On the software update & on my resignation

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Christian, Dec 27, 2002.

  1. Christian

    Christian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 1999
    Location:
    On a sidewalk in Amsterdam
    Hello, and welcome to the new Trek BBS!

    First of all, let me apologise for not providing more information sooner. Unfortunately, we were first forced to start the upgrade sooner than we'd orginally planned, and then we ran into some hardware issues that are still not completely solved yet, so we weren't really able to provide enough information before. In this post I'll provide information about the reasons for the move, the problems we're still suffering from, the new functions we have available with this software and how can you use them, and at the end of this post I'm even announcing my resignation. If that's not a good reason to read this announcement through to the end, I don't know what is.

    1. Why did you move so suddenly?

    Last week, we were attacked by someone who mass-registered several thousand usernames. Many of you will have noticed this, as during the attack the BBS and all other sites on the server were pretty much inaccessible. We were eventually able to deny this person (not surprisingly, one of the usual trolls) access to the server, which stopped the attacks. Unfortunately the method was something akin to using a cannon to kill a fly: we had to deny all users of the hacker's ISP (rogers.com) access to all sites on the server, a block we haven't yet lifted.

    After denying this user access, we began cleaning up the extra accounts that had been registered, but unfortunately during the attack the main member index file overloaded, and we lost most of the active user accounts. We were able to restore most of the accounts from a backup, but unfortunately this backup was only current through September 2002. As we had been planning the long-awaited software update for a week later anyway, we decided to just shut down the BBS and go ahead with the update now, so at least when the BBS went up it wouldn't be as vulnerable to security breaches anymore.

    2. So the BBS is completely functional now again?

    Not quite. As I mentioned, when we had completed the move to the new forum software, it turned out that our server was hopelessly ill-equipped to handle the load from the new forum software. Yesterday evening, our web host (finally) put in some extra memory in the server, but the Trek BBS still seems to be far too popular for the server to handle. It's now actually possible for registered users to surf on the BBS without causing the system to grind to a screeching halt, but if you're an unregistered user, you'll temporarily only be able to see a few of the Trek BBS forums. Important note to registered users: If you also can't see all of the forums, be sure to first login using the "Login" menu item.

    Although the server meets the requirements for the software, the load of the new software combined with the massive amounts of traffic on the board wasn't somethign any of us foresaw, which is the reason the BBS isn't yet fully accessible for unregistered users. For that reason, I yesterday also started the process of ordering (yet another) new server, which we should be moving to within a week, maybe two. This server will be twice as powerful as the current one, and thus should hopefully be able to handle the load from the Trek BBS. We'll keep you updated about the upgrade process as we go along.

    3. Wow, Christian, the BBS is looking really nice! So you finally were able to finish work on that upgrade?

    Erm, no, actually. One of the older versions of my own aborted attempt at an upgrade can actually be seen here, but as you can see that's far from completion, and my attempts at installing the newer versions of UBBThreads on this server are all in even less finished states. Last month, I finally began to realise that finishing the upgrade process was not something I would be able to accomplish, so I bit the bullet and asked my good friend and UBBThreads wizard Charles Capps if he would by any chance be willing to do the upgrade. He graciously agreed, which is why you've been able to see him pop up all around the place posting updates. I'd like to thank him for all his work on the upgrade, and hope you'll do the same.

    4. I tried clicking on "Login", but it won't let me!

    This is probably caused by the fact that many member accounts were restored from a September 2002 backup. If you registered before the end of September and can't login, it may be that you changed your password in the past three months and were trying to log in with your new password. Try logging in with the password you used back in September. If that doesn't work, see if you can have the system email your password to you. Remember that this password reminder will go to the email address that was in our systems in September 2002.

    If you registered after September and can't log in, we're deeply sorry, but your account may have been wiped out. Please re-register your account, and we'll approve it as soon as possible.

    5. You say your backup dates back to September. Does this mean my post count has also gone back to what it was in September?

    Yes, unfortunately, and again we're very sorry for that. Unfortunately it's not possible to update people's post counts, and to be honest, even if it were we wouldn't really want to manually update the post count of several thousand users. So you'll just have to live with having a somewhat lower post count again. If it helps anything, try to see it as a challenge :).

    6. So we have new software. Cool! How do I use it?

    Along with the new software, we also have a new list of Frequently Asked Questions. We'll be updating this document over the next few days to fit better with the Trek BBS, but for now it should already help you on your way. Of course, our own set of BBS rules still applies as well.

    7. I hate the clutter! How can I get rid of that?

    I hate the clutter too, so you're not alone. Over the coming weeks, we may be editing the look of the forum a little to cut down on the clutter. For now, though, you can already make the forum look a lot cleaner by going to your display preferences and turning off several of the display options. Two things that might help in making the BBS more usable would be turning off the avatar display and increasing the number of threads/posts shown per page.

    8. We can have avatars under our usernames! Cool, I'll go scan in my Jolene Blalock Maxim photos!

    No, you won't. Because avatars can be seen by everyone, we'd like for everyone to use images that are not offensive, something that will be decided at the discretion of the moderators. Don't use a nude Marina Sirtis or a smiling Adolf Hitler in your avatar, to name just a few things. We're also considering changing the settings so that only users with a minimum of 100 posts are allowed to use avatars, although that hasn't been set up yet.

    9. How do I reply? I miss the big reply button at the top of each post!

    With the new forum software, the reply button can be found above each individual post. Of course, you can still reply to the entire thread using that reply button.

    10. OK, we've waited long enough now! You're resigning?

    That's right. After nearly four years, I'll be leaving the top spot here at the Trek BBS (and over at the Slipstream BBS. Over the past year, my non-BBS life has been growing ever busier, leaving me with less time to spend on the sites. I've had to juggle being an admin at the BBS, editing the news sites, doing some tech work and handling all the advertising/financial stuff, and I ended up not being able to do any of those things well. Here at the BBS, Lisa has already been the de facto head admin for a while, and so I figured it would only be fair to officially recognise that. I asked her to replace me as the head admin at the BBS, and I'm very happy she agreed to do that.

    In all probability, this will lead to some changes in the way the board is run, and in its rules, as Lisa's views on how the board should be run may in some cases of course be different from mine. The two of us will of course talk about those changes, and I've already heard about a few of them, but ultimately it's her decision which changes will be implemented, so I'm sure she'll be announcing those at a later date. She's now essentially co-owner of the BBS, so has every authority to change things as she sees fit.

    11. Wow. So is this the only big change happening at the Trek Nation?

    Not quite. At the same time Lisa is taking over from me as the head admin at the Trek BBS and at the Slipstream BBS, Caillan is taking over as the head editor at TrekToday and at SlipstreamNews, something he's already basically been doing unofficially before. This may also lead to some changes in the way TrekToday operates - for instance, we've already decided we'll be publishing the Site Columns only twice a week now, rather than daily, and I personally really hope Caillan decides to change the somewhat bizarre editorial policy we have now regarding the italicising of movie and episode titles. However, all those changes will also be announced on TrekToday at a later date.

    Finally, we'll be getting a new addition to our team. AntonyF, who should be familiar people as the webmaster of B5TV.com, as the former webmaster of Star Trek Central, and as occasional TrekToday contributor, will be joining us to write news items for TrekToday and SlipstreamNews. Antony, a good friend of us, was eager to get back to writing about Star Trek, and we're very happy he wanted to do that at TrekToday.

    12. So what will you be doing now? Playing your Xbox all day long?

    I wish. First off, I'll still be around here at the Trek BBS as one of the admins, primarily so I can do some editing on the look of the board, and on the ads at the board, but also so I can help out in case Lisa's offline and someone quickly needs to step in. Similarly, I won't completely disappear from TrekToday and SlipstreamNews, and do intend to write the occasional article for that. And of course, if Paramount were to announce the creation of Series VI or something like that while Antony and Caillan aren't around, both Lisa and I will still be able to jump in and cover the news.

    However, one of the things I'll primarily be working on is getting good advertising for the site. Of course, most of our advertisements come from our advertising intermediary UGO, who I've been increasingly happy about - certainly seeing 'Star Trek: Nemesis' ads appear on the site was quite nice. Unfortunately, the advertising income we get from UGO is not enough to cover all the costs of the site, particularly not since many of the above changes also come with extra costs - unfortunately extra memory or new servers don't come for free. Especially now that the Christmas season is over and advertising income is likely to go down again, we'll need to find new sources of income, and that will be one of my main priorities in the future.

    One way in which we'll be trying to increase income for the sites will be by focusing more on Amazon.com ads - when you visit the DS9 forum in the future, you might for instance see the standard banners replaced by DS9 merchandis ads. Hopefully we'll also be able to encourage some Trek merchandise companies to advertise directly on the site - if you know of any such companies, or run one of them yourself, please feel free to contact me at christian@trektoday.com. Finally, if the costs still prove to be too high, we may decide to put up another request for donations, like we did last year. Ironically enough, spending more time on getting new advertisers to the site might actually free up more of my time. I've had do some extra freelance work over the past months to cover the expenses, and it'd be nice if the site's advertising would actually be able to pay for that.

    A second thing I'll be working on is trying to get some more original articles on the site. We've always wanted to have some nice feature articles at the Trek Nation, but after short periods of doing quite well with those, that always collapsed again due to lack of time. We currently have the wonderful 'Writing for Star Trek' series by Joseph DiLella running, and I hope we'll be able to get more feature articles on the site. Maybe we'll even be able to revive the Trek Nation mailbag again. If you have any ideas for articles and can actually write, again, please feel free to email me at christian@trektoday.com.

    Thirdly, I'll be working on getting some new projects off the ground. One thing we've been talking about for a long time is automating the TV listings so they always appear on a set place on the TrekToday front page, and I'd like to finally get that done. I also hear from Charles Capps that the Site Manager software we use isn't exactly a landmark example of clean and efficient programming, so I'll take some time to improve that. And finally, there's a big new project we've been considering, but we probably won't be ready to announce that for another month or so.

    And finally, I may actually be able to post at the Trek BBS again :).

    13. Wow. These are all quite big changes. Where can I talk about them?

    You can do so in this thread in Questions, Suggestions & Feedback. (Assuming, of course, that you're registered and logged in.)

    And of course, from now on: if you have problems or questions, bug Lisa, not me :)