Hala

The Heroic Domain of Ysgard
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:11 pm 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
EDIT: Donation button has temporarily moved to here: page.php?page=donate

Before I start: The servers will be up as long as it is physically possible regardless of whether or not there is any help with the bills. I made a promise when I started hosting these servers to provide as much uptime as possible.

Introduction:
Most of you know me, some of you don't. My name is Jason, better known around here as Themicles. I felt it has been long past time to explain what I do here, why I do it and answer some questions some of you have had on the costs of running the servers. I finally have the information I need to calculate the electricity usage, which has been the main limiting factor preventing me from estimating the costs in the past.

What I do here:
I'll start with what I don't do. I do not develop any part of the modules, and do not DM here. I am even largely hands off on the running of these forums even though I host the website on my web-hosting account.

What I do around here is physically host the game servers (Hala and Ysgard) on my local network. I will have technical information on the servers in a section down below. I make sure these servers stay running, troubleshoot problems that arise with login issues, server crashes, and other technical issues related to keeping things running and you guys playing. I harass my ISP when there are persistent or extended connection issues preventing you guys from playing. And when things completely break and need replacement, I shop for the best balance of reliability versus cost. (I always lean more towards reliability, I prefer running servers over cheaper costs.)

To this end, a few years ago I shopped around for a smartphone that could allow me to manage this whole network remotely if needed. I settled on a Droid X and still use it today. I am able to log into Remote Desktop, VNC, and even make an SSH connection to the database server's shell. This means that as long as at least one of the two internet connections here are up, I can get in and attempt to fix things no matter where I am. The team here has an e-mail address that texts my phone directly, and by having that my phone number as well. I also run Trillian on my phone and every messenger I have an account with is logged in at all times. I really do want to know immediately any time the servers are not accessible.

On the website hosting side of things; I did choose and lock us into the current forum software we have. I've looked at updating to phpBB3 for you guys and found that we'd completely lose the front page as it is if we did, as well as some administrative functionality in the background. That said, I am currently working on code for another website that would allow me to rebuild the front page as we have it now. The administrative side is really only used by me, so the extra tools there don't matter much for you guys. I'll see what I can do in the near future. If I can get you guys on phpBB3, it'll open up a lot of easier options for your admins here to do new things instead of needing to know HTML/PHP and login to the FTP (which the option is there for them).

Why do I do it?
To put it quite simply, I like helping people. I do this because as long as I am the one doing it, I know that I will make my best efforts to keep you guys running as long as you want. I offered to host your servers so that you'd never have to worry about whether or not the host will log in as a DM and screw with your players, or suddenly drop you leaving you to wonder where to move to. I like knowing that by doing this, the players here can have fun and do something they enjoy. And to some extent I do this because I can. A way for me to apply knowledge that I have about computers and networking where it might be wasted in today's job climate.

Conclusion: (Server Specs and Cost Breakdown below)
When I first started back when CoPaP was at its busiest, managing the websites, the communities, the hakpaks, and the servers was a full time job with overtime that I did not get paid for. It is more of a part time job these days, that I still do not charge for. I only get "paid" if someone chooses to send me money specifically for me. If someone donates for the servers/bills, I do not use that money personally unless later told to.

Server Specs:
    Poseidon (Hala and Ysgard):
    • 2U Rackmount Chassis
    • ASUS P8H61-M LE/CSM Motherboard
    • Intel Pentium G630 2.7GHz Dual-Core Processor
    • Crucial 2GB (2x 1GB) DDR3 1333 Dual Channel Memory
    • Western Digital RE4 250GB Enterprise Hard Drive
    • Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D 380W Power Supply
    Phoenix (Database for Hala and Tairis):
    • 2U Rackmount Chassis
    • ASUS P5KPL-VM Motherboard
    • Intel Pentium E2160 1.8GHz Dual-Core Processor
    • Kingston 2GB (2x 1GB) DDR2 800 Dual Channel Memory
    • Seagate Barracuda 250GB Hard Drive
    • Antec ErathWatts EA380 380W Power Supply
    • (Miscellaneous legacy hard drives for various file storage purposes)
    Battery Backup:
    • APC BackUPS RS 1500 VA Uninterruptable Power Supply
    Rack:
    • Star Case 19" Wide, 30" Deep, 24RU Rack Kit
Game Server Monthly Costs:
These bills are paid monthly.
    Average Monthly Electical Cost (Eostre, Phoenix, Poseidon): ~$30.90
    Monthly DSL Bill: $43.00

Web Hosting Estimated Monthly Costs Per Site:
Web hosting bill is paid yearly.
    Ysgard.org: $2.4875
    tairisnadur.com: $3.48
    copap.org: $3.32
Notes: The website hosting bill was divided evenly between each site I host to produce the number you see. This does not take into account actual bandwidth and disk usage, which Ysgard.org uses the most of by far. If you'd like further website statistics, feel free to ask.

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:22 pm 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
I really would like everyone to read this, but it is up to the team here whether this is made a Global Announcement, Announcement, or Sticky.

Now I'm not going to lie; I posted this because money has been tight lately. The bills are getting paid, and on time, but we are being left with sometimes less than $50 for the week. This week we're trying to push through on $5. With unexpected car repairs and other unexpected bills over the past year, we've been getting by only just. Thankfully, we are only two or three weeks ahead of actually being fully ahead. But until that point, my wife and I are stuck at home. If anyone wants to help with that, I'd be eternally grateful.

Again I am going to reiterate: The servers WILL NOT GO DOWN if there are no donations.

I really hate making posts like this because I made a promise to keep things running with no request for compensation. I feel like a dirty beggar even just reminding anyone that there's a donate button on the front page.

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World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:08 am 
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Honor Guard: Holy Church of Big Mouths

Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:44 pm
Posts: 387
Location: Leeds
First off, you're not a beggar.

This is often the sort of thing that is taken for granted, and it's hard to comprehend the impact hosting has on your home life. Between the constant rise in bills, the need to always be in touch, and until you turn them off, how much that constant hum impacts your life at home. Turning mine off was a change to my home life on a scale I never imagined the entire time they were running.

Sharing the load is only fair, and sometimes folk need to be reminded of that.

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"Abash'd the Devil stood, And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely” John Milton


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:15 pm 
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Wearer of the Holy Pants

Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:42 pm
Posts: 2504
Location: Out and about!
I know you didn't write this to get praise, but here's some anyway. I've been here awhile now (I think 7 or 8 years at this point) and in all that time you have been on top of every problem immediately and you've worked nonstop until it was fixed. That kind of dedication and competence is rare, and it is very, very much appreciated. Thank you.

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Lexy on the Wiki!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:53 pm 
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Veteran DM

Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 8:29 pm
Posts: 738
Location: Keeping an eye on you.
If you think you can help out at all....even 5 or 10 bucks, it all adds up. If we had to pay for all the work Themi does to keep Hala online and running perfect, let alone the bills, we couldn't afford it. Help keep Hala alive!! :)

It's quick,easy and you can be anonymous. Just use the paypal link on the Hala home portal page.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:42 pm 
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Minor DM
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Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 12:37 am
Posts: 1449
Location: *points up* That's Yana and Zunya (GMT-5/-4)
We can never thank you enough, Themi, for what you do.

I'm trying to look at the other donation option other than PayPal because my PayPal account is all messed up and they're asking some odd information from me to authenticate the account.

Image


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:12 pm 
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Major DM
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Joined: Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:40 am
Posts: 780
Moonyju wrote:

I'm trying to look at the other donation option other than PayPal because my PayPal account is all messed up and they're asking some odd information from me to authenticate the account.


I believe last time I donated I send cash or a personal check directly to Thems, that still works I assume?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:34 pm 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
First I want to thank you for your kind words.

Second I want to make sure to make it very clear that I don't want to take away from the hard work your team has done here. You have dedicated DMs and developers who, while I give them a place to run things, do the work that you all enjoy. They can never be thanked enough.

And now about donation methods:

Since I just said this to someone in private, I figured it would be easiest to post it here instead of repeating it.

The PayPal account is how I make sure the donation money is kept separate and applied to what it was intended for. In addition, the web hosting specific button goes directly towards the web hosting bill and cannot be withdrawn in any way. It is my host's choice to use PayPal for that as well.

However, there are some people that refuse to use PayPal for very good reasons. There are a couple options if you want to send something via snail mail.

Cash: I don't trust cash to travel in the mail system. I've never had a problem when cash has been sent to me, or I've sent cash somewhere. Just seems like an easy way to lose money.

Check: I personally don't like checks because I usually have to go through my bank most of the time. This does not allow me to keep donations separate from personal funds.

Money Order: These work easier as most stores will do them, but then there is still the issue of what to do from there. Which brings me to the next option.

PayPal Card: They now sell PayPal cards in stores that work very much like loading a gift card. A $3.95 purchase fee for the card and then $20 - $500 can be loaded. When I receive the card, and enter the code in PayPal, the money instantly goes in there. Solving the problem of getting the money into there to keep it separate from my personal funds.

If you still would prefer to send something via snail mail, you can PM for the address.

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:06 pm 
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Honor Guard: Church of Pants
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Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 12:41 am
Posts: 1322
Do you take EMT?

I would like to donate.

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Blessed is the mind too small for doubt
Though I walk through the vally in the shadows of daemons, I shall fear nothing. For I am what the daemon fears.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:43 am 
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Whelp of the Unholy Church of Newbieism

Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:23 am
Posts: 11
Just checked in today after almost ten years. I am absolutely stunned that this server is still running. Take some money; you most definitely deserve it!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:43 pm 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
I would just like to thank everyone who has helped out so far. The bills are on time, and we're finally able to get some other stuff done, like finally fixing some stuff we've been ignoring on the car. (Can't ignore it any longer anyway... 200,000+ miles and never replaced that axle that just started growling last week... can't afford to let that blow out completely and deal with the ensuing collateral damage!)

Again, thank you all.

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:04 am 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
The website hosting bill has been paid, and even with room to spare. I do have to thank those of you who contributed after this post, as not only did we catch up back then, but we've stayed in the positive. :D

Even though the website hosting bill is paid, if you guys want to contribute, you can either use the host specific button to add towards next year's bill, or you can donate to the PayPal to send money directly to me. Here are some stats on usage for anyone curious. The yearly bill is for $119.40

Code:
Bandwidth used |      Site       | Percentage of total usage
-----------------|-----------------|---------------------------
253.8484 MB      | copap.org       | 4.847150073562196%
65.6937 MB       | tairisnadur.com | 1.2543991720553405%
761.6944 MB      | totheknife.com  | 14.544299144654497%
4155.8285 MB     | ysgard.org      | 79.35415160972796%
-----------------|-----------------|---------------------------
5237.065 23 day total


I will be posting a similar message for the TTK community, but since Tairis is mine (and awfully empty), and CoPaP uses so little I wont be posting there.

EDIT: Added total cost.

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:32 pm 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
Just bumping this to remind everyone that the website hosting bill was paid this week.

EDIT:
This still doesn't feel right, but I'll leave the reminder since I know some like to help, but just don't know when bills are paid or forget. Removed any other text.

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 5:14 am 
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Game Server Admin and Web Monkey
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Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:46 pm
Posts: 292
Location: Michigan
As part of this site update, with the old front page missing, so are the donate buttons.

Now, I've been struggling with returning these buttons.

For one, the button that goes straight into the webhosting account to go only towards that bill was phased out for creating a new button but still functional if you already had one. The problem is that it was being abused by people attacking sites. They were donating then filing a complaint with PayPal to get it back. This results in fees for the webhost and at least one customer of the host faced banning over it. It was eventually properly sorted but the risk is still there.

For the regular PayPal donate button, I take the risk entirely on myself. Now, I've never had a problem, and it appears that resolving disputes has gotten better.

But the reality here is that these servers still cost money to keep running. I also do similar work for other communities as well, again all on a donation basis. I don't outright charge for anything I do for your community or others. While my write up in the first post here focused on the actual costs, what it doesn't focus on is the cost of time. For instance, this recent forum update took me 16 hours of work. Now if you've ever done website work, you know that up to a quarter of that is sitting and waiting for stuff to finish. Uploads, conversions, compiles, etc. But a major chunk of that time was spent problem solving when things didn't work as expected as well. Now I'll be honest, most of the work I did with the servers back in the prime days of NWN, I've learned to automate. I don't have to hand manage many things anymore, and even in some cases of crashes and such, scripts handle them. But I still consider myself on-call 24/7 to keep these things running. I do not like them being down for any length of time. When I told the team back when the servers were hosted by he who will not be named that they needed to get out from under said person for the health of CoPaP, I promised to keep these servers going no matter what. No matter what any of you say, keeping a promise is important to me and that includes choosing sleepless nights to solve server issues even if unpaid.

So after talking to someone from one of those other communities, I am considering putting up a page about me and what I do. This would probably be the new home of my normal donate button. It also will probably contain a Patreon option, as well as maybe some wishlists from Amazon or Newegg or the like. I'm still running a 7 year old motherboard and we've been unable to build a new computer for me this year because of catching up on debts from car work and medical bills. Of course having this separate page, I'd probably have a link in my signature or something. Yeah, that would reduce visibility and probably reduce donations even more.

I guess the whole point of this post is to ask you guys. Should I also put a donate button here somewhere that is visible, to retain at least the same visibility it had before? Maybe a donation info post?

_________________
World Leader: Tairis'nàdur
Administrator: Confederation of Planes and Planets
Server Host & Web Monkey: Hala The Heroic Domain of Ysgard


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:55 pm 
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Honor Guard: Church of Pants

Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:23 am
Posts: 1034
Something prominent would be a good idea to jog people's memory (like mine :oops: ) and so when they do remember they can go "click...click...click..." and feel happy to have helped. Many thanks again for all your hard work and everything you do.


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