SoylentNews is people

Title    Status Update on SoylentNews
Date    Wednesday February 01, @03:47PM
Author    NCommander
from the here's-how-its-going dept.

So it's been awhile since I last wrote, and I'm a bit overdue for a status update. So, let me give you all the short version on what's been going on.

First, I've been doing a lot of backend work to drastically reduce the size of the SoylentNews bill month to month. We had a lot of infrastructure that was either unnecessary, or have gotten so many free tier upgrades that they were being vastly underutilized. Along the way, I've given a lot of fine tuning to bits, although I won't say its been problem free, since we went a few weeks without working sidebars. I'm truly sorry for the delays in getting up and running. My personal life chose to become very exciting in December, and I'm still dealing with the fallout of that entire mess. As such, what I had planned went a bit pear-shaped, and I went unexpectedly radio silent. ...

More past the break ...

The biggest problem is that most of the backend is undocumented. I wrote some documents in the early days of the site, but by and large, the site was mostly maintained by individuals who are no longer active on staff. The internal TechOps wiki was woefully out of date, and even I find myself struggling to know how the entire site is put together. Considering it's been online for over 9 years, and was a bit of a rush job out the gate, well, you know, it happens. I think at some point at the decade mark, I will want to chronicle more about SN's history, but let's first make sure we've got a site when we get there.

By and large, I'm not involved in the day to day operations. janrirok has been, and is, at this point the de facto project leader. My role with SoylentNews these days is kinda vague and undefined, since I stepped down privately in 2020, and then stepped back last November. I also find myself very uncertain if I want to even be involved at all, but, ultimately, I was here at the start, and while SoylentNews was always a collaborative project, I left a mark on both what this site is and will be that has persisted over the better part of a decade.

As such, I feel personally obligated to get SoylentNews to the best shape I can possibly get it, and give it the best chance of success I can give it. However, we're in the uncomfortable situation that we have a dated Perl codebase running on undocumented infrastructure that has been creaking along with no major reworks in almost all that time. You can imagine I've been having a fun time of this. Most of the relevant information mostly exists in my head, since I was the one who got Slashcode running all those years ago.

Right now, my biggest victory is I managed to get us off MySQL Cluster, and onto a more normal version of MySQL which drastically reduces memory and disk load in favor of slower load performance.

Moving forward, the solution is to have a reproducible deployment system, likely based around Docker, or possibly even Kubernetes, with all aspects of rehash (the site software) documented. We use GitHub to handle site development, and I think it would be in our best interests to integrate a full CI pipeline for both development and production environments. While implementing this, I also intend to entirely redo every aspect of the backend, complete with proper documentation, so something beside me can actually maintain it. After that, it will actually be practical for SoylentNews to survive past a single person, and we can have a more serious discussion on what the road forward looks like.

I do realize that the last few months have had a lot of ups and down, mixed with excitement and disappointment. I can't really say for sure where we're going, but you know? I want us to reach that decade mark together, and then we'll figure out where we're going beyond that.

Until next time,

~ N


  1. "GitHub" -
  2. "integrate a full CI pipeline" -

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printed from SoylentNews, Status Update on SoylentNews on 2023-06-05 21:16:15