Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Delayed Again!

I don't mean to be yanking your chain, but it's probably starting to seem that way. After announcing the downtime delay to Friday, I got a surprisingly number of messages requesting it be moved to Monday so that Atlas Quest will stay available during the weekend. I'm kind of anxious to get this done and over with, but I do like to be accommodating when I can. So I took an informal poll this morning to find out if people preferred a Monday update rather than a Friday update. As it turns out, Monday won by a landslide! The people have spoken!

So I'm delaying the update until Monday, April 2nd. Sorry for all the confusion about this, and hopefully it'll be much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Update Postponed....

I'm still working on getting the new server ready and it's taking quite a bit longer than I planned. I might have it all done in time for Thursday, but I'm going to postpone the switch until Friday morning just in case an extra one day isn't enough.

The main thing slowing me down is copying all of those 100,000 or so images you've uploaded to AQ over the years. Keeping in mind that for every image you do upload, AQ creates three files from it: a thumbnail, a "normal" size, and a large size. So that's 300,000 files. And it's taking a lot longer to copy all of those files from the old server to the new server. My system has been working on it for more than a day now and isn't even half done yet. 

So nothing really new to report tonight except that little postponement. But seriously--this is NOT an April Fool's joke! This is going to happen! =) And if all goes well, I now plan to make it happen on Friday, March 30th, at 10:00 AM Pacific time.

Upgrade Update

A bit more information about the upcoming update. =)

First, it's taking a bit longer to get a lot of the data copied over to the new server, so I might have to postpone the downtime by another day. I'm still shooting for a Wednesday morning update, but do know that it might be postponed if all the necessary ducks aren't in a row by then.

Second, while AQ is down, I obviously won't be able to post regular updates about the progress there. So look for updates on Atlas Quest's Facebook page--that's where most of my updating will be. I might be posting to this blog as well. (Even though this blog does use the domain, it uses a subdomain and is hosted on Google's servers--if I do things right, this blog should stay up during the entire update.)

But with the status option so easy to post short updates on progress on Facebook, that's where you'll see me posting most regularly. =)

In the comments of my last post, Greg asked about posting a link to the new IP address. When the new site is actually up and running, I'll post the new IP address there and if you have the technical skills to add it to your hosts file, you can speed your access to the new AQ server. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, though, leave well enough alone. Eventually, the new IP address will propagate and you'll be able to get on again--hopefully within a few hours.

If you're wondering why I don't just create a link direct to the IP address, some of the code on the website depends on the URL being for ""--if you try to link directly to the IP address, it'll redirect you to, and if the IP address hasn't propagated, it'll just send you back to the old website.

There was also a question about if I could put the old server into a "read only" mode. It's a little tricky to do this since AQ was never designed to work in a "read only" mode. Technically, I could update the code and probably make something like that work, but with scripts that run as cron jobs, different ways to log in (auto-login, manual login, app login, cached logins, and who knows what I've forgotten), it would take quite a bit of work to make it reliable. And even if I could stop everyone from logging in, there's still stuff being logged--anonymous visitors who view a clue cause clue hits, searches for addresses or cities might cause an unknown location to be added to the database.

Basically, the only easy way to make sure the database stops changing is just to shut down the entire website while the data is being transferred over.

And, I'm cautiously optimistic the site will only be down for less than a day. You'll live. ;o)

So that's the skinny about what's going on. I'll post again tomorrow night with another update. I'll also have a better idea then if I'll need to postpone the switch to the new server.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Major Downtime Scheduled

So, here's the thing. For a few years now, Atlas Quest has been running out of space. And I've run through all sorts of tricks in order to squeeze a little more out of it. AQ regularly deletes the largest version of all images uploaded after about a month to save space. Virtual boxes no longer allow AQ-hosted images. Even the nightly backups of the database are no longer stored on AQ's servers--there just isn't room for them anymore.

I've squeeze and squeezed, and I've run out of tricks. As of right now, AQ has run through 96% of it's allowable disk space.

So, I'm making arrangements to move AQ to a bigger, faster, and better server. That's the good news. The bad news is--major downtime ahead. It'll take me awhile to copy all of AQ to the new server. And to add insult to injury, the old IP address won't be coming along for the ride and I've had issues with IP address propagation in the past where some unlucky people were not able to access AQ for as long as a week after the IP address changed.

So mark your calendars! Right now, it's my intention to take AQ down Wednesday morning, March 28th, at 10:00 AM Pacific time. At the very least, it will be down for most of the day. If I run into snags and other problems, it might even take me more than one day. And even then, if the IP address change doesn't propagate to your part of the Internet quickly, it could be several days before you'll get onto AQ again.

If you plan to be boxing later this week or even this upcoming weekend, print your clues now! Even your letterboxing apps won't be able to get new clues so you may need to go old school and print your clues. (If your app has stored clues, those you'll still probably be able to pull up--but you won't be able to sync for updated clues or get new ones.)

Sorry for this, but AQ just outgrew it's current server. Without this move, AQ would probably implode sometime within the next month or so and I've run out of tricks to extend the currently available disk space.

Monday, March 05, 2012

LTC Explosion!

The number of submissions for last month's potpourri exploded!
After posting The Artistry of LTCs last month, the number of submissions for Marjorie's Potpourri exploded--easily double a normal month. Since I usually pick up my own mail, Amanda never really noticed the increase until, near the end of the month, she told me she had some LTCs of her own she wanted to trade out with potpourri members. Occasionally, she likes to look through what's been submitted and nab a particular favorite for herself. =)

"So you want to sort them this month?"

"Sure!" she said.

I pulled out the pile of envelopes with LTCs, stacked them up, and dropped them with a thud on the table. "Here you go!"

Her eyes popped out. "Good grief! What happened?"

"My blog happened, that's what."

She shook her head in stunned amazement at the pile. "That's it!" she told me. "I forbid you post about LTCs again."

I nodded agreeably, but of course, I knew I would post again if for no other reason than to share this story with you. =)

So this last month, I let Amanda do most of work with Majorie's Potpourri. I did set six random envelopes aside in case any last minute arrives showed up on the first or second of the month--so I'd still have enough to swap if no extra arrived--but all of the rest fell to Amanda's capable hands

And without further ado, here are a few things we found in the last potpourri....

How adorable is this.....
Angry Birds: Cracked Helmet Pig by GypsyLadybug

This LTC appears to have been specially made for
this month's potpourri--the back even labels it
as Marjorie's Potpourri (Feburary 2012)
Flower of the month: February Violets by El

Good Dragon, Bad Dragon by Kurious Jo
Seems there's a ring with googley eyes, because this card
wasn't the only googley eyed card in this month's potpourri.
Even the little bee has tiny googley eyes! (I have to confess,
however, that effect doesn't look as neat in a photo. It works
better when you can see the googley eyes moving around.)
Googley Eyes: Frog by Flutterwing2009

I've seen carved return address stamps before,
but it's much more unusual to see the address to the
recipient stamped as well! I'm quite impressed at the effort
for a disposable envelope. Makes me want to save it forever!
This work of art was sent by Aunt Bee. Looks like she
forgot about marking it as a potpourri envelope until after the
stamping was done!

This was the most elaborate envelope in the potpourri.
Created by MN Compass, she even listed it as an 'other'
box on Atlas Quest: Viking sent to WA.
Interestingly, the post office added their own stamp
to the mix that read:
"Postage Verified Seattle WA 98168"
Thanks for including the correct postage! Looks like our Seattle
postal workers are putting their feet down! (Several potpourri
envelopes had this postage verified message.)