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We've Moved!

And, look at that, you're already here too!

On April 29th, around 9:40AM US CST1 time, E2 went offline. In its place was Nate's Word Galaxy as the site was moved off its previous servers to new ones. Around 1PM US CST time1, the site came back up with some weirdness, but largely functional. We have been on our new servers since then with improved responsiveness, far fewer 5xx errors, and a new level of hamster wrangling.

Our new servers are virtual. Most significantly, this means the risk of hardware failure is dramatically lowered. There should never again be the risk of E2 dying because somebody turned off the AC to a professor's office over a school break. Virtualization also means if load increases or our needs change, we can create new servers with little effort. It also makes it much easier to test larger changes without risking performance problems for the site.

Huge thanks are due to nate who managed the process of moving off of the servers and coordinated the virtualization project. Further appreciation and praise goes to Joe–not a noder as far as I'm aware–who did the hard work of setting up the base virtual servers and programming all of the bits to deploy virtual machines which can host E2's odd bits of code. (And no small amount of praise is due to him for tolerating my many emails as he refined the process on the dev server we've been using for the past few months.) And, of course, clampe is to be thanked for getting E2 a place to exist in the first place and keeping us at MSU. If you're not familiar with his role in getting E2 its current hosting, I suggest you read what he wrote a back in late 2007 and marvel how much he put himself on the line to make sure we still have this site. I know some have questioned why MSU gives us hosting, and I can't give a complete answer. But I'm sure part of the reason there is a place for E2 to run is because there is a place in the heart of Dr. Lampe for E2.

Server configuration

I've noted in the past our physical setup of boxes. Since we're in a virtualized environment, that has changed. We are operating with five virtual servers right now: 2 web boxes (dom01, dom02), a combination SQL server/cron job machine, the one currently spun up dev box (we can spin up multiple), and a combination web, high availability, & SQL backup server (dom52).2

Joe was good enough to put together some helpful and thorough documentation about the new server setup, how to configure, update, and manage them. I haven't thoroughly read through all of them, but we're the recipients of some very nice additional capabilities as a result of his work:

  1. Automated SQL backups. They aren't offsite yet, granted, but they are an improvement over the one-off, manually overseen backups from before.
  2. Automated monitoring and notification of offline services. We'll actually be able to be automatically contacted if the site gets flaky as well as track down exactly when and how things went wrong to fix them.
  3. Thorough stats on utilization. Only 5 days into May, E2 has already seen over 100,000 unique visitors.
  4. Multiple development servers. So now if a coder wants to make an ecore change, she can do so with a fully-functioning test environment and without breaking the dev environement for anybody else.

Bugs that were

We had several highly noticable bugs that popped up as soon as we got on the new servers. Some of those have been squashed already.

Everybody got logged out.
This was a side effect of maintaining a configuration setting from the development servers which stored the cookie for logging in in a different place.

Some people reported that they "kept getting logged off". This is actually the default behavior. When you log in, click the "Remember Me" box. If you don't, you'll be logged out the next time you close your browser.

Nobody's last seen time was updating.
This was because the stored procedures didn't get imported to the new database, and it's a stored procedure that updates your last seen time. I recreated this from a local copy I had.
Votes and Chings weren't resetting
A side effect of the last seen time thing.
Other User was initially frozen
Caused by the issue above with last seen times not updating. Once that was fixed, new people showed up on the list, but people who hadn't been active for a while still weren't getting cleared off.
Other Users got gigantic
There is a regularly-running script which cleans out the list every five minutes or so. It wasn't running. This resulted in the amusing events described at As a side effect of the server move, this list isn't gettin cleared automatically, so many people listed aren't actually online. Sorry for the temporary inconvenience. Yes, I misspelled »getting«. Whoops.

We got the script running again, and the list shrunk back to normal. While the list was inflated, several people proposed that it'd be nice to normally have a list of visitors over the last day. in10se put together Recent Users for that purpose.

Times were sometimes a few minutes off
This is an occasional negative side effect of virtual servers. When they are shut down, there is no physical clock inside of them ticking, so they can get behind. ntp got all of the virtual machines synchronized, and times are now all as expected.

Bugs on the hit list

Up until I posted this root log, all pages had a fair warning from nate on them:

We are migrating servers. Still a few warts, but we're going home. Hang in there.

Well, the biggest warts are gone, but there are a few still around that we're aware of. If you find any that aren't here, please drop us a note at E2 Bugs. All of E2 appreciates it when issues with the site are fixed, and we coders can only get them all with the help of your keen eyes.

Homenode pictures are old and can't be updated.
I expect this is because the apache user doesn't have permission to write to the files on the nfs share for some reason. It is probably also complicated by the automatic-repository-synching which might be repeatedly overwriting new files with old ones.

2011 May 06: This should now be fixed. Woo!

Nuked items aren't going away
I wager this is because of the warning flag I added to the bin scripts when I was trying to get them all to work again. Should fix the warnings so these scripts run without problem.
Emails don't work
This means both Create a new user and What's my password? aren't working right.

The short list

For the last couple of months I've been largely inactive. I apologize for my evanescence. Life hasn't been great, and I've been given reason to reevaluate my involvement with E2. As such, you've seen very little of use from me. DonJaime's and Oolong's root logs are sure to be quite a bit more interesting as far as changes go, as they've been working on some fairly large projects.

You'll probably see more of me in the coming weeks as I help iron out the remaining wrinkles from the server move and implement a few features that have been waiting a while.

With that said, there are basically two things I did in the code in April:

My Chatterlight
- Disabled for Guest User. This never should have been available to not-logged-in users as the catbox is not generally supposed to be accessible without an account. There have been discussions in the past about the nature of the catbox as a goldfish bowl. I'd much rather prefer it were treated more as a private chat room and the XML feed required validation to access. This would require little work on E2's part, but we'd certainly have to gather stats on what 3rd party clients are accessing the catbox and see how broad an impact it might have. It's not really worthwhile to enforce the implied semi-privacy if it makes the place a ghost town. Even if assistance were offered, I'm unsure how many clientdev people would be willing to update to cope with the additional hurdle of authentication.
- Strip code so that when godhood/codehome goes away, things still look clean. This way, if somebody has code on their homenode and loses the privilege, they want left with a gobbledegook homenode. This had a negative side effect on Jet-Poop's homenode, causing some text to disappear. Quoting from the E2 Bugs entry:

Most of the time when we embed code on E2, it's in blocks like this:

 ... code ...

Or like this:


However, we also support Perl-interpreted strings like this:

 ... interpreted string ...

When stripping that last type, if there are links which start and end with a quotation mark, they get stripped out of a homenode.

I have yet to fix this one, but will be on it shortly.

Mercurial patches

changeset 279:a1335d5e5d1b, Tue Apr 19 04:52:58 2011 -0400
Removed debug error logging that I had put in when I had added the "as soon as you log in, you show up in Other Users" code. This was spamming up the logs, and I accidentally deployed it, when it should have only been in dev.
changeset 278:b376df45c4fd, Tue Apr 19 04:13:19 2011 -0400
Added the stripCode function which is used to remove code. See the above item about homenodes to see why it was added.
Also fixed a warning where we were using \1 instead of $1 in a substitution.

1: This originally read US EST, which was a timezone off.
2: I didn't realize this machine was also in the web server pool when I initially wrote this.

Whan that Aprill with his showres soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour

…Thanne longen folk to staren less at screenes
And thereto swynken mun in sondry londes
And wenden for to seken straunge strondes
Wherefore have I ywroght but littel code
Of whyche I now shall speke, eek in this node:

As in the past month or three, my contributions fall under the two general headings of 'drafts' and 'other stuff,' whereby the 'other stuff' was unrelated to the Great Leap Forward in hosting recounted above by OldMiner. While he and others were building a new house and putting in the wiring, I was screwing together a new bedside table, moving the furniture around, and repainting the carpet:


This month's innovation was being able to attach a draft to a page (or 'node' as we call it in these parts). Drafts created from an everything2 page are by default attached to it, those created from the drafts page can be attached if you want. You can change which page a draft is attached to or detach it so it isn't attached to anything. The mechanism by which drafts are attached to a node (by a link of type 'parent_node') is separate from that for writeups, avoiding a lot of potential complications. The few changes required were:

  1. setdraftstatus offers an option to attach/detach.
  2. zen e2node display page shows attached drafts as appropriate. The author always sees them, others are informed of the presence of any they are allowed to see, and can click a link to see them if they want to.
  3. canseewriteup notes a user's own contribution to a page, whether published writeup or attached draft, and addwriteup provides a form to edit it on the page.
  4. draft display page remembers which page a deleted draft was attached to so it can be reattached it if the user undoes the deletion.
  5. publishdraft removes any attachment links from a draft before publishing it.
  6. repair e2node removes any inexplicable remaining draft-attachment links to published writeups.

In addition to which:

  1. When a draft with a duplicate-buster number tacked on at the end is being published or attached, the number is initially removed from the suggested title. If the user really wants a page with a number in its title, they can put it back (parentdraft).
  2. If a user's writeup is renamed to a title that matches one of their drafts, a duplicate-buster number is added to the title of the draft (writeup maintenance update).
  3. The code in publishdraft for creating a new page to which to publish a draft as a writeup uses the insertNode function instead of opNew, and sets the query parameter 'writeup_parent_e2node' to the id of the new node so that it will end up properly parented if something goes wrong. (Unless something else goes wrong, of course.)

Other stuff

  1. e2node edit page: when the title of an e2node is changed, the writeups in the node are not reordered.
  2. If you are looking at someone else's drafts, and they have some but you can't see any of them, the Drafts page does the right thing. As opposed to a wrong thing. Which it did before. Who needs an empty list?
  3. If display draft is passed a writeup instead of a draft, it will still display it. This can be the Right Thing to happen, given the fact that the writeup nodetype inherits from nodetype draft. (See 'Drafts and Writeups: a tale of Two Nodetypes', in root log: February 2011.)
  4. A change I had made to Everything2 Ajax to allow empty parameters to be sent by AJAX led to writeups being nuked immediately instead of being put on Node Row. This was because the opcode massacre was only checking to see if the appropriate 'instakill' parameter existed, and didn't care if it had a value or not. So it now checks to make sure that the parameter has a value, and the killing floor II gives it a value for those times when you don't want to kill with AJAX. And so that nothing else like this can happen, Everything2 Ajax no longer sends empty values for checkboxes and radio buttons.
  5. Internet Explorer 7 was wrapping the number of C!s given to writeups over two lines in Everything User Search, leading to great fuggliness. Giving the table-cell in which the C!s are shown a completely superfluous width definition sorted that one out.
  6. There had at some point been a check in e2node maintenance delete to avoid an infinite loop when deleting a broken e2node that was included in its own node group. This check was cheesy and didn't always work, and had therefore been disabled. It is now not cheesy, it works, and it is active.

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