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wikiloops news april 2019 - we just survived

Dear friends of wikiloops,
todays news-post is a bit of a wild mix of “what I've been meaning to blog” and “what needs to be announced” due to the past days happenings around wikiloops.

I'll cover the somewhat urgent part first:
As most of you will have observed, we suffered a major server outage on wednesday the 24th of april.
There was a hardware failure on our main server, and wikiloops was not accessible for a few hours,
and once it came back up, the music was no longer playing.
The good news is, I have been able to restore what had gone missing as the server support folks moved wikiloops to a working server, so there is close to none permanent damage or data loss.
That doesn't really make for a “breaking news” type of catastrophe report, so, why am I issuing todays “urgent” post?
The urgent part is: We will be switching servers one more time this weekend, so do not be surprised if wikiloops goes offline for a couple of hours. That will be a routine job, no need to worry when that happens.


The dramatic part is: wikiloops got away so well by sheer luck. When I logged on to the server after work on wednesday evening and made a first check to get a grip on what had happened,
13.000 tracks had vanished without trace from the server.
If you ever misplaced a CD which you had been borrowed by a friend and felt really bad about loosing that CD (which is comparably easy to replace by ordering a new one), then you may have experienced a tiny percentage of my shock looking at an empty folder where your original recordings were supposed to rest.
What saved me from having to step up and announce that wikiloops just lost half a year of recent uploads was the automatic double backup of the mp3 files which I had added in summer 2017.
By re-routing the mp3 requests to that backup server, all files became available within a few minutes time.
It is still uncertain wether I'll be able to restore all of the .wav files of uploads in the range between track 149999 and 162000, but at least the mp3s are safe by now. (Update: all wav files were successfully restored at the time I finished writing this post).

Well, I do hope that you can sense that there's no need to worry about your music, but at the same time realize that that was a really close call.
Hardware failures like this one can easily be the end of a project like wikiloops – a somehow similar project called icompositions.com actually ended their community in 2018 after a similar incident, and noticing their backups didn't work.
Nothing goes down like digital, and nobody will insure your harddrives...

That's one of those scary truths one often notices when it is too late, just like quite a lot of wikiloops members had feelings of “oh, shoot, what if the site doesn't come back up?” on wednesday.

I do admit I'm still a bit shaken by this weeks events, so let me end the “important news” part with the following three statements:
I am thankful to those members who supported wikiloops financially in the past years. It is your past support invested into safety measures that saved wikiloops this week. I've always felt it probably doesn't feel cool to donate for boring things like failover protection, but it just saved 13.000 tracks, and that just IS cool.
This weeks experience once more taught me to realize that wikiloops isn't safe without a maintenance man who keeps taking care. Keeps making backups. Is available within 24hours to sit down and keep the engines running. That's a gigantic responsibility on my shoulders there, and there are more fun things to do after working a dayjob then doing server maintenance, too.
It doesn't work without your financial support. Fallback servers are cool, but they cost a lot of monthly money. If you value wikiloops and are happy it's still around, please back up this project by increasing its funds a little. As you can read here, it does pay off eventually.

Thank you for the read, your support, and the music that makes it all seem worth it.


Now, let me add what I had initially been intending to post before things got a little stressfull this week – here it is:

The wikiloops v11 release note



As you may have noticed, we have finally rolled out wikiloops version 11 on friday 12th of April 2019.
After coding on this update for four months and spending the last two weeks having a team of beta-testers spot & report quite a lot of smaller issues, the changeover went quite smoothly.
As I have already mentioned in my previous post, the version 11 update is a rather technical one which doesn't come with any dramatic changes on looks or functionality.
It is however another quite big milestone in wikiloops development, as it includes the fourth generation of the wikiloops audio player in eight years, and ends the projects dependency on third party code, most importantly the by-now slowly outdated jQuery Library.
Now, instead of boring you all to death with names of things you may never have heard of and praising benefits of other things that you are not familiar with either, I'd like to say a few words about the people who are and have been connected to all this.

There are probably several hundred people out there who have contributed to wikiloops in one way or another, 99% of them probably never ever heard of wikiloops, but they put in some time and effort developing some kind of cool code snippet, and later offered that for free use.
Developing wikiloops has partially consisted of assembling such open source code things into one project, simply because one doesn't need to re-invent the wheel if building plans are available for free, and -in all honesty- being the do-it-yourself coder I am, I had absolutely no idea how to achieve a lot of functionality without making use of such open source code.

The version 11 update of wikiloops is ending wikiloops use of some of these third-party-provided bits, and I somehow feel like expressing my gratitude to the developers once more.
Whilst it may have been flattering for them to see their code being widely used around the internet a few years ago, it also must feel strange to see ones past work vanish and become useless in the course of ongoing technical development.
Ask all those people who coded flash-based games or animated greeting cards how it felt when Google decided flash was dead and disabled it in Chrome Browser... there are few fields of tech where one's work becomes useless as quickly as in IT.

The list of open source projects that made wikiloops possible so far is long,
let me introduce you to some of those which really deserve a mention – even tho wikiloops has moved on to using different code with version 11:
The jQuery Project:
Started in 2006 by a John Resig* and later maintained by a Team lead by Timmy Willison* and Richard Gibson*. The jQuery plugin is some sort of helper toolkit that allowed websites to offer interactive things (think of dropdown menus, folding boxes, tabs and all the good stuff we are used to) which was developed open source and ended up being used on a whacking 73% of the worlds 1 million most popular websites*.
Backed by their own donation-funded foundation, the team of developers created a freely accessible toolbox that truly influenced a decade of web development, and which served as the common platform for countless “plug-ins” developed by thousands of developers. (*Info taken off the wikipedia, see https://jquery.org/ for more).

The jPlayer Project
One of the bigger sub-projects connected to jQuery which provided for the wikiloops audio player in the years 2013 to 2019 which deserves my praise is jPlayer, developed by Mark Panaghiston.
I believe Mark himself stopped supporting the project in 2017 and some other folks took over and are taking jPlayer into a new direction – since they were not maintaining the original plug-in, wikiloops is now using its own independent player (which again is based on some open source code by Jonathan Neil).

Arvinds ajaxify.js
Arvind Gupta's open source library ajaxify.js powered the smooth page transitions on wikiloops in the years 2015-2019, covering another niche of expertise I really wouldn't have been able to cover myself. I actually got in touch with Arvind a couple of times as some sort of beta-tester on his project, so he's one of the few folks I'm mentioning who I've actually communicated with some times.

There are thousands of working hours on code involved in just those three mentioned projects, while we all were allowed to benefit from the resulting open source code at no charge.
A mere “thank you” seems not much for that, so I made it a habit to let wikiloops pass on some of your suppport to wikiloops to these projects by donating small amounts to these projects in the past few years.
While wikiloops is primarily focused on music, the wikiloops spirit of sharing ones results for free and the idea to collaborate online with total strangers from around the globe were both strongly inspired by the open source movement.
My sincere thanks to the enthusiasts who made that possible, and to those who supported the movement.
Andlast but not least thanks to all who actively helped find bugs in the new version and who took part in the collaboration to make wikiloops 11 work smoothely.

p.s.
The wikiloops v11 update and the server hardware failure are not related to each other in any way.

Commenti

Marceys
Glad you found a way to get it back up and running! Thanks a lot on behalf of myself and the rest of world!+1
frenzie
The new 11 update is very SMOOTH :W+2
Chelles
Ty youre amazing Dick and wikiloops is grateful.+1
frenzie
<3 you saved our souls!!! Big hug!! <3+2
slin
Yeah thanks for the great work you do Dick...;)+2
Navota
thanks for keeping wikiloops alive:)+1
wjl
"Enjoyed the read or have a comment? Let me know!" - yes, thanks again! :)
And again, if I can offer some help with server monitoring or anything, let me know. I used to use tools like cacti, nagios, and such to monitor the IT in hospitals during a job I did some time ago... also set up redundant servers there... :)
+2
Tofzegrit
M E R C I+1
gwailoah
Phoooo... Dam scary... No more wikiloops? Sheeeee... Major kudos and props to you Dick for your disaster planning. And a brilliant tale about the unsung coding heroes. Got to love people who do it for the love. Let's all see if we can throw a few more dollars at the Loops, eh? ;);)<3+1
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