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Cumulative Update re Site Status

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Happy Saturday, everyone (except for @Alien Son in Australia where it is already Sunday)!

One month after D-Day (Dark Day) it seems appropriate to review where we stand, what has been accomplished, and what things still need attention.

When Mike passed away in September, 2023, we knew we would have problems because he took the critical login credentials for AwesomeDude and Codey's World to the grave with him.  The site was still operational because the annual hosting fee had been paid, but we could see that the domain name would expire in December unless renewed, and we had no information about the hosting service finances.  None of these places would talk to us without proper credentials, which we did not have.

We spent the final months of 2023 working with Mike's adopted son to try to discover the missing credentials, using a variety of approaches.  None of them worked.  In December, 2023, however, the awesomedude.com domain registration renewed . . . we assume because of an auto-renew setting that drew money from the PayPal account that Mike had set up.  We crossed our fingers and hoped that the hosting account would also auto-renew, but it did not . . . hence the site blackout at the beginning of January.

Thankfully, we had done what we could to prepare for this eventuality.  @Alien Son had downloaded a complete backup of the site (which included both AwesomeDude and Codey's World content) to his local computer in November, just in case.  Another AD forum member registered the name "awesomedude.org" just in case.  And because this forum stayed on the air, @TalonRider was able to configure a private forum where a core group could communicate to share ideas and work out what needed to be done, and by whom, to get something back on the air.

It was a joint effort.  @Alien Son opened up a new hosting account, and sent me the login credentials.  The member who had registered "awesomedude.org" sent both of us the login credentials for that registrar.  I used these credentials to marry the new domain name to the new hosting service, and watched it populate around the world using a DNS propagation monitoring tool.  (It's actually very cool to watch this happening.)

@Alien Son then began the arduous process of uploading the full site backup he had on his hard disk to the new web server.  This took many hours, but thankfully the old site reappeared in substantially intact form (as we expected it would).  

Of course, nothing is that easy.  The existing story files in the AwesomeDude area had thousands of hard-coded internal links based on awesomedude.com, such as the "next chapter" buttons at the bottom of story pages.  Clicking on these would generate a "404 Not Found" error.  So we needed to fix all of those.  Over the next two or three days, @Alien Son and I each took one-half of the alphabet of AD authors, downloaded their files, and used a powerful search-and-replace tool to substitute awesomedude.org everywhere awesomedude.com appeared.  We also took care of some other issues while we had the files available to tinker with.  We then returned the updated files to the server.  This involved tens of thousands of file roundtrips.

That pretty much brings us up to date as far as the story areas on AD are concerned.  There are still some isolated issues lurking on some pages.  As a general rule, the newer the story, the more likely it is problem free.  But some of the pages date back almost twenty years, and there are still some lurking anomalies.  Anyone who finds a broken link or other anomalous behavior is encouraged to let us know by emailing dude@awesomedude.org.  

That brings us to Codey's World.  As many are aware, that area has been neglected in recent months because the longtime curator of that area stopped dealing with it.  The URL "codeysworld.com" no longer works.  The domain name itself was registered by Mike in 2006, and will expire in August 2024.  We have no access to the domain registration account for that name either. 

Until the blackout, the codeysworld.com URL pointed to a directory on the old AwesomeDude server, and that directory is still intact on our new server.  You can now access Codey's World at https;//www.awesomedude.org/codeysworld/.  There are a lot of broken links in that area, however, and it has not been updated for many months.  The workaround for broken links is to substitute awesomedude.org/codeysworld/ for codeysworld.com/ in the broken link.  In the coming months, however, we need to decide what should become of the Codey's World content, and who will take charge of it.  Suggestions are welcome.

Meanwhile, as folks will have seen, @Alien Son has set up a new PayPal donation link that appears on the main AD home page and in the footer on this forum.  We are grateful for the donations that have come in.  

The remaining major area of concern is this message forum.  Again, we do not have Mike's credentials as owner of the forum license.  However, we do have a side-door portal in that Mike made @TalonRider a deputy administrator (or whatever it's called).  @TalonRider gets a notification whenever a bill goes out to Mike for this forum.  It's about $30 per month.  The most recent month was paid through Mike's existing payment arrangement -- again, presumably, something tied to the old PayPal donation account -- but we have no idea whether or for how much longer that will continue.  @TalonRider thinks that his own credit card is on standby to pay the AD forum cost, but we have not had to test that yet.  

The big challenge comes because Invision, the company providing the forum software, recently revised its product offerings and raised its prices considerably.  We are still grandfathered under the old pricing scheme that Mike had, and hopefully that will continue.  We are also on version 4 of the forum product, which is perfectly satisfactory, but Invision now has version 5 with many more bells and whistles, none of which we need.  If we had to switch to a new version 5 license, our monthly cost would nearly double (at a minimum).  We are therefore trying our best not to rock the boat with this arrangement.  

We have had one happy breakthrough involving the forum -- it appears we have finally figured out how to stem the flood of bogus forum registrations coming in from spambots.  We still need to have new registrants email us to let us know that they have submitted a registration -- for some reason, the initial confirmation email is not going out.  If you know of anyone who has tried to register without success, please have them email dude@awesomedude.org with information about who they are so we can find them among the thousands of spambot pending registrations.

The major takeaway from all of this is that now there are at least two people having relevant login credentials for all the services we are using.  Moreover, not only does @Alien Son continue to pull site backups to his computer, I have also set up my own Google Drive account to receive weekly site backups from the web host.  In addition, the web host pulls its own periodic backups.  

Sorry for the TL;DR.  Hopefully this information will be useful to everyone.




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You've done a miraculous and mostly unsung job with this, R, and abundant thanks are about all you're getting, but you should feel enormous pride.  This is an amazing site, and you've been a major part in keeping it alive.  Without your assistance, we probably would not be where we are now.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude, and I sure that of thousands of others.

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