Phillyman

What Happened in 2018 & Whats Planned for 2019!

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2017 into 2018

Oh where to begin, lets rewind back to September 2017 to get a full appreciation of what has happened over the past 12 months. It all started about September 30th 2017 if I remember correctly. On that day which was a Saturday, I was enjoying a nice breakfast with my wife and daughter. I came home and opened my mailbox and had a letter from my bank. I open that letter and inside is a picture of my paycheck and a notice that it was declined due to insufficient funds. I immediately text the owner of the company I work for (there were only 6 employees), and he says he will look into it. Well without getting too deep into this story, He took forever to get me a replacement check, that replacement also bounced, and by October 17 I was behind about 3 paychecks or 6 weeks worth of work. So I issued an ultimatum to the owner, get current with my pay or I am not doing any further work.

Well he paid up, but told me that it was obvious that I did not have faith in his company any longer, and that I had 4 weeks to find a new job. I turned in my immediate resignation that night, I was not about to work any longer and deal with this bullshit. So that meant I had to run around from October 17th to October 31st to get any doctor/dentist appointments completed before my coverage expired at the end of October. November I took it easy, as this had stressed me out more than anything, I went as far as canceling out any fluff bills that I could find. This meant stuff like my cell phone, Netflix, Usenet and even the newspaper were canceled.

I went on job interviews here and there in the months of November and December, but those are really tough months to get hired in. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, no one wants to hire employees and then give them all those days off, plus many of the people that will train you are taking off full weeks in these months.

Well the crap show didn't stop with me losing my job, on December 26th 2017 the dedicated server that Retromags sits on had a RAID failure, and over the weeks of being unemployed, the backups had not been working correctly. Luckily LiquidWeb was able to restore what felt like everything, but then we started to notice missing images in the Gallery. We deleted these as we found them and started to get back on our feet. It was also on December 26th that I accepted a new job, same title, but with more pay. My first day was going to be January 2nd 2018. I am a Systems Engineer by day, which is a fancy level Helpdesk person. I basically support around 25 different companies IT needs in the Northern Virginia area. I have support a wide array of clients, pizza shops, restaurants, law offices, fertility clinics, non profits, accountants, etc.

Well when you are dealing with such different clients and 25+ of them, you really need to rely on documentation. The unfortunate part of this is that my predecessors in my position, really didn't document down how things were configured, or why they were set up a certain way. So from January until now I have been untangling the mess that the previous guys left me. Also I have been trying to untangle the mess at Retromags. When this website was restored, something felt off.....I could not place my finger on exactly what was wrong, but some things that had previously worked just fine, now started giving us issues. One of these issues was the ability to upload multi page spreads to the Gallery, which was pointed out by @kitsunebi77

LiquidWeb was charging me $150 per month to host Retromags and their support started playing the blame game. LiquidWeb would tell me the server was working just fine...and that the problem was with the Invision Power Board software. So I made a copy of Retromags and put it over on a different server at DreamHost....guess what? The problems didn't happen! So now I had to start looking for a new host to move us to. I didnt want to go to a $20 a month host like DreamHost as we are sharing resources with other websites. I also didnt want to go back to a dedicated host, because donations had stop coming in to offset this cost, and now we had moved our downloads off to a seedbox server.

With the 200GB worth of downloads on a seedbox, we could scale back to running Retromags off of a VPS, which is a step above a shared host, but a step below a dedicated server. Anyhow, while I was getting up to speed on my job that helps me afford keeping Retromags running, I was also trying to get all of our releases onto the seedbox, provide torrents of all our releases and migrate us to a new server.I found a new hosting provider named KnownHost and I have migrated Retromags over to this new VPS server. When we did this some of the Gallery images were not showing up again. Long story short, the RAID crash from 2017 was causing issues again, I had to export all the records from the Gallery and write a script to compare these  to files that exist. Out of 20,000 Gallery records, 20 files were missing the original images, which is needed for the rebuild tool to not freak out.

Well that was just fixed a few days ago, and it seems as though all is right in the world again. I have had Retromags running since 2005 and I thought I knew best about backups. I got my ass handed to me and the lesson has been learned. So now the following happens....

  • Everyday @ 7AM - The Retromags website syncs to the Retromags QNAP at my home
  • Everyday @ 7PM - The daily sync on the Retromags QNAP, does a versioning backup to an external drive
  • Everyday @ 7AM - Our Seedbox backs up to my Microsoft OneDrive, which then also syncs to my QNAP
  • Everynight @ Midnight - The overall Database for Retromags backs up and syncs down to the QNAP and my OneDrive
  • Every 6 hours - The Magazine Database backs up and syncs to my One Drive and QNAP

With the disaster plan above, we should never lose more than 24 hours worth of work on this site.

EDIT: Forgot that in January or February, my medical coverage was crap and I ended up in the hospital for 12 hours violently ill and that resulted in a $5500 bill that I am still paying off

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2018 into 2019

Since maybe Q3 or Q4 of 2017 I have been trying to bring Retromags to a spot where we can grow as a site. In the past we struggled with how to best distribute releases to everyone. Hosting the files on the same server as the forums, we have had to balance letting you guys download, but preventing you from bringing the forums to a complete crawl or costing me hundreds in bandwidth overage charges. There has also been the issue of how to allow everyone to collaborate, again it was a balancing act of letting you guys upload some files to Retromags, but not 1GB worth of unedited scans.

I believe I have overcome these two issues with what I call the Retromags Triforce!

Triforce of Wisdom - This is the Retromags.com website. Which contains the forums, Gallery, blogs, Download Manager, databases and all of you guys as members. This all sits on a VPS server out of New York, USA.

Triforce of Power - This is the Retromags Seedbox. This is where each and every release in the Download section is being served from. You can get to these files from our Download Manager, or by going directly to them at the URL leech.retromags.com/base and leech.retromags.com/updates . This Seedbox not only serves our files via HTTP,  but they are also seeded via Torrents 24/7/365!  This all sits on a box in the Netherlands.

Triforce of Courage - This is the Retromags QNAP. A network attached storage device that has 12TB worth of space and allows our Team Members to collaborate with each other. This box contains any misc files that need to be shared across the various member groups at Retromags. We also use this to automatically do daily syncs and backups of the other two servers so that we can avoid any catastrophes. This box sits in Virginia, USA.

 

With our releases now on a seedbox, our users have been empowered to choose how they want to download. Whether you need to grab a single file or everything at once, YOU now make that decision. I no longer have to restrict any member or guest that visits this website. If tomorrow Retromags makes the front page of Kotaku or Reddit, and 20,000 members swarm this site......they will be hitting the seedbox and hopefully utilizing the torrents rather than clicking on 1400+ links.

Over the next few weeks expect to see new 2018 Update Torrents being released, and I will be gathering all of our releases to drop onto Newsgroups as well. Each record in the Magazine & Strategy Guide Databases will have 3 links for download methods....

  • Torrent
  • Direct
  • Newsgroups

We will be moving away from the USER provided links, as they are usually to 4Shared, FileFactory or some other site that bombards you with popups and count down timers. F that noise, we are not having it :P

With the recent server move, Retromags will no longer be hit with these two charges....

  • $150 - Liquid Web Dedicated Server
  • $40 - SeedHost Seedbox

Rather we will now see these charges.....

  • $50 - KnownHost VPS Server
  • $20 - Feral Seedbox

Of course we will still have the IPB licensing fees and a few other misc fees for other parts of this website. But the overall cost to run Retromags yearly should drop dramatically. Donations are still very much appreciated, and any money that comes in after all the bills are paid for, can be used for a Retromags slush fund to acquire missing magazines.

As we go into 2019, expect to see me being more visible. This means in the forums and on the scanning and editing front. As I trimmed down the costs of Retromags I now also have a $10 subscription to Adobe for Photoshop :)

I really want to go back thru the Nintendo Power collection starting at issue 1 and redo everything that we did between 2005 and 2010. Most of those scans are horrible by today's standards and some of you have already sent me Nintendo Powers to get this done. I will also be putting together an Inventory of what I have, so I don't keep 5 copies of Nintendo Power Issue 49 while I am completely missing Nintendo Power Issue 139.

EDIT: Quick explanation on the Triforce. Wisdom is the website because we gather information here, Power is the seedbox because it has the power to distribute to everyone, Courage is the QNAP because if you have access to that box, you have had the courage to step forward and join our Team! :)

 

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Good lord, Philly. I think anyone else in your shoes might have just thrown in the towel and said, "Screw it, they're just magazines!" and vanished. Thanks for sticking it out this far and keeping the faith. :)

*huggles*
Areala

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Just now, Areala said:

Good lord, Philly. I think anyone else in your shoes might have just thrown in the towel and said, "Screw it, they're just magazines!" and vanished. Thanks for sticking it out this far and keeping the faith. :)

*huggles*
Areala

As Galadriel once said to Frodo....

 

Galadriel:   “This task was appointed to you. And if you do not find a way, no one will.”
—The Fellowship of the Ring

 

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This site has always carried the torch in preserving this aspect of gaming history. A number of sites have gone offline in the time period Retromags has been in operation and we've definitely seen the great time investment you and the staff have put into it with the hardware headaches, but we don't usually get to see the human toil going on in the background in the midst of all of that.

We definitely appreciate your dedication on this.

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On 9/23/2018 at 4:22 PM, Areala said:

Good lord, Philly. I think anyone else in your shoes might have just thrown in the towel and said, "Screw it, they're just magazines!" and vanished. Thanks for sticking it out this far and keeping the faith. :)

Definite big thanks Philly.  The magazines preserved here are an amazing contribution to the retro gaming scene. Without the information retromags preserves, classic gaming would be a bit more sterile and lifeless. The voiceless, solitary games of yesteryear fit nicely into a historical tapestry that flows like a stream to the present through the lens of gaming journalism so well preserved here. Yes. Thanks again Philly.

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