I’m very excited to announce the immediate availablility of the Net-at-hand API. I’ve been working hard on this over the last several weeks and it is now ready for any programmer to get thier hands on.
The Net-at-hand API will allow web developers to write applications that have complete CRUD (create, read, update, destroy) access to their clients, sites, and content. There are some features that are missing (such as attachments and designs), but those should be coming in the future. With the API, developers now have the ability to easily incorporate Net-at-hand into their systems.
I’ll be posting documentation for the API as I am able, but it is pretty simple. In the mean time, you can contact me for more information.
PS—This blog post is the first content posted on Net-at-hand via the API.
Net-at-hand is scheduled a move to a new server on Friday, February 24, at 10:00 pm CST. This move will increase the performance of the system and will provide more infrastructure flexibility as Net-at-hand continues to grow.
After Net-at-hand moves, the entire system and all the websites running on it will exist at a different IP address (see below if you need an explanation). For a period of time (several weeks at least), the old server will be running in conjunction with the new server so both IP addresses will work equally well (although the old server may seem to run a little slower as page views are sent to the new server behind the scenes).
If your website is using it’s own domain name, then after the server move you will want to change the IP address that your domain name is pointing to. Follow the instructions on the Net-at-hand help page to point your domain name to the new server. The IP address for the new server is126.96.36.199.
What is an IP address?
An IP address is a series of four numbers that uniquely identifies every computer that is connected to the internet. When you set up a domain name, you have to put the IP address for the server that is running your website into the DNS settings for the domain.
Note that you should not update your domain’s IP address to the new one until after the server maintenance on Friday evening (2/24). The new server will not be operational until then.
All of the Net-at-hand websites were down for about two hours today (from 10:20 am CDT until around 12:25 CDT). I started receiving notification of connection errors when the Net-at-hand application was trying to connect to the database. After restarting the server and verifying the problem with the database, I decided to stop the system temporarily and rebuild the database.
In the three years that Net-at-hand has been running on this server I have not rebuilt the database at all, and it makes sense that some of the data files might have been getting corrupted. So I made a fresh backup of the database and rebuilt the data tables from the backup. I also took the opportunity to get rid of some old data that was in the database to help keep things slim. No data was lost during this outage.
As I was working on this, I fired up the new database server that Net-at-hand is going to be migrating to. This is a server dedicated to the database only and will greatly help the performance of the system as Net-at-hand continues to grow. I had the new server at the ready in case rebuilding the database did not fix the connection problems that were happening, but it did so that has been put back on the normal schedule.
The timetable for migrating the Net-at-hand system to the new infrastructure is progessing on schedule and I plan to have it all in place within the next couple of months.
I am sorry for the downtime (especially in the middle of the work day). Please accept my sincere apology.
—Mark (Net-at-hand founder)
One good thing that did come out of this is that I was able to test the process I’ve been planning for migrating Net-at-hand to the new system (and under extreme pressure). With what I learned from this situation, the downtime should be just a few minutes (a couple of application restarts) instead of the couple hours that I was planning.
I’ve updated all the installations of the blog comments plugin which should help those who are using it, especially if your website generates high traffic volumes.
Here are the basics of what was changed:
The main blog page (that has the list of the recent blog posts) no longer shows the number of comments for the post. This was moved to the blog post itself.
If a blog post has more than 20 comments, they have been divided up into pages of 20 comments each. So, for example, if a blog post has 218 comments, at the top of the comments it will show “Displaying 1-20 of 218”. At the bottom of the comments there will be links to the other pages of comments.
In the admin area, the comments have been divided into pages to make it easier (or even possible for some of you) to view and moderate the comments.
Make sure you contact support if you need any help.
Net-at-hand and all the sites that are running on it were down for two hours last night from 8:25 pm (CST) until about 10:15 pm. I am really sorry for the downtime. There is no excuse for being unprepared and taking so long to solve this problem. I know many of you rely on your websites for your livelihood and more than that, use your websites as a tool for greater good. I take the responsibility of keeping your websites running smoothly very seriously and view it as a big part of my calling in this life. I let you down and I could never communicate my regret adequately.
Apologies are good and necessary, but I am sure you want to know what is being done to fix it. Keep reading for an explanation of what happened and what I am doing to keep it from happening again.
One of the websites on Net-at-hand was linked to from http://fark.com which has enough visitors on it to put it in the top 100 English-speaking websites in the world. Net-at-hand was overwhelmed by all the traffic trying to view that page and was unable to keep up. I knew this type of traffic scenario would happen at some point, and I tried to prepare against it; obviously, I failed to do so adequately.
So I am putting some changes into effect to minimize or eliminate the dissruption. They are:
emergency plan update—There are specific strategies that I have in place to deal with situations that might come up and cause disruptions. The strategy used last night didn’t get things turned around quickly enough, so I had to come up with something new on the fly. I learned much dealing with this last night so I am changing my plan to get everything back up very quickly if this happens again.
updating the blog comments plugin—the blog comments plugin is used extensively on the website that was getting all the traffic and it’s performance is turning out to be very sub-par on a website with this kind of traffic. I will be making some changes to it to make it more efficient and less likely to be the cause of bogging the system down.
improvements for page-not-found—the page that received all the traffic referenced a website image that did not exist and this caused Net-at-hand to keep trying to look for the resource. This alone more than tripled the load on Net-at-hand and played a big part in taking it down. I’ll be working on a fix for this.
improved plugin performance—I am in the middle of updating the Net-at-hand plugin system to make it more efficient. When these updates get done it should help speed things up overall.
accelerated time-table for server upgrade—I have been working on a plan to upgrade the server that runs Net-at-hand, and will work to get that in place as soon as possible. This upgrade will be moving the server to a completely different provider which will give me even more flexibility in how the Net-at-hand infrastructure is built.
So that is what I will be working on over the days and weeks ahead. Again, I sincerely apologize for the downtime. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
If you are not a techie (nerd, geek, etc.) you can stop here. If you are (or want to try to be) and you want more information then keep reading.