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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:
$460.23
13.2%

Covers transactions:
2021-01-01 06:28:29 ..
2021-01-22 11:58:33 UTC
(SPIDs: [1509..1521])
Last Update:
2021-01-23 15:23:12 UTC --martyb


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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, @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, @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, @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, @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.

posted by martyb on Thursday August 06, @12:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

I recently received a message from our Treasurer and updated financial statements. I've taken this opportunity to put this out to the community. While I was at it, it seemed like a good time to take a look at things and provide an update to the community on where we're at and how we're doing. If you are not interested in this kind of stuff, a new story will be along before too long. Otherwise, more will be revealed after the break.

First off, I always hesitate when writing one of these stories. There are so many people who make SoylentNews happen and I know I'll leave someone out. These guys do so so much I can't keep up with all of it! If I've omitted anyone, it's strictly my mistake and I mean no disparagement to anyone's contributions! So, I extend my thanks to everyone who makes this site happen each and every day!

Hiccup: Worst things first, we had a "hiccup" on SoylentNews.org at about 03:00 UTC this morning (2020-08-05). Some pages loaded without CSS (i.e. bare text with limited or no formatting). Other pages would not load at all. Some people received "500 Server Error" messages. TheMightyBuzzard examined the situation, bounced the front-end servers, and restarted Apache. From what I can tell, it also took a restart of two of our servers (helium and magnesium). This seems to have cleared the gremlins that were interfering with site operations. Thanks TMB!

Spam: We recently experienced a couple bouts of "Spam" postings. Staff is not the "thought police". Obviously, we would have to abide by a lawful order like a DMCA notice. Otherwise, we provide the tools so the community can police things themselves. If you have registered a nickname on the site, you can customize your view of the comments posted here. If you want to see all comments except those that have been moderated as Spam, Give a "+1" moderation adjustment to all comments except apply a "-6" moderation adjustment for "Spam". Then set your "Threshold" and "Breakthrough" to 0 (zero).

Yes, we are aware that top-level comments still get expanded by default. Changing this behavior is near the top of the list of planned future enhancements to the site.

Finances: I received a report from our treasurer, Matt_, that I would like to share with the community:

I have just updated the books and prepared the attached financial statements (Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement) for our Fiscal Year 2019 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020). As you can see from the P&L Statement, whereas we ended the previous fiscal year with a net loss of $1,057.97, we ended FY2019 with net income of $1,348.05 (clearly much better, and if we can keep this up going forward, we should be in good shape). Turning to the Balance Sheet, we ended FY2019 with a total of $5,008.20 cash on hand, which gives us a runway of approximately 10 months, given our burn rate of about $6,000 per year. This, of course, assumes no significant change (increase or decrease) in our expenses going forward.

I have uploaded these to the Finances page on our Wiki.

It bears mentioning that our initial seed capital of $10,000.00 was contributed by Matt_ and NComander by way of equal share purchases of stock in SoylentNews PBC. So, we are still down about $5,000 from our starting balance. Still, I am most pleased with the improved cash flow situation and thank all those who have Subscribed.

Story Submissions: There have been over 42,500 stories submitted to SoylentNews, of which over 32,840 have been accepted. I cannot thank you all enough for your contributions to the site! I well remember a time when there were two editors on IRC tag-teaming on finding story submissions, pushing stories out, and 2nding them for the community. That made for many late and exhausting nights. For those who may be new here, all staff here are volunteers; nobody has ever been paid anything for their work on the site. We have the same kinds of demands on our time as everybody else: work, family, relationships, etc. From what spare time we have, we try to keep the site up and running with stories that we think will be of interest to the community. We are fortunate to have such highly-skilled and selfless people on staff who not only believe in SoylentNews, but make sacrifices to help keep it a going concern. I hereby express my gratitude for all their efforts!

Note Bene: There is an artifact on the "Most Active Submitters" section of SoylentNews' Hall of Fame page — it omits story submissions made by Authors (aka Editors) as well as those made by Anonymous Cowards. I generated a complete list of the top 20 for our site. I hereby publicly thank takyon for his continuous contributions. I know when I see a submission from him that it is "production ready" — just a quick review of links and it's good-to-go. Not content to rest on those laurels, he has also pushed out 1354 stories which puts him in 6th place on the Most Active Authors list. Thanks so very much takyon!

Expand below for details:

mysql> SELECT          COUNT(*) AS c, users.nickname
    -> FROM            stories, users
    -> WHERE           users.uid=stories.submitter
    -> GROUP BY        users.uid
    -> ORDER BY        c DESC LIMIT 20
    -> ;
+------+-------------------------+
| c    | nickname                |
+------+-------------------------+
| 5699 | takyon                  |
| 5656 | Anonymous Coward        |
| 3425 | Phoenix666              |
| 2401 | upstart                 |
| 1439 | MrPlow                  |
| 1436 | Arthur T Knackerbracket |
| 1114 | AnonTechie              |
|  894 | martyb                  |
|  731 | Papas Fritas            |
|  586 | Fnord666                |
|  539 | canopic jug             |
|  400 | lhsi                    |
|  317 | RandomFactor            |
|  310 | tonyPick                |
|  301 | butthurt                |
|  246 | frojack                 |
|  240 | janrinok                |
|  217 | n1                      |
|  205 | c0lo                    |
|  148 | mendax                  |
+------+-------------------------+
20 rows in set (16.73 sec)

Editors: Also known as "Authors" (no, I don't know why). We are the more public face of the site. We have taken on the task of reviewing and selecting story submissions and then editing them to try to provide a consistent "feel" to the site. SoylentNews' founding was based, in part, on the powers-that-be at Slashdot failing to listen to the community and insisting on rolling out a "Beta" version of their site. We take our responsibility to provide a consistent look-and-feel seriously. Yes, we've made mistakes along the way, but we try to learn from them.

Our Alternate Editor-in-Chief Fnord666 has been pushing out about 5 stories a day, every day, for a long while now. I'd hate to imagine where we'd be without his continued and selfless contributions! Thanks Fnord666! I'd also like to recognize chromas' editorial contributions. It takes a while to build confidence as an editor and to face the potential backlash of mistakes being put in front of thousands of intelligent (and opinionated) nerds and geeks! An extra story a day makes a big difference and I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for his contributions. But, there's more! Behind the scenes, chromas is quick to conjure up and refine IRC tools that make our jobs as editors so much easier. His IRC bot makes it so much easier to submit stories, perform searches on Google and YouTube, and generate journal citations. I'd hate to imagine continuing on without them! Thanks chromas! We occasionally get visits from mrpg on IRC and some 2nding of stories which is much appreciated. Our editor-in-chief emeritus, janrinok, is on a sabbatical while providing medical support for a family member. He wishes he had more free time to contribute to the site and sends his best wishes to all. It bears repeating, here, the numerous contributions of takyon. He's a solid and constant contributor and I can't thank him enough for all his hard work!

Lastly, if I've counted correctly, this marks my 9,000th story on SoylentNews. It has been a distinct privilege and honor to serve the community as your Editor-in-Chief. I am ever reminded of the adage: Standing on the shoulders of giants. Those who originally got the site up and running. Who set the tone and established the procedures for running the site. Who did the necessary legal work to get us established as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC) so that we could accept subscriptions and thereby fund our continuous operations. And the list goes on and on. We have come a long way since we went live on February 14th, 2014!

I have learned so much from the staff here, from all the stories we've published, and the comments that the community has provided. I try to do my best each day to fulfill the trust you've placed in me; I hope my efforts have been acceptable.

In a word: teamwork++

Folding@Home: "Folding@home is a distributed computing project aimed to help scientists develop new therapeutics to a variety of diseases by the means of simulating protein dynamics. This includes the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins, and is reliant on the simulations run on the volunteers' personal computers."

SoylentNews has a F@H team which is currently ranked "317 of 254,500". When it was announced that F@H would pivot to help with research of the SAR-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19, many heavy hitters joined up. Names you'd recognize like like AWS, Microsoft (Azure), Oracle, SAP, and many other large compute services brought their spare compute capacity to bear. Summit, one of the largest supercomputers in the world, has even been set to the task.

In light of the increased competition, it's all the more amazing how our team has held up! Here's another view of the team's status. Our current points production leaders are Runaway1956 and NCC74656 who are running neck-and-neck with each producing over 2.2 million points a day! Thank you!


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday July 07 2020, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

I rolled out an improvement to the site's message processing template. =)

tl;dr:

(1) Based on a user preference, the site can send a message to inform you someone had replied to a comment you had posted. The message *now* contains links that take you directly to the *comment* instead of to the *story*. The message appears at https://soylentnews.org/my/inbox

(2) I made a mistake rolling out the change which will show up as extra text (__seclev__ 500 __version__ $Id$) below the text of the message. That was live for about an hour and is now fixed. I apologize for my error.

(3) Enjoy the added convenience!

[TMB note]:
(4) Also just added &noupdate=1 to the links to your comment and the reply so clicking on one reply won't mark every comment on the story as read anymore.
[/note]

Read on for more details, if you are curious.

Previously, when you got a message that a user had replied to a comment you posted, you'd get links in the message that took you to the *story*. Then, you'd have to scroll down to see the actual comment. *Now*, clicking on either link takes you directly to the *message*, itself. It might help to see an example:

Before:

After:

Though they *appear* the same, as *text*, the *links* under "Re:resolution choice" and "resolution choice" are different.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake in updating the *in-memory* copy of the template (default;comments;reply_msg). I accidentally included text that is needed in the template *file* (/rehash-master/plugins/Messages/templates/reply_msg;comments;default)

The Mighty Buzzard noticed the error and was instrumental in tracking it down. (Thanks Buzz!)

Any messages that were *generated* during this time (today between 1400-1500 UTC give-or-take) will show:

__seclev__ 500 __version__ $Id$

at the bottom of the message text.

Newly *generated* new messages (I.e. after 1500 UTC) should be back to normal; I apologize for any inconvenience my mistake caused.

(That said, I'd prefer you think it was part of my Sooper Sekret plan to get TMB to help test my changes! =)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday July 02 2020, @12:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the THANK-YOU! dept.

WOW!

On June 29th, I posted a story that shared our financial status and asked for the community's support. And did you ever! As noted in that story:

So far, we have had 106 subscriptions this year which have netted us an estimated $2,794.92 (after processing fees from Stripe/Paypal) towards our goal of $3,500.00.

In short, we needed $705.08 to cover our expenses for the first half of the year (2020H1).

I am ecstatic to report that we not only covered that shortfall, but raised an additional $1254.52.

Thank You!!!

See the Subscription FAQ for a list of subscriber benefits. (Note: this is bit old; please mention in the comments if you find anything that is incorrect.)

The extra will go towards covering shortfalls from prior periods, help build our "rainy day" fund, and help us to be able to repay the $10,000.00 that our founders put up to get SoylentNews started.

I'll leave the first-half-year stats up in the "Site News" box for a few days before resetting it for the second half of the year. (That goal will be the same, $3500.00, toward which we have already raised $144.45 or 4.1% as of 20200702_120140 UTC.)

Here is the breakdown of our subscriptions for the first half of this year:

QtySub AmtTotal
74.0028.00
125.0060.00
210.0020.00
612.0072.00
9920.001980.00
120.2020.20
425.00100.00
126.7426.74
430.00120.00
133.3333.33
136.6036.60
139.3939.39
640.00240.00
950.00450.00
160.0060.00
3100.00300.00
1103.50103.50
1113.00113.00
3120.00360.00
2200.00400.00
1400.00400.00
posted by martyb on Monday June 29 2020, @01:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we've-been-here-for-you;-will-you-be-here-for-us? dept.

[20200629_140251 UTC: Update 1: Encourage taking care of personal/local needs, first.]
[20200629_191024 UTC: Update 2: Added stretch goal of $1000.00 ]
[20200630_023201 UTC: Update 3: Increased stretch goal from $1000.00 to $2000.00]


[20200630_023201 UTC] What is possibly one of the worst things to hear from an editor? "I'm at a loss for words." Well, it's happened. The SoylentNews community has done it, again! We started today needing $800 to cover projected operating expenses of $3500 for the first half of the year. And you did it! So, I added a stretch goal of an additional $1000. Now you have gone and reached that goal, too! We'd run at a significant loss ($6000 so far), so that is very much appreciated! THANK-YOU!!!. Stretch goal has now been increased to $2000 [so we can continue to track your subscriptions in the Site News block]. Dare I hope? --martyb

[20200629_191024 UTC] The SoylentNews community is AMAZING! In these especially difficult circumstances, we've reached our original goal for ongoing expenses... and then some!

Thank You!!!!

We started today (Monday June 29) needing over $700.00 to cover projected operating expenses for the first half of the year.

We not only reached our original goal of $3500.00, but I added a stretch goal of $1000.00 and we are already 66% of the way to reaching *that*!

Why a stretch goal? Because we have been running at a deficit for a few years. We are are still about $6,000.00 short of having sufficient funds to pay back our benefactor's original $10,000.00 outlay. Any additional funds raised will go towards that purpose whilst giving us a larger safety cushion. --martyb

The original story (after performing Update #1) appears below:


SoylentNews could use your help.

tl;dr The first half of our fiscal year runs Wed. January 1 through Tue. June 30, inclusive. We are at 80% of the funds needed to cover our expenses for the period. If money is tight for you, take care of yourself first. But, if you can help, it would mean a lot to help us to continue to be here for you.

Please subscribe. The subscription amount provided (e.g. $20.00 for 1 year) is the minimum amount for that period; you can change that default to any larger value.

To all who started a new subscription or renewed an existing subscription: Thank You!

Times are tough. First, please take care of yourself and those close to you. But, if you do have funds to spare, we would very much appreciate your support!

Where We Stand:

So far, we have had 106 subscriptions this year which have netted us an estimated $2,794.92 (after processing fees from Stripe/Paypal) towards our goal of $3,500.00.

We run a very lean operation; $20/day keeps everything going. Staffing is all-volunteer; nobody has ever been paid anything for their work on SoylentNews. That includes the editors who get the stories out on the main page. The sysadmins who keep everything running: the servers and all the services like the MySQL databases, Apache HTTP Server, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), email... it's a long list. That we so rarely have issues is a testament to how fortunate we are to have professionals who donate their free time to keep things running. We had to incorporate to be able to accept subscriptions to pay expenses. And with that there are fees for maintaining the incorporation, calculating taxes, and paying them.

Subscriptions Breakdown:

Number of subscriptions for each subscription amount, and the totals at that level, so far in 2020:

QtySub AmtTotal
7$4.00$28.00
12$5.00$60.00
2$12.00$24.00
63$20.00$1260.00
2$25.00$50.00
3$30.00$90.00
1$36.60$36.60
1$39.39$39.39
3$40.00$120.00
4$50.00$200.00
1$60.00$60.00
2$100.00$200.00
1$113.00$113.00
2$120.00$240.00

The Pandemic Sucks:

The world has changed in the past six months.

A lot.

The pandemic hit and with it came lock-downs, work-from-home, and social distancing. Closures of movie theaters, restaurants, and bars. Video conferencing became a norm as in-person gatherings were prohibited. And for good reason: worldwide, over 10 million are known to have been infected and over a half million have died. Untold struggles and suffering as we attempt to understand and adapt to a new reality.

We recognized that many of the community were struggling. On April 19th, we extended all subscriptions that were due to expire in April or May to the end of May. If money was tight and it was a choice of renewing your subscription or paying your bills, we'd rather you spend your money locally and so thereby help keep the money in your local community.

Folding@Home (F@H):

SoylentNews is helping in the fight against SARS-CoV-2. You might not be aware, but SoylentNews has a Folding@Home team. We are currently ranked in the top 300 teama in the world (#297 out of 254150 teams)!

F@H is a distributed computing project designed to help understand how proteins fold and thereby search for cures to various diseases. It was originally focused on Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases as well as cancer. With the appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, F@H has pivoted to trying to unravel the behavior of that virus. To this end, many large infrastructure companies (like AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, and Google) have joined the effort.

How it works: Install the client on your computer, instruct it what amount of resources to use, and you are ready to go. The client will periodically download work units and, when completed, upload the results to the F@H servers. The faster the results are computed, the more points are earned. We are team #230319. If you have computes to spare, we'd love to have you join us!

Stories and Discussions:

Through all this, we here at SoylentNews have persevered. People from all over joined us in discussions on the pandemic and so many other topics. We aim for news with a technological focus but will occasionally offer something a little offbeat.

So far in 2020, SoylentNews has posted over 2,100 stories. Separately, the community has posted 700 journal entries. To these 2,800 items, the community has posted 76,000 comments — over 400 comments per day! In addition, there have been over 55,000 comment moderations — that's nearly 300 per day.

Server Upgrades:

We are continuing our efforts to move services from beryllium (our only Centos server) to aluminum (Gentoo). Deucalion (on IRC; aka Juggs on SoylentNews) has been trudging along trying to get things brought over for IRC (Internet Relate Chat). He reports he had a 100-hour long week at work last week, but still managed to make some progress on this over the weekend. There are significant differences between the two, so it has been quite the challenge. Getting userids added to the correct groups; setting up ACLs; chron syntax incompatibilities; the list goes on and on.