For those who have noticed that the blogs have been not chipper lately, my deepest apologies. You see I'm a little pigheaded and stubborn about how the blogs are set up and for the most part they are funded out of my pocket and the generousity of the time and energy of a few other folks. While I allow each blogger to decide if they want to make a little pocket change from google ads, I really don't want advertising on the blogs, nor sponsorship. I see them as sort of a public service/PBS. No commercials. The opinions and views unimpacted by paid advertising. The site isn't sponsored for funded by Microsoft either. And for the most part the burden of administration falls on yours truly. And this week has been extremely frustrating to me... because we've all been busy doing our real jobs, I couldn't find anyone to help me. And this was the week we had to do the long overdue maintenance on the blogs. So if the blog service has been choppy lately, perhaps it's just a reflection of the community... you get out of it what you put into it. And the blog site, due to everyone being busy with real paying work, has been the reflection of that fact, that we're busy in business, and when you think about it... that's really a good thing.
Some of the reason for the choppiness was the overdue maintenance that I didn't have time to do other than this time of the year.
1. We needed to clean out the spam in the SQL server - and believe me there was a lot of it
2. Since the blog was a CS 1.1 to 2.0 to 2.1 to now 2007 and .net 1.1 to .net 2.0, you can tell there's a difference in how it handles the software than the sister site of www.msinfluentials.com that was .net 2.0 and CS 2.x from the get go. It reinforces to me that inplace upgrades of anything leaves messiness behind. MSinfluentials.com's app pool is nice and solid. Msmvps.com is having some spiking issues that we're getting debugged on still.
As a result over the last few months the performance on the blog site has been getting progressively worse. Coinciding of course with the busy time at the office meant that in the last few weeks I've been doing the "what stupid admins do to keep web servers/servers up when an application is misbehaving" which is doing a lot of iisresets and rebooting of the server, knowing full well that that is only a bandaid and needed to get investigated. The goal was throughout the early months of 2007 was to bandaid the blogs long enough to get them past my busy time so I could do things like I did the other day where I was on the phone for several hours on a debugging call, setting up a dump, uploading it, bottom line trying to now get to the bottom of the issue now that I have time to get to the bottom of the issue.
But it's pretty obvious, that I'm not a coder or a .NET expert, let alone a SQL person. In fact I even customized the error message on the blogs to reflect that fact. Running a site that is... for the most part done out of love and volunteer also means that when you try to get expert help, you get it on their schedule and timetables. At one point in time I was so desperate to get assistance that I was examining resources that I would pay to get folks to look at the blog application because I'll be the first to admit I'm not a .NET expert nor a SQL one by any means. One day in fact I got so frustrated (and was in a mood) with my tweaking of the application pool that was ending up making the situation worse not better that I even shut down the main msmvps.com application pool in IIS for a few hours just because I didn't want to deal with it anymore (not to mention everything I tried kept making things worse). Yes that was the day I was channeling Vlad as he blogged on his site.
Nick finally had some time the other day to look at the site and the actions we've taken so far include...
1. Deleted out 9 gigs (approx) of spam from the SQL tables.
2. Dumped out unnecessary event logs.
3. Upgraded to Community Server 2007.
4. Set up a debugging session(s) to identify what the issue is.
Bottom line, we're still in investigation mode here..and furthermore, bottom line, because it's still pretty much a volunteer effort here, we're not shooting for an uptime of 99.999999%. This site will be what it is, a community site, with volunteer effort. So it's a reflection of that. This week I knew was going to be a disruptive week.
We've got a couple more disruptions planned.
1. The search is still broken and messed up, bear with me on that as we put the Enterprise search module back online.
2. I want to get it on an updated SQL (up to 2005)
3. I want to install Windows 2003 sp2 (disabling Checksum and RSS just to be safe :-)
4. I ultimately plan to look for another server with a bit more room and more RAM and processor power.
The title of this blog post is a favorite quote that I've saved from years ago... it was about a security researcher who said that putting up firewalls wasn't the answer, demanding better security from our vendors, and better understanding of what we already had and working with that to make use secure... and he ended with the phrase to not take for granted sources of help and information.
And above all else, don't abuse or take for granted sources of help and
information. Without them, you might find yourself lost or
~Rain Forest Puppy
So if the blog site performance isn't what it should be or what you think it should be, sorry. It just is what it is. But it's going to stay without sponsors, and not turn into a member only forum. It will stay the open site it is now, bombarded by spam posts and what not, just like it is today. That might mean that you'll see .NET freakout a time or two.
You are just going to have to take that for granted. We're not running a business here. This is a community.
For further updates on the blog site and debugging, keep an eye on Yoda's blog. He's detailing what we're doing to his tummy.