Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
If you’re tried to visit the NLSC throughout this week, you’ll have found that we’ve been out of service for much of it. If you’re reading this now, however, chances are everything is back to normal and our big server move is finally complete. I was hoping to avoid having this much downtime, but we ran into a few complications along the way. As I’m writing this week’s column, we’re fortunately in the home stretch of the server move, and it won’t be long before it’ll be business as usual. As you can probably imagine, I’m quite relieved!
I’ve mentioned before that in running the NLSC for all these years, I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve gained fascinating insights into the development of basketball video games, and through my duties in the NLSC Forum, I’ve learned about dealing with different types of personalities. Through developing content and implementing new features for the NLSC, I’ve also gained some useful technical skills and knowledge. Undertaking our most recent server move has certainly been a learning experience too, so I thought I’d reflect upon that in this week’s Five. Without any further ado, here are five things that I learned moving the NLSC to a new server.
1. How Big The NLSC Really Is
Don’t get me wrong; I have a pretty good handle on the general size of the NLSC. I obviously keep tabs on various stats and figures to ensure that everything is running properly, and that we’re not headed for any trouble. Still, with faster Internet and larger storage capacities, it’s easy to lose perspective and sense of scale, when it comes to large amounts of data. We’ve come a long way since I was running the NBA Live Domain on Yahoo! Geocities, when 15 MB of storage was sufficient. Even then, sites like mine had to find other places to host patches, not only due to storage but also bandwidth restrictions.
Needless to say, the NLSC is considerably larger than 15 MB in size. The databases for our main page posts and the NLSC Forum, as well as our media library, account for a fair chunk of the data we had to copy across. Then, of course, we have our Downloads section. We’ve been offering hosting to the community since 2011, and at this point, we’re approaching 8000 files. Some of them are quite large, and it all adds up. It’s all been copied across now, but there’s a reason it took a long time: there was a lot to copy! Fortunately, it all came across, or so it would seem.
2. It’s Not Always Straightforward
The basic principles of moving the NLSC (or any website) to a new server are not, in and of themselves, particularly contrived. There are databases that store content such as main page posts, Forum structure and posts, and Wiki pages. Then there are the files that make up the software we use, as well as various uploads: Forum avatars, our media library, and the contents of the Downloads section. In a nutshell, everything needs to be copied over to the new server just as it was on the old one, and the appropriate settings put into place so that everything will keep working as before.
Fortunately, there are a couple of methods and tools that assist in the process, but we seemed to run into problems at every turn. Part of that was due to the aforementioned size of the site, but to be honest, it’s also because this is the first server move where I’ve been more hands-on. Prior to this, everything has been set up for us, and this time, there were more things that I had to take care of personally. On top of that, the way that a couple of things were set up in the past, and the way they need to be set up now, has caused further confusion and delays. Fortunately, it seems we’ve ironed out all those issues now.
3. Server Support Techs Are Extremely Helpful
I guess I already knew that, having dealt with support staff when we’ve had issues in the past, but I’d say I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for the work they do, as well as their patience and professionalism. I’m in IT myself, but servers and hosting aren’t my forte, and in this situation, a lot of the technology and administrative functions are out of my hands. Although there have been difficulties with the move, the techs have been great in helping make it all happen, and patiently answering my queries and requests for support. They were also extremely helpful when I was shopping around and had questions about various solutions in the first place.
Having dealt with some less-than-stellar support staff on behalf of some of my customers in the past, it’s always refreshing to experience such friendly and professional service. As someone in the industry, I would suggest that it’s a benchmark to aspire to. Because of my inexperience in this particular area, and some of the complications that arose, their assistance was invaluable in making the server move happen. They’ve also taken the time to explain a few aspects in great detail, which has allowed me to fill gaps in my knowledge, and get a better handle of things moving forward. I’m confident that we’re in good hands with our new host.
4. Brand New Feelings of Stress & Relief
To be completely honest, when I was informed that the hosting service we were on would be closing down as of July 7th, and we’d have to find new hosting at our own cost, I panicked a little. I’m not in a position to pay a lot of money for dedicated hosting at this time, and there wasn’t a lot of time to make new arrangements. I was afraid it might be the end of us – or at the very least, we’d have to scale back operations significantly – and part of me was wondering whether the NLSC’s time had come. I consider myself an optimist, but it looked bleak, and I felt defeated.
Then we discovered a suitable hosting solution that we’d be able to raise funds for, and got the ball rolling. Relief! Then, as I’ve discussed earlier in the Five, we ran into a few problems along the way. That caused a little bit of stress again, especially when it took so long to transfer everything across. When that completed successfully, I felt relieved once more; even if July 7th came and the move wasn’t complete, nothing would be lost. Now that everything is falling into place, I’m looking forward to getting back to business as usual, and focusing on creating new content.
5. The Support of the Community is Very Humbling
While I’ve criticised certain practices at times – always in an effort to improve things, mind you – I have a great deal of pride in, and affection for, the community of basketball gamers here at the NLSC. While there were some rough patches early on in my tenure running the site, I’ve also felt a lot of support over the years. Honestly, that was a big factor in my decision to appeal to the community for help funding the on-going costs of the new server. As I’ve said before, I’m aware of the controversy of doing something like that, so it wasn’t a decision that I was going to make lightly.
I’d actually braced myself for the possibility of a few hostile reactions, even pre-emptively addressing the issue in the FAQ I posted along with the announcement. I figured that most people would understand, but that there might be a couple of people who misunderstood our intentions. As it turns out, the response has been very positive, and generous. We’ve already had pledges to our Patreon, a few donations via GoFundMe, and others have expressed an intention to do one or the other soon. A couple of other folks have privately made some generous contributions via PayPal, too. I’m touched and humbled by the support, so again: thank you!
Once again, thank you for your patience during the move, and your continued support of the NLSC. A big thank you to Matt for his hosting services these past eight years, and to our new hosts for helping us move in. Here’s to bigger and better things in the near future! In the meantime, that’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five. #NLSCLives