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Bluelight Relaunch 2019 [Xenforo]

TheLoveBandit

Co-Owner
Joined
Feb 22, 2000
Messages
29,920
Location
Getting to the point ...


BLUELIGHT RELAUNCH 2019






KEY POINTS (tl;dr)

  • Bluelight's forum software (vBulletin) is now a dated, failing relic with intrinsically poor mobile support and is no longer fit for purpose
  • Over the last 6-8 months, we've been preparing to switch over to the more modern and capable XenForo forum software
  • The switchover and relaunch date has now been set for TUESDAY APRIL 2ND 2019 (US East Coast timezone)
  • Bluelight will be offline for hopefully no longer than 24-48 hours while everything is sorted
  • We expect to be back online sometime on Wednesday 3rd April, notwithstanding unexpected issues, of course
  • We look forward to seeing you on the other side!






THE FULL STORY


It is a new era here at Bluelight and we're proud to have you be a part of it. A new era in which we CAN get things done, and we WILL get things done. We hope to kill the concept of "Bluelight Time" or at least make it a joking reference to the past.


For clarity on where we are, and where we're going, we are are creating this message to our members. It's your place to know wtf we're doing besides getting high and passing out nekkid in the yard. Who's yard? We're not sure.


Currently there is a thread in the Support and Technical Help (STH) forum about things breaking, so we can keep track and try to fix as we go. If we can fix anything, we will. But, by and large, the time and effort to band-aid this failing software (we're on vBulletin and even the developers want nothing to do with it) can be better spent preparing a new environment on better software. That better software is the mythical (drum roll please) "Xenforo" (loud applause....followed by a lot of questions). Most other sites these days have switched to it or will before dying. Btw, Xenforo (XF) was created by the developers from vBulletin (vB), so they know their shit and are out from under some corporate money grabbing bastards - this means they know what to do, how to do it, and are now free to go about making site software like this how it ought to be. We encourage you all to continue posting in the current vBulletin issue threads (recognizing not a lot can be done), and to keep eyes on this thread (recognizing we are shaping our new home and your input is valuable).





The path and the obstacles, and most importantly the progress:

Bluelight - We've actually been working on this over the last several months, in case you didn't notice. While setting up XF and getting a handle on the Cloudflare (CF) systems are being addressed by the admin, there is work we can and have been doing on the site proper in preparation (not just to stir staff and the members up). It started with the prune, which we later learned wasn't necessary (driven in the past by hardware and vBulletin limitations, but we're now past that). We've been working on forum merges and site layout to better deal with falling traffic and sparse moderators. We should have nearly the last of these done relatively soon with the only outstanding issues being what to call the SLR+LAVA combo, and hashing out the RECOVERY forums. Both of those CAN be done after the migration, but there is no reason not to address it now and it would be good to launch in a future state as opposed to 'still under construction'.

vBulletin - Obviously our current site software is failing, though we can't find a reason for this stuff to be breaking. We'll live with it, try to fix anything that is a MUST HAVE, but mostly it will get the neglect a dying software deserves (our version is close to a decade old). Please continue to identify issues for us in the STH thread and we'll do what we can. This is still important, as errors with the site may be with vB, or it may in fact be a symptom of an issue with Cloudflare (CF), or the server. While we are moving away from vB we will want to fix any potential issues that would carry across from CF or the server.

Cloudflare - This is a filtering application implemented OCT'17 as we faced heavy DDOS attacks. Unfortunately, control over that cloudflare acct was out of our hands. This meant we'd get beat to death with DDOS until the person in control could be contacted to raise the defenses, then we were stuck on high defense even if the attacks dropped off. The recent downtime was to move Bluelight out from that unreachable individual into a cloudflare account controlled by the admin. The good news is we now have control. The bad news is there is a lot to learn, tweak, and adjust so we are in the process of figuring out exactly what needs to be set how. The point being, we can now get cloudflare to behave for us, but it will take time to tame it. The nature of this is open ended because we don't know what things need adjusting, but we can and will tackle them as they come up. We do need feedback on issues with cloudflare so we can work on those in parallel.

Xenforo - We have help from folks who who do installations for a living, as well as others who have done similar server work and have experience with vb and XF. So far, they took a copy of our db and imported it into a sandbox environment so we can get familiar with it, tune it to our liking, then make the jump. For those unfamiliar with the 'sandbox' concept, it is a testing area with the full Xenforo software, populated with a copy of our users and forums/threads where we can try things out and if something breaks or doesn't work right it is ok because we're not public, and none of the users or posts are live. Everything is in a test environment where we are supposed to push and pull on things to see how they work, and ensure everything works as planned before going live. We've opened it up to Sr. Staff to ask their help in checking out the functionality, that we have permissions set, etc. However, a good number of Sr. Staff are unable to get to the sandbox because of technical issues we are troubleshooting. Once Sr. Staff have access and we get the site prepared, and we give the moderators some time with it, we'll shut down for a few days to make the migration and final tuning before opening up to the public again. We will let you know in advance when we plan to have downtime in addressing the technical issues, as well as when we plan to go offline for the jump to the new system.





The obvious question is timing, and are we subject to BL time in this as well? Originally, we had anticipated having the sandbox in NOV-DEC and having Sr. Staff check it out during DEC, then waiting for the NYE parties to subside before making the launch. Sandbox has been there over a month now, but the access to check and tweak has been the issue.

Next priorities, without knowing how long they will take are:

Done:
SuperAdmin (hidden bits of the vBulletin AdminControlPanel, or ACP) >> Now under admin control
Server access >> Now with TLB & Ken (contractor)
Cloudflare >> Now under admin control, need to learn how to tune it

To Do:
1. Update any server applications (apache, php, MySQL, etc) for best performance.
2. Technical issues cleared so Sr. Staff can access the Xenforo sandbox
3. Check and tweak to minimum functional levels
4. Get ALL of staff in there to check it out and get comfortable
5. Drop vB like a skank assed ho





Please be aware that TLB is the only one with previous ACP experience, and none of us are that skilled with the server, while Xenforo is new to everyone from a staff perspective. So, there are several learning curves being taken on all at once. But we're not alone in this finding our way in the dark. We've hired a professional to help with setting up the XF install (Ken, mentioned above), and we have an ongoing conversation with a few select members of the public who have shown both an interest in helping as well as great experience working on servers, vBulletin, and Xenforo.

We'll update this as we make progress, or if issues arise. We had no intention of keeping you in the dark, we were just hoping for a nice Xmas surprise, and missed.





 
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TheLoveBandit

Co-Owner
Joined
Feb 22, 2000
Messages
29,920
Location
Getting to the point ...
Holee Phunk!! It's been over a month and no updates!! Are we moving at BL time again? Is this the never-coming answer to our broken site?


No. More accurately, we forgot to update this :D

The good news is, we are close! We did discover a bug or two related to importing the site from vBulletin to Xenforo which took awhile to address. Honestly, that cost us several weeks. However, that has been solved, we are tweaking some settings and having Sr. Staff get comfortable with it. We anticipate having the rest of staff come check it out for a bit before we launch it on the unsuspecting...er, eagerly anticipating, public! Stay tuned...we may be down a bit here and there in coming days as we prep for the jump to a new BL.
 

G_Chem

Bluelighter
Joined
Apr 17, 2015
Messages
1,073
Looking forward to the new site! So I gotta ask, is this the same software that DrugsForum switched to not too long ago?

-GC
 

Chris42393

Bluelighter
Joined
Mar 3, 2016
Messages
1,376
Awesome, cant wait!
 
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