Site Update: This Test Server is Live

Just a quick post saying that the test server is live and not just an artifact.

It should work similarly to the normal site, but please try to take it easy and don’t refresh the site every ten seconds!

Right now, the live site is fine, but should it go down, I’ll increase the CPU and memory dedicated to this test server and it will get faster and more responsive.

This test server is only a temporary bridge should the main site go down, prepped with an abundance of caution – I don’t think the main site will go down.

Good luck – our thoughts and prayers to all of you affected by this natural disaster.

Site Will Be Slow For A Few Hours

I’m actually cloning the site today, as opposed to getting distracted yesterday. This means the site may be a bit sluggish as I’m creating some big archives and transferring them to the test setup. I chose now in hopes of getting it all done before the 5 pm magic hour.


So my apologies if the site isn’t as responsive as normal, but take heart – your long personal nightmare will be over soon! :)


Also, another plug for a guest post on Oceanography coming at 12:30 Eastern on Friday. It will be neat, you’ll learn stuff, and can even ask questions!


Open Thread!





Site Tweaks and Suchlike

note: I pulled this and scheduled it for a later publish to not stomp on Betty’s post.  Sorry for the brief stomp, Betty!

Just a quick update:

The video as is back – yay more site revenue for good causes.

The video ad is back – boo, it makes the page refresh.

Well folks, we’re working on it. We’re seeing what we can do to make the best of both worlds.

Please don’t block all the ads on the site, they’re the lifeblood that a) keeps the community going, and b) ensure that good pet causes are supported. And, should you ignore this plea, once the refresh issue is past, please consider white-listing the site so that we get more ad revenue!

For today, perhaps tomorrow, as we experiment with some settings, the ad may go away, make the page refresh, or show an error message. Please be patient while we try to get it right.

This wouldn’t even be seen by you if we had a test server, but which we don’t…yet. I just started setting it up today, and expect to have it fully functional by the end of the week. When ready, it will be an almost clone of the full site, with a few configuration differences. It will be a full-time dedicated server for experimenting with new or changed features, etc. So less bumps in the future as we return to the ideal of a full-time test/development server!

Alongside this will be a proper Issues tracker so that problems, ideas, complaints, etc. about the technical side of the site can be put in one central, public place. No more spreadsheets, to-do lists, emails, comments, phone calls, etc. – just a simple, organized list of Issues.

More details will be forthcoming, but it is my sincere hope that we’ll be able to improve this site, smooth over rough patches, and hopefully add a feature or two here and there that makes your reader/commenter life better.

As a final piece of news, you may have noticed that there is an In Memoriam widget at the top of the sidebar. It’s temporary, just there for a few weeks, but please do keep greennotGreen’s family in your thoughts and prayers, and if you have a bit to spare, consider a donation to honor her, and to thank her and her family for sharing her journey. I know that I am changed from going through this; I suspect many of us are.

I don’t expect to be in the comments much, but feel free to post tech issues, ideas, etc. I am taking good ideas and adding them to the list. That won’t mean they all get done, but once they’re official issues, at least there’s a process and explanations if an issue is closed without resolution.


ETA: Please give feedback below if the desktop site is working better for you than earlier today or yesterday, or if it’s the same, or worse. If it is the same as before, also let me know.  I made some changes that seemed to fix things but then I just saw what I think was the partial reload, so now I’m not sure what to think.

WordPress Update In a Few Minutes

Just a (hopefully!) quick update to the core WordPress install.


I’m hitting the sack after doing it, so I won’t be in the comments; feel free to suggest site tweaks or what-have-you as I will be planning a lot of that this coming week.


‘night all!


Oh – Open Thread!

Site Maintenance

Fixed a few issues and got the FB autopublish working again.

Thanks Alain.

Site Issues Need Fixing: Turbulence Ahead!

Note – sorry to stomp on my esteemed co-front-pagers!


There’s something wrong with part of the back-end of the site and so I need to fix it. What, how, where – all great questions that I’ll answer (for myself) once I dig into it a bit.  Hopefully it’s just a bad plugin that can be updated. Seeing as I’ve held off on updating the theme to a major new version, I am planning on doing that today.
What this means:

  1. The site may look different temporarily. In order to diagnose the issue, the first thing I need to do is set the theme to a generic WordPress theme. So if you see that, don’t freak out. It will be very temporary and is just a testing step that I’ll reverse within minutes.
  2. It is possible that I will have to, one at a time, try disabling specific plugins to see what’s tripping things up. Hopefully this won’t need to occur.
  3. Once I update the theme to the current version, I will then apply our customizations; this takes a few minutes and so the site will not look quite right (no comment numbers, meta content under a post’s title, etc. I will get those customizations reapplied ASAP. In some cases, it’s an easy copy and paste, but in others, it may be a bit trickier.


So, that all said, I know that many of you block ads on the site, but for those that do not block ads, do you see the video ad in the right sidebar? I know everyone hates it, but it generates a lot of site revenue. It is supposed to be there, but I don’t see it in my browsers, whether on pc A, B, or any of my iOS devices.  I see from the code that the site generates that the code for the ad is still there, but since I don’t see it running, and cannot get to it from the back-end, I don’t know if it’s working.

I hope to add some links for getting involved as well; perhaps Doug! or some other frontpager will ask me to setup a sidebar widget with our top 20 targets/ActBlue, or something along those lines. I’m game.

I’m taking care of a few prep details before I begin work, so you won’t see any changes instantly, more likely over the rest of the morning.


I will be in this thread off and on, but please use other threads for general discussion not about the site/site issues/etc.

Site Changes: User Suggestion, Your Input Sought


A very good idea was suggested by commenter Clay:

Could you or another Front Pager put a link (or set of links) on the side bar to click on when we want to call Congress? Like, maybe a link to a list of phone numbers for Congressional offices, and a link to the “how to talk to staffers” post that’s come up before, and whatever else might be useful. That would give us a handy resource for instant action.

I think this is a great idea but there is, of course, no ready-made solution for this. I did some preliminary searching for WordPress plugins, but they are all a bit different than our needs. So I think we could do this ourselves, perhaps with a bit of crowdsourced work looking up info and putting it into a spreadsheet.

Proposed Solution

I’m thinking a “Contact Your Congress” button.

Click that, and you go to a page where you enter your address and it looks up the info and tells you who your reps are, their numbers for both national office as well as all state branch offices. It would of course give mailing addresses, email addresses, and fax number. If this works well, it might make sense to do something similar for state reps and senators as contacting state government is often very effective compared to the Feds.

This page would also have some general tips for such communication.

Finally, I’d prefer it if there was a clickable button that would start a pre-addressed blank email that you can type into, then hit send (all done using whatever email system or program you use, nothing to do with Balloon Juice.)


So, what do y’all think? And how should it work from the user experience side of things?

I am making no promises, and will need the help of others to make this happen, but if we get a good plan, I think we can get this done and further improve our collective contact efforts.