Growing Pains

Success brings its own problems.
When I started this web site in ’96 or ’97 there wasn’t much to it, just a few files and sound effects for download, maybe an occasional editorial (see for yourself).

In the last year I’ve added this blog and a message board. Both features have proved much more popular than I ever expected, taxing my puny little server, and the programs I chose to use, beyond their capabilities. To say nothing of my capabilities.

I upgraded the blog to Movable Type and that’s been a great improvement. Now the message boards and the server itself seem to be spinning down the great disposal of life.

Mike Chandler of Annex.com, a regular around here, has offered me server space on a fresh new Dell box with such nice bells and whistles as PHP and MySQL. I think I’ll probably take him up on it.

And I’m looking at alternative message board solutions. With access to MySQL I can try some databased programs that should be more responsive and better able to handle the heavy traffic that the Town Square has developed. One of the possibilities is InfoPop’s UBBThreads. It’s being used by some pretty big sites (including Ms. Magazine and Playboy – strange bedfellows). Ars Technica also uses it. If you’re a heavy user of the Leoville message boards I’d appreciate your feedback on UBB, and I’d like to hear about any other programs you think I should consider.

Moving the server and adopting new software is a major undertaking, and I only want to do this once, so any advice or input you can give me before I begin is much appreciated. Just add them to the comments here on the blog, if you would.

I promise to make this as seamless as possible for you all!

61 Replies to “Growing Pains”

  1. Sounds like a good idea Leo. I’d hate to see everything on the old board lost, yet I’m sure we could rebuild our community if we had to. We appreciate all that you are doing for us. Thanx.

  2. These BB’s are all nice, but if you want to starting using something more powerfull than most ‘script’ based systems. Look at Jive (http://www.jivesoftware.com) it is a high end OO Java based system. Used to be open source, now I think they charge $100 or something. Support all major (and some minor) databases. Since it’s 100% pure java you should be able to run it on any major platform….I run it on Linux, love it see it running on OSX.

  3. Hey Leo! I frequent a site called Ford-Diesel.com (http://www.ford-diesel.com), and they use the UBBThreads for their message boards. I really like it because I think it is easy to navigate and I’m guessing it’s easy for them to organize. Bottom line, all of us at Leoville will appreciate and support whatever you decide to do! Thanks!

  4. Leo, I like the TiVo BB here:
    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/
    I hope that link works, anyway, it is “powered” by:
    vBulletin Version 2.2.2
    I like the way the threads they have there continue in the many page format, so returning readers to a popular thread can just click on the page number to “cut to the chase.”
    Thanks again Leo, for everything you do for us here in Leoville, I hope you choose a board *you* like for its low maintenance properties, and not so much for the bells and whistles; but I know the “added” features like Avatars and titles for members are a big hit…. the TiVo forum also lists the number of people active on the board and other little things like that.
    (BTW: You’ve had your TiVo 3 months or so, how do you like it?)
    :^)

  5. Don’t forget to look at some of the free ones like phpBB or YaBB. I go to http://www.cobraforum.com quite often. They use YaBB there. I’ve also been waiting for phpBB to get to Ver. 2 so I can implement it on my website. phpBB looks like it might end up being very similar to vBulletin. Without the cost of course! 🙂

  6. We really do appreciate all the hard work you put into your website for us! I think ultimatly, that the final decision is yours, and what will work best for you. However, since you asked for input, I did check out the links. The UBBThreads looks promising! It looks fairly easy to browse through. It has many editable features that would be fun for you. Like the ability to add custom clipart, and also to create your own skins. It looks very similar in style to the for sale or trade boards that I visit.
    As to the Java based idea, yes Java may be more “powerful” but many people are Java fearfull, and have Java disabled in their browser. Using a Java based board would leave these people out of the Leoville board. I used to use Java on one of my first websites. But, due to many of my friends having Java disabled on their browsers, they were not able to get the full experience of my website at that time. Unless things have changed since I tried using Java. In which case, feel free to disregard this part of my comments. 😉
    Whatever route you choose Leo, we will support you! Thanks again for everything!

  7. Lurkers:
    If you follow Leo’s link above (the “see for yourself” link): go to the bottom of that page and click on Comment, that takes you to a short essay from Jan. 1997 and from there you can browse through previous commentaries all the way back to early 1995 (The Laporte Reports)… very interesting reading and a nice history lesson about the beginnings of the computer revolution…. written in Leo’s inimitable style.
    (Thanks Leo, that was fun!)

  8. Leo,
    I think Info Pop’s UBBThreads will work well with the Town Square, becouse the user interface seems easy to use, and it dosen’t look that different from Discus.
    Thanks for the boards, and good luck moving the site.

  9. I’ve heard about some of the phpBB 2.0 testing and am told it will be a smashing bullitin board, it too it used by some of the “big boys” on the web. I would look into it seriously before making a decision. That said, UBBThreads looks to be a good package as well. Remember, with PHP you can do all sorts of great things with the site.

  10. hellooooooo leo,
    I can only speak for myself and if anyone else agrees so be it….
    I am greatful for ANYTHING you do for us fans! I said it before and I’ll say it again! What other tv host can you interact with????
    Yes it would be sad to see the site go down but If I know you there will be someway to “connect” with us.
    I’m do not have knowage about other “boards” but will support you in your dicide to do!

  11. I think that most will agree…what ever you do will be just fine. Beggers cant be choosers as my parents say more often than I care to hear ;). I like the YaBB, and it’s free. I was going to put it on my server, but I am running Windows 2000 and its need Linux to do the CHMOD. I think that vBullentin may be a nice one too. I was going to use it, but someone said the YaBB was easier to setup. I have never ran a message board so I can suggest something from the admin side of things. But whatever you choose will be good with me.

  12. Leo, If you really want to get the most out of your new box with PHP and MySQL, I would recommend vBulletin, http://www.vbulletin.com. I would say it is the premier bulletin board software around. It is not free, I think it’s $160. It is used on many sites much larger than Leoville and it has been around log enough to work most of the bugs out. vBulletin is a very professional piece of software, and I highly recommend it.
    Ross

  13. Leo, as for hosting I totally agree with going with Mike. He is awesome, he is our boss over at http://www.tssreview.com and does an awesome job. I can’t say too much about Boards since I am in love with Discus but just stay away from Ikon Board, PLEASE!!! Oh, can I have your Pro copy of Discus for my Sarah Lane fansite when you take it down??? j/k!!!

  14. vBulletin Version 2.2.2 is the way to go. NeoWin.net uses vB and has on average around 300~400 during the week and on weekends around 800~1000.

  15. oh, and UBBThreads is run by MySQL and PHP where UBB is flat filed and perl (Even though it runs VERY well on heavy servers). I sent you an email Leo, and so did Infopop. 🙂
    Love ya as a bud,
    -Greg

  16. Well, Leo, if it were me, I would go for either phpBB (v.2) or vBulletin. I’ve never really administered a board, thus my technical opinion won’t matter much, but as a user, the UIs on these 2 are the best in my opinion. They seem fast, attractive, and very easy to use. But the choice is yours, and I feel the need to echo the fact that whatever you pick is fine with me. I, as well as many others, really appreciate the work, time and effort that you put into this site. What ever the future of Leoville holds, I’ll be glad to be there. 🙂

  17. Personally, I use and would recommend vBulletin. It’s written in PHP and uses a MySQL Database. Although, it can be cramped with features (most of which can be turned off) and can have alot (if not too much) “eye candy” (although you can very easily clean it up with it’s comprehensive template system). Check out http://vbulletin.com/admindemo to get a feel for how vB works.
    As for UBB or UBBThreads. I personally haven’t used either one, but I’ve heard about performance issues with UBB and because it uses a FlatFile Database, I’m guessing you wouldn’t see much of a differance compared to the BBS you’re running now. UBBThreads, which, like vB, uses PHP and MySQL, looks like it could have potential. At the moment, it’s not the prettiest BBS in the world. But for your current board members, it wouldn’t be that dramatic of a change. Both bulletin boards have a free evaluation version available for download to see if they’re what works for you.
    As for free BBS’s, I’d recommed either phpBB2 (PHP/MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL, or Oracle) or Ikonboard (Perl/FlatFile or MySQL).
    Hope that helps. 🙂

  18. Hey Leo, I don’t think the email notice is working anymore with Movably Type I haven’t received the notification with the past couple of post…

  19. Leo, I really appreciate you posing this to us. Let me just be another one to say that whatever you try will be fine. 🙂 But it is good to do this methodically and it sounds like you have had a nice relationship with Nacio that needs to end for technical reasons.
    Since you asked, the only input I can offer that may have any meaning for you is this —
    What I like in a message board:
    The ability to do searches for posts across the entire board (not just indiv threads) with a minimum of clicks and without having to log in, being able to preview and edit pre-posts, the ability to upload pics/files (obviously {:-P}), plain page backgrounds and adjustable fonts for good readability (again, without having to log in), being able to easily edit posts (and without a big timestamp flag on the edit).
    What I don’t need in a message board:
    User signatures, avatars, image links, user standings/ratings/registration dates, individual post ratings, the ability to skin the interface, the ability to send private messages to other board folks or any other customizations that are extraneous to the content of conversation or that are covered by other means (e.g. user profile pages, email, any IM app, people’s personal websites). I find that many boards are so choked with means for users to express themselves that every single post is surrounded by a constellation of images and text that have nothing whatsoever to do with what they’ve posted. High-clutter pages are just a drag. A few days ago you made a comment about the “signal to noise” ratio problem with people using signatures and I have to agree.
    I’m not quite sure what a more powerful board would be, if that’s more power for you as the admin then great. But more power for the users isn’t necessary, IMHO, at least not on this board. Stylistically, one of the reasons that Discus was a good choice here was that it kind of matched the rest of your site – not a ton of bells and whistles but plenty of good stuff inside. Leoville has an indentifiable culture that favors content and communication over flash. Or is that Flash? Probably because that’s the way you are. 😛 (Hey – any man who doesn’t need to brush his hair to turn on the webcam is alright by me.)
    Perhaps you can just change servers for now and see how that works rather than changing everything at once? I also frequent a board that uses UBB and it’s not bad, although I find it’s not as intuitive as I wish it could be (perhaps settings that are just being used on that one site and that could be changed?) It may be a good choice for you if you’re really set on leaving Discus. (Right now I’d be satisfied if we could just stop leaking posts everywhere) *g*
    As always, thank you for all your work, this is a good place to be. Be sure to let us know how it’s coming along and if there’s any way we can be supportive.
    Preferential Smooches,
    Jeannette

  20. BTW – since I know anyone reading that post (including Leo) is thinking this:
    Thank you, Drive Thru. :o)
    (sorry TeSS)
    XOXOXOX
    J.

  21. Mr.Mayor Sir,
    I know nothing about the different BBs, but if my opinion is at all valuable, I would say for you to go with whichever will be the easiest for you to manage and that will take the least amount of time away from you doing your taxes. Whatever you choose I’ll keep showing up, as I am sure the other Leovillians will also so I think it comes down to what is best for you.
    Thanks for the biggest little city on the web.

  22. Leo,
    Just wanted to say, ever notice all us older Geek’s keep smooth truckin and the kids get smarter and faster every day 8>
    Leoville is a very relaxed and informative site, do what you will, just keep the carma. After 43 years at this I must admit the exciting part is learning something new every day.
    Best To All from a cold valley in the Alleghenies

  23. UBB is the best. UBBThreads is good. vBulletin is server dead. Kills servers. Speak from experience. and ubbdev.com will help you “mod” your ubb.

  24. Leo I was looking back at the website in 96′ and you had a chat room. Have you ever thought of bring that back. I love the image threads and hope that stays up. But I would also live to talk to these guys in real time if possible. I also wanted to say while I have the chance, thank you for all you do with this board and on tv. TSS and CFP motivated me to earn my A+ cert. I am currenty working on my Network+ and CCNA.
    Thanks Again,
    Jim

  25. I’m not a Apple – MAC fan but I also don’t hate MACs. I work on the GE Lighting Helpdesk. Thanks to “The Screen Savers” and TechTV I was able to successfully resolve a problem with a MAC computer. I’ve only known about Leo for about 2 years but even though he likes MAC (lol) he’s one of my Hero’s.
    Rock On Leo!! Someday hopefully I’ll get to meet you.
    Thanks again Everyone at Tech TV
    Kevin

  26. Leo, the hosting company I volunteer with 🙂 does not allow the use of UBB or YaBB on their shared servers, because they consume too many resources.
    However vBulletin, IF PROPERLY DEPLOYED and updated, is allowed on shared servers, as is XMB. I have also heard good things about phpBB. I use vB boards a LOT — several hours a day, on a daily basis, including those boards that see a lot of traffic like at webhostingtalk.com — and simply have never seen the problems claimed here (“kills servers” — huh?). In my experience, if vB is killing servers, either it was a bad install or a bad config. — but something wasn’t done right.
    Anyway just double-check with your new web host to see what he will allow on his box. With a site that has traffic like yours, I would not burden a shared server with UBB. For your application, I would recommend vB.
    Good luck, Leo!
    🙂 Karin

  27. Jim,
    Good luck on your CCNA, I’m working on my CCNP/CCDA/CCDP right now I think that right now the most valuable certifications are probably Cisco’s and definately a good move for anyone in IS/IT. –Ben Franske, CCNA

  28. Leo, like others have said it’s up to you. We’ll be happy with whatever you choose to go with. I really appreciate all the trouble you go to and time you put in for us. How many other celerities would do as much for their fans, let alone go an extra step and ask us for our advice and imput. That takes a special kind of person and it’s why the people of Leoville are so devoted and loyal. I hope whatever you choose to do makes your life easier. I guess my only criteria for the Board is it stays the fun place it is especially for you. You are the very best and all we really want is for Leoville to live on with as little trouble to you as possible!

  29. Leo,
    Just wanted to say, ever notice all us older Geek’s keep smooth truckin and the kids get smarter and faster every day 8>
    Leoville is a very relaxed and informative site, do what you will, just keep the carma. After 43 years at this I must admit the exciting part is learning something new every day.
    Best To All from a cold valley in the Alleghenies

  30. I admin 2 websites with message boards, one uses phpBB and the other YaBB se, They both work really well. I would recomend either one, and they are free.

  31. The Scream Machines Game forums uses Snitz Forums. They seem pretty nice, and it’s free. It uses ASP but it supports MySQL.

  32. Ilike the Idea, too bad we cant keep our old posts and User IDs. Got to go, posting on my iPaq during class.

  33. Nice to hear about MT… some of my friends use Greymatter, while I’m stuck with Blogger. I don’t have CGI access, but I do have PHP. Unless I can find a cheaper/better host (I’m paying $12.50/month, domain extra), it looks like I don’t have an alternative unless I can find a good PHP weblog system. Any ideas?
    Speaking of PHP, check out http://acmlm.overclocked.org/board/ for a sweet PHP forum system. He’s 18 and programmed it all himself. It’s really good, as far as I’ve experienced. Don’t know how hard it is to admin, you’d have to ask him. 😉

  34. I’m glad you mentioned Annex .
    That is a great newsgroup site !
    Thanks for all you do Leo 🙂
    Becky
    A TechTv fan

  35. The seems to be something wrong if you have to hire a webmaster to manage your not for profit site….

  36. You can try Phorum – http://www.phorum.org/ PHP/MySQL board system
    We used it for the boards for the movie site for Anti-trust and a few other high profile clients and it holds up very well under stress. Oh yeah, it’s open source and free 🙂

  37. Just about the best PHP/MySQL forum out there is vBulletin (http://www.vbulletin.com)
    If you want a message board, I really wouldn’t go with Perl UNLESS it has a MySQL backend. (High traffic flat file message boards are slow and use way too many server resources) As there are very few of these out there, you’ll do much better to utilize the plethora of PHP/MySQL scripts available.
    A free and good alternative is phpBB (I believe the url is http://www.phpbb.com) or YaBB SE (the php/mysql version)
    Good luck!

  38. I tried phpbb, but i did not like it. It has FAR to many security issues, and can be a bit tricky. I use openbb. it is PHP and also uses mysql. it is stable, fast, very skinnable, and did i leave out it is 100% FREE. i am very happy with it. and feel safe recommending it to others.
    Happy

  39. Try the following link. I found that this is one of the best site for Practice Questions. I used their package for some of my exams. Very similar Questions. But wording little different. Anyway before you go with it you can ask them some free samples. The link is
    http://www.netqs.homestead.com

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