If you are a regular reader of TailgatingIdeas.com or you visited this website anytime between Friday afternoon until Monday morning, you probably saw a distressing message. It read:
Dear TailgatingIdeas.com readers… we’re sorry to do this, but we’ve had to take the site offline for some upgrades. We’ll be back online Monday. We really appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.
So why did this happen and why does the website look quite a bit different than the last time you visited? You can blame me, procrastination and Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated. Jimmy? Why is Jimmy being dragging into this? Well, let me explain.
Jimmy Traina works for Sports Illustrated and is the custodian of the Extra Mustard Hot Clicks section. Each weekday he publishes a new entry rounding up the best the blogging world has to offer that day. Any sports blogger worth their sweat socks understands that being linked to by Hot Clicks is like hitting the internet traffic progressive slots jackpot. As you can imagine, the traffic rush that Sports Illustrated can provide is quite substantial and unless you are a fool you would kill to be linked and gain that avalanche of visitors. I have been fortunate to have had a number of post get links out from Hot Clicks and have enjoyed the tsunami of traffic that comes with it. But with great reward comes great responsibility. One must be prepared for a large rush of traffic and this past Friday I was exposed.
Friday I awoke to see my latest post, The Most Annoying Tailgaters Part 3, was included in the “Random Links” section of that day’s Hot Clicks. Not the top spot above the fold but anytime you get a link out from SI you keep your head down, your mouth shut and brace yourself for a good traffic day. Around lunch time I get on the computer to see what my traffic spike is looking like and my stats came back with abnormally low traffic numbers. Overall the numbers were higher than a normal day but way lower than I would have expected for getting a link on SI.com that day. I go to the home page and there I get the error message that says “Firefox could not make a connection with the home server“.
Oh Crap! If I am getting this message that means everyone else is too. That means all that traffic from Sports Illustrated is just being turned away. That means I just squandered an opportunity to make a great first impression and to gain more readers. I need to find a way to fix this!
I get on the phone and call my web hosting to find out if this is a small reset on their end and I just happened to have logged on at the exact moment it was happening. Full disclosure, my web hosting was done through a friend whom I have been submitting blog articles to his auto racing blog, Fastmachines.com. I had been writing for FastMachines since 2004 and when I decided to open up TailgatingIdeas.com, my friend Josh was the first one I called for help. He was gracious enough to do a lot of the technical “hand holding” in getting me set up and able to publish a blog on the internet. He also offered to host my website on his server which hosted other websites for his main business. So now that you understand the beginnings of how this website got started, let’s fast forward to last Friday.
I call Josh and he picks up his cell phone. His “hello” when picking up was more of a “HELLO!” that sounded like he was trapped in a closet surrounded by 50 snakes and scorpions and the walls were closing in. This did not make me feel any comfort that my problem was just a temporary one. I said, “Hey Josh, not sure if you know this yet or not…”, he interupts and quickly says, “Yeah, all the websites are down, I know. We’re working on figuring it out.” Click goes the phone. Okay, so Josh is on top of things. I better just hang tight and wait to see what the problem was. It never crossed my mind that my website was the cause of the server crash. After all, I had received a number of links out from SI in the past and never had a server crash. Why would today be any different?
About 30 minutes later, I receive an email which I quickly checked on my BlackBerry. It’s from Josh and he says,
Looks like it finally happened….TailgatingIdeas.com crashed the whole server. Not sure if the site was being attacked…or if you did some promotion and it was legit traffic. Either way….time to find it a new home. :) I can’t have all my client’s sites going down.
TGI has been taken offline for now as the traffic wouldn’t stop coming…..
So after reading the email I got that hot flash or nervousness/fuzzy feeling. You know the feeling. The feeling you get when you look into your rear view mirror and see a police car right behind you. Sure you weren’t doing anything wrong but you still have that sickening feeling that you are going to see the lights turn on any second. I was responsible for crashing a whole server that not only crashed this site and my other pet project website, Bring Back Titan Football, but also crashed FastMachines.com and numerous other websites housed on the same server. No bueno.
Since Josh was able to diagnose the problem as TailgatingIdeas.com was the culprit for melting the servers, he was able to bring back the other websites one by one and have them functioning just fine. He tried to bring TailgatingIdeas.com back up and within five minutes, the traffic coming in crashed the server again. Because it was a Friday and he is three hours ahead and on East Coast time and he was scheduled to leave to go out of town at 4 pm, the best he could do was put an apology message telling people we were undergoing upgrading. That prompted me to scramble to get a new hosting company that would be able to handle large traffic days without killing the servers. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to get things switched over (not something you want to do last minute and then have your webmaster leave for a weekend trip and be unavailable until Monday) and TailgatingIdeas.com was forced to be dead in the water for the entire weekend.
That brings us to today. We have successfuly made the transition over to our new hosting servers and had I not said anything, no one would have noticed the difference. Josh was instrumental in making this transition as smooth and painless as it could be. For a guy who had all of his websites get killed because some jackass like me was gravy training off of his servers, he sure was nice about it. So a big thanks to Josh for all his help and not holding a grudge.
As you can see, TailgatingIdeas.com has a new look and feel. (Of course if you are reading this in an RSS reader or RSS via email, it will not look different but I encourage you to visit the site to see the changes.) Hopefully you like this look and feel better than the previous version. As you can see our navigation sidebar has moved from right to left and we have a black/grey/yellow border color scheme. The biggest change is that the text you are reading is on a white background whereas before the switch it was on a black background. (I had gotten numerous complaints the light text on the black background made a strain on the eyes.) Because the site was down all weekend, it provided me with some time to research and find a new look and feel for the website. Please fell free to leave a comment below and tell me how you like it and what improvements we can make.
So there you have it. My apologies to any and all that visited the website from Friday until this morning and received the apology message. But as Paul Harvey would say, “and now you know…. the rest of the story”. We’ll be back posting tailgating gear reviews, crazy videos, tailgating recipes and more just like normal. We encourage you to come back often. We have big things happening here and now I say to you Jimmy Traina, “next time you link to me, we’ll be ready for it!”.