Major System Upgrade
By Richard Rost
9 years ago
Hey folks. I'm in the middle of a HUGE system upgrade today that has to get done. Essentially, I'm moving the user accounts database TO the web site. So you might not be able to log on for a few hours today, and any new orders placed might not show up until after everything is finished.
The technical details...
For the past 11 years, I've run this web site with two separate databases. The web site collects all of your order information, and then every couple of minutes, my main Access database here in my office connects and downloads everything via a SECURE connection. Whenever you go to log on to your account to watch videos, the web site has to connect back to my office to get your credentials.
For the most part it has worked OK, but every now and then there are hiccups. For example, I run a backup event at 5am. Sometimes that "chokes" the server causing login problems. Also, if we lose power here in our main office, nobody can log on (this has happened only 3 or 4 times in 11 years, so not really a big deal).
However, as I posted yesterday, I'm getting ready to pack up and move my office from Buffalo NY to Florida, which is going to take 3 or 4 days (tear down, drive 2 days, set back up). Obviously I can't have the site NOT working for 4 days, so I need to get this done now.
So, I'm currently in the process of setting up a new SECURE database on the web server that will hold just your user credentials (username, password, name, address, etc.) and what courses you purchased. Your credit card and other sensitive data will NOT be stored on my web server long term, so in case I get hacked you don't have to worry about your data being compromised (the most someone will be able to do is watch your classes... no big deal).
The new system will work by storing your details online for a short while, and then my main office database WILL still be the master copy, but it will only connect a few times a day, download your data, and DELETE any sensitive information from the web site... so your credit card details will ONLY be kept long-term in my office server which is SECURE and ONLY accessible by ME, personally.
The bottom line is that the web site will be able to function properly WITHOUT having to talk to my office server. My office server will basically be a "backup" copy of the customer database. This will allow you to log on, watch your courses, place new orders, and have everything working IMMEDIATELY instead of the short delay that always occurs when orders are placed now (there can be up to a 20 minute delay for the office server to connect, download order data, and then re-upload the details to the web).
Plus, most importantly, this will allow me to tear my office down and move 1400 miles without interruption to YOU (well, except for TODAY, of course, while get everything working).
I just wanted to explain to you what's going on today. If you have any problems, let me know. You can post here. Denise should be in the chat room all day today although she will NOT be able to pull up your account info. Sorry.
Hope to be back up and running smoothly by tonight.
P.S. If you're ALREADY LOGGED ON to the system, DON'T log off. There is a user cache database that will still keep your record alive on the web site until you log OFF and back ON again. As long as you don't log off you SHOULD still be able to watch lessons if you come back to the web site before everything is finished. Don't log OFF and don't clear your browser cookies.
2:45 PM EST - User database successfully uploaded to the web site. Re-programming the web site now to work with new database.
3:00 PM EST - User Logon Page is offline. You will not be able to log in right now.
5:00 PM EST - OK, the new User Logon form is now online. Orders placed before I took the user database offline at noon today should show up. NEW accounts and any orders placed after that time will not be available for a few more hours until I complete the upload routines.
9:00 PM EST - the User Cache is working, so if you check the "remember me" box you will probably never have to ever log in here again. The site will remember you unless you clear you cookies or LOG OUT.
TUE, NOV 12
2:12 AM EST - It's taking a lot longer than anticipate to get everything upgraded, and I'm exhausted (15 hours today of working on this is enough). If you have placed an order UP TO THIS POINT, your accounts should be up-to-date and you should be able to log in and watch your lessons in the Theater (downloads are still offline). Any orders placed after right now will be processed in the morning manually until I can get the automated features finished. Sorry for any delay. I'll try to get this finished up tomorrow.
1:00 PM EST - Alright... everything appears to be working just fine. I've been at it since about 8am, the order system has been fully integrated into the new customer database. If you're already a customer and you're logged in, you'll go right to the order form without having to log in again. If you're a new customer, everything works the same. The only major thing I have yet to do still is to make instant orders available... but this might have to wait until I get to Florida. It's going to be a major piece of work... probably another day or two of programming. As of right now, you can log on and access everything you've purchased so far, but if you place a NEW order, you have to wait for me to connect with the office database to update your account. I think I'm going to do this manually for the next couple of days because I don't want to be stuck here in Buffalo for another week. I can make sure this process runs manually every few hours, so the LATEST you'll have any new orders is the following business day. I think everyone can manage for the next couple of days. Thoughts?
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