6 weeks later.

Father | 18 October 2008 | 4 Comments

So here we are, Saturday the 18th of October 2008.  The new TOG (version 8) site launched Father’s day 7th of September so we are now running on the new environment for approximately 6 weeks and a busy 6 weeks it has been.  The “Fathers Day” was an utter coincidence I can assure you.

The new site was generally well received, off course there were reactions ranging anywhere from constructive criticism to blatant dislike and condemnation of what was new and improved or as some people saw it “a new low for TOG”
How to please everyone, how to please everyone indeed? I’ve been walking our 3rd rock from the sun long enough to know that opinions will never compromise but still we try.
Designing websites is an utterly fascinating occupation and eventually you end up with some end result which is not only based on providing a certain functionality and feature set but is also the result of a lengthy road of decision making and many choices and compromises are made along the way.  It all sounds so easy when the design and layouts are made up in the mind but pushing that out into something that actually works is not always equally close to ones mental visualisations.

The biggest gripe people had was undoubtedly the width of the forums, the inability to expand the forums to a width of (insert your monitor resolution here) was a design decision made.
I take on board the fact people like to maximise their browser windows but surely on many websites out there will doing so result in nothing more then a lot of whitespace along the sides.
There will always be arguments for both design types but one has to make a decision based on functionality, features and budget in order to produce the best possible outcome.

One of the more immediate results of the new site was that things started to get slow, very slow.  From about 16:30 AEST until about 22:00 the site was at times simply behaving in way that felt more like it was hanging of a modem then hanging of a high speed internet link.Our server was well and trully incapable of dealing with the demand placed upon it

Despite best efforts to optimize our apache and mysql configuration parameters there simply was no way to deny the reality that our server was well and trully incapable of dealing with the demand that was placed upon it.
I had been coming for a while, server load hardly went below 5 which on Unix systems is probably as high as you want it to be.  The new site brought the load into the areas of 40+ at times.  MySQL was throwing database errors as it was being overloaded, apache processes went into defunct state you name it.  Bottom line it made the TOG site experience a very bad one too frequently.

What needed to be done became very clear very quickly, how to finance this was significantly harder. :question:
Quite a few difficult decisions needed to be made, I always wanted to split up the database and website functionality between 2 different servers but I’ve never been in favor of investing in solutions that is average and will not provide us with the much required longevity. I've never been in favor of investing in solution that has no longevity (
So for a while I was looking at buying one extremely powerful system and go back to running all the services on that system.  This made sense as it would allow for purchasing a second powerful system in the future and we would have two extremely powerful systems. 
Lots of ram, dual cpu, multiple cores it all sounds great but the reality is that we still very much live with single threaded applications.  Sure on Linx in particular the apache/mysql applications do a pretty good job of using multiple cores but after doing some intensive research into multi core server performance it was scaling that eventually pushed me back to my original idea of splitting things across 2 systems. Having 2 cores may give you double the performance but having 8 cores does not exactly give you 8 times the performance, once you get past 4 cores the benefits go downhill pretty quickly. :roll:

Hence I opted for a solution of 2 systems with a single Quad Core cpu and 8 gig each over one system with dual quad cores and 16 gig despite a significant cost increase associated with a dual server solution.  The database server runs 4 x 73 Serial Attached Scsi drives in Raid 10 but it’s performance is simply stellar.
To give you an idea, the old TOG server took 519 seconds to dump the TOG database, the new server takes 7 seconds to backup the same amount of data which even exceeded my expectations significantly.  To give you an idea of load as well, the webserver hardly goes above 1 and the MySQL server even with 197 people online has a load as low as 0.01, amazing!

The server specs for those that are interested:

Webserver

Dell 1950 III

* Intel Xeon 5450 Quad Core 3Ghz
* 8 GB Ram
* 2 x 146GB Serial Attached Scsci in RAID 1
* Dual 750W Power Supply

Database Server

Dell 2950 III

* Intel Xeon 5450 Quad Core 3Ghz
* 8 GB Ram
* 4 x 73GB Serial Attached Scsi in RAID 10
* Dual 750W Power Supply

There is off course tons of work to be done still on the site and there will certainly be a Phase II to the design process in which I want to improve certain features, add more functionality and make some further cosmetic changes.

But one of the first things on my to do list now is getting some essential content pages sorted about TOG like our contact pages etc but I might just finish Crysis Warhead first as my brain becomes very inefficient if it doesn’t get a bit of relaxation once in a while.

4 Comments so far | Post a comment

Great stuff mate!

I know it’s been a massively hard slog - but it’s plain to see it’s been well worth it. 

Thanks muchly for your long and tireless efforts - now go play some Crysis! :)

Change is always a funny thing. You get so used to the way things are and then it changes and you don’t like the changes because they’re different and require a new learning curve (XP vs Vista is a great example) but because it has changed you slog on in the new environment. Then before you know it, the new environment becomes the norm and the old one just becomes part of history.

I was away when the new site came online so it was up and running and almost fully functional when I came back. It was familiar but different.......now I can’t even remember the differences.

Even the “low point for TOG” people will get used to the new site and the memories of the old one will join all the previous incarnations of TOG in the annals of history.

Top effort from Father and the staff.

I know it’s been here a while, but the new site is superb.

The width is very normal—you simply can’t read something that spans an entire 1680 pixels (or how-ever wide your widescreen is). This is ideal, and it’s a principle upon which modern websites are largely designed.

Hi I need help joining TOG this is the only place I can post, I can’t post in the Barracks and I can’t send message admins...because I haven’t been given permission yet?

Anyway it’s a catch 22, so if someone can message an admin to initially approve me so i can post in the Barrcks that would be good, thanks. I know Geordie and Bobcat from Enemy Territory I want to join that clan.

- Aden

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