2020-02-04 - What's happening
#1
The hosting contract that I took out in 2018 expires very soon, and alas a feature of our modern society is that it's often cheaper to buy a new thing than to maintain the one you have.

In this instance, the hosting companies offer big discounts to bring in new business, and work on the quite sound assumption that most people/businesses will pay the greatly increased price when it comes to renewal, rather than go to the trouble of moving everything to a new package.

A Historical Argument

(Forgive me for bringing this up again, but it will become relevant and isn't just me doing an "I told you so").

Long time members will be well aware of the arguments that have taken place in the past about image sizes (when they were being stored on site by the old gallery mechanism) and the deletion of old forum threads.  With that in mind:

The aforementioned transferring of data was indeed, no easy task (DESPITE having not kept anything like as much as many people wanted) and has taken me a few days to figure out.

While I was able to dump (backup/export) the SQL (text) data, initial attempts to import it to the new package resulted in error messages from the server that there was too much data to be processed (error code 413).  Eventually I was able to use my knowledge of SQL to split it into manageable chunks.

A bigger problem was that I could not transfer the image data though the more usual methods (cPanel or FTP).  Splitting it up would have taken days, but in the end I got the hosting company to enable SSH for me (it's disabled by default because you can really mess things up at the Linux command line, and most people will never need it) so I could use SCP.

Now if what I've said there is technical gobbledygook to you, that's kinda my point.

What Next?

Clearly the forum is in a state of disuse and I'm inclined to think that in this day and age it's redundant.  In the early days of TG, displaying your work on the Internet required above average technical know how.  The forum made it easy.  But that has been surpassed by blogs, Facebook, Instagram, and a host of other services where you can post what you want and how you want, i.e. with no need to comply with forum rules/guidelines/limitations, and the data will stay there for as long as YOU choose to maintain the account?

Is it any wonder therefore that in later years we saw a shift from people posting ON the forum, to merely wanting to post a link to their website or blog?

So what I'm saying is that I don't think there's any point trying to return the forum to what it used to be, although perhaps there is some mileage in it being a place to ask questions and for people to post links to wherever they are publishing their work.

nb: I AM interested and willing to discuss THIS.  Smile

This leaves the question of: what to do with the data we already have?

Facts:

1. I have an archive of everything from the old forum and gallery right back to 2006.  Every user account, every post, every image.  I have it all burned onto CDs in the form of backups.  It could be restored as an archive.

2. Amongst the wheat that got purged merely because it was old, there is also a lot of chaff, and it would be a mammoth task to sort through it; a task that would have to be completed before the new server contract comes up for renewal in 2 years time.

3. Were it restored AND cleaned up, it would still increase the difficulties involved in transferring the site again in the future.  So before you applaud the idea of restoring it please consider the amount of work and whether YOU have the time and technical ability to do it, or the funds to employ someone; because I don't and sooner or later, I simply won't be here at all.

4. While we have most of the topic data from this (MyBB) forum (I've recently been deleting off-topic and admin type topics) we DO NOT have the image data.  The MyBB forum was set up so MellyMonkey could take over as admin without having to deal with the undocumented complexity of the main site.  But this also meant that it was set up to use 3rd party image storage (Photobucket, Flickr, etc).  Consequently some of the topics on the MyBB forum no longer have images showing (I've now deleted a few of those too) as the person who posted them hasn't maintained their account at Photobucket, Flickr, etc.

5. This MyBB forum is now something like 15 upgrades out of date.  That's the problem with using 3rd party software: you have to comply with the publishers upgrade schedule or you become a dinosaur.

My Current Thinking:

In addition to the above, the site is a mess.  There are two forums.  The old articles are duplicated on the old forum.  There's even an aborted attempt/investigation into creating a wiki, lurking, unlinked, in a sub-folder.

So right now, having done the transfer, I'm chipping away at tidying that up; and my initial thought is that I should get rid of this forum and reinstate the old one with a reduced set of functionality i.e. enough that people can ask questions, give answers, and post links to what they are publishing elsewhere.

I'm open to hearing your thoughts about any of the above provided we don't get into the "why can't we just keep everything?" discussion again.  Please let's not go there.  Smile

Andy

P.S. I've locked most of the forum areas, but have left this one open for "significant" discussion and news.
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#2
I can't disagree with the general assessment that the march of "progress" has passed TG by. While I think that individual blogs are of some utility, I think Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are largely trash formats for what TG was trying to accomplish, but they're popular trash with established user-bases.
It's tough to beat a forum and/or a wiki for the organization of discussion and the recall of information, but honestly I don't think the userbase exists to justify it. That sucks, because TG has historically been a monumental resource for tabletop gamers, model train enthusiasts, and miniaturists. Stuff I learned here on TG literally a decade ago is still relevant and useful to me when doing tabletop terrain projects. I cranked out some of Bugbait's paper barrels and wooden crates from I forget who less than a month ago. It saddens me to see such a huge resource get left by the wayside, but absent a massive marketing blitz to attract new users/contributors/admins, I don't see the community being viable. Maybe we'll get lucky and the relentless march of time will force people to realize what a crap interface Facebook is. As such I'd maybe lock it down to archive mode and put up contact info such that some future champion could take it and run with it.
Out of curiosity, what's the size of the existing image archive and posting database?
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#3
Munin Wrote:Out of curiosity, what's the size of the existing image archive and posting database?

I don't know about the forum data alone but the SQL database (which also includes archived articles, gallery image descriptions, etc), is 18mb. Image data is just short of 500mb

It's not a lot by modern standards but is, apparently, more than can be transferred by the simpler, more user friendly methods.
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#4
Wow, that's a lot smaller than I feared. How is the image archive organized?

Wait, are you talking about the new forum or the old forum?
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#5
Munin Wrote:How is the image archive organized?

In a structure of folders, of months within years. Individual file then complete the time stamp for when they were uploaded e.g.
images/yyyy/mm/ddhhmmss.jpg

There are 10366 gallery and (old) forum images live on the site.

Munin Wrote:Wait, are you talking about the new forum or the old forum?

The whole site including both forums. But only the data that is currently live i.e. not including data that exists only on backup (purged topics etc.) I don't know how much additional data is on the backups because they were taken as backups rather than being an archive. So any given file may occur on multiple backups and the only way to know how much there is would be to collate those backups (a substantial task).

I do however know that during its lifetime the old forum had 9539 topics with 97819 posts by 4482 members.
This forum currently has 327 topics with 4268 posts by 327 members.
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