Assorted outages

Regular visitors – all five of them since it’s apparently gone up – may have noticed that the server this website lives on has been having what I’ll charitably call a few “stability issues” of late… in fact it’s been less strong and stable than the current Tory government and that’s really saying something right now. Part of the problem has been metric bucketloads of automated brute force attacks on the admin account for at least one of my WordPress installs, hitting the login page so rapidly that Apache basically eats all of its available resources and crashes out. Since this hammering started the server had its RAM upgraded, configurations were tweaked, the login pages at least partially concealed, lots of passwords changed and Cloudflare set up to hopefully smooth out at least some of the incoming crap.

The attacks are still ongoing right now although less frequent than before, but the prolonged game of Whack A Mole with my anonymous nemesis – overselling things somewhat perhaps – means that the other outage today is, well me. I’ve not really had a decent night’s sleep for three days and forgot to eat at least once, so I’m taking this weekend off in part because I haven’t been playing any games but mostly because I need some rest. There are a couple of pluses at least; I’ve been putting off upgrading the server for ages because I loathe modifying hardware when it’s “working” so that’s done and, because the machine itself is sat in our front room, I’ve watched quite a bit of classic Doctor Who whilst on babysitting duties.

In other news, I seem to be cycling over to “demo mode” at the moment although there’s a good chance that’s just sleep deprivation or a lack of caffeine talking – more news on that one either way as it happens, as they say.

Do you smell something burning?

Actually it’s not quite “help, the server is on fire” serious… but the boot drive on my primary web server finally coughed and died at some point last night and, because the damned backups weren’t running for over a month without me being alerted, I’ve had to restore from an older backup of the database and that meant losing a couple of posts.

Anything that runs from flat files like the Cosine website will be fine (although it’s hiding at the time of writing) but the websites I host with forums will lose a month’s worth of posts… they’re not very high traffic though, so it shouldn’t put people out too much and some might not even notice! “Normal” services will resume after much running around the house between workstations and servers whilst muttering darkly to anyone who’ll listen. Or as he’s more commonly known, the cat.

As a slight update from the morning after (as it were) the hopes about getting the flat file based websites up and running easily didn’t quite pan out and there seems to be a time out issue accessing the domains from the same connection that the server is on… at least I’m hoping it’s limited in that way and not “customer facing”! I’m also having no luck getting Xampp to talk to an outgoing SMTP server which would make it impossible to get the forums back up and running; the clunking sound you might be able to hear is my head colliding repeatedly with a monitor.

The server gets a summer clean

Since I’m finding excuses to post, I’m going to blog about the belated spring clean here at Roundabout Central; the poor server – called Voidrunner after the Jeff Minter Commodore 16 blaster and the machine currently hosting this very website – was next in line for some attention and, when this first picture was taken, power was still on and web pages were being served but the house networks were disconnected.

At some point there was at least one spider calling the case home, presumably having gained entry through the front fan vents since there’s a gap between them and the fan itself. The machine hadn’t been fully powered down for around four years if memory serves, so the ridiculous build-up of dust wasn’t exactly shocking!

About an hour of prodding at the innards with a paintbrush and some multi-surface wipes (after powering the machine down, of course), things started looking a little better inside the case…

…and, although I’m not finished yet, a final picture of “server corner”. When everything is done there’s a steel monitor riser with a shelf (which was originally purchased for an Amiga) going in below the monitor so the keyboard can be tucked neatly away.