Current events/2008

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If you're wondering what happened to Shifti today, well... So are we! Everything was working well and then the database server started acting up. I've yet to figure out what exactly caused the problem, but it looks like we got hit by Google, Yahoo! and Cuil indexing bots at the exact same time. Since this is the only thing I can think of that would cause this problem, it's what I'm going to blame. But please note that I may be wrong and that we are still looking into getting another high-end machine - like the one Jon Buck donated - to handle the database so that the very old machine (and ex-web server) that is currently running the database can finally be retired.

ShadowWolf 01:14, 23 November 2008 (EST)

Regional DSL connection loss thanks to the fscking idiots at Verizon. This most recent loss of connection was not my fault folks.

ShadowWolf 12:07, 19 November 2008 (EST)

Did some cleaning today and that meant taking down the network here for a while. Sorry about that folks, but now the "spread" of the computers and the network they were connected to has been contained.

ShadowWolf 16:28, 18 November 2008 (EST)
Minor glitch with getting everything back up correctly... That is, I forgot to turn off the PITA soft firewalls on the database server. Stupid, stupid me. Sorry folks - everything should be working now.
ShadowWolf 02:10, 19 November 2008 (EST)

After a lot of poking and testing things I discovered that calling a RewriteMap must happen inside httpd.conf and not in a .htaccess file. Now that I know that I've tweaked the server configuration here and people are now free to use the ampersand in page titles.

ShadowWolf 18:50, 30 October 2008 (EDT)
And even more good news - we are now on par with Wikipedia and the question mark is a valid character for titles. Yes, it'll show in the address bar as %3F, but it will no longer get silently eaten by the system. Rejoice, all authors of Shifti, for I have re-discovered my old magic and things are once more looking up for us.
ShadowWolf 23:11, 30 October 2008 (EDT)

In trying to make ampersands work in titles - like Wikipedia - I managed to learn that there are many, many simple ways to crash a webserver. Sorry for the intermittent down-time tonight.

ShadowWolf 23:05, 28 October 2008 (EDT)
And after much poking and prodding I've learned that there was a good reason for the Wikipedia people patching in their own "internal" handler for rewriting characters such as '?' and '&' in URL's. The RewriteMap "external program" bit doesn't work as advertised. So far we've had no problems with '?' in titles, but recent experience has shown that we will have a lot of problems with the ampersand. So as the new note on Help:Posting stories says, do not use the ampersand in a title - spell out the word, please.
ShadowWolf 02:50, 29 October 2008 (EDT)

Oddly something I've done to see what the problem was has worked out. The machine that was serving the database was having problems and causing MySQL to freeze. I'm unsure what that problem was, but this has been solved. Our old webserver - Draco - is back online and now running the database. Thanks for hanging in there through these problems.

ShadowWolf 23:33, 16 October 2008 (EDT)

We are having problems keeping the database running because of the sheer volume of traffic. Last month we topped 10K visitors and 300K hits. This month was heading towards an even larger number of both. Unless the problem is with the machine itself - and it could be - we are facing once more seeing the site become unstable. To help solve that I've begun looking for a new machine that is purpose designed to handle the amount of work needed. I'll be updating the donations bar to indicate that the drive isn't ending anytime soon.

ShadowWolf 17:07, 16 October 2008 (EDT)

Down time has come and gone - Shifti is now on the new server. There may be small spots of downtime through the rest of the night as I get the last services online.

ShadowWolf 19:23, 13 October 2008 (EDT)

Some down time is planned to happen sometime late at night on 10/13 or early in the morning of 10/14. This is to bring the new server online and replace the server that has worked for so long. With this we'll have a lot more disk space for the web side of things and a hell of a lot more memory for everything. With this upgrade we should be good for the foreseeable future. The next planned upgrade is for the database server, which should be getting a new machine sometime in the next few months.

In other news the donations have not yet covered the cost of the server upgrades and there isn't anything in there for the coming (in January) connection fees or for the planned new database server. Please people, donate and help keep Shifti healthy and ad free!

ShadowWolf 16:50, 13 October 2008 (EDT)

Sorry about the unplanned down-time. Apparently my dog was hiding from a recent thunderstorm in the wrong place - under the desk that has both servers that run Shifti on it. She'd missed unplugging the primary server, but had unplugged the database server. I hadn't noticed that because it is a laptop with a very long life battery. However it did eventually die. That led to me having to argue with the new OS on the server, which wanted to insist on its own setup for the network interface - one that was at odds with the correct setup. I've taped the plugs in place (all of them) and this shouldn't happen again.

ShadowWolf 18:32, 2 October 2008 (EDT)

9/25/2008 is a day I've been waiting for for the past week. On that date the new server for Shifti should be arriving. If the setup works well I'll be bringing it online before October starts. However there are plans for further upgrading that machine to future-proof it so the old machine is going to be kept around for a while. However, if this new machine does work out we may be able to offer more services than there are currently. What these will be hasn't been decided, but the truth is that there is very little that can be offered to our users that we don't already. However, we may setup another wiki for things like aggregating information on various settings used in transformation fiction.

ShadowWolf 00:51, 25 September 2008 (EDT)

Recently I've checked the logs and noticed a few blogs covering Transgender Fiction have linked to us. If you've followed one of those links, then Welcome to Shifti. If you're wondering who it was that linked to us, it's Transgender Fiction, Captions and Comics and Rebecca's World. As soon as we figure out how to classify those sites we'll be adding permanent links to them in the right place.

To all of you coming here looking for Transgender Fiction: We have a small collection, but currently it is small in comparison to the rest of our content. If you're an author of TG Fiction, feel free to create an account and add your works.

ShadowWolf 10:44, 19 September 2008 (EDT)

Due to increasing pressures from the amount of traffic Shifti has been seeing I have moved the database to a separate server. This means that the latencies people were experiencing - those that were causing the site to have a noticeable lag that cause browsers to time-out the connection - should be lessened.

ShadowWolf 23:32, 14 September 2008 (EDT)

And according to some independent testing the problem appears to have disappeared with the separation of duties.

ShadowWolf 00:26, 15 September 2008 (EDT)

I have localized the problem to the database. I have gone and tweaked the configuration, but at this time there is little I can do to improve the situation more than it has been. However I am exploring the possibility of moving the database to my spare server to see if that helps resolve the problem - and I will also look into raising the memory limits even further.

ShadowWolf 05:16, 21 August 2008 (EDT)

And it seems that the problem still exists. I am unable to, at this time, figure out what the problem is. The problem is either with the router – and I hope it isn't because routers are expensive – or with the server. I will be going to poke at the server and see if raising some of the limits set in the config files doesn't alleviate the problem.

ShadowWolf 17:22, 28 July 2008 (EDT)

If problems are still occurring you can usually contact one of the Admins on IRC at – there is almost always one of us there. I've been poking at the servers configuration, the router and the firewall. We have been weathering a massive amount of activity surrounding some very heavy-handed hacking attempts. However there has not been a breach of security — truthfully whoever has been trying is really stupid… Only one of the default accounts actually has a password(that one is really secure) and the rest of the attempts have been on account names that only really exist on a Windows machine.

In other news the Administrators are working on the fine details of a "Best of Shifti" anthology that will highlight the best of all of the excellent stories on Shifti. Details beyond that are not available at the current time as those details are what we are working on currently. If all goes well we are hoping to have the book available for purchase by the first quarter of 2009.

ShadowWolf 19:14, 27 July 2008 (EDT)

I have been informed that Shifti has been unreliable lately. The cause of this is puzzling me, because while we have had a massive upswing in traffic starting last month, the problems have not been reported as starting less than a week ago. However I have been perusing the logs and it does appear that the server Shifti is situated on is seeing a massive amount of traffic. This traffic appears to originate from someone who seems to believe that it is a Windows machine – because they are trying a brute-force "dictionary" style attack on the account name "Administrator", which only appears on Windows machines. What really puzzles me is that the software that is run to spot and disallow this sort of attack has not been functioning as it should. Rest assured, people, that I will keep looking through available information and will hopefully locate the cause of that malfunction. If that resolves the problems, then I will be very happy.

ShadowWolf 10:59, 24 July 2008 (EDT)

For a number of reasons, mostly personal, the IRC server I'd gotten linked to the Noodle-Ninja network for the sole purpose of hosting a discussion channel just for Shifti has been shut down.

ShadowWolf 17:48, 18 July 2008 (EDT)

I'm going to have to write a script to automate the software update process. After updating the server last night (some 137 packages had bugs fixed) two Perl Modules that I manually installed to support extended awstats plug-ins disappeared. This is really strange, because a huge chunk of packages that I'd had to manually install alongside those two didn't disappear. I'm going to see if I can't find a package repo that covers the Perl CPAN stuff so I don't have to worry about reinstalling these modules all the time.

ShadowWolf 13:45, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

Did some physical cleaning today and had to take the server offline to do it. Was a good move, because now there is no longer a massive rats nest of cables behind the server. The rest of the room is still a mess, but I'm working on it. Before the day is done I'll have it finished and there should be no way that the system should ever go down because a cable gets kicked again. I do have another reboot or two coming to bring the servers serial terminal back online, but right now I'm going to let the server go. Maybe tomorrow I'll do the reboot and bring the serial terminal online so I can once more dump the KVM switch.

ShadowWolf 11:20, 16 June 2008 (EDT)

I decided to look at the raw server logs today and imagine my surprise when I found that some users were having problems due to a custom tag I created for Shifti. After study it looks like the problem was with indexes in an array of database results being non-linear when the code was expecting them to be fully linear. The code has been changed in an attempt to sidestep this issue, however, the logs aren't all that clear about what was going on when the errors happened. There is also a bit of debugging output in the code now. It's only built to log the situation that I think is happening, however. So if you run into a situation where you attempt to access Shifti and get a blank page, add a message to my talk page and I'll see if I can find and fix what caused the problem.

ShadowWolf 17:28, 6 June 2008 (EDT)

For everyone who is into things like this, the statistics on Shifti's traffic are available. All you have to do is browse on over to here to see how Shifti has been doing. Statistics are updated automatically at least once an hour.

In other news Shifti's first birthday is only a month away. On July 16, 2007 the first visitor browsed Shifti. This was either myself or Bryan - because it was about a week between Shifti being setup and being opened to the public. However, that date is the first date I have for Shifti having visitors, so that is the date we are going to use as the birthday.

ShadowWolf 19:57, 4 June 2008 (EDT)

At about 1800EST 30 May I noticed that the distribution of Linux that has been the backbone of the server from the start was no longer receiving security fix support from the vendor. So rather than risk any down time I decided to just upgrade to the next version of the same distro using it's built-in upgrade capabilities. Needless to say, it failed miserably - almost "Epic Fail" level. Having already had my fill of that distro for day-to-day use I decided to fully upgrade, including a distro change.

That upgrade was complete more than two hours ago. But because of the default security setup that it ships with, I've had to put in extra time to make it work. I'm not saying that the extra security is a bad thing - just that it really capped off a long day. Anyway, the server is back up and running. Sorry for the down-time, but since I've ditched Ubuntu in favor of a distro that actually CAN (and it has proven this) upgrade to a new version of the distro on the fly… Well, it shouldn't happen until we actually move to a hosting provider because we're running up massive bandwidth costs.

ShadowWolf 03:10, 31 May 2008 (EDT)

4/29/08. Shifti is getting really big. However, this is a community-driven site for the most part. Stories that are put in author user spaces can only be edited by admins, which means we've been falling behind on proper Categorization. I've been starting to correct this today with Category:Rabbit, Category:Dragon, Category:Rodent and so forth (check the Category:Stories by TF page for updates. Working through the ones in user space will take us some time. But for user-accessible stories, feel free to add Categories. We'll keep on top of things, so don't worry about messing anything up.

--Buck 20:50, 29 April 2008 (EDT)

2040EST, 4/21/2008 - that's approximately when several transformers and at least one local substation had problems and left the area I'm in without power. Sadly, the area not more than a quarter mile from me had power within the next hour, but where I'm at was without power three hours later when I decided to go to bed. I woke less than an hour ago and started checking that everything had come back up along with the power like it's supposed to. Oddly, the server remained powered off, so I had to manually bring the server back up. Sorry for the problems, but in this case, I say - blame the power comapny (and the squirrel that decided to chew on things inside the transformer that started the failure).

ShadowWolf 11:07, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

April 21, 2008 marks another round of "OOM Killer" caused outages of Shifti. I have not been able to track down what caused the system to chew through it's memory like it did, but I am investigating. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

ShadowWolf 13:03, 21 April 2008 (EDT)

From about 8PM Greenwich on April 13, 2008 until 1AM Greenwich on April 14, 2008 the server saw so much traffic that it has blown the statistics completely off-kilter. This burst of traffic originated from a dynamic machine with an address localizing it in Belgium. Sadly this wasn't just a few new users coming in off an open proxy. No, it was a single machine making massive amounts of page requests—close to 5000 in that period. Among those there were about equal amounts of attempts to edit pages and checks to see if the edit went through. This pattern has pretty much pegged the source as a "WikiSpammer" type spambot and it's only thanks to the early run-ins with spammers that brought about the Captcha's and, more recently, Bryan setting up a cascading protection system for a huge chunk of pages in the "Main namespace" that kept the bot from having any real impact.

However, the fact that this bot, coming in originally from machines in China, has been pointed at shifti four times in as many months does seem indicative of the level of popularity of Shifti. I know that in this age of automated tools for spammers and their bots to find new places to spam that this declaration that a spambot trying to hit us is indicative of popularity, but I'll take any sign that Shifti is becoming the cornerstone of the TF Fiction community that I know it can be.

In other news, it does look like we will easily break the numbers from March. Even discounting the excess for 12-Apr-2008 we should as easily surpass our current best months statistics (March 2008). And people are beginning to use Shifti for collaboration on stories and as a place to organize their ideas for easier access. These uses had been thought of—the Pig and Whistle collaboration is the first collaboration—but Joysweeper is the first to use a page on Shifti to track ideas.

ShadowWolf 09:42, 14 April 2008 (EDT)

Sorry about the small outage today folks. I was trying to unplug the old monitor and even though I thought I'd properly tracked down the correct power cord, I managed to pull the servers power cord instead. Mea Culpa.

ShadowWolf 11:43, 8 April 2008 (EDT)

Okay, now for the explanation… Sometime between when I went to sleep 0700EST 31-MARCH-2008 and when I woke up around 1420EST 31-MARCH-2008 the local phone-line provider—that national giant 'Verizon'—began having problems with the phone lines in my area. These problems did not, apparently, impact voice service, but did cause DSL connections to suffer massive packet loss. A ping of my connections gateway (on the ISP end) showed upwards of 70% packet loss. After watching the connection and testing it all day I gave up and watched a lot of TV then went to bed. Sometime between me going to bed and waking up today the problem was fixed. The result was that the router temporarily went nuts when the connection came back up and needed to be given a hard-reset. The hard-reset worked and everything came back online, but apparently all the port-redirections died. That was trivial to fix and now we're back. Thanks for bearing with us!

ShadowWolf 15:38, 1 April 2008 (EDT)

No, the server is not having problems. There are problems with the line somewhere between the ISP and the server.

ShadowWolf 14:41, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

It's confirmed. According to the ISP, the problem lies with the line provider—that is, with Verizon.

ShadowWolf 15:40, 31 March 2008 (EDT)

Well, 3/28 is done and we've had nearly 200M of traffic—in one day!

Now, at Bryan's suggestion–and because it does need mentioning–the money collected in the last donation drive is enough to cover for a year of the current hosting. It'll be put to this use—and maybe, well, there have been errors reported in the SMART logs on two of the hard drives in the server. One of the drives has reported nearly 2000 errors–mostly standard stuff caused by the few blackouts that the server has been hit by–but there are a number of "pre-fail" and "old-age" errors showing up. Another drive has reported nearly 9000 errors–this is the biggest problem and the drive I'm really worried about. If it were to fail we'd have a big problem here.

ShadowWolf 00:13, 29 March 2008 (EDT)

First, some good news: we've recently had a massive burst of traffic–about 130M of bandwidth used on 3/27 and over 140M used so far today. But, against expectation, the server has remained rock-steady. This may be because of a difference in the number of simultaneous requests or some similar difference or it might be that my last set of changes to the config to reign in memory use has been very effective. Whatever the reason, we've decided to hold off the move to ServerBeach.

Second, I would like to thank "Smooch" from the "The Process Forum" for linking to Shifti in a post there.

Third... I'd like to welcome all browsers from The Process Forum. It's the fans of transformation fiction that are the heartblood of Shifti, just as our Authors are our lifeblood. Welcome and happy browsing!

Finally I have to thank everyone that is using Shifti to find good fiction and everyone that is using Shifti to share their fiction with the world. When I got fed up with the complaining on the TSA-Talk Mailing List about how the Transformation Story Archive was defunct and setup Shifti, I had hoped we'd reach the traffic level that the Transformation Story Archive had reached before it was forced to move off it's original host but wasn't holding my breath. That we've managed to reach, already, a level of traffic that has consumed nearly five gigabytes of bandwidth since the start of the year has been a true sign that we're fulfilling our purpose. Because of this, I really do have to thank everyone that reads and/or posts stories on Shifti.

ShadowWolf 19:48, 28 March 2008 (EDT)

Donation drive complete. The goal was not reached, sadly. However, the money does exist to cover the move. In the end this drive raised 47% of our total ($140 US). Thank you to everyone who donated!

ShadowWolf 04:03, 16 March 2008 (EDT)

Well, it's been one week and we're almost halfway to our goal of $300. Sadly, the donation drive ends at 2359 EST tonight and I don't think we're going to make that. However, we've got enough to make the move and go for a month or two. This doesn't mean that we're not going to move. Quite the contrary, we're going to move so we can more easily handle the amount of traffic we've been getting.

In other news... Happy Birthday to Me! Yep, at 0000 Saturday, March 15 I turned 30. In related news, this birthdate is also shared by Phil Geusz, but I'm not sure how old he is.

ShadowWolf 03:14, 15 March 2008 (EDT)

After that OOM episode on the fifth, I started looking at what options existed for high-availability hosting for Shifti. After much discussion and weighing of risks I still hadn't been able to make up my mind as to what to propose to the other admins. So I talked to Viqsi about the options and she agreed that the best option would be to get two low-cost servers and then split the load between them.

What this means for Shifti is that, depending on the currently running donation drive, the site will be on its new servers no later than the seventh of April. What this means is that there will probably be a period of downtime, hopefully not more than two hours, while the database is backed up, transferred to the new server and restored. If you'd like to see Shifti make the move to the new servers faster, you could always donate some money—there is a link in the nifty banner at the top of each page.

ShadowWolf 03:57, 8 March 2008 (EST)

And there we go... Not even five minutes ago the server went "OOM" (that is, it ran out of memory). This is because the server is an old system, mostly. It's a P3/800 with 768M of RAM. If I had the space in the box I'd install another hard drive and allocate more swap space, but...

While Jon Buck has graciously offered to donate his old computer as a new server the problem is that even that will probably not help the problem much. But just replacing the server will be a stopgap measure, since we are approaching the limits of even the upgraded bandwidth that the readers donations have paid for. Tonight I will be discussing a complete move to a server hosted by ServerBeach with the rest of the administrators and that will probably lead to another ugly donations banner.

ShadowWolf 03:24, 5 March 2008 (EST)

There is apparently enough traffic that MySQL's setup - which was already set at double the defaults - started having all kinds of problems. So I've gone and doubled it's settings yet again. At the same time I've done some poking at Shifti's configuration and upped quite a few of MediaWiki's internal settings. Hopefully this will make the site a bit more stable, but if things don't work out, we will have to start planning a move to ServerBeach.

ShadowWolf 01:54, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Shifti has reached a level of traffic that I am not sure the server will be able to continue to manage. We are reaching anywhere from 80 to 100 megabytes of bandwidth use a day - an average of more than 200 unique visitors and 10,000 hits per day. Truthfully, the server will probably scale up to more than the current level, but the default for Apache is a max of 20 simultaneous requests and I have changed that to 50.

In other news, after all the work he did to get it into a state where it wouldn't cause the server to choke, we have had to delete the "All In One" version of Michael Bard's "Mythic Journeys" because it was causing some parts of the system to slow down during database accesses.

Anyway, it's time for me to go back to making sure that Shifti stays online and stable. :)

ShadowWolf 18:08, 3 March 2008 (EST)

We've just had our first story posted that exceeded the size that Shifti could handle in a single page; Michael Bard's 737000-byte "Mythic Journeys", now split up into two separate pages for your convenience. I consider that to be an interesting landmark of a sort.

Bryan 04:47, 28 February 2008 (EST)
After checking the software and the error message that Bard saved I can safely report that he managed to hit a bug in the MediaWiki software itself and the way the parser works. A 737000-byte story without any "extension" tags (like "poem") would not have hit this problem. In fact, the MediaWiki software itself has a hard limit of 2048 kilobytes — that's 2 megabytes — on article size. What happened in this case is that the article text got duplicated and stored in enough places that the software overran the 40 megabytes that the software has been allocated.
This problem cannot be fixed—it would require redesigning and rebuilding the entire parser from scratch. It can be averted—by asking that individual stories are kept under 400 kilobytes. Now the more technically astute of you may be wondering why I can't just increase the memory allocation. In truth, I could. But that would be a stopgap measure, because the available ram on the server is limited. Until I upgrade it the server is limited to the 768M of ram installed in it, and that is in use by Apache, MySQL and my e-mail server. To be fair, the server is old—just how old I'm not revealing, but suffice to say it started life as a desktop and got repurposed.
ShadowWolf 22:51, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Notification banner removed — we've been up for more than 24 hours on the new router and there has not been a problem.

ShadowWolf 13:20, 22 February 2008 (EST)

New router has arrived, been installed and setup. I can't, in good conscience, clear the trouble flag floating as a page banner yet, but hopefully all the problems that we've been having with the connection are now gone.

ShadowWolf 13:31, 21 February 2008 (EST)

The router is by no means stable, but it is much more stable than it has been. We are now seeing periods of almost exactly 24 hours between required reboots of the router. Hopefully the new one (scheduled to show up on 2/19) will correct that final problem. In the meantime the banner will remain so people are informed that the site may disappear out from under them.

ShadowWolf 23:20, 12 February 2008 (EST)

Once more the router surprises me and remains stable throughout the day. I've checked with some trusted friends (Thank you Chloe!) that are also highly-paid, self-employed network specialists and the information I have on my connection seems to indicate that, while it does have a somewhat high "Signal Attenuation" (44 to 45 dB) and a low "SNR Margin" (18 to 19 dB) there are no other real problems. Although there still might be an intermittent short somewhere in the houses wiring causing these problems, the predictable period they had and the fact that the problem seems to be clearing up on its own pretty much rules that out. Anyway, the 24 hour clock on "Is the problem gone" is running again, and if, by 1100 EST 2/10 the problem hasn't re-occurred, I'll see about removing the emergency notice banner.

ShadowWolf 21:59, 9 February 2008 (EST)

It appears that my restraint in not removing the banner was well worth it. It went and bombed again sometime in the seven hours I was asleep. But from 1700 Eastern 2/8 to at least 0300 Eastern the next day — a period of about 10 hours — it ran like it used to. If I could figure out what has occurred to create that period of uptime I'd know who to thank. Anyway, I'm a bit annoyed that the problem that appeared to have fixed itself hasn't actually been miraculously fixed. However, I am happy that my speculation that it was a DDOS is incorrect… Well, I can't actually say it isn't a DDOS against Shifti — it could still be such, but the evidence doesn't really support the diagnoses.

ShadowWolf 10:43, 9 February 2008 (EST)

This might be the time to start cheering and jumping for joy, folks. I last had to reset the router at 2209 UTC, according to the routers internal logs. That is, I reset it at 5:09 PM EST and it's run without a hickup since. Not that the problem is definitively gone, but I've started going through the piles of traffic logs here and we either got hit with a DDOS that wasn't detected and logged as such by the router (not surprising, it wasn't designed to pick up on them, just normal DOS attacks) or my ISP was being a complete and total ass, having problems at their end and blaming the end-user.

Since it's now 0400 UTC on the next day and the router hasn't died like it has been, I'm going to conditionally declare the problem over. However, moving to ServerBeach is still probably the best bet, since a host there will have a better connection and be better able to survive a DDOS and other potential problems. Until I have clear proof that the router isn't going to drop (like maybe having it continue functioning for a full 24 hours) the banner will remain.

However, moving Shifti to ServerBeach is not free — the service is a MINIMUM of $75US per month, and while I could probably cover that expense without any problems, it will be better for Shifti's future to not rely on a single person for funding and rather just fund itself. So please, if you have the money to spare, Donate.

ShadowWolf 23:24, 8 February 2008 (EST)

On examining available evidence it's increasingly looking like the problem isn't that the routers hardware is dying, but that the router I have isn't able to handle the volume of traffic the site is getting. So the admins have been discussing moving the site to a hosted service that provides dedicated servers for all of their customers. The service we are looking at, as one possible solution, is provided by the same company that hosts and was recommended by none other than the Dragon DeMonsyne. The reason we are looking into this, rather than taking up the offers of several people that have servers sitting on very good connections is that, by putting Shifti on its own server like this, we have a way to keep Shifti online despite what may happen to any single person. If (when?) Shifti does move to the new host I'll still be around, as I am the resident code-monkey as well as the host.

In other news I'm still fighting off the bronchitis. I thought I'd beat it and only had a cold left, but I've been getting chills and other signs of a lingering fever, so... Anyway, when I'm back at more than the 60% health I'm running at currently I'll work on putting a script together to reset the router every sixty minutes to attempt to keep things fully functional until the new router shows. This will probably negatively impact my connectivity, so I also might attempt doing a "direct bridge" of the router/modem with the server and running all my connectivity off the server for a while.

In other words, lots of options on how to handle things. Sadly, I can't seem to figure out a simple way to script the router reset, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to go ahead with it.

ShadowWolf 22:02, 7 February 2008 (EST)

The Router will not be arriving until 2/19 — apparently they forgot to update their website and the router went out of stock. In other news Moms has pneumonia and me and pops both have bronchitis. Oh Joy of Joys!

ShadowWolf 10:44, 5 February 2008 (EST)

Bad news, everybody. The Router did not ship today like it should have. I don't know why, but I'm going to be calling the company as soon as I can get up… Yes, the bronchitis that Moms had has spread to everyone — where it was just a bad cold on the first I now have a low-grade fever and a full body ache. But I will make it to my feet — if I don't there will be a mess in the living room. Anyway, just felt everybody should know, and now it's time for me to get moving.

ShadowWolf 15:24, 4 February 2008 (EST)

Everyone in the house here is ill, so I couldn't make it to a physical store today. But never fear — I ordered a new modem/router online and requested FedEx 1-Day shipping, so by Tuesday, at the latest, Shifti will have a new router managing it's internet connection. As a bonus the new modem/router incorporates a wireless hub, so I will be able to ditch the dinky, pointless Belkin wireless hub I've been using. If anyone want's a two year old Belkin Wireless-G hub (model F5D7230) I'll gladly see about boxing it up and shipping it.

ShadowWolf 14:13, 1 February 2008 (EST)

The modem/router managing Shifti's internet connection appears to be dying, since all other potential causes of the sporadic downtime have been taken into account. But never fear, for I will be purchasing a new and much better model after I wake up tomorrow. To everyone hampered by these problems, I am sorry, but the router has faithfully worked non-stop for the past two years and I had no reason to suspect it would not continue doing so. Hopefully by this time tomorrow Shifti will be running better than ever. In the meantime I am going to be around as much as I can to keep resetting the router as it becomes necessary.

ShadowWolf 16:19, 31 January 2008 (EST)

It appears that our boost in traffic is thanks to a number of factors, but the largest of them appears to be that Felix, Mr. Peaches and several others have stories listed in the Ursa Major Recommended Furry Art and Literature List.

On another note we've had a few more spammers and I've just caught someone re-ordering the Story Archives page to give favored placement to one site or another. I've already said my piece over at the Talk page, so I won't repeat it here.

ShadowWolf 21:50, 24 January 2008 (EST)

Bandwidth upgrade completed a day or two back. Shifti is now on the best connection the server's location is capable of. If the bandwidth use keeps going up we'll be left either needing to move the server to a colo facility or playing tricks with DNS to split the load across a number of servers. That is still an option, if we can find a way to keep the database available even when the system is being bombed. (I will be looking into this!)

ShadowWolf 21:50, 11 January 2008 (EST)

Have you ever wished you could write stories like those you find on Shifti? Or do you wish that your skill as a wordsmith was even better than it currently is? Fret and and wish no more, the Administrators have heard your pleas and have added tools and information to Shifti in response. That's right—Shifti now has a Writer's School!

ShadowWolf 16:22, 9 January 2008 (EST)

The donation money has been well used. Within a week Shifti's connection will have something like thee times the bandwidth it currently does. On another note, for the first half year of Shifti's existence it used about 30M of bandwidth a day. In December that figure jumped radically, along with all the other indicators. This month, January of 2007, Shifti has already used over 400M of bandwidth and has had almost two-thousand unique visitors. What that means is that Shifti is a success—thank you to all the authors who have begun uploading content, and thank you to all the people that have advertised Shifti for us.

In other news Shifti has added another Administrator. Devin has been with us from the start and, even without any official status, has championed Shifti. Thanks to Devin stories have started to be imported from the old Transformation Story Archive—his favorites list began as a set of links to his favorite stories in the TSA—and that started the first round of stories being brought over. More recently he has contributed to the new "Pig and Whistle" universe by taking part in the still in progress Collaborative Story and marking the universe as a something he'd like to see succeed. But more than that he has been, to coin a phrase, Shifti's biggest cheerleader. In recognition of all of his contributions to this site, the existing Administrators decided to honor him with Administrator status.

And finally, the best news of all… Several stories hosted on Shifti have made the Ursa Major Recommended Furry Art and Literature List. Those stories–A Kind of Paradise and Escape by Jon Buck, Against Type by Jon Buck and Bryan, Unexpected Shore by Bryan, Have You Heard About the TFORs? by Mr. Peaches and From the Horse's Hoof by Felix Sagittarius–mark the best of Shifti, both by authors that have long been considered to be among the best of Transformation and Furry authors and by authors that have only recently come upon the scene.

ShadowWolf 15:20, 7 January 2008 (EST)

Donation target reached! Thanks go to people, neither of whom I will name.

ShadowWolf 00:21, 5 January 2008 (EST)

During the late night of January 3 and early morning of January 4 some strange numbers showed up in Shifti's logs. When examining the log files by hand I found the cause – one person was somewhat monopolizing all bandwidth use on Shifti. This person had pointed the automated HTTP and FTP enabled download agent 'wget' at Category:Story in an attempt to download a copy of all the content on Shifti. That action, though legal, isn't very nice, since the bandwidth it uses has to come from somewhere and the place it comes from is other users of Shifti. For about an hour I had the server returning the HTTP "Forbidden" error (403) to any software reporting as wget. However, after discussion with the other administrators it was decided that the 403 error was a bit heavy-handed. While the error is now gone, there are other options that are being explored. (In fact one of them caused a 10 or so minute loss of connection the other night o.O)

ShadowWolf 21:11, 4 January 2008 (EST)

Okay, I know it's ugly and people are going to complain, but until I'm positive Shifti can survive with people going through the donations page the banner that now starts every page is going to remain. While I (ShadowWolf) thought that I'd be able to keep Shifti online without any problems, the scare last night has shown me that donations are needed to make sure that Shifti stays online. So please donate and keep this increasingly valuable resource online!

ShadowWolf 19:16, 3 January 2008 (EST)

Your friendly neighborhood server owner almost lost all internet connectivity due to unforeseen difficulties with cash flow today (Jan. 3, 2008). To stop this from ever happening again, I've setup the Donations page to point to my PayPal account. The money will be used to cover connectivity fees and also to provide upgrades to the servers hardware. So please, donate today!

ShadowWolf 15:07, 3 January 2008 (EST)