Thursday, November 30, 2023

Running UUpdates

Here is a list of everything that is currently in use to provide as a service.

  • Domain registration. Currently this is done through DirectNic, but any domain registrar will do.
  • CloudFlare is used to provide IPv6 support, caching for images and in general improve site performance and protection. This is at the free level.
  • Virtual Private Server through DatabaseMart. Like the others services this can be through any VPS provider. To get into a little more of the technical details the website is running on a LAMP stack with a PHP app built on the Yii 1 framework. The main driver for needing a VPS is that there is a cron task that runs to handle the fetching of the RSS feeds. I tried a few times to run this on shared hosting but wound up getting my account suspended due to activity. There are fewer active blogs now so maybe the load would be low enough, but a VPS would still be my recommendation. Currently this is $40/year if someone wants to take over the account as opposed to migrating the software, database, etc.

To keep the site running it would be useful for someone to have a technical understanding of web hosting, and internet technologies in general. Specifically the following skills would be useful.

  • Ability to troubleshoot issues associated with supporting a LAMP stack website.
  • Familiarity with XML and RSS formats and ability to diagnose problems with parsing site RSS feeds.
  • PHP programming knowledge would be helpful. Some issues could potentially be addressed by upgrading the packages used to do the RSS parsing. The issues that the site runs into are typically handled more gracefully by other RSS parsers.

The admin tasks have decreased as the popularity of blogs has been overtaken by social media, but there is still some work to be done on occasion.

  • Adding a new website to be tracked
  • Sometimes as blogs are abandoned spammers take over the URL with malicious feeds, r they just go dead. There is an error log that needs to be periodically reviewed and dead blogs need to be inactivated.
  • There is a Facebook page, not much to do there but it could be handed off with it as well.
I might be missing something, but I think this is the bulk of it. Currently I think email isn't working and I have not had time to fix it. So, not many messages coming through.

If anyone is interested in taking this on please comment on this post. 


John A said...

Most of this is doable, but the Yii framework part scares me. I'm an admin, not a developer. Nor am I a php guy, though I can generally read it.

UUpdater said...

If that is the part that scares you I would suggest that you look at something like this: and instead of taking the site over using the existing technology you instead create UUpdates 3.0 in WordPress (Drupal probably also has RSS aggregator features). There will be many more resources available for support for a site running with that technology. Then once you have that up and running we just transfer the domain name, etc. over to your new site. I can turn the old site back on and there is an export feature which will allow you to pull a list of sites that are currently being aggregated, then you can import that into the new aggregator site and you will be ready to roll. I don't think the site will have all the features, but I think it will have the most valuable ones.

This would mean that the site is much more maintainable than it is in the current format, and one of the things I contemplated doing a few times myself.

If this seems more manageable please let me know soon. The current hosting platform is coming up for renewal on 1/26/24 and if there is no plan in place like the above to replace it that is when it gets a lot harder to do anything with the site because I will lose the virtual server it is running on.

John A said...

RSS Aggregator doesn't seem to be freemium any more. I hate buying it just to see if I can use it, even with the money-back guarantee. Do you know this product space? (Dear god, work jargon.) Is there another similar product to try. I Googled but didn't get any likely-looking results.

UUpdater said...

Well, I think one of the district websites used this aggregator for a while (or an older version of it): which I think is free and open source.

John A said...

I did find an aggregator plugin and this is the temporary result of putting up one blog's RSS with defaults.

UUpdater said...

Looks promising!

LdeG said...

I'm sorry; I had a bunch of other things going on and didn't keep up with this. I'm still interested in helping with this and sorry I missed the takedown deadline. It looks like the test site is up. I'm willing to pay for the domain name and VPS, and have some expertise in server admin and web servers, although it is rusty.

I subscribed to the test site in Feedly, which is how I've always kept up, and it looks good.

UUpdater said...

So the virtual machine is out of the picture at this point. For the domain at this point I would prefer to transfer ownership.