Volunteering for beta-testing new site location

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Volunteering for beta-testing new site location

Postby semmel on Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:08 am

Hi, Jeff and Faulties!

I would like to volunteer beta-testing your new site location.

Although I don't know much about server technology (I run my own email and FTP server for fun, but that's about it), I know my HTML backwards and some JavaScript, and I have been reading and re-reading GPF all the way through multiple times for probably well over 5 years :D
(And I am quite hooked I should add).

I invite others to join me in this thread if they feel like volunteering, then we have everyone in the same thread which will hopefully make it easier for Jeff to find us.

Oh, and congrats, Jeff, for getting your buffer up! I'll cross my fingers for you and look forward to the new updates!
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Postby jtdarlington on Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:55 pm

Thanks for getting the ball rolling, semmel. I've been wondering if anyone was going to say anything about the move. Of course, that's sent my mind spiraling in all sorts of directions (Is the forum just dead? Is Keenspot so no longer relevant that nobody cares if I leave? Am I so no longer relevant that nobody cares?), but that's just my mild paranoia setting in. ;)

Anyone willing to beta test should chime in here as semmel suggests to keep everything centralized. If everything goes well, the formal beta test reporting will be moving to the new forums where we'll be able to control access to who can see and post. (Don't want potential security leaks.) I'll provide that information when it's available. For now, though, a simple roll call will do so we can figure out how many people we'll have, when they'll be available, and what experience they may have in the realm of testing (end user, developer, formal tester, etc.).

To give a general state of things, the bulk of the site is ready and available at the new location. (That URL will remain secret for the moment, although it's probably not too hard to guess.) I've had the benefit of several months to code and test things myself, so the most recent tasks have been verifying archive integrity (making sure all the strips are there, the regular and High-Def archives are in sync) and porting things to the new hardware. I've made a number of stupid mistakes that needed hammering out like database user name changes, path changes, etc. Probably the funniest was the Premium enabling cookie, which took me all day today to figure out that it was breaking because I moved from a 32-bit test machine to a 64-bit production machine. (Stupid UNIX 32-bit time stamps....)

I'm busy setting up the forum now and I hope to let you guys play there within the week. The target for launching the new site is still on track for March 1st.
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Postby Allanon on Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:08 pm

I checked in here earlier and didn't see a topic for the Beta stuff and just figured it hadn't been posted yet...didn't think we were supposed to start it...LOL.

I'm in if you want me. I have a lot of background testing and validating systems as it's part of my normal job function, so I'm good at finding things that don't work.
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Postby mouse on Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:58 pm

wow. i didn't notice the news link...big changes indeed.
i guess we'll have to sign up fresh for the new forum, yes?
(and i'm hopeless on anything to do with beta testing, so i will do you the favor of not volunteering for that).

hope all the changes go well.
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Postby jtdarlington on Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:33 pm

Allanon wrote:I checked in here earlier and didn't see a topic for the Beta stuff and just figured it hadn't been posted yet...didn't think we were supposed to start it...LOL.


I was debating on whether I should be the one to start the thread or not. It may have been a small kernel of conceit on my part, but I thought the news would be big enough to cause a bigger stir than it apparently has. Maybe it's just going to take a few days for everyone to see it....

mouse wrote:i guess we'll have to sign up fresh for the new forum, yes?


Unfortunately, yes.

mouse wrote:(and i'm hopeless on anything to do with beta testing, so i will do you the favor of not volunteering for that).


I wouldn't say that. There's a lot of things that need testing, and even if it gets poked by someone coming from a purely end-user perspective, any amount of help will be appreciated.
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Postby semmel on Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:41 pm

mouse wrote:i guess we'll have to sign up fresh for the new forum, yes?


jtdarlington wrote:Unfortunately, yes.


Well, that's fine by me since I originally only signed up at Keenspot to be able to post in the GPF forum ;-)

I may not have much server developing experience (other than HTML and some JavaScript), but I tend to have a good eye for details, so I hope I can be somehow useful, if only to repay Jeff for his years of hard work.

And I wasn't sure if you would be OK with me starting this volunteer thread myself or if you wanted to do it - I figured someone better :D
Glad you approved!

(And is it just me, or is the forum really lagging today? Can't wait to see it all on another server!)
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Beta Testing

Postby Unit Squared on Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:25 pm

jtdarlington wrote:. . . but I thought the news would be big enough to cause a bigger stir than it apparently has. Maybe it's just going to take a few days for everyone to see it....

A lot of that has to do with when the update schedule changed from 7 days a week - a lot of fans became casual onlookers at that point. Just wait a bit. I'm sure you'll be deluged by e-mails in the next week or so.

Limax and stjen probably won't like me adding this to my plate with everything else, but if you need another beta tester, let me know. I'm fairly good at breaking things that aren't meant to be broken. ;)
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Re: Beta Testing

Postby stjen on Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:16 pm

Unit Squared wrote:Limax and stjen probably won't like me adding this to my plate with everything else, but if you need another beta tester, let me know. I'm fairly good at breaking things that aren't meant to be broken. ;)

Well -- I'm torn. I want Unit to be able to work on his own stuff and get that going -- but Unit is also one of the stalwarts of GPF (the Wiki and all the other stuff), so he'd also be a good one for checking things out. (He'll have to add a 9th point to his project plan -- GPF testing.)

I do data security for a living (mixed between mainframe and distributed). That probably makes me a good testing candidate, so count me in, if you like. My time is limited -- but I'll at least be able to make a few good comments, I hope.
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Re: Beta Testing

Postby jtdarlington on Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:49 am

semmel wrote:(And is it just me, or is the forum really lagging today? Can't wait to see it all on another server!)


One of several reasons we'll be moving to a new forum. The KeenForums have never been the healthiest system on the network....

Unit Squared wrote:Limax and stjen probably won't like me adding this to my plate with everything else, but if you need another beta tester, let me know. I'm fairly good at breaking things that aren't meant to be broken. ;)


I don't want anyone to forgo other things they need to be doing, so if you've got too much on your plate, don't grab another helping unless you know you can stomach it. As for breaking things, that's part of what testing is all about. Break it now when the chance of it getting fixed in a timely fashion is greater. ;)

I'll post a list of things that I specifically want tested a little later. Those are the things I want people to focus on. Of course, I wouldn't mind if every single page on the site gets loaded at least once (I've done that myself for my unit tests), but I'm realistic enough to know that's ambitious.
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Postby Lady_Phoenix on Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:08 am

Of course, i don't mind volunteering. i'm no longer running the 25.000 user forums i used to run (handed those over about a year ago, to someone else), no longer working, no longer doing much of anything except beta testing online software. Oh, and cooking a baby. But i can cook the baby while i'm playing online. :P
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Postby bookw0rmy on Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:55 am

I'll help out, if you don't mind your sister being involved.
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Postby jtdarlington on Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:03 am

Just to give everyone an idea of what I'm looking for with the testing, here's a quick run-down of what I specifically want poked and prodded. As previously stated, I've done some preliminary unit testing myself (for non-software developing folks, that means I've make sure it "works for me"), so as far as I can see everything appears to be working. I just need verification that it's working for other people as well. There are a handful of back-end processes that unfortunately only I can handle (like the nightly update script), so those will be solely on my plate and not listed here.

Sorted roughly in ascending to descending priority:
  1. The main front page and archive. These are the bread-and-butter for the site, as they contain the core content that people come to see. The main page is statically built by the nightly update script for efficiency, while the archive is dynamic. For this item, the following needs checked:
    • The main page updates as expected around midnight EST (~5am GMT) on update days. Since the strip will only be updating on Mondays this month, this won't be as frequent a test as I like, but that will have to do.
    • Navigational items--first, previous, next, & last links, the storyline dropdown, calendar links, etc.--work as expected. There is an outstanding issue with some calendars not being build correctly that I still need to investigate, but otherwise everything should work.
    • Archive completeness. This is for the truly ambitious looking for brownie points and who have way too much time on their hands. I've done my best to make sure every strip is present and accounted for and that the regular and High-Def archives are in sync, but I haven't had a chance to verify it all manually, just in an automated fashion. If someone were willing to step through every strip, maybe with the Keenspot site in one window/tab and the new site in another, and make sure every comic is there, I might be able to throw an added incentive your way (a free 6-month Premium subscription, perhaps?).
  2. News index and archive. This is probably the second most-hit part of the site, and similarly the index is static while the archive is dynamic. Just like the main archive, testing that all the links and dropdowns work is the core check. The News Notification cookie system could stand some exercise too. As for completeness, I've verified that myself, but since it's much shorter someone could check this as well without too much effort.
  3. GPF Premium: This is a big one because this is where I'm hoping GPF will best monetize itself. (Sure, we'll still be showing ads and those will probably be our primary source of revenue, but I'm hoping enough people will see the value of Premium that one day I'll be able to get rid of the ads completely and support the site entirely on Premium subscriptions.) So this one has multiple parts:
    • Account creation: This involves paying for the service, validating the user's e-mail address, and getting their initial login credentials. Right now, the process bypasses the actual PayPal transaction, but I'll probably need a few people willing to risk a dollar or two to test that part of the process eventually. (Those willing to do so will likely receive bonus residuals as well.)
    • Account management: Logging in, enabling/disabling Premium, changing site options, changing passwords, changing e-mail, etc. Most of this is pretty well tested, so it's mostly double-checking to make sure nothing's broken. Folks with OpenPGP-compatible public keys who are willing to test the encrypted mail system are welcome.
    • Premium content access: This has two main parts. The first is making sure that sections of the site restricted to subscribers work when Premium is enabled and gracefully fail with a notification if Premium isn't enabled. The second is the site options, such as turning on/off ads, regular vs. High-Def strips, and the new Author's Notes feature. Again, most of this is pretty well tested, but follow-ups are welcome.
  4. Automatic redirects from old URLs: I have a nasty list of Apache mod_rewrite rules in place to redirect old Keenspot-centric URLs to their new locations. Some pages have moved while others are going away, so making sure old off-site links continue to work is important. This will largely involve loading a page on the Keenspot site and changing the domain name to the new test one, leaving the rest of the path the same. If you end up at the same expected location (as in content of the page; the URL itself will likely change) or an expected alternative (for pages that go away), then the test passes. Lots of boring redundant work here too, so those with lots of free time should consider this one.
  5. Shows & Cons: these pages get a decent amount of traffic, mostly for archival stuff. The photo slide shows are now handled by a single centralized script that is fed by a data file, so making sure most of those work is a good idea.
  6. Support pages (i.e. everything else): Copyright, privacy statement, about, behind-the-scenes, FAQ, links page, etc. Just making sure these guys exist and aren't obviously broken is sufficient.

Aside from the calendar issue above, the only thing I can thing of that isn't ready yet are the Geeky Games. These were put very, very, very low on my priority list and thus haven't been ported yet. To be honest, they hardly ever get accessed anyway, so I'm still debating the merits of keeping them at all. So for now they won't be tested, other than to make sure the rewrite rules gracefully point old URLs to a temporary page stating the games are currently unavailable.

The forum will likely get a work-out as a place to post your bug reports. It will be easier to manage there than here, especially since I can control access to that forum easier and prevent potential security breakages from getting out into the open.

More to come....
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Archive Crawl

Postby Unit Squared on Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:52 pm

jtdarlington wrote:I don't want anyone to forgo other things they need to be doing, so if you've got too much on your plate, don't grab another helping unless you know you can stomach it.

I think I can work it in. If anything, it'll give me more time to mull over how to kill off the entire cast of my comic. Or not. :P

jtdarlington wrote:[*]Archive completeness. This is for the truly ambitious looking for brownie points and who have way too much time on their hands. I've done my best to make sure every strip is present and accounted for and that the regular and High-Def archives are in sync, but I haven't had a chance to verify it all manually, just in an automated fashion.

I'd like to call dibs on this one if that's possible. I know the archived comics fairly well and wouldn't mind another trip down GPF Lane.
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Re: Archive Crawl

Postby jtdarlington on Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:46 am

Unit Squared wrote:I'd like to call dibs on this one if that's possible. I know the archived comics fairly well and wouldn't mind another trip down GPF Lane.


I should point out that several tests can be combined, at least a little. For example, if you were to, say, test for archive completeness, you might also want to log in and enable Premium, then enable the new Author's Notes option. Then you'll be able to read my little commentary (kind of like the trend Steve Troop started with his Melonpool books) along with checking for the presence of strips. Or enable the High-Def strips and see those instead of the regular ones. While this wouldn't be an official perk of being a beta tester, it might have... tangential benefits. ;)
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Re: Archive Crawl

Postby semmel on Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:17 am

Unit Squared wrote:I'd like to call dibs on this one if that's possible. I know the archived comics fairly well and wouldn't mind another trip down GPF Lane.


Curse you - you beat me to it! ;-)
I was going to offer to do the same thing :-)
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Postby jtdarlington on Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:49 am

There's no need to call exclusive dibs on any particular task. Actually, the more individuals running the same test the better, as that means more OS/browser/connection/human combinations being tested as well.

While I'm here, if anyone has any PHP/cookie coding experience, posits on this blog post would be welcome. No sure why I chose to post it there as opposed to here, but... well... I did.
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Postby Limax on Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:21 am

I will descend upon the website with a thousand of my wombats. (Oh, this does mean I'm volunteering if you need more help)
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Postby mowogo8243 on Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:45 pm

Although I do not have much experience with cookies, I have served as interim web master for my college's website, and currently manage and design websites. I'd be more than willing to test, and I primarily use macs and PC's, though I do have a solid linux vm that i can use.
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Postby Bo Lindbergh on Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:23 pm

If you want a stress test, I can turn loose my automatic webcomic archive downloader on the new site. It records connectivity too (what links where?). 8)
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Postby sillyname99 on Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:34 pm

I'll be happy to do anything to help.
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Beta testing?

Postby russdwright on Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:24 pm

Count me in ... I could use the experience :)
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Postby Rombobj on Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:41 am

I work for a performance testing company so I can swamp the server for you. How many thousand forum posts per second is it supposed to cope with? :evilgrin:

Just kidding. I can't give that away for free.

I wish I could help testing the encrypted mail system, as I know GPG and encrypted email fairly well, but I'm afraid that's impossible if it would involve PayPal. As far as I can find out from PayPal's website, I can't use PayPal without giving in to the fundamentally flawed credit card system.
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Postby jtdarlington on Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:55 am

[quote="Rombobj
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Postby jtdarlington on Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:49 pm

Details!

New site URL: http://gpf.jeffdarlington.com/

All beta testers: Please go to the new forum (http://gpf.jeffdarlington.com/forum/) and create an account. Forum accounts require my approval for now, so if you plan to use a different username than what you have here (don't forget: you get first dibs on new usernames!), let me know either here or via e-mail. I will approve your account creation and add you to the beta testing forum group. Official testing reports will go there, not here and not in any of the other sub-forums on the new site.

This post does not indicate that the invitation to beta testers is closed. It just means that the official beta test period is open and ready for business. If you're late coming into the game, jump on in. We can use the help.

Just a reminder, though: Note that the current URL is a temporary one. Once the site goes live, the old "gpf-comics.com" domain will point to the new site, and I will redirect "gpf.jeffdarlington.com" there. That means that beta testing cookies (Premium, forum, etc.) will break. However, accounts in the system will still exist, so it will just be a matter of logging back in and re-enabling things. Just an FYI heads-up.
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Postby Rombobj on Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:15 am

Let's see if it's possible to post this now ...

jtdarlington wrote:upload your public key (which could be a throw-away test key and not your regular one if you're that paranoid)

That would be a sign of ignorance rather than paranoia. A public key is supposed to be public. The more it gets spread, the better (except that one shouldn't spam people with it of course).

jtdarlington wrote:As for PayPal itself, I'm working on a way to enable Premium users by letting them first purchase a subscription via the Store, where you can pay by other means (check or money order for now, credit cards eventually I hope).

How difficult is it to get an IBAN over there in the New World? I've noticed lately that I seem to have IBANs for all of my bank accounts, without even asking for them. I can transfer money very easily to any account that has an IBAN, and that's the way I've paid the few times that I've bought stuff from abroad. I suspect the situation is similar at least for people throughout the EU. (There are some fees involved though, so it's not such a great method for very small payments.)

jtdarlington wrote:Forum accounts require my approval for now, so if you plan to use a different username than what you have here (don't forget: you get first dibs on new usernames!), let me know either here or via e-mail.

I didn't plan it but the forum forced me. It wouldn't accept
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