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Welcome to Brigadoon…

Get your comments in quick folks… It may be another hundred fuckin years before we appear again!

I hope a profuse and detailed apology from Cat’s will be forthcoming for this fiasco, but frankly I’m a bit pissed off myself. We cannot carry on like this. The friggin Difference engine has to go. I will contribute to the cost of a proper professional Server, and others here have indicated to me that they are prepared to do so too.

I have had at least half a dozen posts I wanted to put up in the last bastard ten days of invisibility, but all past their sell buy date now. Not fuckin good enough, not fuckin good enough at all.

27 Comments

  1. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    +1

  2. Mr Ed says:

    It surprised me how quickly the site slips from the grip of the force of habit.

  3. Julie near Chicago says:

    RAB: Me too (re sell-by date). I started keeping a list of things to post, but…. :>(

  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    I canna’ believe it! Who was in it? –All I could think of was Gene Kelly, but it wasn’t really a dance movie, and — who was the girl? Somebody dark-haired…. ??? So I Looked It Up. Lo & behold, it WAS Gene Kelly! And Cyd Charisse. Surprises me I’d have forgotten her, since she’s one of my two favorite movie danseuses. (Eleanor Powell !!) I still have the choral background theme playing in the phono of my mind…. :)

  5. Lynne says:

    Missed opportunity here for me too. :0(

  6. Laird says:

    I was wondering were you guys went . . .

    Julie, I can’t believe you forgot Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. Two of my favorites. (And Van Johnson held his own, too!)

  7. Andrew Duffin says:

    Nice to see you back, but you’re right – it’s becoming a bit of a regular occurrence!

    Need a good infrastructure man, at all, do you?

  8. Kevin B says:

    Donning my IT service department hat, (diagnosing from a distance with no knowledge of the hardware, software or system personell; i.e. making it up as I go along), I would suggest that the problem is that once a week the system goes offline for some housekeeping function, probably back-up, and due to some fault with the system, fails to come back online. This then requires some physical human interaction to give the thing a kick.

    Since the main physical human – Cats himself – is known to be wandering the planet, it would seem that the backup human has failed to perform adequately.

    So I wouldn’t attach to much blame to the chief kitty counter himself, and I doubt that a new server will fix this particular problem. The options are: to keep the blog on this server and rely on Cats to keep it functioning or move it to a proper hosting service with the cost and loss of control that that implies.

  9. Sam Duncan says:

    I think your diagnosis is pretty sound, Kevin.

    Like RAB, I’m beginning to incline towards “proper” hosting, but I don’t think we should jump into anything until Cats returns and has a good look at it himself. I’m not sure we could, anyway.

    But Mr. Ed puts his finger on the problem. We can’t build up a following if we aren’t here half the time. Also, the RSS feed doesn’t seem to have caught up.

  10. Laird says:

    Surely there are other (simpler) remedies than the two proposed by Kevin B. How about correcting the “fault with the system” (which could be nothing more than a mis-setting of some software option), or having a redundant backup human for those times when Cats Himself is unavailable?

  11. John Galt says:

    In a former life I was consultant to an internet company that built e-commerce sites for companies like Maplin Electronics and other mail order catalogue businesses moving from phone / fax / e-mail ordering to true internet e-commerce with stock control and all the rest.

    Although we had pretty decent hosting facilities (for 1998), the sites did go down periodically and unless a customer complained, wouldn’t be back until the next morning when network ops or myself came in.

    I then gave the MD a 30-day trial subscription to “is it up” (or something), which would periodically monitor our hosted websites from 5 different hosted servers across the world and if 2 of them reported an outage or bad response then the MD would get an SMS and shout at the Network Ops Manager.

    After 3 middle of the night calls from the MD, the Network Ops manager was sufficiently motivated to fix the problem (database inactivity time-outs) and implement his own far more frequent and targeted monitoring and SMS notification, so that he could stay one step ahead of the MD.

    I suspect that to this day, he is sticking pins into a voodoo doll of me…

  12. Sam Duncan says:

    “Also, the RSS feed doesn’t seem to have caught up.”

    Ah, there it goes now.

  13. RAB says:

    “or move it to a proper hosting service with the cost and loss of control that that implies.”

    Er… what loss of control would that be then Kev? The site has been down for around 18 days in total since Cats has been on his Hols, that kind of loss of control you mean?

    There are sad spotty youths in their PJ’s in darkened basements who only get a comment a month who can keep their website up better than us!

    You may be right about the housekeeping thing. I notice that the site crashes most often around friday/Saturday. I email Cats that it’s down and he has often said… really? looks fine this end, but then he investigates and fixes it. The fact is that whatever he is using as a server is so arcane that even Nick doesn’t understand it. So we just can’t go on like this.

    We have great writers writing all sorts of various stuff, and a dedicated readership that likes what we do. We should be building on that, not pissing on it. Like Mr Ed said…

    “It surprised me how quickly the site slips from the grip of the force of habit.”

    Exactly! Who would bookmark us and look to see what we have to say today if the friggin site is down half the bloody time?

    So as far as I am concerned, this just can’t go on. We owe it to our writers and readers and commenters to at least friggin BE THERE 24/7!

    Three of us have indicated that we will pay for a professional service, hell it isn’t that much ferchrissakes. But I await Cat’s comment on this post. He is home from the cruise by the way, or the site would still be down.

  14. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    I like the blog and the brand but for me it’s move to professional hosting or move. This simply cant go on. I got some flak for putting in URL’s that were not embedded, fair enough, it looked amateur.

    So does oblivion for a week.

  15. RAB says:

    Chris, I really wish you would respond to all this. We have crashed three times since I put this post up even.

    See the thing is that us writers want to do the best stuff we can, and we do it for free. We craft our words and opinions in the hope they will enlighten, encourage, admonish, entertain… whatever.

    If we go to all that trouble, we want to be able to expect that someone out there is able to read it and respond to it, to appreciate our efforts given freely, after we have put so much effort put into the words.

    Yesterday I was going to do an RIP on Ray Manzerack of the Doors; probably the most literate and articulate rock band there has ever been. I am the site’s music correspondent after all.

    I was going to link it to the death of my father, because the circumstances of his death had the song Riders on the Storm going around in my head that very day/night/dawn that he died. It was poignant, it was personal and it was spooky and I’m sure our readers would have appreciated it.

    But after I wrote this post, I thought… why should I go to all that effort and pain, if nobody can read and respond to it for more than five fuckin minutes?

    And indeed why should any of us Kitty Counters bother to write anything under such circumstances that we now find ourselves in?

    Over to you…

  16. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    Again +1

  17. Tim Newman says:

    I use Dreamhost for my blog, it’s pretty cheap and very reliable.

  18. RAB says:

    Thanks Tim, we’ll bear it in mind, but I’m still waiting a response from our Host. I hope he hasn’t gone into an epic sulk, because all I’m saying here is what we Kitty Counters all know… The Server is a piece of cranky crap that keeps letting our best efforts down. So common Cats, speak up please. A word or two from Nick wouldn’t go amiss either….

  19. John Galt says:

    As an aside, any move to a hosted service should obviously be in a jurisdiction which takes freedom of speech seriously. Not sure how Australia fits on this scale, but I know folks like Anna Raccoon moved to hosting in the US over fears she would be shutdown for her confrontational views over the UK’s Court of Protection abuses.

    Happy to cough up a few Ringgit for hosting costs if it helps…

  20. Bod says:

    ——————————–
    Spin up a droplet on DigitalOcean.com

    Install your favorite OS, press the tit and you have a virtual machine commissioned in under a minute. Another couple of minutes and all the infrastructure you need for a web server is there.

    Plans starting at $5 a month, going up from there, with easy-to-calculate costs. I’ll happily kick in enough beer tokens for a quarter’s hosting.

  21. Julie near Chicago says:

    Interesting remark about the Doors, RAB. I probably said it before, but “Riders in the Storm” and “People are Strange” are two pieces of “rock,” if they really are “rock,” that I actually have been known to shove into the CD player.

    Back on topic: I’m not savvy enough to know about hosting services. But the only problem we seem to have is the outages. If that could be fixed we would have complete control, or at least as much as the Aussies’ PTB allow us.

  22. Bod says:

    One of the advantages of going to a hosting provider would be that you could host the blog in a place that’s freedom-friendly where all this hate-speech nonsense has less traction, that’s on connections near the fattest internet pipes – and if the pricing was right, have some redundancy built in.

    All this would assume that CinC is built using pretty-standard web-friendly functionality, but I seem to remember that Cats did some product research and rebuilt the site a couple of years ago.

  23. Bod says:

    One of the advantages of going to a hosting provider would be that you could host the blog in a place that’s freedom-friendly where all this hate-speech nonsense has less traction, that’s on connections near the fattest internet pipes – and if the pricing was right, have some redundancy built in.

    All this would assume that CCinZ is built using pretty-standard web-friendly functionality, but I seem to remember that Cats did some product research and rebuilt the site a couple of years ago.

  24. Bod says:

    I know it was a good comment, so – enjoy two almost identical versions!

  25. Julie near Chicago says:

    Bod, if you’re thinking of someplace in the U.S., I don’t trust us for a second not to institute some form of censorship. Government never sleeps, y’know. And there’s plenty of arm-twisting by various factions, governmental and not, to get webbites (if you see what I mean) to censor this or that content voluntarily.

    NOT, mostly, by the dreaded Religious Right, by the way. The Islamic-Supremacist/Left-Free-Speech crowd, for one. Also probably some non-ideological entities.

  26. RAB says:

    At least you have the 1st Amendment Julie. And it’s hard to subvert that, though god knows Barry is doing his best to ignore the Constitution. In the UK and Australia, laws will just go through on the nod without much shouting about it.

  27. Julie near Chicago says:

    I sure hope it stays that way, RAB. My marbles have all rolled away again, I guess, since I can’t remember exactly the details — but it wasn’t all that long ago that The Gov wanted Google to hold back some of its search results (I suppose it was), but Google said “take a hike” and that was that. (Google has plenty of clout with The Gov itself, being, so it is said, another of the lefty-corporate crew with plenty of $ and big huge names.)

    At that time it was still knuckling under to China’s censorship demands.

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