What the heck happened?

You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop…wait a second…where the hell are we?

Our apologies for the confusion here at Capitol Hill Blue. We started having database problems this week and the database that contains our stories finally crashed Thursday morning, forcing me to take the site off line while we tried to figure out what the hell happened.

Finally traced the problem to the content management system (CMS) that served our site and an attack by spammers through our reader registration and reader blog system. I had to make the decision to scrap the CMS that served up the content and migrate our content to a different system.

That’s not easy for a small operation like ours. The primary CMS contains more than 23,000 news articles and columns.

I was able to move the content from Drupal, the CMS that we used, to WordPress and get CHB back on line by early Thursday evening.

Step one accomplished…but a lot of work remains. It will take time to fully restore our archives and fix links to broken images.

I also had to purge our user database. The spam attack created so much data corruption that it was impossible to migrate it without the danger of creating the same kind of spam that crashed the database.

I had been considering a change in CMS. Drupal is a powerful CMS but it is complex and resource-hungry and had become too bloated and complicated for me to manage without a lot of help. WP is leaner and easier to manage and also is more intuitive for writing.

The home page design is a temporary one until I get the data and archives fully restored. Some articles are in the wrong categories and that must be fixed as well.   I’m also working to restore all the comments.

The commenting system is working and registration is not required at this time to comment.  Reader blogs are down until I clean out the spam and find a system that I can manage.

The good news is that our legacy links will still work once everything is restored. The permalinks structure of WP allowed me to set up a URL system that matched our old CMS.

Please hang in there with us. I’ll be working through the weekend to try and get things back to normal.

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19 Responses to "What the heck happened?"

  1. Pingback: What the heck happened? - Capitol Hill Blue | ByteBooth

  2. AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)  February 19, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Really a nice change in format and a pretty remarkable transistion considering the complexities. CHB junkies will survive.

  3. griff  February 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

    F**kin’ spammers.

  4. Dr. Worm  February 19, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I’m very glad to see you back in action, bloodied but unbowed (sometimes a little doggerel seems the best tribute, after all).

    Keep it up!

    Your fan,
    Dr. W

  5. Steve  February 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Ouch. Criminal hackers should launched into outer space on a one way trip to another solar system.

    Knowing how tedious web site development and maintenance is
    Doug glad to see you’ve been able to salvage your asset.

  6. Carl Nemo  February 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Yesterday evening I sent Doug an unwarranted email, criticizing him for changing site content, dropping blogs and turning it into an “American Newsreel” format regardless of contrary opinions on the part of myself and other site members.

    Needless to say I chaffed his hide and he sent me a well deserved harsh reply.

    I’ve apologized to him via email, but I wanted to do so publicly.

    If anything it proves how many of us value CHB and its site content and almost go into a state of dark depression when we think it might go away. There’s nothing quite like CHB on the www when it comes to a unbiased, no holds barred news forum.

    Somehow I knew this SPAM issue was coming to head because more and more I’ve been witnessing SPAM posted to stale posts many months old. My recommendation a few months back was to shut down further comments on posts older than a month or so. Some of this SPAM is being posted to archived articles several years back so in time it builds and no doubt a massive attack can be launched on such an arrangement if there’s no visual verification code required prior to posting especially to archived posts.

    I hope reconstruction goes smoothly and our site host doesn’t blow a mainseal while doing so.

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. Klaus Hergeschimmer  February 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Top Marks 007 on the restructuring of the site

  8. woody188  February 19, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Would be happy to help in any way I can. I know how to work on most LAMP based platforms as I know PHP and SQL. I was worried when I saw the site was down. Glad to see it was just spammers and not government intervention. :)

  9. Warren  February 19, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Doug, you might look into a ‘captcha’ to reduce the spam. These are only about 75% effective against determined spammers with sophisticated image recognition software, but that’s better than nothing. There’s a free-ware product called ReCAPTCHA that reportedly has a very simple interface to wordpress. There’s also an open-source implementation called jCAPTCHA (google them) but I’m not sure how real or stable it is.

    —W—

  10. curmudgeon  February 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you Doug.
    Would be a big space in our lives without CHB.

  11. Kent Shaw  February 19, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Obviously truly a labor of love. Doug, you are a truly a tough and resilient and persistent character. Stubborn in the best never give up sense of the word. How you find the energy to keep up with all of it baffles me. Hats off.

    Kent

  12. Jim  February 19, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Hmmmm. Strike the Root dot com (Drupal) has been down for a couple of days now.

  13. Carl Nemo  February 20, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Hi Jim,

    “StriketheRoot.com” is one of my favorite watering holes. I didn’t realize it too had been struck by this SPAM attack, if circumstances are the same in their case as CHB’s.

    When I first realized that CHB had gone down, the first thing that went through my my mind; that’s in a perpetual “permafrost” mode concerning conspiracy theories etc. was for me to think, what if, just what if, the government decided to launch an attack against every influential site that was against the evolving order of the day; ie., an emergent “tyrannical government gone wild”.

    Every so often while watching the boob tube, the screen will go DOS field black and a msg in white text against this ominous black will announce this is a test of the “Emergency Broadcast System”. The view is both bleak and black along with the annoying “tone” with a monotonal bureaucrat reading the EBS message.

    Then I think how will the average John Q. and Mary citizen feel when their TV goes black with the only messages coming forth are from “Big Brother” along with the www, the same at least within U.S. confines, along with the radio on all broadcast frequencies. Their entire communicative world has been curtailed in one fell swoop by a criminally disposed, rogue government run amok. They’ve seized control of all communications and now “We the People” are dead in the water.

    So there we all sit with buckets on our heads as to what’s happening and waiting for the next manipulative release from our now “gone bad” government. Pretty scary huh?!

    I suggest folks invest in a SW radio along with AM/FM NOAA and the ability monitor the 144mhz HAM band to hopefully find out what’s going on in their “tank”, once the land of the free and the home of the brave goes into a perceived “emergency mode”. Even an investment in GRS/FRS two radios would be good too not only for personal use, but for simply monitoring what’s possibly happening locally.

    I’m retired USN and I no longer trust our government. It’s surely not the military or government I interfaced with in the mid-60’s through my retirement in ’95’. Yes, there were conflicts and turbulence, but the guy running the show at the highest levels nowadays are all on both the make and the take including high level military officers who are just bucking for a good berth in the MIC post retirement. No wave making there.

    An asleep at the helm citizenry along with the toleration of an ever less responsive government to our needs has birthed this out of control monster.

    In these times, “trust no one” other than yourself and those close to you that share similar goals and ideals.

    Carl Nemo **==

  14. Warren  February 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Precisely why I’m an extra-class ‘ham’ with mobile gear. Once the shit starts really going down there will be no other methods of communication. Cell phone? FIRST to go. Landline? Next. TV? Radio? All government commandeered. By all means, at the very least, get a competent short wave receiver.

    —W—

  15. silentSCREAM  February 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

    So who’s talking with who?

  16. silentSCREAM  February 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

    And why am I waiting for moderation? Is the F-ederal C-ensorship C-ommission filtering commentary?

  17. Editor  February 21, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    My thanks to everyone for their patience, suggestions and help during our recovery and changeover to a new CMS system. We’ve still got a lot of work to complete and update everything but I think we’re close to getting the site back to something readers can use.

    Carl, I’m sorry I fired back at you in responding to your email. I had been up all night dealing with the problem and not in the best of moods.

  18. Carl Nemo  February 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks Doug for your apology, but it wasn’t necessary. I fully understand and still feel like an idiot for having jumped the gun with accusations.

    The rebuilding of the site is coming along just fine and I like both the look and feel even better than before.

    Thanks again for all that you do for “We the members”. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

  19. Almandine  February 21, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah… I was getting tired of Drupal and his Captcha thing… when I merely wanted to link to another article… but I did like the previous ability to comment directly to another poster without having my response appear 6,7,8 comments down the line.

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