without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Good news, everyone. As you have probably realized, the switch to the new server was successful. The new machine has been handling the site's load quite well over the past week and the real site search is back to (hopefully) stay.
Oddly enough, a few people have said to actually prefer the Google search, so I have added a "Google" option to the search drop-down, if for some unfathomable reason you still want to use it and are too lazy to actually go to Google.
Also, I will now be disabling image uploads for some time while we transfer the images from the image server to the new site server. This will take a couple of days I expect, sorry for the inconvenience.
Once again, thank you very much to everyone who has supported the site and made it possible for us to get this bad-ass server (two quad-core CPUs and 12 GBs of RAM, for the curious).
Hopefully the last one in a long, long time - this is a real deal.
If you remember the story about the senior technician who had basically saved our site from our crappy host back in late December/early January (news posts here), well, you can know that for this whole time we have been with him, and you certainly noticed the site being far more stable than it used to be. We were on a sort of semi-dedicated server hosted by this guy, instead of the crappy old shared hosting.
Still, it was not entirely satisfactory. The downtimes were rarer but still annoying, and the old search still kills the site within minutes whenever we try to put it back for everyone.
So we are finally taking the step to go on a very powerful, fully-dedicated server with better support. The migration should be finished today, but in the meantime, the site may suffer from downtime or SQL or PHP errors and the likes. If this happens, don't worry, they will be fixed ASAP. Also there is always the matter of DNS propagation (see the link earlier, it mentions how to flush your DNS cache), so if the site goes down, it may take longer to reappear back to you depending on your location.
About the search: you must realize that the old search was, unfortunately, a complete resource hog that can easily paralyse even a powerful server. It is also very difficult to optimize it further without compromising some of its features. We're hoping the new one can hold its own against the onslaught of traffic, but we cannot know for certain until we test it.
Once again, thank you for your patience and comprehension, and thank you again to everyone who donated or helped us through the affiliation links.
Our image server is in Houston, which is currently out of power due to hurricane Ike, so no images or uploads until they can fix this.
Sorry, blame Nature. :)
EDIT: It has been fixed, just in case someone hasn't noticed...
Sorry about the downtime tonight. We're doing some tests with the search.
The image server will be undergoing some maintenance tonight so the images and uploads will be broken for a bit.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
With kind permission from Arsenic's editor, I have translated and formatted the aforementioned interview into English for our non-francophone users.
You can read the interview here.
An interview with myself and HellBlazer can now be read in the latest issue of Arsenic Magazine (in French only, sorry), for those who are interested. For the Québec residents, the magazine is easily available in specialised music stores such as Profusion and at some local concerts.
More info here: http://www.arseniczine.com/ and in this thread.
I modified the login code a bit so you might get an "invalid username/password" error and need to log in again. Sorry about the trouble.
Report any problem relating to this to me.
EDIT: Clear your cookies if you're having troubles with the login.
EDIT 2: Note that passwords are also now case-sensitive.
Hey, we're running some tests on the server so there might be some downtime or errors in the next few hours. Sorry for the inconvenience.
I have modified the donations page in the menu to the left to point to an updated page, "Support Us", in the left menu.
Basically this page tells you how you can help Metal-Archives in its quest for a better but more expensive server. Donations are still welcome, but you don't even have to give us the money directly - see the link for details.
Thanks to everyone who helped so far, we greatly appreciate it.
I have received reports that email notifications are not being sent. I have thus disactivated new registrations again for the moment, since the activation emails won't get sent out. Registrations will be opened again when this is resolved.
At the moment, it's very possible that you do not receive email notifications about your submissions, and I apologize for the inconvenience.
Thank you again for your patience.
As such, the upload of images has been turned back on. Enjoy.
(Yes, I know the time zone is different, but it's not a big deal so we're not dealing with it right now.)
You have certainly noticed the problems during the past few days. I'm not entirely sure what happened myself, but I'll try to give the gist of the issues to the best of my knowledge...
On Christmas day, the same day our credit card got charged for the hosting, the site went down with a "403 Forbidden" error. I contacted the hosting's technical support, and they underwent the routine of asking my domain name and the problem. When I told them, their response was, to my great horror and surprise, that our domain name did not exist in their database. This made no sense to me, of course, but the technical support was completely uncooperative and said I had to contact the sales/billing department.
Which I did, except, of course, that it was Christmas evening, and everyone was on vacation. I got an auto-responder saying they would be back on December 27th. Of course, when that day came, the site was still down and I still had no response. Then a strange "under construction" sign appeared, which for the record was a placeholder page they had put up - it was not from us.
Then, I saw that a senior technician on my instant messenger contact list (the only one who has ever managed to really help me in the past) was online. So I contacted him and explained everything. Strangely, he does not work for that hosting company anymore, but he still kept contact with his former employer and managed to get something done. He told me that the company had underwent major changes in their services: they had changed their administration control panel platform, but apparently had "missed us" during the migration. We didn't even enter their new billing cycle (which was scheduled to start on Jan. 1st, 2008). How anyone could "miss" what is no doubt their largest client is anyone's guess...
As of right now, I still have no response from the sales/billing. But the site is back online for some of us, thanks to this guy, who is actually hosting us temporarily on his own server. If your friends tell you they can't access the site, tell them to restart their computer or flush their DNS cache (under Windows X, command line, ipconfig /flushdns). It worked for me, but not for others, so I guess it's a matter of DNS propagation or something...
On my end, the images are broken. It's probably the case for many of you. The images are hosted on another server, and fetched via a subdomain, which may be wrongly configured. We're looking into this at the moment. To be on the safe side, image uploads have been disabled until we are certain the images will be displayed correctly. Worry not, though, the image files themselves are safe.
So for now, you can browse and use the site (minus the images, but at least all the data is there). Our contact will attempt to resolve the matter with the host tomorrow, so it's possible that the site goes down again for a bit (I say this because I don't exactly trust them to do it right, for obvious reasons).
Sadly, this isn't completely over yet, so we thank you for your patience. Don't worry about one thing: nobody is trying to shut us down, and we aren't going anywhere. As soon as we are able to, we will get a powerful dedicated server to make sure this does not happen anymore.
Thank you again for your patience and comprehension. Stay tuned for the updates as soon as I get them.
By now you've no doubt noticed the new merchant links appearing on the site: Amazon, eBay, and gemm.com. I'm sure everyone knows Amazon and eBay; not the most underground stores, to be sure, but they do have a huge selection of metal albums. Gemm.com is a marketplace-type site, that sellers from around the world can use to sell stuff online without having to maintain a webstore. They also have quite a few metal releases, including some very rare ones, though the prices do vary in affordability.
We've had a few requests from other stores wanting to be featured on the site, so I'll give a few notes about that here. The main thing is that you will need to have an affiliation program set up in order to have your store appear in our merchant links on the bands and releases pages. This would include tracking of sales coming from this site, a payment system, and hopefully some reporting features. Not everyone has the means to develop that, so there are companies specialized in the matter that can save you most of the work by integrating their software on your site. A big one I know of is Commission Junction; eBay uses them, along with a lot of other stores, though I'm not sure what their terms are. There are a lot more out there too, though remember that your software must allow payments to Canada (payments in USD is fine, even preferred since we pay our host in USD): some of them require an European bank account, for example, so that wouldn't work.
Feedback on this new feature has generally been positive, and stats indicate it is very popular, but in case anyone really can't stand those links I just added an option to the profile page to hide them when you're logged in.
You might notice a new section on some band pages entitled "buy their stuff" (just under the additional notes). This section will contain, as you might expect, links to sites selling merchandise related to the band in question. How is this different from the merch links users can already add? Well, these links will be to sites running affiliate programs that we are members of, i.e. we will be getting a cut on each sale referred from here. Is this selling out? We hope it is actually a useful feature for people wanting to buy albums and merchandise from their favorite bands, and an easily ignored one for the others. We will definitely keep the links discreet and far less obnoxious than banners, pop-ups and the like. The goal with this is mainly to get funds to pay hosting costs and especially to get a new powerful server for the still upcoming MA version 2 (yes, that is still seriously being worked on; no, I can't give you a release date). Thank you very much to everyone who donated money to us, but as we rather expected from the start, the donations slowed down to a tiny trickle after the first month and this is unfortunately not reliable enough to base monthly expenses on.
We will be adding other stores in the coming weeks and months, but for now we started with just one, namely fearshop.com. They sell mainly metal shirts (and a few CDs and DVDs), for a small variety of bands of different genres and popularity, from Iron Maiden to Nattefrost. They also have a bunch of horror movie t-shirts, if anyone's interested.
The e-mail problems should be fixed now. Sorry about the trouble.
It has recently come to our attention that just about no one receives notification and activation emails anymore, whereas before it was only the occasional user. We have contacted our host about this multiple times, but so far we have not had much luck.
I would encourage all our visitors to not register in the meantime. You can still try, but you probably won't receive anything, and if you contact us for a manual activation it will probably take a lot of time for us to respond. We have updated the registration page in consequence.
We greatly apologize for those who are inconvenienced by not receiving the notification emails. We are trying to find a solution, even if it means using another email server.
The FAQ has been updated. The first two questions are new, since more than half of my inbox is about those. Please read.
I set up caching for release pages as well as band lists in order to relieve our poor overworked database. Please warn me of any strange behavior that might be related to this. The release cache is refreshed when something on a cached page changes, while the band lists refresh every 10 minutes.
Maintenance is done, and the images and uploads are back.
The image server will be down for a bit for a hard drive upgrade, so images will be broken and uploads will be disabled for a little while. Sorry for the trouble.
Uploads are back. Thanks to Matthew from melodyscape.com for offering his server to be used as our new image server while we find a more permanent solution. Please signal any error you find while using the site to me.
So apparently just hosting our images is lethal to shared hosting. The image host is kicking us out so we'll need to move the images again, hence uploads will have to be disabled for a little while. It should be faster than last time though. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Some of you have been waiting for this for a while, so here it is: check this page (or the link at the bottom of the left menu) to find out how your contribution can help us defray server costs.
Please make sure you read the donation FAQ on that page before you send us something. Thank you!
Image uploads are back, as you might have noticed.
The uploading and modifying of pictures will be disabled for a few days while we move all the images to another server in order to save bandwidth on the main server, sorry for the inconvenience. Please report to me any page I might have missed that still allows uploading, or any bug that might have appeared as a side-effect of this change.
Good news, for once!
So I finally got ahold of the senior technician to look into things, and it turns out that some other staff guys did change the MySQL configuration recently, which explained the recent server fuck-ups (even though they said they hadn't when I complained to their support). Go figure.
I've put the search back on, and I was told to keep monitoring the server status until evening. So if anything goes wrong, don't be surprised if it gets removed again. Hopefully though, that won't be necessary.
Thanks again to everyone for their patience.
Not really an update, but I wrote a lengthy forum post about the issues described below. For those interested in the longer story, you can always check here.
By the way: some of you must realize that the Google search will have different behaviour. The results are not in real-time, as the Google crawling bots make their rounds only at certain time intervals. Therefore, it's possible that you see, for example, a band listed by Google but that has recently been removed by our staff (and thus seems to be a dead link), or a band recently added that has not yet been picked up by the Google bots.
It's meant to be a temporary helper, not an equivalent.
So it seems that the problems of old, pre-migration days, are happening again - just as we came back from the March bandwidth cycle. Coincidence? I think not, but our hosts seem to think that there is no link between the two. Nevermind that the site had been running flawlessly fast in the past three months or so and now, suddenly, the server can't take it anymore... go figure.
In any case, we're currently getting help (not much from our host, ironically, but from a helpful third party) to investigate what causes all these ghastly performance problems and constant database errors. We thought to never see them again since the migration but apparently we were wrong, so we're back on it.
In the meantime, search is disabled - it has been made clear that it was having a significant impact on the server load, so for the time being we'll replace it a Google search. Not quite t same functionality-wise, but better than nothing, surely.
Oh yes, we are seriously considering receiving donations now, after getting so many comments about that. ;) Stay tuned.
This Firefox extension adds a small "M" icon next to band entries on www.last.fm, which performs a quick search on the band names.
Useful for quickly looking up Last.fm band entries here, I suppose.