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Author Topic: While you were away... (possible site news)  (Read 3048 times)
chipotle
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« on: February 11, 2014, 09:51:46 PM »

Thanks to Osfer, I've been given a bit more technical access to the server FurRag runs on, with an eye toward... doing something.

While the eFiction software that FR is built on wasn't written with best security practices in mind, I haven't found any obvious flaws in the code -- although I can't prove that there aren't any flaws, either.

The plan, such as it is, is to create a "static" site that will allow accessing the existing stories but not adding new ones. The new site will be fairly simple-looking and won't have any real authorization controls to speak of -- that is, there won't be user accounts and logins. I'm still trying to figure out how best to handle access to adult material. (The easiest approach would be just to label adult stuff with warnings and say "don't read this if you're underage," since on a practical level that's all any attempts at restriction do anyway, but I might try for something that's a little more sophisticated.)

I don't have any ETA on this as it'll be a spare time project for me, but I'll try to be relatively timely.

This is, of course, a temporary measure, not a real replacement for FurRag. Unfortunately, the eFiction software is a dead end as far as upgrading goes; there are options for bringing a new FR online with new software, but they'd require someone willing to step up as a full-blown system administrator doing serious down-in-the-trenches work.
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IronJack
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2014, 10:14:25 PM »

I wish I was more computer literate. However it's heartening to see something being done. Good luck and best wishes!
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chipotle
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 02:24:41 AM »

Thanks. You may be the only one actually waiting for this, based on activity here, but, well. Smiley

I've determined that there's at least one malware injection that happened on FR back in 2009 that's still in the codebase, although I don't think it was actually active after early 2010 or so. I'm not sure whether the information leak that Osfer discovered is related to this or not -- the leaked info apparently included email addresses of users who had registered as late as the end of 2012, but it's quite possible the original hack gave some level of administrator access to the culprits. It's certainly the case that something like a third of the users registered on FurRag -- not the forums, but FR itself -- are very clearly fake and were created right at the beginning of 2010, so the system's been compromised to some degree for quite some time. I can't tell what the attack vector was although my bets are that it was a flaw in the version of TinyMCE (the quasi-WYSIWYG editor) that FR used.

While I think it's theoretically possible to clean up everything and return it to fully functional status, Osfer doesn't seem particularly enthusiastic about that, and he may have a point. I've come to the conclusion -- again -- that there's a genuine place, however small and niche it may be, for something like FurRag in furry fandom, but it may need substantially more modern software and folks running it who can be active system administrators. Altivo and Quinn performed yeoman service as moderators on both the forum here and FR itself, but neither of them had access to the server/code side of things and that really isn't something that can be left to run on autopilot for years on end.
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IronJack
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 06:33:58 PM »

I think a good portion of the inactivity, or what is perceived as such, is mostly the lack of input from those of us that scope out the forum. Even if there is a read only site for FR, I'd be interested to see a counter or the number of hits.

Unfortunately many of the things that you've mentioned are far beyond this grey muzzle. I'm not fluent in High Technomancer. I'm simply a product of a bygone day, and happily engross myself in the shaping of metal and reading furry lit. I think one friend isn't too far off themark when he calls me a luddite...

Just know that I, for one, am sending you my support in your endeavor and wish you the best of luck.
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Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2014, 04:44:53 PM »

I have been lurking too and it is sad to see the lack of activity. I believe FurRag (or a similar site) is important to fostering creativity and vitality of furry writers.  It is very difficult to find a mainstream crit circle, let alone one that is furry focused.

Inertia is difficult to overcome, but not impossible. I remain loosely in touch with much of the core of FurRag writers and there is still a desire for an online furry writers workshop. My mate and I go to a lot of con's and I'm amazed at how many people perk up when I mention FurRag. The spark is still alive. It needs a lot of nurturing.

Unfortunately, I too am part of the generation ape descended life forms that still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Chipotle, Thank you in advance for working on the code and trying to get the site safely up to at least a read-only mode. Once word gets out, a lot of readers will be very happy. I also know of a few writers that have storys that are lost except for in the main archive.

I am at Texas Furry Fiesta at the moment and there are a lot of writers events. I'll see what others think here.
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chipotle
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2014, 12:04:13 AM »

It's worth having a kind of "pie in the sky" discussion of what people might want from another site -- a FurRag II, as it were. I abandoned that concept for Claw & Quill because I was doubtful that it was actually necessary/useful, but I keep hearing low-level rumblings from multiple quarters that suggest that it might be after all.

What I'm working on with respect to the current site, I should note, is actually an entirely different site -- all the stories as static HTML files. It'll look entirely different, have no user accounts, etc., etc. (My current plan is to handle adult content simply by marking it clearly, which is perhaps suboptimal, but without user accounts/registration we're really just arguing about the size of the fig leaf.) I've actually made fairly good progress in the scripts that would do this, but have work left to do on generating more indexes -- right now you can only look up stories/series by author, and I'd like to have both a series index and a title index when all is said and done -- and on dealing with surprisingly hairy things relating to story displays. (eFiction, the original software, took the approach of storing text exactly as uploaded and trying to figure out how to display it correctly when it pulled it out of the database; without getting into the technical whys, trust me when I say this is a Very Bad Approach.)
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chipotle
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2014, 07:53:11 AM »

As a preliminary nerd total, it appears the static version of the site is around 4,460 files, which includes all the stories, TOC pages for multiple-chapter stories, pages for individual authors and series, and index pages for authors, series and titles (the latter of two are organized by letter).

The future read-only site will be brought to you by about 500 lines of Python, another 500 lines of HTML/CSS templating, more work than I was expecting untangling the database and hair-pulling character encoding issues, and the letter "C."
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chipotle
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 07:01:53 PM »

Anyone still here?

At any rate, the work is basically done; anyone who's willing to do a little bit of spot checking to make sure things aren't broken should get in touch with me. I'll be pinging Osfer soon about the steps necessary to put this up at the main site without accidentally taking down down the forums, which I'm hoping will stay up for a bit longer, at the least.

The "new" site is, as I said, entirely static -- no user accounts, no logins, no way to add new content. It's just an archive. It's an entirely new design which is pretty spartan, which I suspect people will either really like or really hate. Smiley Unfortunately, it's not searchable (there's not a good way to do that in a dynamic site, short of integrating Google search into it), although stories are indexed by author, series, and title. It is, however, eminently more readable.

I still have some style tweaks to do to make it more readable on tablets, but the hard work is all done.
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IronJack
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 12:29:51 AM »

I don't know about anyone else, but you have my appreciation for the hard work! Grin
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Quinn Yellowfox
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 09:51:51 PM »

I'm still here too...watching hopefully. A lot of people will be very happy to find stories. There is a lot of very good writing and lot's of crit visible to learn from.

I'm available to do some spot checking but I really don't have a systems management competency. Still, please let me know what I can do to help bring things back to some semblance of life.

If anyone complains about the work you've done, please let me know. 
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Erkhyan
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 11:38:14 AM »

Still present here too! Smiley
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Osfer
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2014, 08:37:44 AM »

My sincere thanks to Chipotle for his fantastic, generous efforts and patience. Words fail me.

And to y'all, for your attention and appreciation for what FurRag stands for. I take no credit for that: FurRag is you; caretakers like Altivo, evangelists like Quinn, to name a few, and all of you.

The end date for the static site hasn't been decided, but it will be in 2014, and it will close. It's not that it's a massive logistical o financial drain, it's more a matter of cleanliness. I don't want FurRag-the-archive to distract furry readers from sites where authors are actively posting, and where they can connect with their favorite writers.

As for the forum, no decision has been made about closing it. If this forum winds up being the only thing running on the hosting service I use, I may want to shut down the hosting account to save myself a little cash each month -- but if the forum is in active use, I won't close it.

I will find a solution; move it to a little nook of a trusted friend's hosting service, or maybe there's a free SMF hosting service, I don't know. But all forum threads and all user accounts will be included.

Anyway. Thank you, Chipotle, for giving FurRag a second breath, and a nice swan song!
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