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Topics - xasop

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Announcements / Permanent forum staff assignments have been made
« on: December 08, 2013, 03:09:09 PM »
It's official, we've selected our new forum staff! These selections were made by mutual agreement between myself and pizaaplanet, along with the consent of those we made offers to.

Your new forum administrators are:


Your new planar moderators are:


These assignments should be sufficient for the time being, as we don't yet have enough traffic to warrant more than five moderators, but we'll see how things go in the future. Meanwhile, the above people are who to contact if you need the hand of a moderator to make a thread sticky or something along those lines.

Arts & Entertainment / Frank Zappa 1981 tour compilation album
« on: December 08, 2013, 02:58:56 PM »
Since I ended up not having time to review shows the past month, I'm just putting together a compilation album of my favourite bits of the tour instead. I'll use this thread as a convenient way to track ideas and such.

Here's what I've put together in Ardour so far:

1. Zoot Allures
Opening crowd noise and head from 1981 12 06 - Boulder, Colorado.
Guitar solo and band intros from 1981 11 27 late - Chicago, Illinois.

2. Montana
Intro from 1981 11 27 late - Chicago, Illinois
First vocal part from 1981 11 28 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Instrumental section and final verse from 1981 11 25 - Detroit, Michigan

3. Pound For a Brown
Mostly from 1981 11 25 - Detroit, Michigan
Ending from 1981 11 27 early - Chicago, Illinois

4. The Dangerous Kitchen
1981 11 27 early - Chicago, Illinois

Next I'm planning to follow up with:

Cosmik Debris
First verse from 1981 11 27 early - Chicago, Illinois
Remainder from 1981 12 05 - Kansas City, Missouri

Suicide Chump
Probably 1981 12 11 early - Santa Monica, California

Jumbo Go Away
Probably 1981 12 11 early - Santa Monica, California

It doesn't really matter since all recordings of this one are alike, but probably an early tour version before it became reggae

Drowning Witch
Opening from 1981 11 25 - Detroit, Michigan
Most of vocal section from 1981 12 12 early - San Diego, California
First guitar solo from 1981 11 27 late - Chicago, Illinois
Second guitar solo from 1981 12 06 - Boulder, Colorado

What's New In Baltimore
Probably 1981 12 12 early - San Diego, California

Probably 1981 12 11 early - Santa Monica, California

Sinister Footwear II
First section probably from 1981 11 17 - New York, New York
Guitar solo from 1981 11 21 - Urbana, Illinois
Last section from 1981 12 04 - St Louis, Missouri

Stevie's Spanking
Probably from 1981 12 04 - St Louis, Missouri

The Man From Utopia
1981 12 11 early - Santa Monica, California

I also want to include a second disc, because there's so much awesomeness from this tour, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Announcements / Website and library sources now on GitHub
« on: December 07, 2013, 05:23:25 PM »
I've published the sources to the www and library subdomains under a new GitHub account:

This will make it easier for others to contribute and to keep an eye on what is being done.

The forum and wiki will be added at some point, but their code isn't yet being tracked in git.

Announcements / We have our first cloud-hosted subdomain!
« on: December 07, 2013, 09:11:44 AM »
For those who have been keeping up in S&C, I've been researching different CDN providers to reduce the dependency of the various services on my VPS. I've just moved the least critical of these services into this new cloud thing you kids keep talking about these days.

The Flat Earth Library is now served by CloudFlare, a global CDN which caches web content to provide high-speed page loads around the world. The backing store for this is an Amazon S3 bucket here in Sydney, Australia, which provides high availability for these files at low cost.

The directory indices look very similar to the output from nginx's autoindex directive. That's because I like nginx's indexing format, and I wrote about 30 lines of horrible shell script in a Makefile to emulate it.

I'd appreciate it if any volunteer guinea pigs could try using the new library, and let me know if it performs reasonably well for you, or if you find any weird problems.

Announcements / Who is doing what
« on: December 05, 2013, 01:58:25 PM »
I thought I'd compile a list of people who are taking charge of specific parts of the new FES setup, as it's easy to lose track of these things. In fact, I already don't know if I've missed some, but I'll be trying to keep this list up to date going forward.

Since there is some confusion, please note: This is not a list of people who are helping. A large number of people are helping in many different ways, and it's appreciated on all counts. This is a list of people who have taken charge of various different things, so that if you need to talk to someone about a specific part of the site, you know who to contact.

Logo/theme design


Google+ domain registration

Forum co-admin
Web hosting

Forum co-admin

Secret User

Announcements / Forum should now be accessible from all IPv6 clients
« on: December 05, 2013, 11:56:13 AM »
I noticed at the office today that some IPv6 clients were unable to access the site, getting the helpful message "Database Error". The problem is that IPv6 addresses in human-readable form can be up to 39 characters long, but SMF logs all requests in a table with the IP address encoded into a column limited to 32 characters in length. If you are on IPv6 and your address happens to be longer than that, you can't use the forum. Like, at all.

I've redefined that column to have a length limit of 100 characters, which should be enough for anyone, and confirmed that it Works For Me now. Let me know if you notice any more issues on IPv6 clients (although, if you do, you likely won't be able to post in this thread...).

IPv6 still won't work perfectly. Your IP address will be logged as, for instance, because SMF can't handle the fact that this isn't 1995. But you should at least be able to browse and post with IPv6 now.

Announcements / Admin account approval no longer required
« on: December 04, 2013, 01:25:26 PM »
Good news -- I've (after much pain and suffering) got us set up with an SMF plugin that will check the IP address, username and e-mail address of new members against the Stop Forum Spam database of spammers. If it finds a match, then admin approval is required; for everyone else, they can get in with only e-mail confirmation from them. I've also turned down the difficulty of the captcha on signup, as it was hard to read sometimes.

I'll keep Lord Dave as admin for the time being, as I don't know how effective this is going to be. We may have to roll back to admin approval for all accounts if this plugin doesn't catch everything we need it to, but I have high hopes.

Oh, and because SMF is horribly broken, this verification won't work for IPv6 clients. If you're on IPv6, your account will still need admin approval regardless.

Announcements / Temporary admin appointment for Lord Dave
« on: December 04, 2013, 12:06:52 AM »
Just a heads up, Lord Dave has been temporarily admin'd to help us approve new users until we get proper spam filtering sorted out. This means we have one admin in each of America, Europe and Australia, which should cover most timezones and minimise wait times for approval.

Thanks for offering to help out, Dave.

Announcements / Server timezone changed
« on: December 03, 2013, 05:26:16 PM »
I have changed the server timezone to UTC, which should get rid of those pesky jumps when daylight savings starts or ends in a specific timezone. This will mean that if you had already set your time offset, you will need to set it again. The trade-off is that, since UTC doesn't jump around, you won't need to set it again after that (except when DST changes for you -- hopefully I can find a way to make that work properly for everyone).

Suggestions & Concerns / Get a StartSSL wildcard SSL certificate
« on: December 03, 2013, 03:38:07 PM »
Yep, another reminder thread. It'd be nice to have the option of HTTPS on FES.

Announcements / Comments wanted: Switching domain to
« on: December 03, 2013, 02:40:24 PM »
Junker has kindly given me control of the domain name, and I'm thinking of switching to it as our primary name. The main advantage is that it's shorter, although uncommon domain names sometimes scare people for inexplicable reasons too.

Specifically, we would have: -- This forum. -- Flat Earth Wiki. -- Flat Earth Library. -- Homepage (CMS/blog, still being set up). -- Redirect to the forum, but probably eventually to the CMS/blog.

Any comments/suggestions? This is as much your site as it is mine, so I don't want to make a unilateral decision here.

Suggestions & Concerns / Set up server monitoring
« on: December 03, 2013, 02:24:47 PM »
Again, just a reminder for myself. Ideally I'd set up my own monitoring system, but for a website this small, New Relic will do nicely.

Announcements / Intention to set up CMS homepage
« on: December 03, 2013, 02:00:50 PM »
I already posted this in The Lounge, but it can't hurt to put it in Announcements too:

In the long term, I want to work things out with Daniel in some way that does not compromise the running of this forum. This may mean that he continues to run the CMS site, while the forum and wiki live here.

In the short term, Daniel's constant absence makes negotiating with him impossible, so we're going to try and drive more traffic to this site. I don't take this decision lightly, as I would rather not make an enemy of the powers that be on .org, but I'm going to begin working on a homepage similar to .org's CMS so we can hopefully improve our Google ranking. Without RE noobs, there will be no debates, and this website will fail.

It's going to be tough walking the line between alienating us from the .org administration and doing too little to boost popularity, and I will undoubtedly be pissing someone off, somewhere. I would appreciate any and all opinions people have to offer in the next few days.

Finally, I'd like to thank you all for posting here. I've been frustrated by the situation on .org for a very long time, mostly because I know I can do things better, so I appreciate the chance to run this site properly. I hope I don't let you down.

I've done some initial setup of a CMS called BlazeBlogger to begin with:

It's just got a test post up at the moment, but with some custom theming it could be a decent homepage. It's also very efficient at generating and serving pages; once it's up and running, I want to serve the entire CMS through CloudFront for insanely fast loading times, since the entire blog is static content once it's generated.

Anyway, that's just me being a computer nerd. For the rest of you, suffice it to say we'll have a homepage that isn't the forum soon.

Suggestions & Concerns / Use CloudFlare for serving static content
« on: December 03, 2013, 01:49:08 PM »
Another reminder thread for myself, this time to set up the Amazon CloudFront CDN to serve static files, like CSS and images. This should dramatically improve page load times for people not living near California, especially if we configure SMF to force all avatars to not be externally hosted.

Suggestions & Concerns / Bug tracker
« on: December 02, 2013, 12:49:16 PM »
This thread is to remind myself to set up a proper bug tracker in lieu of S&C. A web forum is terrible at tracking issues with the forum.

There will still be a support forum for non-technical users who do not know how to file a bug report.

Announcements / What this forum stands for
« on: December 01, 2013, 07:26:50 PM »
Until we get some more specific forum rules (hopefully later this week) to codify this, there's one particular point I'd like to emphasise.

On the old FES forum, there was frequently a drive to put the Society's public image first, or to encourage the registration of new members, both sometimes at the expense of the existing user base. I don't think that's how a forum community should work. This forum is going to be, first and foremost, about making every member who wants to be here feel welcome -- provided they abide by the rules and respect the right of others to feel comfortable here.

I won't turn away unpopular members from .org simply because they have annoyed people. They are a part of the community, and until such time as they begin disrespecting the rights of others, they are just as welcome as anyone else. The moment we begin discriminating based on how much we like someone is the moment we begin to fracture our community, and I don't want that to happen here the way it has happened on .org.

So please, try to be patient and tolerant of others, and remember that by treating others with respect, you ensure that your own place in this community will be protected by the friendly staff here at

Thanks for your time.

Announcements / Help wanted to make this place better
« on: December 01, 2013, 12:28:31 PM »
In light of the recent botched migration of .org to a new server, and the fact that several people have expressed interest in moving somewhere else, I'd like to make this place better for all FESians. If you're willing and able to help with general improvements, please post in this thread.

I have some ideas myself for how to make things better, but they're mostly behind-the-scenes stuff that makes it easier for me to maintain the site, and they're not a very high priority.

Announcements / The .org site is down
« on: August 30, 2013, 04:09:44 PM »
I'm not sure what took the .org site down, but feel free to talk here for as long as it's inaccessible. This is the forum I set up to let people upload themes during the theme contest; I've just repurposed it as a FES clone, so there may be rough edges (obvious ones include missing subforums and lack of members). This will be expanded upon if necessary to sustain the community.

Let me know if anything seems out of place to you.

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