Author Topic: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!  (Read 2154 times)

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Offline JonLeung

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VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« on: April 05, 2022, 07:22:41 am »
Hi everyone.  I know there have been a lot of issues with loading up some pages and most maps on the site since Friday.  I contacted the longtime host, GoDaddy, and talked (and waited on hold) for many, many hours over the course of the weekend and last night.  That's a lot of time considering it was very unproductive, including them repeatedly telling me "it's up" or "it's fixed" or "we can't replicate the error" when not just I, but many other users, insisted that maps weren't loading.  Finally, one technical support guy found a change in the system that I was not informed about beforehand.

The issue has (supposedly) been identified as to why the site isn't running as it should this month.  Even if I could complete the proposed fix, it would involve reuploading practically the whole site, so if I have to do that anyway, it might as well be to another host that would be less impersonal, so I am now exploring options that don't involve GoDaddy.

GoDaddy is, at worst, evil.  (The CEO being known for shooting elephants doesn't help.)
GoDaddy is, at the middle of the road, incompetent.
GoDaddy is, at best, just having bad luck and making a bunch of mistakes with my site and how they address my concerns.

But seeing as how they never apologized in the 22+ hours that I was on the chat and phone calls with them in the past few days, we can certainly rule out simple mistakes.  I might rant a bit more in this topic later if anyone wants to read the details of this ordeal, and as a reminder to anyone else not to deal with GoDaddy. EDIT: You can read about that here.

Look forward to a new VGMaps host soon.

EDIT: 2022-04-06: We are now on CloudSigma!  Thanks to Vince (AKA bustin98, and owner of Effective Web LLC for helping us get set up!  Everything should be faster now!
« Last Edit: April 08, 2022, 08:33:13 am by JonLeung »

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2022, 12:38:33 pm »
I had them pegged as being on the "evil" side of the spectrum ever since they were making commercials that were more about busty women losing their shirts with a tagline of "see more at..." than anything that even suggested what their company does.

I use A2 hosting, and while I don't host anything near as big or popular as this site, I haven't had any problems with them.
The biggest complaint I ever had was that their internal file structures are cap sensitive.
I've also heard good things about Bluehost.

Switch servers.  I haven't been able to get my map fix on, and that's terrible.  I was worried the site was going down.

Offline DarkWolf

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2022, 03:13:47 pm »
I can't say I'm surprised. I work for a different large web solutions company, and although the part I work for doesn't deal with hosting, I certainly wouldn't recommend them to any of my friends or family based on my experiences. Personally I have been using Dreamhost and their shared hosting service for many years. There's been some downtime here and there, but mostly things just work and I've gotten decent response times the few times I've needed support.

The biggest complaint I ever had was that their internal file structures are cap sensitive.

That's going to be the case on any Linux/Unix based web hosting, which will be a fair amount of them.

Offline JonLeung

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2022, 07:06:49 pm »
Thanks to Vince (you know him here as bustin98), who has helped out with technical issues in the past, especially with the forums, we have migrated the site over to a CloudSigma server!  That only took a day...

I'm not sure at the moment if I should release the details of my angry rant about GoDaddy, but I am glad to be cutting ties with them, to be sure.  I would hope there won't be any more surprises, but there shouldn't be, with more control over this server.  And it seems to be running much faster now, too, isn't it?  So there is a silver lining to this almost-week-long ordeal.

Let us know if there are any problems, like anything missing.  I'm pretty confident that the maps successfully made the transfer, but I am all ears if you notice anything odd...

Everybody say thanks to bustin98!  Again!  Yaaaaay!
« Last Edit: April 06, 2022, 07:25:58 pm by JonLeung »

Offline TerraEsperZ

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2022, 07:18:04 pm »
As always, bustin98 comes through with his technical prowess!
Current project that are on hold because job burnout :
-Drill Dozer (GBA)
-Sonic 3D Blast (Genesis)
-Naya's Quest (PC)

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2022, 07:48:26 am »
That's going to be the case on any Linux/Unix based web hosting, which will be a fair amount of them.
Yes, (and I realize now I didn't imply this very well,) it's a minor thing, but it goes to show their quality when that's the biggest complaint I have.
Also I figured it would be worth mentioning for a site this size, in case that makes a difference.

Offline bustin98

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2022, 07:51:42 pm »
This has been a quick move, now completely free of Godaddy. It's cool that Jon now has his own server.

Offline Mikemc

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2022, 11:35:27 pm »
I wanted to comment the site is running super fast! It's like you finally stopped using dial-up ;D

Offline JonLeung

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2022, 08:31:46 am »
I might as well publish this rant about the frustrations with GoDaddy while it is relatively fresh in my mind so I have an accurate record of this.  I've already spent enough time with this ordeal, so hopefully, my ramblings make sense without too much editing.

---

FRIDAY, APRIL 1

As I mentioned, I noticed the site had issues on the evening of Friday, April 1.  zagato blackfist had just submitted maps for the Game Boy Color version of Crystalis, which I was excited to put up.  When checking the new files to be sure they linked properly, I noticed they weren't loading.  I'd seen issues with GoDaddy before, I figured it was a hiccup, and maybe it would be fine soon, and if not, I would just contact them in the morning.

SATURDAY, APRIL 2

Saturday morning, the site was still having troubles loading, not just images but some pages.  I definitely had to contact GoDaddy.  This was early, 9:21 AM, and I figured I could get a hold of somebody on the chat thing on their web site, and mention it and they'd just fix it.  I'm not too sure why - last autumn after updating the Maps Of The Month there was a brief problem, and the chat staff then did not seem very helpful...  Anyway, I had to help with shopping and errands that morning, which is a weekly thing that is normally my brother's job, but this particular week he was not able to, so I was already annoyed at being inconvenienced.  That's not important to the story, other than that it meant I had to leave the house at 10:15 AM so I was only aggravating when the chat asked me for various forms of authentication - PIN and through an authenticator app, and to enter these codes into a window that popped up, which failed twice, meaning that about 40 minutes had passed just to verify that it was me.  (Looking back on it, complaining about "only" 40 minutes is silly considering what will follow...)  Now past 10:00 AM and having to get ready, I explained that images weren't loading, and the chat person said something about looking into it, I'm sure, it was the first of many people, so I don't remember exactly what this first person said.  I remember asking them to continue looking at it and I'll be back in a couple of hours.  At this point, I already wasn't sure if they would continue to work on it when the chat was closed, and I might have even waited a minute for their response if that is even a thing they do, but I couldn't wait around any longer and had to go do the shopping and errands, just hoping they would still be looking into it - you know, serve the customer, that's what customer service does.

While finishing up the shopping run at past noon, I checked on my phone and I was annoyed to see that my site was still hanging.  I waited at the pharmacy for several minutes for them to fulfill my brother's prescription, only to learn that they were just preparing his regular stuff and not what I was actually supposed to be picking up, an order from the doctor that the pharmacy hadn't noticed they had received until now, so it would be another several minutes.  Didn't get home until past 1 PM, when I contacted GoDaddy through the chat again and asked why my site wasn't working.

I'd tweeted about GoDaddy "gaslighting" me, and I'm not sure if that's necessarily what they were doing ( as "Hanlon's razor" comes to mind... "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"), but they kept using GeoPeeker and similar sites that show my site is up and running in all parts of the world, and insisting that nothing was wrong.  I kept repeating that it doesn't mean anything to me if I can't load it on my devices.  I used my phone on mobile data instead of Wi-Fi and confirmed that it didn't have to do with my computer or network, as I still couldn't get on (as I also saw earlier when I checked on the site on my phone when I was still at the store).  I referenced the fact that my friends on both Telus and Shaw were experiencing difficulties too, and that users had already contacted me from around the world.  They kept saying something about how I should switch ISPs, as if they think it's something I can just do on a whim.  I do use a VPN but even that was not helpful.  I think they were of the opinion that as long as the main page loads up (which it didn't for me) that it must be fine, but in the rare case I could get on, I couldn't load up more than a couple of images before I just couldn't load anything else in that session, and I don't think they figured to actually try to load up more content.  When I got somewhere further with my phone, which was probably a fluke, they tried to reassure me that everything was fine, and I don't know if I was tired (as it was nearing dinner time) and naively or reluctantly thought maybe this was fixed, and I just had to wait for the problem to be over.  Gaslighting?  But I wanted something for the trouble.  They offered me discounts on renewal.

Think about the audacity of that!  I'm getting crappy service, and then they want my money earlier?  Or assume that I would even want to renew?  I asked if they could just put it on my account to allow it to auto-apply when I get around to paying it when I need to.  I mean the renewal is coming up, but it just seemed ridiculous to give them money earlier than I have to; maybe they were trying to secure my business for another year before I could think about jumping ship.  They said they couldn't let it apply if it was done later.  I pointed out the ridiculousness of that.  So then they said they could add it to my cart and I could check out whenever and that the discount would still surely be there at a later date.  Which in my mind is exactly the same thing as what I was asking for...  Anyway, I saw that there was a savings of, I think it was somewhere in the $160-$190 range?  It might have even been $200something.  Unfortunately, I didn't take note of the exact amount.  I ended the call, still not sure why.

After dinner, my site was (of course) still gimped.  I hated the idea of going to bed angry, so I decided to go into the chat again, in the hopes that someone can pull off a miracle that evening.  I don't remember much about this particular chat, but I know I was furious (consider that this has now been going on all day) and said a lot of things in ALL CAPS.  The chat ended close to midnight, but I don't remember what was said that was enough for me to think "they get the point now, they'd better fix it" because I had to go to bed at some point.

(I did continue to update the site since FTP wasn't affected... we got a real Metroid Dread (Switch) map on April 2, which is funny since my Metroid Dread (DS) maps from 2009 were an April Fool's joke 13 (!) years and one day ago.)

SUNDAY, APRIL 3

Another day, and more chatting.  I believe this was the fourth chat.  Still unproductive.  At some point, I figured my weekend was already ruined, might as well go all out on this ridiculousness.  Remember that discount of $160-$190 that was in my GoDaddy cart?  It was now $69.17 only a day later.  So they lied - the discount didn't remain, it was reduced by possibly $100.  Or maybe they reeled it back, which seems wrong to do, especially as this problem drags on, they should be discounting me further!  Especially since I had mentioned that I am sometimes working with advertisers at the end or the start of most months, so with my site down, they could legitimately be costing me revenue with each day that it's down.

Then I decided to call them, especially as @GoDaddyHelp had mentioned a phone number in response to one of my angry tweets about this bad customer service saga.  I called that number and was on hold for 96 minutes, and I think the call just stopped.  Like, no sound, no waiting muzak, nothing.  But it didn't actually disconnect.  I wonder if that was a number they just use to stall and waste time because I went to the GoDaddy web site and found a DIFFERENT number, which I called and actually got someone.

The guy I spoke to, Fernando, sounded confidently intelligent.  I'm sure anybody with a voice could easily do so after getting the runaround from chat personnel.  Probably a gamer, he was impressed with the maps (which of course he could see because somehow the GoDaddy people have no problem with the site).  He taught me about the "tracert" command, which traces the route from my IP to the site's IP, and went to investigate why early on it looked like something was getting hung up around Seattle, and snowballing to the point where it was causing timeouts.  It felt good to talk to somebody who actually sounded like they knew what they were talking about, so even though he had to look further, he was able to put it to a development team that would continue to look into it after the call.  I felt relief.  But it was too early to do so.

MONDAY, APRIL 4

I had work to do, so I was doing my job for most of the day.  I did take quick peeks and saw nothing had changed, but I was assured the day before that I would get a note back when the dev team was done with their investigation and fixes.  I got a couple of emails (this is sort of important) with the latter one saying the issue was resolved.  I had a moment with a double blink, and then rage, because I knew it wasn't fixed, and pissed off at what sounded like more lies.  I tried emailing them back but got an auto-response saying that issue has been closed and I would have to call them to reopen it.

So I called them again.  First I got a hold of a guy, I think it was someone named Chris, but that's inconsequential because I never spoke to him again as he put me on hold for over an hour.  I decided to hang up and call again, but I was back at the end of the queue, so the estimated wait time was an hour.  Eventually, I got through to a supervisor named Jacob, who also sounded at least as intelligent as Fernando.  He looked at a few things but didn't mention the "tracert" thing Fernando was using, and when I mentioned it, he said that was not relevant.  After a while, he talked to someone on hold and came back mentioning a couple of things - first, that my IP had been blocked for security reasons.  Like, WTF?  Maybe someone I yelled at the chat thought I was getting belligerent or something?  But no, that wouldn't explain why my site was down in the first place, and it wouldn't explain why other people can't see my site.  He said they would unblock it but it could take up to three days.  The second thing he mentioned was to refer to the first email I got from the dev team, the one that I dismissed.  I did actually read it earlier, I guess I figured it was more BS or a pathetic guess because I thought what it was asking was ridiculous since it had never been a problem - parentheses.  He said it's a cPanel security thing, something about how filenames with parentheses are now a no-go because that is a potential way to insert shell commands or something?  I don't know.  It wasn't a problem before, but now it was, and they can't make an exception for my site.  Flashback to when the forums had issues last November, because they changed some stuff around without telling me, but said they would inform me of future changes.  Well, this is a change they should have warned me about, but didn't.

I thought about all the filenames with parentheses.  So many maps with "(In-Game Map)" and so many titles with a platform identifier like "(NES)" at the end to distinguish them.  The irony is, I don't know if any of you noticed, but I very recently replaced all the NES title images with palette-consistent ones that are better recropped, etc., and as part of that fix, I added "(NES)" to the end of every filename of every title image that didn't already have one.  So I was happy about doing that, but now it's a problem?  As a security thing, it sort of explained why if I could get on, I could load up some pages, but then whatever security measures kicked in and then I wouldn't be able to access anything.  Now, I COULD change all the filenames with "(" to "[" using Bulk Rename Utility (super useful, by the way), but the big thing is having to change all the "("s and ")"s in the code of all the HTML files.  A "find and replace" would be helpful, but, it would still be a lot of work, as I'm sure some of the pages have "(" in their code without referring to an image.  I didn't want to go to all this trouble, especially if (given their inability to communicate so far) what if it was all for naught?  Jacob said he went back to the developer multiple times asking about it and assured me this was the issue.  I couldn't just change one folder just to see if he was right - any file with a "(" ANYWHERE on the site would cause a problem.  And even if I did fix them all, I'd have to go to the trouble of reuploading everything.  So if I did have to do that, why not reupload it to a different host, and not have to deal with GoDaddy anymore?  Jacob said he took some good notes - and mentioned that previous people I had communicated with took some notes, but not many - not a surprise, really - and he couldn't do much for compensation, but did give me three months free of hosting... still not much, but now I no longer cared.  Better to cut my losses and then move on.

So in the end, that's 22+ hours on the chat, and on the phone, with a lot of that phone time also being on hold.  Even if that parentheses thing is true, it shouldn't have taken them that long to figure out, and why wasn't I notified of it beforehand like they said they would do last time, and why did they keep saying the site was fine, and not seeming to believe me when I said it wasn't?  It's poor customer service.  Though it has been a while since I was that furious, I didn't swear at anyone (I might have responded to someone else's #fuckgodaddy tweet, but that was it) and I didn't yell at anyone (unless you count ALL CAPITALS in the chat as yelling), which is probably a good thing, but I bet you that some people wouldn't blame me if I did lose my cool.  Over 22 hours is way too much.

TUESDAY, APRIL 5

Vince (you may know him here as bustin98) has long been a friend of VGMaps.com and has helped out with technical stuff, usually related to the forums.  I worked with him to begin setting up a server.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6

I uploaded all the files to the new host in the morning, and by the afternoon it all looked good.  That evening the domain name was transferred.  Only one month until the site turns 20, nice to be back online!  And it's faster, too!  A silver lining.

THURSDAY, APRIL 7

Took care of a few other little things to dissociate from GoDaddy, and now here we are.  Under a week later, and everything went from bad to better than ever!  Thanks again, bustin98!

Offline ReyVGM

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Re: APRIL 2022 SITE ISSUES
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2022, 09:37:40 am »
Congrats on the move!

The parenthesis thing definitely sounds like it was the culprit. That would explain why I could browse the site just fine, but it would hang when loading a map.

Dreamhost once took a similar "security measure" when suddenly any file name "virus" would not load. Like yeah, as if someone is going to make a virus and actually call it "virus". But whatever, I just changed the file names and everything was fine.

As to why the chat people or techs didn't know shit of what was going on? That's because normally customer service is not up to date on everything that goes on in the company.

I've worked in customer service and tech support, and I got calls all of the time from people asking me stuff I had no idea the company had changed or added or offered. As the employee you should get a company email or something with anything that was changed so you are aware, but that never happens. Sometimes there's a portal where you can see the latest news, but those are usually treated like a newsletter filled with so much useless crap that no one ever reads them.

« Last Edit: April 08, 2022, 09:55:57 am by ReyVGM »

Offline JonLeung

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2022, 10:29:52 am »
Even if the parentheses being a problem due to new security measures is true (though you get why I doubted it after hours of them telling me the site was fine when I could clearly see it wasn't), it was a major change that they should have given me a heads-up about, especially after they specifically said they would do that, after a change that crippled the forums last November.

The chat staff was more useless than the techs, and I probably should have clued in earlier to call them instead of depending on the chat.  Either way though, there was an awful lack of empathy whenever I started a chat or call with "I've been asking about this for (X) hours now..."

I actually did make clear whenever I went ALL CAPS in the chat or said something snide in the call (but again, I didn't insult or swear) that my frustrations were not directly towards anyone I was talking to, and that I just wanted my site fixed.  I didn't want my rudeness to be a reason for them to not want to help me.  They never did explain why my IP was being blocked, though.

The giving of the discounts and then taking them back was bad.  The other compensation, only three months?  I've been a longtime customer, so, still bad.  The lack of apologies, very bad.  They couldn't even say "sorry for any inconvenience".

Yes, I know about Hanlon's Razor: "never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".  As in, it is possible they are just dumb as opposed to being evil.  Still, the fact that the GoDaddy founder seemed to enjoy shooting elephants means that at least one of them is evil.  I never understood hunting.  You want to prove your manliness?  Tangle with a wild animal head-on, then.  Cowardly hiding, unseen and with a gun, shooting it from a distance, is not a sport.  Ugh.  That's a whole other thing, perhaps, but whatever.

We now have a faster server, I can depend on Vince for any tech support, I know everything is fine now in time for the 20th anniversary next month, so we're definitely in a better place than if I stuck with GoDaddy.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2022, 10:32:07 am by JonLeung »

Offline ReyVGM

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2022, 12:54:51 pm »
Yeah, the phone people are not evil, they are just clueless because whoever works on the servers or security are not the same as the customer service reps or even tech support. Whatever changes are made in the backend, are normally not trickled down to customer service (or at least, not immediately). Although, for a company that provides server space, then they really should communicate that ASAP to everyone. However, that's not the reality. Corporate decisions are usually very detached from customer service.

I don't know if you've worked taking calls, but it's a horrible soul-draining job. I hated every minute of the many years I spent working that field and hopefully I never EVER have to rely on it ever again.

People that call customer service think the rep has the power to do anything they want or solve any issues, and that's just not true. You are only as powerful or knowledgeable as the tools or info you're given. If the company gives you limited powers and no info, then you can't really help people with more advanced issues.

But whatever, in the end, it turned out to be a positive. If the site had kept working the same slow way as it has since forever, you probably would have not made the server change. But now you did, and it's all better.

Offline Grizzly

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2022, 11:34:11 pm »
This is very great to hear. This should have fixed the upload issue, too, I assume, because it was all because of some GoDaddy post processing after upload for "security reasons"?  ::)

Oh, because I see it now in the other thread: The decoding of the database-stored post texts got wrong. It interprets the UTF-8-stored text as ANSI, resulting in outputting the special U+00C2 letter that denotes the begin of a two-byte long character.

The following character is to test what happens during encoding: .
« Last Edit: April 20, 2022, 11:50:25 pm by Grizzly »

Offline JonLeung

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Re: VGMaps.com site issues - but now, a new host!
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2022, 07:44:00 am »
Well, regardless of the upload issue we had with the Genesis's index.htm on the GoDaddy system, now that we're on a new server from a different provider and everything has been freshly uploaded, it's no longer a concern.  I recall it wasn't a concern before that though, probably GoDaddy changing things on their end (and of course not informing me).

Some non-standard characters will be an issue just about anywhere, though.  Yesterday I had to fix Lüt's username when I noticed that this topic about the August 2021 Maps Of The Month featuring Lüt's maps for Lunar: Eternal Blue had the name garbled up.  I guess the transition didn't translate that umlaut correctly.  It's a valid character, just needed to be manually fixed.

Let me know if you guys see any other strange characters.  I know I still have to clean up a few instances of "Pokémon", which shows up as either "Pokémon" or "Pokémon".

Also, this morning, I officially cancelled and deleted my subscriptions/products off of GoDaddy.  Should have done that earlier.  But now for sure I am disconnected from them.  Good riddance.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2022, 08:07:37 am by JonLeung »