So whilst at work this morning I noticed I had several alerts from LibDemBlogs telling me it had been unable to create the half hourly updates. I get these once in a while, but as long as it’s just one it will be fine on the next build. However these were pretty much every 30 minutes.
With a spare few minutes I could see in the logs that a request to read an RSS feed of a site had gone from taking a few seconds to over a minute, and LibDemBlogs reads the RSS feeds of over 400 sites.
However I had no time to take a further look, but managed to send an email to the hosting company to see if they were aware of any issues. A reply later in the day informed me that indeed there was an issue with packet loss in to the datacentre and they would let me know any more updates.
On getting home I’ve been able to activate a couple of settings, the first is to stop reading the blogs of anyone who hadn’t posted anything in the last 60 days. This reduces the number of blogs it needs to read to around 200, but means that if you haven’t blogged for a while, and just created a new post it won’t be spotted.
It’s helped and the site managed to build the 8pm update, however as it’s giving up on reading the RSS feeds of some blogs there is a chance your post just now won’t appear for a couple of hours.
My hosts have a plan of action late tonight, so there will be some downtime near midnight. Hopefully this will fix the issue, and I can role back some of the tweaks.
As a side affect this also impacts Liberal Tweets, LibDig and dab.argh where you might see random errors or timeout messages.
I’ve been running LibDemBlogs for over 7 years now and it’s displayed advertising to
a) help pay for the hosting costs and
b) put some cash back in my pocket for the hundreds of hours I’ve spent on the site.
Originally I used GoogleAds and was one of the first political sites to run with the MessageSpace network.
Now whilst both have brought in money, recently it’s not been enough to cover the hosting costs. To ensure that the site could continue to run it has the begging box each month asking for donations to help meet them, and happily every month £25 (and in the past £35) has been received.
Then last night I wondered why I still had the adverts. Google were trying to push dodgy miracle wrinkle cures, and MessageSpace had some roll over film flash ad, did I really need them anymore?
Checking my Google Adsense account it showed that I had reached the magical £60 mark in December to have the money wired to my bank at the end of January. It also informed me the last time this happened was August 2010. On average the last 3 years it’s been about £5 a month.
So thanks to the kind generosity of the readers who every month provide the money to host LibDemBlogs I have just removed the adverts from the main page. Historical archived pages will still contain them, the odd information page might still have them until I can go through and edit the code and this site (my personal blog) will continue to have them, if only just to see what Google thinks is relevant to each post.
Due to changes in my lifestyle (baby and new role at work) I’m getting rather behind on managing LibDemBlogs, so I’m looking for someone to help.
Unlike some bloggers I’m not expecting you to ghost posts for me, just answer the 10 or so emails a month adding new blogs to the database, and removing those no longer active.
Please send a short cover letter to [email protected] explaining why you would like to help out.
Following on from Charlotte’s post here on her views from the Wikio stats, I’ve gone through MyBlogLog and extracted the top 10 LibDemBlogs based on click throughs.
There are some major caveats in the stats:
a) these are clicks from LibDemBlogs.co.uk, this doesn’t include people who use the RSS feed, those who have sites in their own RSS feed readers/aggregators, sites which are accessed via bookmarks or those linked from other bloggers.
b) I only checked the “top” 50 blogs, as the current method needs me to enter each url in to the MyBlogLog one by one, and wait for the results. This means that a long tail blog could have been missed.
c) Those who post lots will have more clicks to their sites, this doesn’t mean that they are more popular.
Yesterday afternoon I had to make a big decision. Whether it was finally time to stop working on LibDemBlogs. Attempting to read over 200 blogs every 30 minutes, every day was causing a massive strain on my shared server. I had already received some polite but threatening emails from my hosting company and knew without moving packages to at least a VPS it would continue. The problem being my bank account currently has no cash and the £300 upgrade fee it’s exactly small change. As my server also hosts a couple of local party sites, my blog, LibDig and some other random stuff, I decided that to keep those up and running I could no longer run the cron tab which updated LibDemBlogs in the background.
So I posted a message on LibDemBlogs informing people of what was happening, and asked for donations to get the site running again. In the last 12 hours I have already received 29 donation and three requests for my details to send a cheque (payable to Ryan Cullen, posted to 27 Gibbeson Street, Lincoln, LN5 8JP).
I have now received enough money to pay the upfront costs to host LibDemBlogs for a year and am waiting for the new server to be configured. Once this is done I can start the process of transferring all the files from the old machine to the new one. I hope to get most of this done over the bank holiday weekend.
The last step will be waiting for the DNS servers to update across the internet pointing everyone to the new site.
For the time being I will be making manual updates to LibDemBlogs through out the day.
It’s also really bad when trying to read your blog on a mobile* as you have to scroll past lines of links to blogs that I don’t care about just to read the punchline.
So if you are a blogger and are looking for a new template, make sure the sidebar is on the right and if you do insist on it being on the left, use CSS to ensure that the blog post appears in the HTML first.
*slight lie, with my new fancy phone webpages look the same as if they were on a PC but my wife still has the problem.
I’m just wondering, because when something goes wrong on LibDemBlogs, it seems that you no longer email me, but instead write blog posts. Which due to things going wrong mean I can’t see them!
I have now spotted the second “Am I banned?” post, which tries to make out that the blogger is a victim of a secret LibDem blogging conspiracy, whereas emailing me would have got the answer quickly.
Then when LibDemBlogs goes down because my webhosting company think it’s funny to display error messages instead whilst I’m busy at work, do bloggers think “I’ll just drop Ryan an email to let him know, I’m sure I’ve got his email address around here somewhere as I emailed him before about being added to the site”? Nope, instead they post on their blogs “Who has stolen LibDemBlogs”, or visit forums or cix and try to guess what has happen.
My email address and information about why your posts might go missing is included in the About (FAQ) section of LibDemBlog, I suggest some of you might want to read it.
The eagle eyed of you may have noticed the “Tweets” tab on LibDemBlogs. With conference now starting (I’ll be there tomorrow), it though it was time to let the latest project go live.
Liberal Tweets is a sort of LibDem Blogs for Twitter and hopes to cover the micro-blogging experiences of those both at conference and away from the venue.
It’s still in quite an early phase, but hopefully will hold out whilst I’m away from ftping for the week.
Feedback and suggestions in the comments.
Some of you may have noticed LibDemBlogs going down today. Turns out after two hours of code checking and finding nothing odd, I discovered that my webserver had run out of file space. This meant that the dump file of all the blog posts couldn’t be saved in full, and in turn made LDB look ugly.
Luckily for me I only needed to delete some rather large temp files to get my file space back to normal. Hopefully future service will be a bit more realiable.
I’ve spent the last month working on a new version of LibDemBlogs, most likely you are now reading this on it.
The most obvious change is the new theme, which is modified version of the Rainbow theme from Theme Lab. The old theme has been around for two years now, and didn’t actually work in IE6, so it needed replacing.
The newest feature is the Mute function, this allows you to hide/silence blogs that you don’t want to read. More info about this feature can be found in the about pages.
Some of you may have already seen the new version of the mobile site which went silently live a few weeks ago. It’s moved url to m.libdemblogs.co.uk partly because mobile phone companies shouldn’t try to adjust the layout, and also because the url is easier to type. (No need to update bookmarks as you should be redirected automatically).
On top of these front end changes the whole back end has had a refit. When I first started LibDemBlogs the project was set up to allow others to use my code, since then so many changes have been made that it got in quite a mess. For example all the blogs were stored in a text file. With only 20 blogs to edit it was quick and simple, now with a list 285 bloggers it was clearly time to move to mySQL with lovely indexes.
Now whilst I’ve had the site running in beta for a few weeks, I’m certain that something will go wrong, so please do let me know.
I hope you like the new design, but if you don’t sorry, I’m not changing it again for another few years.