• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Sparks

  • Rank
    Sysadmin of Ice and Fire

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
  • ICQ 0

Profile Information

  • Gender Female
  • Location Seattle, WA
  • Interests I ride horses, I take pictures, I write stories and hope to eventually be published. For my day job, I make computer software.

    In my oh-so-copious free time I also run a small private ISP that hosts a number of largish websites as favors to friends, including (and the ASoIaF board, and Blood of Dragons, and so on...). This caused GRRM to quip once that I was 'The Sysadmin of Ice and Fire,' hence my board title.

Previous Fields

  • Name Rachel Blackman

Recent Profile Visitors

1,495 profile views
  1. Forum Tweaks for the Season

    We're going to see how things go with the episode tomorrow; if the current setup (which seems to be handling things well right now) dies under the episode load, I'm going to split the forum off onto a separate machine and see if we can't do something a little more efficient over there, without worrying about impacting the wiki.
  2. Tapatalk not working with the forum again?

    Tapatalk's add-on for Invision broke horribly last time we updated Invision to get some security fixes, about... I want to say 4-5 weeks ago. Worse, it broke in a horrible manner for more than just Tapatalk users, so Ran sent in a bug report and turned it off until there's a fix. Sadly, it's not the only Invision forum I'm on that had the problem—just the only one I sysadmin—so I suspect it's an issue with Tapatalk's extension and certain configurations under the most recent versions of Invision. Ran could provide more details, as he was the one who did that particular investigation into "What The Heck Is Going Wrong Here?"
  3. Board Issues 4

    Search is far and away the single most expensive operation to perform on a forum this large. It's actually less of a giant looming problem this year due to the actual search chewing RAM or CPU than in past years, because the database and search now happen on an entirely different machine than the forum/wiki processing happens on. However, it still presents a problem due to the length of time it takes a search result to return. That holds up both a connection slot andone of the script-processing instancesfor far longer than any other forum operation, and we have a limited number of both. (It's a large number, but still a limited one, and "large" ceases to have quite the same meaning when you have 25,000 users hitting the site simultaneously.) Even though Varnish will hold onto a connection until a new slot becomes free, think of it like rush hour on a freeway: if you have 2-4 cars waiting to merge in behind each car, and this repeats over and over, you end upwitha rather spectacular traffic jam. That's what happens to the server under load when search is enabled, just by virtue of how long searches take. To continue the freeway analogy, most of the year we need a freeway with 2 lanes in each direction; when we hit the HBO season (rush hour), we need one of those 6-lanes-in-each-direction monstrosities. Unfortunately, the six-lane freeway is overkill 97% of the time (and very, very expensive overkill at that), so we try to mitigate things during the 3% of the time when I become focused on the "Fire" in "Song of Ice and Fire". (Largelydue to the fact that I'm mildly concerned the servers might figuratively burst into flame and melt.) One of those mitigations is 'temporarily disabling search'. Hopefully that helps provide a little more backstory and context.
  4. Board Issues 4

    Ran posted about this; we had to temporarily turn off email notifications because, due to the level of board activity, it was trying to send several hundred emails pretty much constantly. This had two effects: The server load was scary, and things stopped working right. We got flagged as spam by several ISPs that were receiving a big chunk of that mail; as a result, we got blacklistedand so a huge chunk of those mails were bouncing anyway. Which caused them to hit the mail server on the way back in, and... yeah. Email notifications will get turned back on after the season ends, or when I figure out a way to stem the tide so the email flood doesn't get us flagged as bulk-mail spammers.
  5. Forums completely unusable on mobile

    I can understand the frustration; unfortunately, the loading times are less due to ads and more due to the fact that in the past 24 hours, the forum's traffic has increased by literally 400%. Even by the standards of spikes we see at the start of the season, this one's bad.
  6. So, Ran and I spent some time during the heaviest load of the episode's airing tweaking a few things, to see what would work best for the insane load that hits things. Reconfigured Varnish, tweaked PHP-FPM, and adjusted the MySQL settings, as well as moving a few SQL tables to InnoDB. Overall, we've made quite a few changes to things; it'll take a little while for everything to shake out into balance again. After things finish shaking out tonight, do please let us know if anything has gone horribly wrong. There may still be times when the load gets too high, and the 'Try again' page pops up, but they should be less frequent and usually should recover if you wait a minute or so and then click 'Try again'. (Ideally, these tweaks should be ones we can leave in place even out-of-season, which would make my life considerably easier.)
  7. Board Issues 4

    For the record, please only use the Varnish bypass if nothing else is working for you. And if you do log in successfully, try turning it back on once the cookie's in place to see if things still work afterwards. (I.e., hit then come back to the forums and see if you're still logged in properly.) Basically, some browser/extension add ons seem to cause issues, where the browser will just re-retrieve the pre-login Varnish-cached copy of a page, instead of actually sending the cookie (which tells Varnish "I am now logged in, stop caching anything that isn't static"). I wrote a bypass which adds a special cookie to your Westeros session that says "stop using Varnish", to allow folks to try to get past the bypass. However, to bypass the weird browser behavior,this turns off all Varnish cachingincluding the board CSS and images, which increases the load on the server (and not incidentally makes your own session load slower). Four or five people, that doesn't add up, but if like half the board turns the bypass on "just in case" or something similar, itwilldramatically affect performance during the season. Intheory, the browser caching issue should only affectyou prior to sign-on, so you should be okay to turn the bypass behavior back off once you're logged in. If you don't know whether or not you have the bypass enabled, just hit the page will tell you your bypass status.
  8. The ASOIAF wiki thread

    Try again, I've made some tweaks.
  9. Okay. Well, I think I might've found what's going on, so give it another try. (If that doesn't work, I'll look again when I get home, but I want to pack up and catch my bus back from the office.)
  10. Hrm. I can log in and out 'til my little techie heart explodes when on iOS (9.2.1) using Safari, but Android (6.0.1) with Chrome is, shall we say, Supremely Unhappy with life and refuses to let me log in at all. So there's definitely something, but it's neither universal to the mobile site nor tied to user accounts. Thanks for the heads-up; I'll poke at it and see what might turn up.
  11. Aaaah, so it's specifically related to mobile. Let me look again.
  12. Give it a try again? I think I found the issue and have tweaked it.
  13. Board Issues 4

    Yes. If you actually do want to break that pairing, go to your Account Settings and pick 'Disassociate Twitter' or 'Disassociate Facebook' under the appropriate tab. That will revoke the authentication token.
  14. Board Issues 4

    You should be able to use the board's password reset link if you have to, then, even if you're locked out of Facebook. As long as you have access to the email account that your account is registered under.
  15. Board Issues 4

    Facebook logins SHOULD be working again. (And for the record, I see the 'No Permission' quote there too right now. It looks like something's a little odd with Invision's cache that's being used for quotes; either Ran can take a look at it now, or I can poke later when I'm not at work.) Edit:Oh, I see what happened. It appears the original post being linked/quoted there is gone (since the problem is fixed, the thread on the workaround was nuked), and so Invision's quoting system has become rather confused about what to show there; it's applying visibility settings from the original (now gone) post to the quote. SO! No one worry.