Bluff Avenue Blog

Updates and news from the Bluff Avenue trenches.

Help Support Bluff Avenue!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 9:22 PM


As I mentioned in a previous post, since the flood of pandemic traffic we've gotten started in mid-March, I've been overwhelmed by the offers of support from the generous users of this site.


Since then, after an incident with our host cut off our service, we had to take physical possession of the website server, and to this day, it is literally sitting under the desk I'm typing this on.  This is obviously not how we want to be hosting the site in the long term. Our intent is to move the site into the cloud and host it with AWS.


Despite the fact that Daniel and I have been running the site in our spare time on what amounts to a shoestring budget, over the last 10 years I've easily sunk more than five figures into keeping things running. With AWS, we will have a reliable, scalable host. But you pay for what you get--in all likelihood, it will no longer be possible to run the site on the same budget.


And this is where I ask for your help.  I've set up a Patreon account to take donations.  Proceeds will go toward our operational costs.  It will also help me gauge how much interest there is in the site, and how worthwhile it will be to invest in new infrastructure and feature development.


Again, thank you to those who have offered to donate.  It's what inspired me to get off my butt and try to get the site into a respectable state. :)

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1. Posted by

Done! Thanks for all the work you've put into the website. I would like to ask that you continue communicating with us throughout the process of updating/upgrading the website.

5/13/2020 5:54 AM
2. Posted by

Thank you, Marcelo.  Will do.  I am currently taking a week off from work to dust off all the cobwebs and figure out how to compile the code again. :D


First project will be to get email working again using the AWS email service.

5/13/2020 11:52 AM
3. Posted by

Done and thanks!

5/14/2020 6:27 PM
4. Posted by

Done.  And I have been spreading the word with my friends.  We are new to the site, but really grateful for providing a better alternative to PS etc.  We really like the home game features and your plans for adding features and such seem right on point.  My one suggestion is do you all have a monetary goal you can share for acheiving these improvements?  Would be great to think about one time larger donations and then subscription for ongoing support.

5/15/2020 11:26 AM
5. Posted by

It would be great to provide an option to pay a subscription fee and run our private games off our own servers - would help with the load

5/15/2020 2:24 PM
6. Posted by

That would be cool, but would actually take quite a huge effort to rearchitect and package the site to be runnable on a private server without sysadmin expertise and about 100 steps to set up. :)

5/15/2020 2:55 PM
7. Posted by

Done! We used this last night for the first time - it worked really well for us and we had a great time. Thanks for keeping this labor of love alive.

5/16/2020 10:12 AM
8. Posted by

Let's GO!

5/16/2020 11:36 AM
9. Posted by

our group is happy to donate NZ$5 or $10 every week depending on how many players we have in any givem week.  Keep up the good work

5/21/2020 10:01 PM

Game server outage

Saturday, May 9, 2020 6:15 PM

Hey all, sorry if you had trouble playing this afternoon/evening.  The game server crashed and I didn't notice for a few hours.  I have an alarm set up to text me if the website itself goes down, but not the game server.


Several of you had messaged me on Twitter to let me know.  Thanks--I will keep a closer eye on my messages in the future.


It looks like we had a ton of games created yesterday, and it may have eaten up the game server's memory.  I deleted a bunch of games that hadn't been played in 2 days to help clear up space.  Sorry if this nuked a game you use regularly, but not in the last 2 days.

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Well that was fun.

Friday, May 1, 2020 12:18 AM

If you tried to play on Bluff Ave today, you might have noticed we had a rather lengthy outage.  My apologies for that.  Given the big increase in traffic on the site, I've been trying to help keep you bored quarantined people sufficiently entertained by keeping a closer eye on the server and fixing crashes as soon as possible.


I had been talking to Daniel yesterday and it came up that the site has been doing pretty well since tweaking the load balancer settings a few weeks ago.  Maybe we got a little too self-congratulatory, because the poker gods apparently took offense and decided to throw a whole new kind of outage at us.


There was basically a mixup where we had our internet cut off at our host in the early morning hours.  The soonest they could restore service would be Sunday. <gulp> A 4 day outage?  What would all you folks do?  There's only so many times you can rewatch Tiger King.


So we decided to improvise and move the physical server to a new location that had Internet connectivity.  In other words, under my home office desk where I'm currently typing this. :)  This required several hours of work on the part of Daniel, investigating the connectivity issue, picking up the server, reconfiguring it for a new network, helping me get my network set up properly, and then shuttling it over here, all while maintaining social distance!


To his credit, it worked without a hitch.  I plugged it in, turned it on, and bam, service restored around 10:30 PM.  Let's give Daniel a hand for his heroics.


Long term, this event points to the need for us to move Bluff Ave into the cloud (AWS).  It's something I'm going to start looking into.


P.S. I've been neglecting Bluff Ave's Twitter account for the longest time.  I've decided to dust it off, and in the future will use it for incidents like this, so follow us there at @bluffave.

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Thank you! (Oh, and search is fixed!)

Friday, April 24, 2020 12:07 AM

The latest news: as I mentioned in my last post, the site has kind of blown up since the pandemic hit.  We're seeing 10 to 50 times the traffic we did in February.  We've made some tweaks to settings that we think have helped with site stability, but spikes in traffic have still been taking the site down every few days.  I've been keeping a much closer eye on it lately than I had been in recent years, so hopefully downtimes are limited to a couple of hours rather than days.


Now to the topic of this post.


Along with the huge surge in coronavirus traffic we've gotten in the last month has come a flood of blog comments and DMs from people who have asked to help contribute with donations (and even work) to keep the site running.  I just wanted to let you all know I have been reading them (even if I haven't replied to all), and that I'm incredibly appreciative of the offers.  A heartfelt "thank you" to you all.


All of the renewed interest has gotten me excited about the site again, and I'm mulling getting back to work on it in my spare time.  Stay tuned, I may have something to announce shortly.


Oh, and by the way, I fixed my first bug on the site in years! :) Group and user search had been broken for the longest time. I was poking around on the database and discovered it apparently lost a few of the required indexes during a server migration a while back.  I added them back and bam, we have search again. OK, so not a real bug fix, but something works now that didn't before, so let me have my moment. :)

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PLEASE READ: Game Clean-up

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 11:12 PM

Apparently due to coronavirus, we've hit the big time...or something.  After a month of February where typically some double-digit number of games would get created in a day, in the last week, we've had 5 straight days of more than a thousand games created per day.


You folks must be bored at home!


Well, sadly, that "BETA" in the logo is no joke.  We stopped active development on this site years ago, and that was before we made the thing scalable.  So if enough games get created and don't get deleted, the server goes boom.


If the last few days is the new normal, we're going to have to get aggressive about cleaning up unused games, since they're sucking up precious server memory.  Starting today, games that are older than 2 days and have never had anyone sit down at the table are subject to getting deleted. Scheduled tournaments that haven't started yet will get an exception.


Sorry about the inconvenience, but this site's for playin', not for setting up empty tables!

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