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Funding Goal
For 6-month period:
2021-01-01 to 2021-06-30
(All amounts are estimated)
Base Goal:
$3500.00

Currently:
$1096.15
31.3%

Covers transactions:
2021-01-01 06:28:29 ..
2021-04-13 15:27:03 UTC
(SPIDs: [1509..1557])
Last Update:
2021-04-14 14:00:32 UTC --martyb


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posted by martyb on Saturday April 17, @09:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

I am generally not one to "toot my own horn", but I'm making an exception in this case. In large part because SoylentNews has been a huge part of my life since its very start. Also, as a result of the confidences placed on me, here, I've grown in areas I never expected when I first started. It has been a distinct privilege to serve the community all these years. At first I performed software test on the site and its updates. Later, I reviewed the documents which were filed to enable us to become a legal entity. (Never before in my entire life had I seen a single sentence that contained over 500 words! I did, here... not just once, but twice!) Later came becoming an editor on the site, and still later the Editor-in-Chief.

In each case I've found I've grown in directions I had never anticipated. I am a better man thanks to the opportunities and challenges provided here. High on the list is how it has affirmed these long-held convictions:

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more I know, the more I know I don't know.

Thank You!
At the time of this story's release, it marks seven years since the very first story I edited appeared on SoylentNews. I count myself extremely fortunate to have worked with some amazingly-gifted people who founded, developed, and supported this site. And, even more importantly, the community that sprung up as we made ourselves known, waaay back on 2014-02-17 02:06:00 UTC.

I so want to personally thank everyone who had a part in this journey, but I am also absolutely certain I will be unable to list them all. Everyone on staff has had a hand in helping me reach this milestone.

This marks another milestone, as well: as of April 13, I posted my 10,000th story to SoylentNews! (Specifically, this one.) More about that later.

Comparison:
By sake of comparison, here are the TOP 20 users by count of comments posted to the site, since the site started:

mysql> SELECT count(comments.uid) as ct, comments.uid, users.nickname FROM comments, users WHERE comments.uid = users.uid  GROUP BY uid ORDER BY ct DESC LIMIT 20;
+--------+------+----------------------+
| ct     | uid  | nickname             |
+--------+------+----------------------+
| 412967 |    1 | Anonymous Coward     |
|  24345 | 3766 | khallow              |
|  22841 | 2926 | Runaway1956          |
|  21134 |   18 | The Mighty Buzzard   |
|  20426 |  881 | takyon               |
|  17327 |  156 | c0lo                 |
|  12478 | 5839 | DannyB               |
|  11433 | 5086 | Azuma Hazuki         |
|  10875 | 1554 | frojack              |
|  10837 | 3937 | JoeMerchant          |
|  10624 |  445 | VLM                  |
|   9593 | 6150 | fustakrakich         |
|   9252 | 1380 | DeathMonkey          |
|   8961 | 1357 | bob_super            |
|   8852 | 2645 | aristarchus          |
|   8343 |  552 | Phoenix666           |
|   7838 |  863 | FatPhil              |
|   6979 | 1608 | maxwell demon        |
|   6947 |  636 | Thexalon             |
|   6683 | 2339 | MichaelDavidCrawford |
+--------+------+----------------------+
20 rows in set (4.48 sec)

mysql>

Hat tip to FatPhil for helping with the syntax of the query!

Motivation:
It all started when I noticed spelling and grammatical errors on stories posted to SoylentNews.

I hopped onto the the #editorial channel of our IRC (Internet Relay Chat) service and tried to get the attention of an editor. Once that was accomplished, I then explained what I found and asked to get it corrected. (Background: I'd worked in software testing for decades. That included more than just testing the software. Also under my review were: on-line help, user guides, design documents, function specifications, system specifications and training manuals.)

Sure enough, a day or two later, I noticed another error. Again onto IRC. Try to get the attention of an editor. Explain what I found and what I thought it should be changed to. And then, sure enough, another day and another mistake.

One day I was particularly exasperated as I struggled to get the attention of someone who could correct something. Felt like forever although it was most likely less than an hour. I pointed out that if I could edit stories on the site, I could go in and fix them myself!

Crickets.

A day or two later, it happened again. Took a while to get someone to correct a mistake in a story. Again I suggested letting me edit stories directly. There's an old saying along the lines of: "Be careful of what you ask; for you just might get it!"

I apparently volunteered enough times that someone listened.

Background:
Mind you, I'd started on the Green Site before it even had UIDs and nicknames! (ca. December 1996). I already knew the user-visible capabilities quite well. It couldn't be that hard, right? Heck, I was using IBM Generalized Markup Language in the early 1980s. That was the primary ancestor to SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) which was developed in 1986. SGML, in turn, went on to become a foundation to HTML (HyperText Markup Language) which followed in 1993.

I had even tested customer-support web sites at a major internet backbone and hosting company.

How hard could it be, anyway?

Early Days:
One day I was informed that I could be an editor, but it involved some training. Just learning the UI (User Interface) of the story submissions page, the story editing page, and then the story list page was a learning cliff. That was not helped with the site still being relatively newly-started. We were still experiencing site outages and hiccups. Some controls did not behave the way they were supposed to.

Imagine my astonishment when I discovered there is a LOT more under the covers of SoylentNews than meets the eye! There's an Admin menu at the top of each page with several selections and each of those had a similar number of sub-selections. By default, that is. Depending on one's privilege level, additional menu options appeared. Further, admin pages gained additional fields and capabilities! Whew! But, thankfully, learning those details came later.

Further, beyond the UI's editing controls, there are site standards and style guides to follow, as well.

Admonition:
An early admonition I received from then-Editor-in-Chief LaminatorX: "You'd better develop a thick skin" was more than slightly disturbing at the time. I'm grateful for it, now. I made plenty of mistakes along the way and am grateful for the community's acceptance of them.

To a great extent, I learned from watching NCommander publicly and forth-rightly own up to his mistakes. Right there on the front page. Clearly and without equivocation.

Thanks so much to those who have graciously accepted my apologies and amends. I endeavor to have learned from them and try not to repeat the same mistakes (but if you hang around for a while, I am certain I'll come up with some new ones!)

What 10,000 Looks Like:
So far, I've averaged just shy of 4 stories posted per day (3.91, to be precise; 220 more stories would be required to reach the 4-per-day average). That's hard to visualize.

Imagine each letter in each of the following words corresponds to posting a story. Each four-letter word is roughly comparable to an average day's posting. This is what 10,000 story postings would look like:

abbé abed abet able ably abut aced aces ache achy acid acme acne acre acts adds adze aeon aery afar agar aged ages agog ague ahem ahoy aide aids ails aims airs airy ajar akin alas albs ales alga alit ally alms aloe also alto alum amen amid amir ammo amok amps anal anew ankh anon ante anti ants anus aped apes apex apps apse aqua arch arcs area ares aria arid arks arms army arts arty ashy asks asps atom atop auks aunt aura auto aver avid avow away awed awes awls awol awry axed axes axis axle axon ayes baas babe baby back bade bags bail bait bake bald bale balk ball balm band bane bang bani bank bans barb bard bare barf bark barn bars base bash bask bass bast bate bath bats baud bawl bays bead beak beam bean bear beat beau beck beds beef been beep beer bees beet begs bell belt bend bent berg berm best beta bets bevy bias bibs bide bids bier bike bile bilk bill bind bins bird bite bits blab blah bled blew blip blob bloc blog blot blow blue blur boar boas boat bobs bode body bogs bogy boil bola bold bole boll bolt bomb bond bone bong bony boob book boom boon boor boos boot bops bore born bosh boss both bout bowl bows boys bozo brad brag bran bras brat bray bred brew brig brim brow buck buds buff bugs bulb bulk bull bump bums bung bunk buns bunt buoy burg burn burp burr burs bury bush buss bust busy buts butt buys buzz byes byte cabs cads café cage cagy cake calf calk call calm came camp cams cane cans cant cape caps card care carp cars cart case cash cask cast cats cave caws cede cell cent chap char chat chef chew chic chid chin chip chit chop chow chug chum cite city clad clam clan clap claw clay clef clew clip clit clod clog clop clot cloy club clue coal coat coax cobs cock coda code cods coed cogs coif coil coin coke cola cold cols colt coma comb come cone conk cons cook cool coon coop coos coot cope cops copy cord core cork corm corn cost cosy cote cots coup cove cowl cows cozy crab crag cram crap craw crew crib crop crow crud crux cube cubs cuds cued cues cuff cull cult cums cunt cups curb curd cure curl curs curt cusp cuss cute cuts cyst czar dabs dado dads daft dais dale dame damn damp dams dank dare dark darn dart dash data date daub dawn days daze dead deaf deal dean dear debs debt deck deed deem deep deer deft defy deli dell demo dens dent deny desk dewy dial dice dick died dies diet digs dike dill dime dims dine ding dins dint dips dire dirk dirt disc dish disk diss diva dive dock docs dodo doer does doff dogs dole doll dolt dome done dons doom door dope dopy dork dorm dory dose dote doth dots dour dove down doze drab drag dram draw dray drew drip drop drub drug drum drys dual dubs duck duct dude duds duel dues duet duff duke dull duly dumb dump dune dung dunk duns duos dupe dusk dust duty dyed dyer dyes dyke each earl earn ears ease east easy eats eave ebbs echo ecru eddy edge edgy edit eels eery eggs egis egos eked ekes elks ells elms else emir emit emos emus ends envy eons epic eras ergo ergs errs espy etch euro even ever eves evil ewer ewes exam exec exes exit expo eyed eyes face fact fade fads fags fail fain fair fake fall fame fang fans fare farm fart fast fate fats faun fawn faze fear feat feds feed feel fees feet fell felt fend fens fern fest feta feud fiat fibs fief fife figs file fill film find fine fink fins fire firm firs fish fist fits five fizz flab flag flak flan flap flat flaw flax flay flea fled flee flew flex flip flit floe flog flop flow flub flue flux foal foam fobs foci foes fogs fogy foil fold folk fond font food fool foot fops fora ford fore fork form fort foul four fowl foxy frat fray free fret frog from fuck fuel full fume fund funk furl furs fury fuse fuss futz fuze fuzz fête gabs gads gaff gage gags gain gait gala gale gall gals game gamy gang gape gaps garb gash gasp gate gave gawk gays gaze gear geed geek gees geez geld gels gelt gems gene gent germ gets gibe gift gigs gild gill gilt gins gird girl girt gist give glad glee glen glib glob glop glow glue glum glut gnat gnaw gnus goad goal goat gobs gods goes gold golf gone gong good goof gook goon goop gore gory gosh gout gown grab grad gram gray grew grey grid grim grin grip grit grog grow grub guff gulf gull gulp gums gunk guns guru gush gust guts guys gybe gyms gyps gyro hack haft hags hail hair hake hale half hall halo halt hams hand hang hank hard hare hark harm harp hart hash hasp hate hath hats haul have hawk haws hays haze hazy head heal heap hear heat heck heed heel heft heir held hell helm help hemp hems hens herb herd here hero hers hewn hews hick hide hied hies high hike hill hilt hims hind hint hips hire hiss hits hive hoax hobo hobs hock hods hoed hoes hogs hold hole holy home homy hone honk hood hoof hook hoop hoot hope hops horn hose host hour hove howl hows hubs hued hues huff huge hugs hula hulk hull hump hums hung hunk hunt hurl hurt hush husk huts hymn hype hypo iamb ibex ibis iced ices icky icon idea ides idle idly idol idyl iffy ikon ilks ills imam imps inch info inks inky inns into ions iota iris irks iron isle isms itch item jabs jack jade jags jail jamb jams jape jars jaws jays jazz jeep jeer jeez jell jerk jest jets jibe jibs jigs jilt jinn jinx jive jobs jock jogs john join joke jolt josh jots jowl joys judo jugs jump junk jury just jute juts kale keel keen keep kegs kelp kens kept keys khan kick kids kill kiln kilo kilt kind king kink kiss kite kith kits kiwi knee knew knit knob knot know kook labs lace lack lacy lade lads lady lags laid lain lair lake lama lamb lame lamp lams land lane lank laps lard lark lash lass last late lath lats laud lava lawn laws lays laze lazy lead leaf leak lean leap leas leek leer lees left legs leis lend lens lent lept less lest lets levy lewd liar lice lick lids lied lief lien lies lieu life lift like lilt lily limb lime limn limo limp limy line link lint lion lips lira lire lisp list lite live load loaf loam loan lobe lobs loci lock loco lode loft loge logo logs loin loll lone long look loom loon loop loot lope lops lord lore lorn lose loss lost loth lots loud lout love lows luau lube luck lugs lull lump lung lure lurk lush lust lute lynx lyre mace made mads maid mail maim main make male mall malt mama mane mans many maps mare mark mars mart mash mask mass mast mate math mats matt maul maws mayo maze mead meal mean meat meek meet megs meld melt meme memo mend menu meow mere mesa mesh mess mete mewl mews mica mice mien miff mike mild mile milf milk mill mils mime mind mine mini mink mint minx mire miss mist mite mitt mkay moan moat mobs mock mode mods mold mole moll molt moms monk mono mood moon moor moos moot mope mops more morn moss most mote moth move mown mows much muck muff mugs mule mull murk muse mush musk muss must mute mutt myna myth nabs nags nail name nape naps narc nark nary nave navy nays near neat neck need neon nerd nest nets news newt next nibs nice nick nigh nine nips nite nits node nods noel noes none nook noon nope norm nose nosh nosy note noun nous nova nubs nude nuke null numb nuns nuts oafs oaks oars oath oats obey obit oboe odds odes odor offs ogle ogre ohms oils oily oink okay okra oleo omen omit once ones only onto onus onyx oops ooze opal open opts opus oral orbs orcs ores orgy ouch ours oust outs oval oven over ovum owed owes owls owns oxen pace pack pact pads page paid pail pain pair pale pall palm pals pane pang pans pant papa paps pare park pars part pass past pate path pats pave pawl pawn paws pays peak peal pear peas peat peck pecs peed peek peel peep peer pees pegs pelt pens pent peon peps perk perm pert peso pest pets pews pica pick pied pier pies pigs pike pile pill pimp pine ping pink pins pint pipe pips piss pita pith pits pity pixy plan play plea pled plod plop plot plow ploy plug plum plus pock pods poem poet poke poky pole poll polo pols pomp pond pone pony pooh pool poop poor pope pops pore pork porn port pose posh post posy pots pour pout pram pray prep prey prig prim prod prof prom prop pros prow psst pubs puck puff pugs puke pull pulp puma pump punk puns punt puny pupa pups pure purl purr push puss puts putt pwns pyre quad quay quid quip quit quiz race rack racy raft raga rage rags raid rail rain raja rake ramp rams rang rank rant rape raps rapt rare rash rasp rate rats rave rays raze razz read real ream reap rear redo reds reed reef reek reel refs rein reis rely rend rent reps rest revs rhea ribs rice rich rick ride rids rife riff rift rigs rile rill rime rims rind ring rink riot ripe rips rise risk rite road roam roan roar robe robs rock rode rods roes roil role roll romp rood roof rook room root rope rose rosy rote rots rout roué rove rows rube rubs ruby rude rued rues ruff rugs ruin rule rump rums rune rung runs runt ruse rush rusk rust ruts sack sacs safe saga sage sago sags said sail sake saki sale salt same sand sane sang sank sans saps sari sash sass sate save sawn saws says scab scad scam scan scar scat scow scud scum seal seam sear seas seat secs sect seed seek seem seen seep seer sees self sell semi send sent sera sere serf sets sewn sews sexy shad shag shah sham shat shed shes shim shin ship shit shod shoe shoo shop shot show shun shut sick sics side sift sigh sign silk sill silo silt sims sine sing sink sins sips sire sirs site sits size skew skid skim skin skip skis skit slab slag slam slap slat slaw slay sled slew slid slim slip slit slob sloe slog slop slot slow slue slug slum slur slut smit smog smug smut snag snap snip snit snob snot snow snub snug soak soap soar sobs sock soda sods sofa soft soil sold sole soli solo sols some song sons soon soot sops sore sort sots soul soup sour sown sows soya spam span spar spas spat spay spec sped spew spin spit spot spry spud spun spur stab stag star stay stem step stew stir stop stow stub stud stun stye subs such suck suds sued sues suet suit sulk sumo sump sums sung sunk suns sups sure surf swab swag swam swan swap swat sway swig swim swop swum sync tabs tabu tack taco tact tads tags tail take talc tale talk tall tame tamp tams tang tank tans tape taps tare taro tarp

Original Submission

posted by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday March 31, @12:52AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the automotive dept.

We had a few hours this evening where there were issues we didn't notice with new submissions. We had been mothballing (setting the number of matches necessary beyond what would ever match anything) some spam filters exclusive to submissions and managed to somehow confuse one of the Apache web frontends. The offending filters are now just deleted entirely and incapable of confusing even MS Paint.

Please excuse the embuggerance. We now return you to your regularly scheduled arguments.

TMB

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 17, @02:06AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

On Monday February 17 2014, at 02:06AM SoylentNews announced itself to the world!

(That's exactly seven years ago from the time this story posts.) Does it seem possible? I know it certainly amazes me.

A lot can happen in a year. Here are some items of note. As always, if you are not interested in this kind of stuff, ignore this post — a new story will be along shortly. Otherwise, this story continues below the fold.

  1. Random Statistics
  2. Site News
  3. Staff Activity
  4. Folding@Home

NB: An earlier version of this story containing much more detail seems to have jumped into a bit bucket. Please forgive any errors that crept into this quick reincarnation attempt!

Random Statistics:

Over the past year, activity on the site comes to:

Journals:2,161
Stories:3,927
Moderations:114,020
Comments:155,098

We previously had a great number of posts on the COVID-19 pandemic. It is still with us, but vaccines are starting to be rolled out. Sadly, variants of the coronavirus have appeared, and some appear to be more contagious than the earlier strains. We had let up on our coverage of late, because trying to merge 20-30 story submissions was extremely demanding of time and energy — yet with decreasing amounts of discussion.

In spite of the hit that COVID-19 had on the community, we had a successful fundraiser last year. When we have official results, we will get them to you.

Site News:

We had a few hiccups and a burp or two, but the site has held up pretty well over the past year, all-in-all.

We had a site issue last June where the Most Recent Journal Entries Slashbox disappeared for a while. The Mighty Buzzard (aka TMB, Buzz), investigated, verified the DB was okay, restarted mysqld, bounced Apache/Varnish, and got that running again. Thanks again, Buzz!

We've also had a few (thankfully short) site outages and some issues. One of which, of course, coincided with TMB being on a week's vacation. I investigated, but it was well beyond my ken. TMB made a valiant effort, but being far from home and trying to remotely diagnose/fix problems with a borrowed Windows laptop with a chicklet keyboard was just too much. He got things stable until he could return. At that point, things were fixed up right-quick. Thanks bunches!!

Work continues, in fits and starts, to get our new Gentoo server aluminum up and running. It is slated to take over for our single CentOS server: beryllium. Thanks to TMB and juggs as well as mechanicjay and audioguy for all you do!

Staff Activity:

As noted in last year's anniversary post, TMB had been remodeling a church into a home. "(end of April is what we're currently shooting for as a best case scenario)". Looks like his estimate was pretty close, but just had the wrong year. 😁 As soon as that remodeling is done and he's moved in, we are hoping to start working on some site updates.

That said, there are some non-Perl updates that were made through the template system. We pushed out just such a change last March. When loading a story which contains a wall-of-text, one can now just click "[Skip to comment(s)]" in the story's title bar and save a bunch of scrolling. (Updated the in-memory copy of template: "dispStory;misc;default".)

requerdanos joined the editorial staff last December. We were hoping for maybe a couple stories per week, but in short order he has already posted 106 stories! Thanks so much!

Thanks, too, go to Fnord666 who has been a solid and consistent contributor to the site. He's posted 6,234 stories of which 1,816 have been in the past year — 4.975 stories a day, every day. (No, I have no idea what 0.025 stories looks like!) He has often posted half of the day's stories, and some days has posted every single story. I couldn't have asked for a better Alternate Editor-in-Chief!

Then there's chromas who has posted 158 stories over the past year. (lifetime total: 1,237 stories). He often "seconds" stories (provides a review of the initial editor's efforts) and thereby helps keep our "foe paws" from making it out for everyone else to see and laugh at. But wait, there's more! He also maintains his systemd 'bot' on IRC. It submits stories, resolves links, and looks up things on Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube. It even extracts and generates citations for journal references! I shudder to think of how much harder it would be to post stories without the assistance. Thanks so much!

Our emeritus EiC (Editor-in-Chief) janrinok has had limited spare time while providing primary supportive care for his spouse. Nevertheless, he pushed out 193 stories in the past year (lifetime total: 5,237 stories). Furthermore, he maintains Arthur T. Knackerbracket which extracts and submit stories. Thanks JR! I especially treasure your gentle and able guidance as I try to follow in your footsteps!

Though less frequently, we continue to get regular contributions from mrpg, CoolHand, and FatPhil. Every bit helps and is MUCH appreciated!

Then there's takyon who continues to occasionally post stories (23 over the past year, lifetime total: 1,365). More amazingly, he is a prodigious submitter of stories, too. They are almost always well-researched and well-formatted, with supporting links from other sites beyond the primary source. I suspect he may have been an understudy on Dragnet "Just the facts, ma'am." Whenever I see one of his stories in the submissions queue, I know it will be a simple one to push out into the story queue. In the past year he has had 378 of his story submissions accepted! Thanks takyon!

Hopefully I didn't overlook someone, but before I close here, I should mention that TMB posted 10 stories over the past year... in addition to his efforts to keep the site up and running. Thanks Buzz!

Folding@Home:

You might not be aware, but SoylentNews has a Folding@Home team that contributes spare CPU cycles to a distributed computing project. The effort seeks to determine how different proteins fold and, thereby, be better able to come up with cures. Besides Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease, the past year's efforts have had a huge emphasis on the CARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID 19. Huge multinationals like Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and many others have donated their spare compute power to fighting COVID-19. Yet, even measured against those heavy weights, SoylentNews is still ranked 368th in the WORLD. We have completed 163,441 work units. That has earned us 2,435,739,709 points so far. Yes, 2.4 Billion points!


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday February 14, @04:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Constants-aren't-and-variables-won't dept.

[2021-02-14 15:53:00 UTC: UPDATE added need to check apache log before doing a slash -restart]

We seem to have experienced some difficulties with the SoylentNews site.

I've noticed that both the number of hits and comments for each story do not seem to be updating.

Corrective measures taken:

  1. "Bounce" the Servers I doubted it would help, but it causes no harm to try it, so why not? And, as expected, it did not help, either.:
    This is my personal "bounce" script:
    cat ~/bin/bounce

    #!/bin/bash
    servers='hydrogen fluorine'
    for server in ${servers} ; do echo Accessing: ${server} &&  rsh ${server} /home/bob/bin/bounce ; done

    Which, in turn, runs the following script on each of the above servers:

    cat /home/bob/bin/bounce

    #!/bin/bash
    sudo /etc/init.d/varnish restart
    sudo -u slash /srv/soylentnews.org/apache/bin/apachectl -k restart

  2. Restart slash For those who are unaware, slash has its own internal implementation of what is, effectively, cron. It periodically fires off tasks that support the site's operations. But, this potentially has side-effects, so first need to check the apache error_log.

    # Go to the appropriate server:
    ssh fluorine
    # Ensure the apache log is not showing issues: tail -f /srv/soylentnews.org/apache/logs/error_log
    # Restart slash:
    sudo /etc/init.d/slash restart
    >> slashd slash has no PID file
    >> Sleeping 10 seconds in a probably futile attempt to be clean: ok.
    >> Starting slashd slash: ok PID = 3274

    NB: this failed to run to a successful conclusion when I originally tried it a few hour ago. I gave it one more try while writing this story... it seemed to run okay this time?!

Things appears to be running okay, now. Please reply in the comments if anything else is amiss. Alternatively, mention it in the #dev channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat, or send an email to admin (at) soylentnews (dot) org.

We now return you to the ongoing discussion of: teco or ed?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 11, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

It's been one heck of a week:

Against the backdrop of record-setting numbers of COVID-19 deaths and infections in the US and around the world, there was turmoil in Washington, DC. As court cases surrounding the presidential election were filed and dismissed, a close race in Georgia was coming down to the wire and with it control of the US Senate. While the US Congress was completing the Electoral College tally and certification, a mob formed outside — and eventually broke into — the US Capitol. This resulted in a 4-hour lock-down. Eventually, the intrusion was repelled, and the Electoral College count was completed: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was confirmed as the 46th president of the United States of America.

Conspiracy theories have flourished. Propaganda has streamed forth across multiple platforms. Tempers have flared.

And SoylentNews has been there for you. And have you ever spoken up! Two of the most-commented stories in the site's nearly seven-year history were posted in just the past week!

Insomuch as the activities in the US Capitol were far from the US' most shining moments, neither were things all unicorns and rainbows on SoylentNews. Tempers flared. People were attacked and called names. I even accidentally deleted a story and the 17 comments attached to it! [NB: Problem addressed: the delete button no longer appears by default for our editors.]

IRC (Internet Relay Chat):

Even our IRC service was not free from controversy. We had a spate of nick (nickname) impersonations. Going forward, IRC users are free to use whatever nick they like with the following caveats:

  • Prefix / suffix of a nick is fine for practical purposes (e.g. ${nick}_laptop)
  • Impersonation or misrepresentation will not be tolerated
  • The use of another user's website nick or derivative thereof on IRC will be subject to sanctions up to and including perma ban.

Further, we understand conversations can easily ramble from subject to subject, but there are separate channels for different topics. (Use the /list comand to see what is available.) As #soylent is the default landing channel, we want to keep the discussions there civil. Name calling and personal attacks are grounds for a timeout. I have had discussions with deucalion (the site's CEO and also IRC-maintainer) about these activities.

NOTE: we are NOT going to sit there watching every discussion, poised to take action. But, if such activity is seen by staff on IRC, they are free to take such actions as they deem necessary.

Aspirations:

As I approach posting my 10,000th story(!) to SoylentNews, I think back to when it all started. How a group of people got together. They shared freely of their expertise, of their free time, and of their hard-earned funds. They tried to create a place free from corporate overlords where people could engage in discussions that focused primarily on technology, but with a dabbling in other areas and current events.

SoylentNews provides a forum for discussion. It also provides tools so the community can express themselves in the comments and moderate those comments, as well.

This got me to thinking. What are our aspirations today? What are our guiding principles? I will list some of my guiding principles, and I encourage the community to share what guides them in the comments.

  • "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong." --H. L. Mencken (cite)
  • "People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov (cite)
  • "If you speak when angry, you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret." -- Groucho Marx (cite)
  • "Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don't say it mean."
  • "Don't get furious, get curious" -- Miley Cyrus (cite)
  • "Humiliation is when someone points out my shortcomings. Humility is when I confess them myself."
  • "I need not participate in every fight I am invited to."
  • The most difficult behaviors to observe in another person are the ones I dislike in my own.
  • "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him." -- John, Lord Morley (cite)

How about you? What sayings guide your aspirations?

Thank You!

Lastly, I thank all of you for supporting me as Editor-in-Chief. I have no formal background in writing or management. I've made mistakes, but I've tried to own up to them as they happened. I strive to be fair, impartial, and open-minded. Under the watchful gaze of the community, I have grown. It is my hope that I may continue to earn your respect and continue in service for many years to come.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 04, @05:10AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Summary:
It wasn't just you; SoylentNews.org was down today (Sunday, 2021-01-03) for a few hours in the mid morning to early afternoon UTC. It seems to be back up and running, but there are some minor artifacts.

Background:
First sign was some CSS and Slashbox issues appearing on Saturday night. I was editing a story and when I tried to preview it, saw that the SlashBoxes that normally appeared on the LHS (Left-Hand Side) of the page were missing. A page refresh or two later, and things looked okay, again. A bit later I went to view a story and saw the same symptoms. This time a hard reload that ignored and cache on my system (Ctrl+F5) did the trick.

I popped onto IRC (Internet Relay Chat), reported these symptoms, and asking if anyone else was seeing the same thing. Received a couple confirmations.

Oh. Joy. And TMB (The Mighty Buzzard) still seemed to be away on vacation.

Oh well. Skipped on over to boron and ran a script to bounce the apache servers on fluorine and hydrogen. Popped back onto IRC, reported what I did, and asked if things were better. Got some affirmations. Yay!

Just in case, I hung around for another half hour or so to confirm the site was staying up and running okay. Looking good! After thanking everyone for their help, I wished everybody a good night and then headed to bed.

Sunday:
Shortly after I woke and attempted to visit the site, I was greeted by a message explaining the site was down due to DB issues. When I got back onto IRC, found that TMB was already hands-on. The site had crashed early in the morning. With the site already down, and it being Sunday morning, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity to make some backups and then do some maintenance work.

Status:
Site is back up, system loads seem back-to-normal, and things seem to be pretty much as they should be. Except... the Older Stuff slashbox that appears on the RHS (Right-Hand Side) of the main page seemed to be missing some entries. The newest entry as I write this is YouTube Class Action: Same IP Address Used To Upload 'Pirate' Movies and File DMCA Notice.

I suspect the missing entries will eventually start to stream in and repopulate the list.

tl;dr:
The DB crashed and took the site with it. TMB was soon on the scene and fixed the DB and did some other work. We're back up and running.

Thanks TMB!


Original Submission

posted by requerdanos on Friday January 01, @08:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

[2021-01-01 20:46:45 UTC; updated with estimated totals for the second half of the year 2020 and for the entire year.]

Happy New Year!

The end of the year 2020 is fast upon us. There are many, I'm sure, who will be glad to see it go. And for good reason, too.

I am inviting the editorial team to take a long holiday weekend; we will have reduced story coverage Friday through Sunday.

There's no need to go into a recap of the world's events over this past year — plenty of other sites will do that and I see no need to waste people's time.

Here's a milestone that happened a couple weeks ago that escaped my notice at the time: SoylentNews has been here, for the community, for over 2,500 days! It's amazing what can happen when people pull together in a common effort!

Finances:
We are about to wrap up our fiscal year. (NB: all amounts are estimates.) Our first-half fundraising went very well (thank you!) It looks like we need only about $110.00 to make our year-end goal!

[UPDATE] (2021-01-01 20:46:45 UTC)

We did it! First, the "bad news": we missed our goal for the second half of the year. We had net subscription income of $2,351.56 (which was 67.2% of our $3,500.00 goal.

But... we did make our entire year goal: we had net subscription income of $7,106.08 (which was 101.5% of our $7,000.00 goal).

NB: All amounts are estimates; we will post a followup with final figures after they become available. That will probably not be until we file our taxes for the year 2020.

THANK-YOU EVERYBODY! We'll leave the year-end numbers up on the "Site News" Slashbox for a few days so that as many as reasonably possible have a chance to see.

--martyb
[/UPDATE]

As I write this, for the year, we have raised $6,890.77 (98.4%) of our $7,000 goal. That is, in large part, due to the excellent response to the fundraiser for the first half. For the second half of the year, we stand at $2,136.25 (61.0%) of our $3,500.00 goal. Thanks everyone who has already subscribed; we wouldn't be where we are without you!

If you haven't already done so, and are in a position to do so, please subscribe if you can. Every bit helps!

Journals:
Theeeyr're baaack! Well it seems that way, at least! I noticed the "Most Recent Journal Entries" Slashbox has returned and that the load on our servers has returned to normal levels. I have received no official word, but from what I can see, we are back in business. Yay!

Teamwork++:
Lastly, I am going to take this opportunity to thank the editorial team for keeping the stories coming 24/7/366 (Yeah, 2020 was a leap year). Between politics and the pandemic filling the headlines, it was difficult to find a balanced mix. In a highly polarized environment, it was sometimes difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff. Also, thanks to COVID-19 many events were cancelled and facilities closed or operating under reduced hours. That resulted in even less of the "normal" kinds of news we'd have available to us to choose from.

I am happy to report that requerdanos, who so graciously accepted an invitation to join the editorial team, has already been making a very positive impact. Not just in pushing out stories (though that has been huge), but also in bringing a positive attitude and a keen eye to bear. We are indeed fortunate to have him aboard!

A little history:
I got started as an editor in 2014. It all started when I noticed typos, formatting errors, or word omissions in stories posted to the site. I'd jump on IRC and try to reach out to an editor to get corrections made. After doing this several times, I started suggesting that if I were made an editor, I could make the corrections, myself! Seemed to fall on deaf ears. But I persisted and was eventually made an editor. Little did I suspect: I was in for a shock! There was so much more happening behind the scenes than I had ever imagined. (Can you say Dunning-Kruger?) It was only after I had undergone a few days' training that I was permitted to finally push out my first story.

I did not understand that what gets posted on the main page is the voice of the site. That we needed to watch out for troll submissions (some are plausible but fail under closer scrutiny). Other story submissions came with bold and italics omitted. Others had missing or broken links. There are also matters of defamation and fair use to watch for. That is entirely separate from the logistics of working as part of a team with members on multiple continents and in different time zones!

There is also the matter of following guidelines so that the site has a consistent layout (aka look-and-feel). Then, too, scheduling stories was functional, but unforgiving of errors.

I am grateful the extent of my ignorance was mostly made known only to other (very understanding and patient) staff members. (Yes, I've had my front page flubs, too.)

Join us:
So, with that most glowing of introductions to the work of an editor, I hereby offer an opportunity to anyone who is interested in joining the team. (I feel like I'm writing an ad inviting people to join a team trying to reach the North Pole: random hours, no pay, bring your own asbestos garments!)

Anyone who thinks the job of an editor is quick work or easy is hereby also invited to volunteer.

Here's wishing everyone in the SoylentNews community a safe, prosperous, and Happy New Year!


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday December 25, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

[2020-12-25 22:18:22 UTC -- Corrected typo (with thanks to maxwell demon) --martyb]
[2020-12-25 21:32:03 UTC -- Updated with staff info and reformatted the story. --martyb]

First, on behalf of the staff at SoylentNews, please accept our best wishes for a happy (and safe and healthy) holiday!

Next, here are a few quick items of note that bear calling to your attention.

Please join me in welcoming requerdanos to the editorial staff at SoylentNews! He has already jumped in with both feet and had stories appear on the main page. Welcome aboard requerdanos!

Of note, as well, takyon has not only posted 1364 stories to the site, and he has submitted just shy of 6,100 stories (as I write this it stands at 6,097 submissions... there's more(!) how about posting over 20,000 comments! Thank you SO much!

I always feel reluctant to mention anyone specifically as running this site is a team effort. I sense there are some staff who prefer to work in the background and shun the limelight. We appreciate their efforts nonetheless! Recall the early days when site crashes were a request frequent occurrence. We've come a long way from then and I count it a privilege to have worked with such knowledgeable folk who have been so generous with their time and energy!

Lastly a huge thank-you to those who responded so generously to our end-of-the-year fundraiser! As of this writing, we have had 21 subscriptions totaling $567.40 since our request went out a couple weeks ago.

In this second half of the year (July 1 through December 31) we have raised $1908.15 from 85 subscriptions towards our $3,500.00 goal. THANK-YOU!

We realize it's been a tough year for everyone; take care of your friends, family, and community first. But, if you do have the means, we'd really appreciate your subscribing and helping us to keep things going for you and our community! Please see this comment to our previous story for step-by-step instructions on how to subscribe.

Why subscribe? Why not? Besides, you'll get all the benefits listed on the "SoylentNews - Why Subscribe?".

NB: If you'd prefer, you can subscribe anonymously. There's an option to make a gift subscription, as well. For any questions or difficulty, please reach out on IRC, send an email to admin@soylentnews.org, or just post a comment to this story.

Thank you!


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday December 18, @06:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The year is winding to a close so I thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up on a few things:

  1. Milestones
  2. Community questions answered
  3. Background on site operations
  4. Story Cadence
  5. Site finances

For details, read on below the fold.

Milestones

First off, I'd like to acknowledge an amazing milestone: Fnord666 has now edited and pushed out over 6,000 stories Thanks, Fnord666!

Another milestone of note: our Folding@Home team just reached 2.3 Billion points. Here's a different view of the stats. Out of all the teams in the world, we are in 348th place! And our very own Runaway1956 is currently at 2,077th place in the world with over 630 million points! Go Team!

We had a couple story submissions by Anonymous Cowards that raised some concerns about SoylentNews. I see some misunderstandings here, and wanted to address them publicly.

Story Submissions Queue

The first one concerns the story submissions queue:

upstart hogs the subs queue. Perhaps there should be a way to filter out the subs queue by name so that I can either omit or include specific names and scan through stuff that's not by upstart. Especially since this seems to be 'generated bot-o-matically!', maybe I want to see articles by non-bots without being overly cluttered with bot generated submissions.

Interesting suggestion. Editors also see the — complete — list of story submissions: Nexus, Date/Time Stamp, Title, and Nickname. We, too, have no mechanism for filtering based on nickname. (There are, of course, some additional controls provided us for processing story submissions.)

From the Create Account page:

(Note: only the characters a-zA-Z0-9$_.+!*'(),-, plus space, are allowed in nicknames, and all others will be stripped out.)

It seems far from trivial to design a clear interface for enumerating nicknames to include or exclude. Said UI would need to be designed, implemented, and tested. It is an interesting idea and will be considered when we have freed up some time for development in the future.

It should also be noted that perhaps the massive number of submissions by upstart shouldn't reduce the number of listed submissions at any given time by others because upstart 'bumped' them off the queue list. If the queue list has a max queue count (and not a max number of days before being bumped off) then upstart probably shouldn't contribute to that max count and it should have its own separate max count allowing for the submissions of others to persist on the subs queue even if those submissions have been there before some of upstart's prior posts.

See above, no stories are omitted from the subs queue. If it's in the queue, we see them!

Here, I'm speaking only for myself (but I invite other editors to chime in if they do things otherwise). The first thing I do is scan the entire subs queue. I look specifically for non-bot submissions and also to get a feel for the current zeitgeist. Only then do I select a story to open for consideration. If someone made the effort to submit a story, I believe it is incumbent on me to respect that effort and give it a priority. Having reviewed the entire queue, I've also noticed if the same story has been submitted by someone else (human or bot). A bot sub is often the source for the "See also" links you see in a story.)

Oh! Bot subs still require a person to submit them. But, instead of using the Submit Story link from the "Navigation" Slashbox, they've provided a link in IRC to one of the bots that are resident there. In all cases, an actual person had to manually initiate the submission.

Soylentnews, Timestamps, and Timezones

Next up is a question about time on this site.

Soylentnews posts the timestamps of articles and comments but it doesn't post the time zone. So when I submit a comment or read an article it says 5:34 PM for example but that doesn't really mean much to me if the time zone isn't mentioned.

I suggest the time zone should be next to the comment or article. 5:34 PM PT or 5:34PM UTC or whatever. That way I (anyone) can conveniently stick that into google and have it translate what that means in my time zone without having to think/jump through hoops to figure it out.

This one is easier to address. If you have created an account, you can select what time zone you want used as the basis for the time presented throughout the UI. In no case does SoylentNews explicitly state a time zone; it is implied. So, if you are accessing the site without having logged in (i.e. an "Anonymous Coward", aka "AC") it defaults to UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). NB: Occasionally that is (incorrectly) referred to as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Read the link for details.

tl;dr: The time zone is always implied and never made explicit in the site UI. Either it is UTC (the default), or what you set it to in your account preferences.

What do you guys DO, anyway?

I invited TMB (The Mighty Buzzard) to write in with some info on what the site sysadmins do here. In his own words:

So, martyb wants me to let yall know that us admins actually occasionally do stuff around these parts. The thing is, if you do your job well as an admin, you end up not having to do a whole lot of day-to-day stuff. So I'll just tell you about what I've done this past week since it's not a blank page or "everything's working fine". Gentoo system updates and firewalling off the IP addresses of automated hack attempts on our email server.

Firewalling first. Been seeing a lot of identical SMTP attempts from some script-kiddie noobs. Audioguy was forward-thinking enough to write us a just-add-address blocking script so it's just a matter of grepping the logs, doing a little awk to snag the addresses, piping through uniq, and running `lockout 1.2.3.4` or `lockout 1.2.3.0/24` or what have you. Yeah, we could do the same without even having to pay attention via snort but I can't currently be arsed to set snort up and I kind of like paying attention.

Gentoo system updates are pretty routine if you don't get lazy and let six months of them build up. We use a chroot environment on our dev box as a build box for all the Gentoo boxes so we don't have to have the CPUs pegged for extended periods on production boxes or have to install every package on the real root of the dev box. Which means we set it as BINHOST, compile world+dog just once in the chroot environment, and let all the Gentoo servers pull the binary packages they need from it over rsync.

Well, that's all you generally have to do right up until you get one of those fun days when they decide to deprecate the profile you're using and force you to update profiles if you want stuff to keep building correctly. That's what I've been monkeying with the past couple days. On and off, mind you. It doesn't take days to do if you're have time and are willing to sit in front of a terminal emulator the whole time. This time around that means you get this message and have to back up each server and do an annoying extra rain dance:

!!! Your current profile is deprecated and not supported anymore.
!!! Use eselect profile to update your profile.
!!! Please upgrade to the following profile if possible:

default/linux/amd64/17.1

...

The amd64 17.1 profiles switch to a more standard 'no SYMLINK_LIB' multilib layout, and require an explicit migration. The migration is performed using the app-portage/unsymlink-lib tool.

Basically that means you get to cross your fingers, run their tool, recompile gcc and any 32bit libs you have on your system, switch profiles, reboot, and test everything you want running correctly to make sure it still does. So far we've lucked out and had no issues but I still have the least likely to go smoothly box to go. Luckily it's also the one slated to replace our IRC/mail/etc... box and not yet any form of critical since it's not set up to do those jobs singlehandedly yet.

Anyway, that's today's peek into the exciting and glamorous world of an admin. We now return you to your regularly scheduled arguments.

Thanks, buzz, for the info and for all the work you do behind the scenes to keep things running! Also, a shoutout to Deucalion, mechanicj, and audioguy for all you do to keep us going!

Story Cadence

It has been a pleasure working with our editing team. They toil many hours 24/7 to keep the stories coming. One of our staff has experienced reduced availability taking care of a loved one who is ill. And, well he should! With the reduced staffing, it is increasingly obvious that something has to give. I have invited a member of the community to join our ranks as an editor, but this will take some time. In the interim, we have moved to a reduced story cadence. Story spacing going forward is approximately 4 3/4 hours on weekends and 2 1/2 hours on weekdays (UTC). Please join me in thanking Fnord666, chromas, and takyon for their continued selfless service to the community! Teamwork++!

Finances

This is not a topic I like to discuss, but it needs to be done, so here goes.

At last check, we had raised $1,317.17 towards a goal of $3,500.00 for this half of the year (July 1 through December 31). So, that puts us at 36.6% of our goal.

We realize times are tough for all of us. If your finances are tight right now, please take care of yourself and your loved ones, first. But, if you find we provide a useful service, we'd very much appreciate any help you can provide. Go to our Subscription page and whatever amount you can offer will be most appreciated! We had a successful drive in the first half of the year which helped make up for a running deficit, but we're still down from the initial amounts put in to get the site off the ground and incorporated. Every bit helps. FYI: we do not see your account information. You choose PayPal or Stripe as the payment processor and then you are provided a form on their service. They handle all the processing and deposit the net amount in our PayPal or Stripe account for us to then deposit in our bank account.

Please accept my deepest thanks for anything you can contribute. NB: The amounts indicated are the minimum for the stated duration. For example, $20.00 for a one year subscription. You can increase that suggested amount to whatever value you'd like. Gift subscriptions are also welcome!

The largest portion of the funds go towards the cost of our servers. Next up are required fees, taxes, and the cost of a CPA to do our taxes.

It bears mentioning that nobody at SoylentNews has ever been paid anything for their work on the site. Everyone on staff are volunteers and freely give of their free time and energy to keep things running. It's also important to note that we have never run advertisements of any kind, nor has any user information ever been sold.

There are some downsides to this. Should the site go down for any reason, we do not have things staffed 24/7/365 constantly monitoring all services and poised to leap at a moment's notice should anything go toes up. We did have a couple periods of downtime this half. First, when our redundant servers got out of sync and brought things to a halt. Which is good, because when things started coming back up, the older copy of the database was trying to claim it should be the primary. Thanks, TMB, for sorting things out so we suffered no loss of data! A few days later, our site certificate expired and had the site unavailable for a few hours. It's a Catch-22 situation. How can you use expired certs to get access to a site so you can install new certs? I've done cert updates a couple times on SoylentNews, but this had me baffled. Thanks TMB for sorting things out!

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Wednesday November 25, @11:40PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

First off, for those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday, please accept our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday. For those who are struggling themselves (or who have friends or family who are), please accept our sincere and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

For those who are not in the US, please be aware that Thursday is a national holiday. Further, it is traditional for most people, where possible, to also take off Friday, too. This allows for an extended period of time: Thursday through Sunday, inclusive.

Our editorial staff has been happy to provide stories for the community's discussion. There is much that happens behind the scenes. I am taking this opportunity to publicly thank all of them for their hard work and their sacrifices of time and energy.

I am encouraging the editorial staff to take a break during this holiday period. Therefore, we will be on a reduced, weekend schedule from Thursday through Sunday (UTC), inclusive. We will continue to check in during this period... we thank you in advance for continuing to send in your story submissions.

Again, please accept our genuine best wishes for a safe and happy holiday!

posted by martyb on Monday November 02, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Not-the-Things-made-by-VW dept.

It has been a while since I've written a site summary, and I've been meaning to do so for a while now. So, I'm just going to get started and hope that will motivate my getting it done.

As always, if this kind of story is not of interest to you, another story will be along before long.

Otherwise, read on below the fold for what's been happening.

  • Daylight Saving Time
  • Things are Difficult for Everyone
  • Digging out of my System Crash
  • System Outages
  • Staffing
  • Story Cadence
  • Statistics
  • Fundraising
  • Site Updates/Enhancements

Daylight Saving Time:
If you live in the USA, there's a very good chance that Daylight Saving Time ended over the weekend for you and you were supposed to set your clocks back. Consider this a friendly Public Service Announcement just in case you forgot. Please be aware that, historically, people tend to struggle with the time shift for a week or so.

Things are Difficult for Everyone:
Times are tough for many people right now. COVID-19 and lockdowns. Businesses closed or under limited attendance and hours. Many schools are closed, under restricted attendance, or a hybrid combination of online and in-person attendance. Parents are trying to juggle work-from-home, often while trying to watch over their kids.

Please be mindful that people you meet — on-line or in-person — may be struggling, just like you. Please take a moment to reflect on where they are coming from and not lash out at people, just as you might wish for others to be patient with you. Maybe even call up a friend and ask how the are doing. We can all do something to help make it a little easier on those we meet.

Also, Election day is Tuesday, November 3 in the US. You may have heard about the Presidential election, but there are a host of other races, as well. To cap things off, election results in many cases may not be known for several days after election day. I found this provided a nice summary.

Digging out of my System Crash:
I blew up my windows install and decided to use that as an incentive to switch over to Linux — Ubuntu Mate, still in progress. For those who want more details:

So, I tried to restore a file from a duplicate of my C: drive a couple weeks ago. I had an SSD which had an older, bit-for-bit copy of C: my drive. I mounted it in in an external USB enclosure, but Windows did not recognize the drive. So, I hibernated and awakened the laptop. Nope, still did not recognize there was a drive attached. Grrr. How about a hard restart? Nope, no joy. In fact, less than joy. Now I had a message from Windows that my copy was potentially invalid and that I needed to reauthorize it! A couple other tries at rebooting resulted in a BSOD. (I later realized my boot order was CD/DVD, external USB, then internal disk. Ooops!

I'd been meaning to move over to Linux for a long time, but had held off due to the 1,000+ batch and AWK scripts and some other programs I'd written over the years. Rather than trying to resurrect my Windows install, I decided to bite the bullet and force myself to make the switch. I am conversant with userland tools like grep, sed, gawk, du, df, diff, and the like. But, installing and configuring packages like email (Thunderbird), HexChat, ssh (replacing PuTTY), browser (Firefox after using Pale Moon) has been slow going.

It's still a work-in-progress, but I've made a lot of headway. Huge thanks to "The Mighty Buzzard", "janrinok", "Fnord666", "chromas", "Azuma Hazuki", "Runaway1956", and others who have been exceedingly patient with me as they've tried to help me get things working again! This is what got me into programming all those years ago: the selfless willingness to help others "learn the ropes". I can't thank you all enough!

System Outages:
Did I mention things were difficult for everyone? Only a few days after my system went sideways and now currently booted from an external Live Edition of Ubuntu, SoylentNews had a system outage. I had happened to wake very early and noticed the site was down with a 500 error. Was able to get onto IRC (Internet Relay Chat) through my browser. Discovered others were already aware. I offered a couple suggestions, but had no luck. I sent a text to "The Might Buzzard" (aka "TMB" and "Buzz") and settled in to wait for him to wake. Fortunately, TMB was able to quickly identify and rectify the (database) problem. In short order we were back up and running again. Thanks Buzz!

So, the next morning I woke up early (again), checked the site, and found we were down (again). This time it was because our certificate had expired. (Since I was without email at this time, I missed the reminders send out by Let's Encrypt.) Thanks go to TMB (again!) for making quick work of getting certs re-issued and deployed!

Staffing:
As you may have surmised, we are a bit short staffed. I do what I can to help on the systems side of things, but my skills are very limited in that realm. I'm better at writing tests, Templates, and Perl (in decreasing order of knowledge/expertise). Just over two years ago, "janrinok" stepped down and I took over the role of Editor-in-Chief (EiC). I count it a privilege to serve the community and do my best to: try and keep the stories coming, act as a liason for site issues, and offer guidance where needed to the other editors.

Please join me in thanking "Fnord666", our Alternate Editor-in-chief (AEiC), for his able efforts in getting stories out. Nearly half of the stories you see on SoylentNews are thanks to his efforts. Thanks Fnord666! Thanks, too, to "chromas" who occasionally pushes out stories (and often seconds stories before they make it to the main page). Not to stay entirely away, "janrinok" can often be seen seconding stories and occasionally pushing out a story or two. He's also an able mentor as I try and fill his shoes as EiC. Behind the scenes I've seen "takyon", "CoolHand", "Mrpg", and others occasionally pop in and lend a hand. (We had a surprise visit from mrpg on IRC on Saturday!) Thanks to ALL of you!

Opportunity:
Ever wonder how this site runs? What happens behind the scenes? We can always use a helping hand. If you are interested, please reply to this story and/or send an email to admin (at) soylentnews (dot) org and/or pop onto IRC and let someone know. Every little bit helps! When I started off, I had never used IRC before, never edited a story, and was unfamiliar with our code base. Though nobody has ever been paid even one cent for their work here, I consider the things I've learned to be priceless. Especially the friendships I've made along the way. Highly recommended!

One thing that would be a HUGE help is having the community submit stories. Yes, we have bots that are a big help, but that means each story takes a bunch of work to get the gist of the material, extract a subset, look up any journal references, check links, and so on. OTOH, when I see a sub from "takyon" it's usually just a quick skim, schedule a time slot, and then on to the next one. See the difference? We only have so much spare time. It may not sound like much, but the time required for each story adds up! Just take a look at the number of stories pushed out so far. Yes, "fnord666" is fast approaching 5,800 stories! [and martyb is rapidly approaching 9500 stories, but he is too modest to say so --JR] Thanks and Congratulations!

Story Cadence:
We strive to keep a continuous stream of stories queued up for the community. We average just under a dozen stories a day on weekdays and about 10 or so on weekends (UTC). From the preceding section, you may have surmised we have a thin "bench" on the editorial staff and could use some help.

Quite simply, this rate of stories is not maintainable at current staffing and activity. "Fnord666" and I have been pushing out 4-6 stories a day for the past few months. Unless we get some additional help, we will need to cut back on the number of stories posted each day.

I took a look around and noticed that The Register (aka El Reg) stopped posting stories on the weekend last May. Ars Technica posts primarily during the day (USA hours). On weekends, Ars Technica cuts back to 3-4 stories per day, frequently reposts from other sources (primarily WIRED and Financial Times). Those publications pay their writers. We are unpaid volunteers.

I am not claiming we are on the same level as those publications, but I am finding it hard to justify our putting out 10 stories per day on weekends when they publish far fewer (or none at all). In short, I see no option but to cut back on our weekday cadence by a story or two per day, and cut back *significantly* on weekends. Unless we get some more help, that is. SoylentNews is People. We need your help — please volunteer!

Statistics:

  • Folding@Home just recently passed 2^31 points! Yes, well over 2 billion points! Way to go team SoylentNews!
  • We have reached about 1,072,000 comments.
  • Story submissions have now exceeded 45,130.
  • Posted stories are now past: 33,823

Fundraising:
I am pleased to report we have a good start on fundraising for the second half of this calendar year. So far, we have collected approximately $1094.14 towards our goal of $3,500.00 (~31.3%). Thanks to everyone who has Subscribed!

Site Updates/Enhancements:
Barring any critical needs, site updates are restricted to minor template changes until "TMB" can finish his house remodeling work. There is a chunk of code he wrote waiting on my getting to test it, but see earlier and my system snafus. (Will 2020 ever end?)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday October 16 2020, @03:15PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the if-it-were-still-down... dept.

We had an outage this morning -- "Internal Server Error" would appear when trying to load the main site.

I noticed this at about 0945 UTC from my mobile phone and immediately TXTed a message to "The Mighty Buzzard" (aka TMB) alerting him of the situation. Of course, it being 0545 EDT, he was sound asleep like any sane person would be.

I then booted up my computer and accessed "#Soylent" on IRC; discovered others were already aware. It appears to have been first noted at 05:42:57 UTC by "SoyCow8732". That was followed not long after by "c0lo" and "lld". Soon after, "chromas" was on the scene and tried bouncing the front ends, but no joy. He sleuthed around and concluded it was likely a mysql error, but our configuration is... interesting and it was non-obvious on how to restart things.

My hands were mostly tied as only a few days ago I managed to mess up Windows on my main system and would get a BSOD whenver I tried to boot it. I looked on from a system booted from a Ubuntu Live CD (well actually, a USB stick).

Eventually, TMB appeared, took stock of the situation, and was able to get things running again in pretty short order. Thanks Buzz!

Synopsis (AIUI) our installation of Mysql is setup so that there are redundant copies of the DB running on two different servers. The intent is to provide redundancy so that if one instance goes down, the other can take over and carry things along until the failing system is recovered. That's great in theory, but not so good in practice. Thankfully, it does [mostly] work. We are continuing to monitor the situation. Be assured this is working its way of the priority queue! I mean, who likes to wake up and debug server issues before their first cup of coffee?

So, that's my take on it. I'll leave it to TMB to add details/corrections should he deem it necessary.


Original Submission

posted by The Mighty Buzzard on Thursday September 03 2020, @08:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the silver-linings dept.

The Mighty Buzzard writes:

Congrats to the wannabe APK noobtard for advancing the site's codebase despite me having extremely limited time to play. I added three lines of code and now Spam modded comments (and comment trees) auto-collapse and you can still moderate a comment as Spam even if it's already at the minimum score. Honestly, the folks using any other downmod on obvious Spam annoy me more than the noobtard does but that annoyance at least is now history. Changes are to hot code only, I'll put them in the repo as part of my next pull request.

Suck it, noob. --TMB

posted by martyb on Monday August 31 2020, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The month of August is winding to a close. Here are a few updates on site activity. If you are interested, please read on after the fold. Otherwise, a new story will be along shortly.

Server Updates:
As I write this, The Mighty Buzzard is in the process of rebuilding three of our Gentoo servers: lithium (our development server; hosts https://dev.soylentnews.org/), aluminum (our eventual replacement for beryllium which is our sole CentOS server), and magnesium (which is one of our two load balancers; the other is sodium). All rebuilds are in progress and happening in the background. The only user-noticeable impact should be a brief outage when the dev server reboots. That is anticipated to occur later tonight (EDT). Thanks Buzz!

[TMB Note]: It's just installing boring old OS updates. Nothing you guys actually use should be impacted in any way.

Editor Activity:
First off, it's my pleasure to welcome Subsentient back to editing duties on SoylentNews after a bit of a hiatus. We look forward to his contributions to the site! Also, it gives me great pleasure to announce that chromas just posted his 1,200th story! And with that accomplishment, it also marks his moving up to 9th place among our Most Active Authors on the site's Hall of Fame! Congratulations! That represents a great commitment of time and energy in support of SoylentNews. (Not to mention his systemd bot on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) which offers several commands that make our jobs as editors so much easier. Thanks chromas!

Folding@Home (F@H):
Folding@Home is a distributed computing project that leverages spare computing resources on participant's computers. The majority of those resources are now being applied to better understand the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus which causes COVID-19. The current statistics reveal over 25 million cases world-wide with over 850,000 deaths. Note that many survivors have reported experiencing long term, debilitating consequences. Also, there is not just one virus. It has been mutating as it spreads, so continued monitoring and analysis is required to keep on top of things.

Back to F@H, it is my pleasure to report that Runaway1956 is now at the top of our team's standings with 396,857,185 Credits and 11,702 Work Units completed. That makes him the 2,461th-highest, single contributor in the world. Thank-you so much for your efforts in helping to fight this terrible disease!

Fundraising:
We are two months into the second half of the year. So far, we have netted $744.16 towards our goal of $3,500.00 for site expenses... that's 21.3% of what we need to pay for the servers, business fees and taxes, accountant, etc. For those who have subscribed, please accept my genuine and sincere thanks! It bears repeating that nobody at SoylentNews has ever received even one cent for their contributions to the site. All staff freely volunteer their spare time and energy to keep things running.

Final Note:
Many, many thanks to the community who supports SoylentNews by submitting and moderating comments. Thanks, especially, to those who have submitted stories. YOU are what makes SoylentNews happen. It is a privilege to serve you. Thank you for supporting my efforts as Editor-in-Chief; I hope to continue to earn your trust in the days and years that lie ahead!


Original Submission

posted by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday August 09 2020, @05:51AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the SNAFU dept.

The Mighty Buzzard writes:

Yeah, so, failure to babysit the db node that was scheduled for a reboot on the 5th resulted in a bit of database FUBAR that left us temporarily losing everything from then to now. Fortunately we had a backup less than six hours old, restored from it, and appear to be copacetic now. Except for the missing five hours and change.

I'd usually make some sort of dumb joke here but it was already four hours past my bedtime when I found out about the problem. My brain is no work good anymore. Fill in whatever dad joke or snark about getting a do-over for a change strikes your fancy.