This thread is for announcement and discussion related to what's going on with the site, technically speaking.
First, the Cyburbia Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/159681217455629/ . I made a few announcements there already, when I turned off the site for a couple of hours last night. If Facebook is blocked at your workplace, here's what I wrote ...
I shut Cyburbia down for now, while I try to figure out what's wrong with the server. Basically, we're having massive random spikes in server load that show very little correlation to traffic; for example the server load might be 0.50 with 80 users, but spike to 15.0 with 85.
The spikes started happening about two weeks ago. There were no changes to vBulletin, no increases in traffic, no changes to any server settings. The host, Liquid Web, said we may need to upgrade to a new server. However, we upgraded during our last episode with spikes and slowdowns this April and it seemed to work. Traffic on Cyburbia has been about the same for the past few years; maybe down a little bit. To be honest, we lost a lot of users during the problems in April, and we'll probably lose a lot of use
rs this time, too.
Cyburbia has a managed virtual private server (1GB, 2GB burst, 2GHZ processor), which should be more than adequate to handle the amount of traffic Cyburbia gets. Liquid Web tried some tweaks to the Apache (web server) and MySQL settings, with no luck. I tried some tweaks I've seen in various places, with no luck. I installed a firewall to block all traffic from some trouble-prone countries, and beefed up the robots.txt file, which controls what search engine spiders are allowed to crawl Cyburbia, and at what rate, with no luck. For a while, we were getting swamped with search engine spiders, content scrapers, and spambots from China, Russia, and the Ukraine, some hammering the site several times a second, but blocking them didn't help.
So, what now? I don't know. A problem is that the site crashes while I'm at work, which takes me away from what I'm paid to do full time. If I make tweaks now, I won't be able to see their effect until a random spike happens, or around 10-11 AM the following morning, when the first server-crushing spikes of the day hit us.
I'll try to have the site up again tonight. And, as usual, it will crash tomorrow at 10:00 in the morning, when I'll be in a meeting with the developer of a 68 unit affordable housing project.And ...A week or so ago, I put in a server optimization request at a vBulletin forum where a volunteer will post optimized my.cnf (MySQL) and httpd.conf (Apache) configurations based on your server and message board stats. Unfortunately, the person that does this now requires a special script to obtain those server stats, rather than from the easier cut-and-paste-the-results-from-Linux-shell-commands method used in the recent past,. Unfortunately, I can't get the script working on the Cyburbia server. Thus, no optimization.
I'm trying settings from an optimization request someone else made about a year ago, for a server and forum with similar stats to Cyburbia. How's it working? Meh. Like I said, I really won't know until the 10-2 rush tomorrow, and for me, it's almost solid meetings durin
g that time. Loads seem swingy; 0.1 to 1.5, where normally they'd be in the 0.2 to 0.5 range this time of the night. (In planner speak, think of server load as the equivalent of the volume to capacity ratio on a road.) A couple of pages might load fast, and then another takes 30 seconds. It's up and running, though.
I also put in a request at the vBulletin forums to see if 1GB is really enough for a site with Cyburbia's traffic. Like I said, traffic has been steady over the past few years, but it's about half that of the 2003-2005 "glory days", when the site was on a crappy shared hosting account.
And there goes the load up to 3 ... 3.5 ... 4.65 ... for no reason. No rush of visitors. This sucks.
Well, the first beta of vBulletin 5 was released today. It sucks. It could suck a golf ball through a garden hose. It could suck start a Harley. It's really that bad for a beta.
I'm probably going to upgrade Cyburbia to the most recent version of vBulletin 4.2 this weekend, in the hopes that it might fix some of what ails the site. After that, though, it's probably going to be Invision Power Board, maybe around New Year's Day, when activity on Cyburbia is usually at its slowest.