Maybe you noticed- TAO has been down the past week. But good news! We're back (almost).
The short version is:
- Our server was shut down.
- I was lax and didn't have a backup, which caused a long delay.
- We decided to switch hosts to a Windows server.
- I'm taking over sys admin duties going forward.
- Everything else (wiki, theme) should be back to normal in a couple days.
- If you want to be a moderator or administrator, or have some cool idea for something with TAO, tell me!
The long version is:
Last week, our host shut down our server because spammers were using it to send email, by exploiting a vulnerability in the VB version we were using. This was unfortunate, because it was something we easily could have dealt with. It was also unfortunate, because we did not have an up to date backup. So our server was shut down, and we had to wait four days until we had an up to date backup.
Between the awful customer service to a long-term customer (did you know our FOURTH anniversary is coming up?), and my utter inexperience with Linux, we decided to switch to a Windows host. It took an additional two days to get the database ported over, all the software and host set up, and the necessary upgrades performed, mostly because I and Bjorn, our current server admin, had never done Windows administration.
The good news is, we're in the clear. The scary parts are over- we just need to get the Wiki stood up, a new theme (the provider of our previous theme seems to be down or out of business and our theme was only VB3 compatible), and clean up some other style issues, and we'll be as good as new. Better actually. The primary reason we moved to Windows is so I could take care of the server administration myself and stop burdening Bjorn, who does this completely out of the goodness of his heart and has spent more time administering the site in the past year than I have. It also allows us to use the server as a staging point for much more cool stuff, since I can actually facilitate it. An example is the planet RSS feed, which took so long to deploy because I actually got an AWS Windows server (which cost me almost as much per month as our TAO server) to run the script on. We can start to use the server to do some cool stuff.
The only persistent piece of bad news is, the hg repository for community code we had is gone. It will not be missed. Go use GitHub or BitBucket.
For me, the most important thing that has come out of this is: the buck stops here. I was the administrator of a forum I didn't technically control, which was just a situation that should not have been. We lucked out- imagine if the server had been destroyed, and our host couldn't get a backup. Poof, four years gone. You would have never seen me at another GDC and I'd probably have to leave the games industry. I knew I was playing with fire, but there was only so much that could be done without committing to it myself. Now I can, and I ask for your forgiveness and understanding, and vow to not let it happen again. I say that with the caveat that I can't guarantee the forum won't be hacked, so if you do have experience with Windows server administration, please tell me so we can audit the server to make sure I didn't overlook anything when setting it up.
In the same vein, we can use some additional moderators, so if you're an active member, just PM me and I'll see about making you a moderator. TBH moderators just delete spam, I've had to edit maybe 8 posts in our 4 years, so don't expect much glory. If you want to help administrate, please PM me as well. If you have some cool ideas for things we can do on the forum, or something you'd like to use the server for, or even if you want a host for your tech-art related website or project, please PM me. The switch to a Windows server has given me some new life and I hope to push some interesting projects out over the next year.