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Pat Isaac
03-01-2008, 05:09 PM
I am posting a thread from one of the administrators so that you will all know the problems that have been plaguing WC lately.

I've spent this past week in Ohio, working with technical staff on many of the site issues that we've seen over the past several months. Things are making more sense, but the solution is a very large fix.

What it boils down to is that the site is really old, really huge, on several servers and much of the information that we have about it is also outdated. When the site crashed back in the fall, it was rebuilt and a few months later, new hard drives were added to support the growing membership. Though these things were helpful, what the site really needs is a fresh install of the software and third party applications on a completely new server with a completely new host. The templates will be updated removing the bugs, fixing errors in the RIL and the project system, the article publisher and in the chat room. The process is going to take a few months to do everything and do it really well. We don't just want to patch over things, we want to make it stable and updated.

In the meantime, the site is rebooting just about every morning (EST). If a person logs into the site when it is rebooting, things will look strange. . . avatars, images will be missing, error messages will be in weird places, etc. The best solution for each member is to log out, wait about ten minutes at least and then log in again. I can't say that this will solve all the glitches that you see, but it will make a difference for your user experience.

On our end, we are assessing the risk and budget of making these huge changes. We would like to add some improvements in the process, like upgrades to the third party software, including chat and the product review system. (Wow, that has been down for a while) You'll notice now, too, that smArtviewer might pop in and work every once in a while. The issue there is that the license was outdated and the update is quite quite expensive. We are looking at some other options to provide the same functions that art-agent has given, with less complexity. I just don't know what the future is on all those pieces. But, we are taking an active approach in improving the site. The hard part is finding all the pieces and decoding what has been done and when. The documentation, control panels, passwords, licenses are all incomplete. So, we are having to track these things down before we are able to make the changes.

That is a lot. And I know that we will gain many new members in the meantime that will wonder why things just aren't working very well. I'll post in the Site Announcements and a few other places to explain things.

You may share or quote what I've shared here whenever you need to. I won't be always able to hear from the members that you are hearing from.

Thanks for your patience. I hope all of this really helps while the process is still unsteady for a while.

Oh, and refer to the porn thread for some solutions on that as well. I know how bad this is, but a fix is in process for this, too.



Pat

LJW
03-01-2008, 06:12 PM
Thanks for the info, Pat. Jane

AnnieA
03-01-2008, 06:13 PM
Pat: Thanks for posting this. I don't envy the administrators - this sounds like a huge and nerve-wracking job. But it will be wonderful once it's all done. I think, for instance, that the review section is a great but very underused resource, so if the administrators are looking at eventually getting that up and running again, it will be a great thing for WC. And the other changes will be great too - I guess the tremendous success of WC means that it's harder to upgrade things since the site is so large.

I really appreciate that they're keeping us informed. It's a lot easier to be patient with occasional glitches when there is good communication. Please pass along my thanks. :)

Porn thread??? :confused: :eek:

Pat Isaac
03-01-2008, 06:57 PM
I will pass it along, Annie. Apparently the general art business forum was getting a lot of porn and they are trying to resolve those issues.

Pat

Scarefishcrow
03-01-2008, 10:13 PM
Pat--Thank you for the info. As one that has been involved with PC's, networks, servers, etc. at various levels it can't be overemphasized that a network operation this huge cannot be stopped on a dime and change direction. The administrator's words convey their frustration as well as that by the users. I have seen this before, rapid growth that burdens a system and you become a victim of your own success. It is IMPORTANT, though, to keep in the forefront to the members that these problems are structural ones and not ones of neglect or inattentiveness. The most critical area, IMHO, seems to be making sure new users are aware that there is a transition in progress or they may become discouraged beore they really experience the site.

Many of us take WC for granted, as we do much of the internet. It is part of the "free Internet" culture. However, nothing is free and it takes enormous resources to matintain, much less upgrade, an operation of this kind. Like public broadcasting anyone can use the service, but those of us that are very actice need to assess our responsibility to help support the operation and maintain the quality that we want to see and experience by considering one of the paid membership levels that I see as similar to the voluntary donations to public broadcasting.

Perhaps we need to examine what services are the most crucial and consider streamlining services that don not attract much or may no longer serve the purpose for which they were initiated.

We need to support the WC administrators and team and if there are things we can do to assist in improving services the administratroators should pass along requests. Most important is what you and they have done and that is to keep users informed because users can understand changes if they are aware of them. I would encourage the administrators to try and keep a regular flow of short progress reports that are posted letting users know that something is happening even though they cannot see it.

Ironically, we have come to take for granted what seems to be the miraculous things that happen so easily with a click here and there. Many are not aware of the incredibly complex infrastructure and difficulties in maintaining and upgrading that while trying to keep the same uninterrupted service.

A big :thumbsup: for WC staff for the system they have put in place and we need to support their efforts to address probnlems.

AnnieA
03-04-2008, 03:40 PM
Good Morning, Pat!

I know that WC has been having problems with images, so I just wanted to report on something I just noticed. It appears that maybe the attachment feature is allowing images larger than 100 KB to be posted. I'm not sure of this, but I just reposted some images from a new poster in another thread, and I had to resize them before I could use the uploader because they were larger than 100KB. Since our servers, from what you said, are already overloaded, I thought maybe someone would be aware of this.

Also, people who use browsers other than IE may experience some problems using the uploader (this isn't a new problem, but since we've got a lot of new people signing up, and I know there are newbies who've struggled with this issue, I thought I'd mention it too). For non-IE users, the "Copy" button on the uploader may not work (I know it doesn't in Firefox - I'm not certain whether or not it works in other alternate browsers such as Opera, dillo, etc.). But there's an easy workaround in Firefox. Rather than use the "Copy" button, here's what to do:


Special Instructions for Those Using Non-Internet Explorer Browsers:
For non-IE users, the "Copy" button may not work. But the link to your uploaded file can be copied using this alternative method.
1. Position your mouse somewhere over the link and click to position the cursor within it.
2. Use the right-click menu to choose "Select All" (the link will become highlighted).
3. Then, use the right-click menu again to select "Copy." (You could use Control-V, or the "Edit" menu to copy instead, if you prefer.) You can then post the link to the image into your post.
I wrote this in a form that I think the administrators could easily copy over into the "File Upload Complete" window, if they want to do so. It might help newbies and reduce image uploading problems/questions.

But that's up to the administrators. Pat, I was hoping you'd pass this along to them, but please use your judgement about whether it's helpful right now. I don't want it to be just one more thing :eek: in a time when they're overloaded anyway. Everyone else - feel free to circulate the info where it might help...

Pat Isaac
03-04-2008, 04:03 PM
Thanks, Annie for all the info. I'll pass it along, though I think they are reading the thread that has been put in many forums.
As for me the issue of the browser sounds foreign to me. I have Safari on a Mac and do not use a copy button, just the image at the top of the reply thread. This is easy for me and woks easily....most of the time...:rolleyes:

Pat

Scarefishcrow
03-05-2008, 06:53 PM
Annie, Pat- I do know that there is a size limit on the files that the uploader can automaically resize.

I have been using my ACDSee software to Batch Resize to the max pixel width or height (depending on format) and this significantly reduces the time the uploads (and I assume burden on the WC servers) takes.

Perhaps we should encourage members to consider presizing their uploads prior to entering the attachment or uploader tools to reduce strain on resources.

Just a thought.

Bil

AnnieA
03-06-2008, 04:27 PM
Bill: I think most of us do resize images, although occasionally a newbie is unaware of the size limit. I thought the attachment feature would generally simply reject an image that was too large, rather than resize it, with a message returned to the would-be poster about needing to resize the image before posting. (I guess the one exception is in the RIL, where there are different image size rules.) I seem to recall there may have been an instance where a file of mine was re-sized by the Uploader, but I do think most people quickly become aware of the size limitations and only post appropriately-sized files.

I typically don't use the attachment feature, having first learned to post with the uploader, so that's what I'm used to. And the uploader offers the additional advantage of allowing one to repost images if needed, without having to upload them a second time (one can simply use the "copy image location" choice in the right-click menu), which I don't think can be done when they're posted as attachments (this also saves precious server space).

But this was a case where an oversize image apparently slipped through the filter, leading me to think that the filter itself was perhaps broken.

Pat Isaac
03-06-2008, 04:45 PM
I have always used the uploader too, so am really unfamiliar with the attachment tool. I have had the image loader resize images for me when I forgot and with no problem.

Pat

Scarefishcrow
03-06-2008, 07:49 PM
I initially was using the upload tool also, but for some strange reason it stopped working for me. It would read the image, resize if necessary, but when I posted it simply didn't appear. That's the only reason I use the attachment manager ( which does have the advantage of allowing you to specify 5 images before beginning the upload process rather than one at a time.

Don't know, I had it working originally, but can't seem to get it to work for me now??

:music: :heart: :music: