Hello and welcome to the October 2020 issue of Aphelion!
OK, let me get this out of the way
first. If you're a US citizen and of legal age, please go vote next
month. I say this every election year. Let your choice be
known. Participate, whether it be by early voting, absentee or mail-in
ballots, or going to the polls on election day. It's none of my
business who you vote for. I can only ask each of you to go and vote.
Now that that's done, By now it must
be obvious to everyone that there has been a glitch in the matrix.
The bad news is that a lot of posts are now unrecoverable.
The good news is that we can rebuild.
People will have to re-register. No getting around it, if you can't log
in now, you'll have to go through the registration all over again. I'm
sorry, but it can't be helped. Yes, the staff and I have now learned
what we can do to minimize the impact should this ever happen again.
No, we did not know how to do that before. We didn't know it was
necessary before this happened. Now, we do know.
You can blame this inconvenience on the spam-bots. Those buggers are
OK, here's what will happen from now on: With every new issue flip, I
will run a backup of a database that saves all the forum memberships
and posts. That way, if there is another crash, we will only lose the
most recent month's worth of new members and posts. I have to learn how
to do that. I didn't know how to so it before. Those backups will be
stored in one or more of my external hard drives here at home. We will
not depend on "the kindness of strangers" from now on.
I am also looking into making a backup of the entire website. Right
now, it could be stored on a small thumbdrive. That backup wouldn't be
as simple as firing up the old File Transfer Protocol program and
clicking Copy. It'll have to be done in stages--little by little. There
is a limit as to how many files can be transferred in a single go. Too
many files in one gulp and the FTP shuts off. I found that out last
week when I was backing up really old directories of files from back in
the day, before we began our present, issue-based file system. You see,
back in the day we shoved everything new into just a few directories.
Those buggers got huge, and unwieldy. Now, we're more
compartmentalized, with lots of tiny directories. The new way is less
likely to bork the FTP. The old way is what's going to slow me down.
And no, we can't possibly put the entire website onto a single data CD.
The website is just too big. I can't put a 5 pound watermelon into a 2
pound sack. Plus, there's not a way to do a multi-disk format, either.
Too many files would have to be on each and every disk to make that
work. But I can make backups on several different external hard drives
and thumbdrives so that everything could be recoverable in an extreme
That's the plan: multiple offline backups of the site itself, updated
every month as each new issue goes online, with a separate backup for
the forums every month as well. The older files will be the hold-up.
The newer files will be easy.
So, I'm sorry this happened, but we can rebuild. Blame the spam-bots.
They caused this to happen. We'll just have to adapt faster than they
do, from now on..
In other news, Autum has
fully arrived in Georgia. Cooler days, cooler nights, and
foggy mornings have become the norm. I've even had
to run the furnace a couple of nights. But this delight
presages what looks to be a somewhat more intense Winter in
North America than we have been used to having lately. Oh,
the Fall will be mild, I'm sure, but as the seasons change once again,
country folk are predicting a very cold Winter. I'm not among
those people who find that charming. Winter, for me, is a
torture. I do not tolerate cold weather gladly.
One benefit of the change of seasons
is that for the rest of the year we should be seeing lots of shooting
stars as Earth passes through several cometary paths and their debris
plummets into our atmosphere to provide us with a wonderful light show.
For anyone who can stand the colder nights as Autum turns to Winter,
going outside to stargaze should be highly rewarding.
Seasonally speaking, a
friend of mine runs a Chattanooga-area convention called Hallowcon.
Because of the virus outbreak, he decided to go virtual and throw this
year's con online. He is trying a novel approach to holding a streaming
convention. Multiple streams running at the same time--quite like the
different tracks of programming at a live convention. He's been
practicing with a service called Streamyard. Most of the bugs have been
worked out over the past six months or so. It seems to be working well.
Check out Hallowcon
2020 online for further details.
In other, other news, my wife and I
become the owners of a little kit-built greenhouse we will set up in
our back yard. What remains of our garden will be transplanted inside
for the Winter. Anything that doesn't survive until then will be
replaced in due time. We still have mustard greens, some tomato plants
with fresh blooms, three different kinds of pepper plants, carrots, and
what is left of this year's seeds. We also have an orange and a lemon
tree sprouting, peach tree seedlings, avacados sprouting, and are
planning to sprout a lime tree. I see guacamole and salsa in our
future! Stay tuned for future updates, LOL!
And now is about the time I quit
let you get to reading. Enjoy the newest issue of Aphelion!
SPHERE image of the disc around AB Aurigae
Courtesy: ESO/Boccaletti et al.