Monday, May 21, 2018

Another Day, Another Big Update!

Yet again, I'm ready for the Next Big Update. This is a massive update that has the potential to break break all sorts of unexpected things, but hopefully I've tested it thoroughly enough that y'all only find minor problems.

But for as massive as this update is, you probably won't notice much that's changed. The majority of the changes are under the hood. But there are a few things I'll point out:

* You'll find a few cosmetic changes here and there. You might have to do a "page refresh" to see some of these changes if your browser is using a cached version of the CSS. (Try clicking Ctrl-F5 if you're on a Windows machine.) Eventually your browser will update this whether or not you manually force a reload.
* The premium membership pages have been updated to work better with smartphones. You shouldn't have to zoom in and out or do any horizontal scrolling to navigate those pages anymore.
* I've added a few feature requests over the last few months. I didn't keep a running list, but if I posted or told you that it'll be in the "Next Big Update"--this is it.

The "massive" part of this update is in the location information stored in the database. I redesigned how locations are stored, processed and updated. If I broke something, there's a good chance you'll find it when running a location-based search (including trip searches, area searches, rectangle searches, etc.)

For most of you, the main thing you might notice is that if you create a custom location, you'll find that the coordinates and radius of your location may not update immediately. This will happen when somebody else is already using that location with different coordinates and/or radius. Basically, AQ recognizes the fact that two different people are trying to use the same location, but that disagree over the location or size of the location. Which is right? AQ doesn't know!

So your new coordinates/size are put into a list that moderators will be notified of and they can look at the information provided by both people and make a determination about which is the correct data to use. Hopefully it won't ever take more than a day at most before one of the moderators can validate the data and approve the change (assuming the information you provided is accurate, of course).

This process only happens with two different people are trying to use the same location but disagree on its coordinates and/or size. If you are the only person using a location, AQ will happily accept whatever you enter regardless how of incorrect it may or not be and the change will happen instantaneously. =)

So that's it in a nutshell.

Unless you're a premium member--in which case there's a new feature/perk you can check out! Under the Toolbox menubar, you'll find a new option labeled Manage Locations. Here, you can check out a list of all of the locations that are currently being used by your account--the locations of all of the boxes you've listed, events you've listed, custom locations added to other people's boxes, etc.

This is actually a page I've used for years as an admin tool to update incorrect locations or check out the details of a specific location to figure out what's going on when people report problems with the search and it's incredibly useful. For non-admins, it's probably not as useful, but it's still interesting to look at and lets you handle locations separately from boxes, event or whatever the case may be.

You can use this to see exactly what AQ has in its database about the location you're using and edit it as needed. The thing to keep in mind, however, is that you're editing the actual location information when you change a location from here. When you "change" a location by editing a box (for instance), what you're really doing is pointing the box to a different location. The actual location doesn't change--just which one you're referring to. Changes with this new tool, however, changes the actual location, so if you have multiple boxes pointing to the same location and edit that location, all boxes using that location will get updated.

So the rule here is to use the Manage Locations page to correct location information (like your box in New York is showing up in Texas searches), and use the old "edit box" (or event, or tracker, or whatever) to change the location of a box/event/whatever (because, for instance, the box used to be located in New York, but it was retired from there and moved to Texas).

Related to this, when you pull up the box/event/tracker details page, you'll find a new link that will take you directly to the page with all of the information AQ has about the location for that page. Just to make it a little easier to find that page without having to go through Manage Locations page. =)

So that's it in a nutshell.

Unless… you're a moderator. =) And I'll post about stuff you folks should know about in the Moderator board.

I've done a heck of a lot of testing for this update, but it's a massive update that affects thousands of lines of code across hundreds of files, so there are almost certainly a few bugs that slipped through my testing. Let me apologize in advance if you run into trouble from any of them, and I'll be monitoring AQ closely for the next couple of days so I can hop on whatever problems might arise. Please be patient, though! I'm optimistic the problems will be minimal, though, and hopefully most of you won't notice any bugs at all! =)

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Another April Fools Day in the bag

As most of you quickly realized, those horrible fonts I used today were this year's April Fools joke. I also didn't move AQ to a new server last night. That was just part of the setup so a "cloud-based" server could serve as an excuse to start using a "cloud-based" font.

But in my defense:

  1. Wassa made me do it (It was even his idea! I just ran with it....)
  2. I did warn everyone yesterday that it would be best to print clues you'd need for today... yesterday. =)
  3. Anyone who's used AQ for more than a year knew shenanigans were going to happen today and that today might not be the best day to get stuff done on AQ. ;o)
For those of you who did sit out April Fools and are reading this later and thinking, What did I miss?! I want to see these horrible fonts I hear everyone talking about!

You can still access them because they're custom themes which you can find at:
Sorry for any inconvenience, but I hope most of you could see the humor and ridiculousness of the prank! =)

Until next year....

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Atlas Quest is on the cloud!

For months I've been working on the next big update.... moving Atlas Quest to the cloud! I know that means nothing to some of you, but this is HUGE! Cloud computing, also known as on-demand computing, is a kind of internet-based computing, where shared resources and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.

Previously, Atlas Quest was hosted on a single computer. If something happened to that system, or a surge of activity overloaded the server, the website would essentially crash. In a nutshell, moving to the cloud makes the server faster, cheaper and more reliable! It's a win-win-win for everyone!

To celebrate this monumental achievement, I changed the primary font used on Atlas Quest to a cloud-based font. I'm not sure if I'll leave it there permanently or eventually go back to the old font, but let me know what you think!

Downtime this evening

Just a heads up! There's going to be some downtime tonight for The Next Big Update! I'm moving AQ to a new server, though, so depending on how long it takes for the new IP address to propagate, AQ could be (appear) to be down for awhile. I'm going to put up the Under Construction page, immediately start the new IP address propagating through the Internet, move the database to the new server, then when I've copied the database over, open the new website. When the new IP address arrives at your part of the Internet, you'll be able to access AQ again.

Hopefully it won't take more than an hour or two, although in the past when I've done this some people reported they didn't get the propagated IP address for as long as a week... so, I can't make any promises. If, after a few hours, AQ still isn't coming up, you might be able to get back on from another device. (Using your laptop instead of your smartphone, for instance.)

Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause!