Website Problems

Comments on the website and discussion forums, including enhancement requests and bug reports.
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Pete Eeles
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Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:53 am

Please be aware that there UKB is currently experiencing problems, resulting in old pages being loaded, missing images and strange behaviour in the UKB forums (specifically, you may be appear to be logged in as someone else). This is currently under investigation. Thanks for your patience.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:05 am

Hi all - and thanks to the (many) of you that contacted me.

As things currently stand (1104 on Sunday 30th) things seem to be working again. It looks like the service provider has sorted things out (because I haven't changed anything!). Just a little stressful since I was up until 3am this morning trying to convince them that it was their problem and not mine! Hey ho.

Cheers,

- Pete

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David M
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Re: Website Problems

Postby David M » Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:30 am

You're a trooper, Pete. Many thanks for your persistence.

The issue was a strange one - since yesterday afternoon I've been logged in as four other users as well as myself!! :?

Let's hope the problem doesn't return.

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David M
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Re: Website Problems

Postby David M » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:04 am

Seems I spoke to soon....

There's still an issue: when on the home page the list of recent posts is up to date and accurate. However, when one clicks on the 'Recent' icon on the right side of the header selection menu, this defaults to the position at 9.59pm yesterday!!

My Firefox browser is also giving me warnings that the website does not have a secure connection which it has never done before.

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:22 am

Yes, it looks like the problem is still there :(

Cheers,

- Pete

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Vince Massimo
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Vince Massimo » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:46 am

Pete Eeles wrote:Yes, it looks like the problem is still there :(


Unfortunately it is.
I am also getting notifications of PM's which do not seem to exist, whilst I have had the warning of an insecure website connection on my Firefox browser for several months now.

Vince

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bugboy
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Re: Website Problems

Postby bugboy » Sun Apr 30, 2017 2:51 pm

Yup the problem still exists for me too, both on my laptop and my phone. I've only found this thread by going to the main site home page and then clicking on the link of this thread back into the forums (having to sign back in in the process).

I get the same issues from Firefox and explorer on my laptop.
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 3:55 pm

I have FINALLY convinced that they need to clear the web server cache (now done) and things look ok right now.

If you continue to see any problems then please let me know - probably best by email: pete@ukbutterflies.co.uk

Thanks!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Hmmm - I'm still seeing a few weird things ... :(

Cheers,

- Pete

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bugboy
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Re: Website Problems

Postby bugboy » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:00 pm

Pete Eeles wrote:Hmmm - I'm still seeing a few weird things ... :(

Cheers,

- Pete


Me too, although not as many or as often. I seem to be 'me' more often than not as opposed to last night and this morning when I was suffering severe multiple personalities whenever I tried to do anything. Maybe it will take a while to settle down again?
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Neil Hulme » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:06 pm

Hi Pete
Yes, it's still wobbling. I've posted twice, but they haven't appeared anywhere, yet when I go to re-post I can see them below in the trail of previous posts!
Try the big stick.
BWs, Neil

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MikeOxon
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Re: Website Problems

Postby MikeOxon » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:09 pm

currently experiencing exactly the same as Neil - very wobbly since sometimes my reply appears on the end of Pauline's PD and sometimes it doesn't. No sign of it in 'recent' posts or the list of PDs.

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:30 pm

Hi all - we have a VERY serious problem that can't be easily overcome without significant changes. I'm crafting a note now that will explain all.

Cheers,

- Pete

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:57 pm

Hi all,

I'm not quite sure where to start with this, but let me give it a shot.

First off, anyone who has visited UKB recently will have seen very strange behaviour, such as forum posts not appearing when they should, session details being jumbled (e.g. seeing yourself logged in as someone else), images partially loading (if at all), etc.

After an entire day diagnosing the problems (with JustHost, the service provider), it boiled down to one simple thing - a mechanism has been added to the server to support caching (saving state, such as pages and cookies, and using that content when needed). As a simple example, I wrote a PHP script that rendered a page that displayed the current time in seconds - adding this to the server showed that the time was not updating since the page was being "cached" and that page displayed, showing the incorrect time, rather than the script being executed and the correct time showing.

And so ... UKB is hosted on a shared server. That means that UKB and other websites all use the same resources. When the usage gets too high then, rather than the server crashing due to a lack of resources (such as memory), a caching mechanism (called "Varnish") kicks in, and responds to all requests from its cache, rather than scripts getting executed.

Clearly, the implementation of this mechanism leaves a lot to be desired (I mean, how can you cache a user's session state and provide that to other users?!), and clearly does not work for "dynamic" websites such as ours, but is outside of my control (since it's implemented by JustHost). Also, the upgrade of the server to incorporate more resources (such as memory and disk space) is also outside of my control.

Despite many hours "chatting" with JustHost, the only answer seems to be an upgrade to a "Virtual Private Server" (VPS) where the caching can be removed. It will also allow us to address the 300,000 file limit we currently have (we're at about 275,000 files, mainly attachments to posts).

And now to the serious problem we have. In order to upgrade, we need to get the total website size down to 20GB. It's currently 75GB (or thereabouts), primarily due to the files attached to posts.

This is as far as I have gotten and this will take some time to resolve since something needs to change. Here are my thoughts ... in priority order we need to keep:

1. The website content (excluding the forums) - so species pages, site listings etc. etc.
2. The photo library.
3. Personal diaries.
4. The remaining text content of the forums.
5. All forum attachments (primarily images, which take up a lot of space).

The real question is "what should we archive?" I think the only option is old attachments (images) while I figure out a way to make them accessible at some point in the future.

Anyway - all thoughts are welcome while I mull this over. I intend to call JustHost when I can to talk this through, again.

Cheers,

- Pete

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bugboy
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Re: Website Problems

Postby bugboy » Mon May 01, 2017 2:17 pm

everything seems good to me Pete... so far!
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Mon May 01, 2017 4:05 pm

Thanks for all of the support everyone! I wasn't expecting to spend the bank holiday weekend in front of a computer screen!

In a nutshell, the service provider (JustHost) has a broken caching mechanism. It's ok right now as I type this (after spending an hour on the phone with their US team), but it could go pear-shaped again. What this latest "fix" gives us is, I hope, time.

After talking with a few individuals (Vince, Guy, Neil, Mark C.), I've decided that we do need to move the website off a shared server so that we're not bound by the controls in place or the constraints on certain "resources" (e.g. memory), both of which exist because UKB sits on a server shared with other websites.

This will cost £££ and, after talking it through with JustHost, we need a more significant upgrade than I anticipated, and the cost is also greater than I anticipated. We also need to reduce the size of the website (it is currently 86GB and 53GB of that comes from attachments to posts) because storage is limited for any private server solution. Anyway, there is an obvious order of priorities of what should be retained, as I eluded to in my previous post.

My approach to addressing the cost is to find a major sponsor for UKB that is willing to cover the website hosting costs. Before I do that, I need to put a "pack" together that, essentially, defines a business case for this investment, assuming that the sponsor would be a commercial entity that would benefit from having their name associated with UKB. If you have any thoughts on who I should contact than please let me know your ideas (PM or email).

I guess that's it for now. Any problems with the website, please let me know. I'm now off to enjoy a beer or three and make the most of the rest of the bank holiday weekend. And thanks for sticking with it and, again, for all the support I've received - you really are a wonderful bunch :)

Cheers,

- Pete

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David M
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Re: Website Problems

Postby David M » Mon May 01, 2017 4:32 pm

Pete, we ought to be thanking you for all the effort you've put in. You've gone beyond the call of duty and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

I agree things seem to be back to normal having read a few pages and made a couple of posts (some with images).

Many thanks once again.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Neil Freeman » Mon May 01, 2017 7:27 pm

David M wrote:Pete, we ought to be thanking you for all the effort you've put in. You've gone beyond the call of duty and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

I agree things seem to be back to normal having read a few pages and made a couple of posts (some with images).

Many thanks once again.


Indeed.
Pete, your efforts to maintain this website is very much appreciated by myself as I am sure it is by everyone that uses it. I for one find it a most valuable resource and as David says am extremely grateful.

Cheers,

Neil

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Goldie M
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Goldie M » Wed May 03, 2017 8:50 am

Hi! Pete, I've had nothing much to post lately, ( the Butterflies have only just started to show themselves here ) so I can't say I've had too much trouble but you mentioned new sponsors and I quickly thought of the National Lottery.

I've no Idea what or how you apply but surely your web site is very important to Butterfly Conservation, the species section alone with all it's contents, plus the help and information it gives to people is very important I'm sure others will back me up on this, I always think of the contents of UKB helping the country to the where a bouts and scarcity of Butterflies and the many, many other things your web site achieves. Just a thought Goldie :)

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Pete Eeles
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Re: Website Problems

Postby Pete Eeles » Wed May 03, 2017 3:34 pm

Thanks David and Neil - and thanks for the suggestion, Goldie!

Cheers,

- Pete


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