Spam and stuff

April 11th, 2012

PreviewThere’s been a while since I posted anything here. That, however, doesn’t mean things haven’t been going on. There are two major things going on at the moment:

1. A new and improved version of the website. It’s a fresh redesign and a complete rewrite of all the code with the aim of bringing Driver Databse into the modern age. The users with Admin priveleges will soon be able to test things out once I have a few more pieces running and will then be able to help out with feedback so that we can shape the site into something we will hopefully all like.

2. I’ve begun working on an Android app which will be some sort of Driver Database Light. A quick and easy way to look up drivers without having to bother with the browser on your Android phone/pad. This will be my first attempt at an app and I have already started to remember why me and Java never were friends back at university. So things might progress slowly with this project.

We have some spam issues going on at the moment. People/bots are signing up and submitting spam instead of the usual new drivers / new data. This isn’t an issue for the end users as nothing gets published from new users until they have been approved by admins on the site but it’s a bit annoying for us admins. I’m now banning a few IP adresses and will take further measures on the new site.

Small but important fix to the biographies

December 2nd, 2011

As some of you have noticed there were parts of the site that startedbehaving a bit strange when we moved to the new server. I’ve hunted down and fixed a lot of issues as I’ve come across them and I have now fixed an issue with the Premier Profiles where some entries sent into the Biography section don’t get saved in the database. If you’ve come across that problem, try it again and I’m hopefull it will work now. :)

Coverage of 2012 working

November 11th, 2011

It’s now possible for trusted users to take charge of reporting complete results for 2012 championship. The 2012 season also includes the championships that starts this year but runs over the new year, i.e. 2011-12 type of championships.

It’s also quite possible to take charge of championships further into the future if you really want to plan ahead. ;)

Sorry it took so long!

Keeping busy

October 30th, 2011

There are a few issues with the site at the moment that I haven’t had time to fix lately. The most important issue is that in some parts of the world the 2011-2012 season has started and it’s currently not possible for trusted users to sign up to do complete coverage of these championships.

I’m right in the middle of finishing a rather large project for my “normal” job and that has meant limited time to develop things at Driver Database. If things go as plan this project will be completed during this week and I can send out my invoice (woohoo, christmas saved!) and then have some time to fix things on the site.

After this issue is fixed I will be turning my focus on the next version of Driver Database – which will be a complete rewrite. It will not be totally revolutionary so it will have a familiar feel to it, but there will be a few new features and more importantly it will be better in every way! Once this project has started I will open the development site for the trusted users for testing, feedback and ideas. Together we’ll build the next Driver Database. :)

Downtime

October 28th, 2011

The last couple of weeks have been shaky for our servers. This was out of my hands, thankfully, as it was problems at Driver Database’s server provider. Hopefully they’ve managed to sort things out so that these types of failures won’t happen again.

During this time the image upload functions at Driver Database seized to function properly. They are working again now but if you submitted photos to the site during the last week please re-submit them!

Free advertising for drivers with Premier Profiles

September 17th, 2011

Thumbs up!The advertising system that I’ve been working with on and off for what feels like a lifetime is now starting to be ready for launch. Before everything’s up and running I’m offering all users who have a Premier Profile the chance to get some free advertising. All Premier Profile drivers can now log in to their account and upload a 468×60 sized banner and display it on the site no less than 50,000 times for free.

If you don’t want to make an ad for your own website, why not take this opportunity to display a banner for your sponsor or perhaps your favourite charity? As long as the banner’s not offensive or about gambling (I can’t display gambling ads as it goes against the terms of service for Google Adsense which I also run at the site) it’s ok with me. :)

(and as a sidenote, the price for a Premier Profile is still 50% of the regular price)

I might have temporarily solved the issue

August 26th, 2011

The issue of the crashing server wasn’t an as easy fix as I thought. The crashing database table wasn’t the culprit at all. The CPU kept hanging at irregular intervals anyway. I was running on two CPU cores and decided, just because I ran out of options, to downgrade it to run on just one CPU core. Speed wise we’re not missing out on all that much currently – it’s still very snappy and the system load is at 0.42 when the old system was going between 10 and 20 the last weeks. Much to my surprise the system has now been up for 17 hours without an issue. Not really ruling out that it might go down at any moment, but it does seem to be behaving now.

If it stays up during the weekend I’ll send over the error messages from the kernel when we ran two CPU cores to the hosting company and see if they have come across it before. It’s an issue that needs to be fixed as I’m currently running the biggest package for 1 CPU they’ve got so if I want to crank it up I have to go for at least two CPU cores.

I will now try to get all the member functions going so that we can start reporting all the results. It’s a busy motorsports weekend as always! :)

The server that was awesome – at one hour intervals

August 25th, 2011

FrustrationThe DNS should have propagated for all of you now which means you can all see Driver Database on the new server. I got it working last night and it was blindingly quick! Googlebot (the spider Google uses to index the webpages) and Yahoo crawler all went crazy with happiness because now they could index the site a lot quicker. Googlebot was downloading a site every 0.15 seconds and the server wasn’t even breaking a sweat. Happy happy joy joy!

But then it just broke down. All of a sudden I couldn’t connect. I could log in to the system and saw that it wasn’t running at 100% like I thought it would be, it was idle. 0% of the CPU’s were occupied and it just sat there twiddling its virtual thumbs with nothing to do. Odd, to say the least. I rebooted the machine and it was back like it should like nothing ever happened. I started looking at the system logs and started to find worrying things. Both the httpd (web server) and the mysql (database server) were being blocked according to the kernel. I started googling, looking for an answer only to find that it was A) A bug in the kernel, or B) a hard drive going corrupt. I wasn’t satisfied with any of these answers.

After an hour or so the server went back again. Same procedure as last hour. Rebooted, pulled my hair and cursed a bit.

Then I suddenly noticed that I was getting strange PHP errors on the site suggesting to me that I had forgot to import one of the tables. I found it odd as I was pretty sure it had worked before. I had a look in the database only to find that the table responsible for adding pageviews to the profile pages (for the popularity and most buzz lists) was corrupt. I repaired it and the errors went away. After an hour the server went down again.

I rebooted, looked in the database and saw that the very same table was corrupt again. I had a look in the error log from the database server and found out that some 10 minutes before the server stops responding that table goes corrupt. The server then tries to write to it a few times for each viewed page on the site (which at Googlebot’s and Yahoo’s rate were more than ten pages per second) spitting out error messages all over the logs. And then the shit goes down. A coincidence? I was hoping it wasn’t.

I removed the code that calls that table and decided to head for bed (it was 4 in the morning by then).

It looks like the server’s been running for over five hours now. I’m hoping the problem’s fixed now, eventhough I won’t be betting on it.

The small price to pay to keep it running might have to be that the most buzz and DriverDB popularity will be a thing of the past. Worse things have happened.

Driver Database on the new server

August 24th, 2011

I’ve just pointed the DNS records for the main site to the new server. It may take a few hours for it to start working due to DNS caching but hopefully it will start to work for most of you shortly. I have no idea how the site will behave on the new server hardware but I’m starting out at two virtual CPUs at 2.8 GHz each and 2 GB of RAM. I’m hoping that will do for now, but there’s always the possibility of cranking it up (it will cost more, of course).

If you get to the new server you’ll see a “Driver Database is now located on a new server!” below the Members heading. I haven’t yet had time to check all the member functions so logging in and editing stuff is still offline.

If you find anything weird – PHP errors or noticies please comment on this blog post and paste the URL you got the message on. :)

Database in place

August 24th, 2011

Things have moved a bit slow but finally now everything’s in place on the new server and I can start to test that everything’s working like it should. So far it isn’t, but it’s just a matter of changing a few lines here and a few lines there in the code. Nothing major, but it will probably take a few hours as there are lots of files to go through.