features in the forum. To name just a few: I had to re-create the overall design of the forum, I had to replace all the buttons of the forum, I had to re-add features like the ignore function, and other security measures (I am still working on bringing back the “merge multiple last posts from the same user” feature. Worst of all though, it broke the scripts running on the main page of the site in the forum tab that pull the latest posts from the forum and put them on the main page.
I spent about 8 hours re-configuring the forum and re-writing these scripts to match the updated software. I also spent time troubleshooting minor issues including some people not being able to log in etc. If you are experiencing any issues with the forum at this point, please let me know. As far as I can tell it is fully functional.
With the forum restored last night I was alerted to the fact that the Throwback store at 49ers Paradise needed to be re-coded because the service that monitors the commissions had changed. Of course, I had to spend a few hours fixing this store, in the event that anyone purchases a Throwback item, with the intention of me earning the commission I did not want that to go to waste. After yet another very late night, I went to bed, thinking this had to be it. Everything would be fine in the morning.
I woke up this morning (Tuesday) and the site seemed to be running smoothly. The HOP Coordinators and I updated the Hot Off The Press section and then again, the site was hit with trouble. The server managed to wipe out all of the stories contained in the archive. I spent a few hours restoring the archive, and the HOP Coordinators managed to bring the backup up to date once again with the latest news. And that ladies and gentleman is where we stand right now. I am hoping like crazy that the storm has passed, that the skies are clearing, and that good times are ahead once more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, to understand what this site has went through, and to offer your support in anyway.
I know that I owe you all a game breakdown and a podcast. Believe me they are on the agenda, as is another article for 365.