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The first 100% QuickBasic game Review magazine
QB Sites Suffer From October Crisis
(10/30/2000) This week both qb45.com and Hulla-balloo.com were down or having technical problems, causing a temporary cut-off in communications.
For QuickBasic fans on the Internet, the year 2000 compliance glitch known as "Y2K" occured in October 2000. At the end of this crazy month, a flurry of technical problems hit almost all the major QB sites across the board, eventually causing what is equivalent to the shutting down of all communication between QB programmers and gamers this Halloween week.
But now October is almost over, and all the remaining QB sites are recovering. Let's make one thing clear: many negative things happened to QB sites this month. The following article, in hindsight, retraces the steps taken by this site and all of it's affiliates that lead to what can only be called "The October QB Crisis of 2000."
Crisis Step #1: The Sites That Need Reconstruction
In order to keep up with the growing size and popularity of the their websites, some QB sites moved into a reconstruction phase during or into October. Pete's QBasic Site, Master Creating, and V Planet! QuickBasic Magazine all went into some form of reconstruction during the month of October. Pete's QBasic Site has been going under a massive reconstruction project since September. Since the ongoing reconstruction project in Pete's QBasic Site, only two reviews have been added to what is usually a very frequently updated game review site.
Meanwhile, Master Creating is also upgrading their site with a whole new look and server. Since October 24, the Master Creating site declared that the next update will take place once the Master Creating site is re-designed and comfortably moved to a new server. Master Creating is known to work very quickly, and even the most talented webmaster would need until the first week of November to finish such a gigantic site-revamp project.
Around this time, we folks at V Planet! were most busy in October trying to finalize it's new QB Links page. Also, we were packing our bags to move to Hulla-Balloo.com so we can take advantage of the new SSI technology that can not work on our old server (fortunecity.com). This meant changing all of V Planet's pages from HTML to SHTML format; not an easy task considering that every link on every page had to be altered.
So basically, just from sites that needed reconstruction, three pretty major QB news sites needed time to take a break. Coincidentally this break extended into the last week of October. But even with Pete's QBasic Site, Master Creating, and V Planet preparing for the new season, there are still plenty of QB sites to go to for information and discussion. Or were there?
Crisis Step #2: Sites That Went Down
About three days apart from each other, both Lost socK Software and Lutasarts Productions (major QB news sites in their own right) posted Goodbye messages and packed their bags from the QB community. Lost socK attributed their departure to unexplained but broken promises. Lutasarts left the QB community in search of a more general programming community.
The combination of these two sites disappearing were a blow for QB gamers. Lost socK vistors were waiting for the finished version of their popular QBRPG, The Wrath of Sona. Lutasarts Productions was actually a growing site at the time of it's departure; with 21 game reviews quickly posted, Lutasarts was one of the fastest Game review sites on the Internet. But now fans of these two publications were left with linkless Goodbye letters. Where would the readers of these sites go?
Crisis Step #3: qb45.com and Hulla-Balloo.com Servers go awry
With a couple of QB news sites gone and about three more in the midst of reconstruction during the last week of October, it fell on the hands of QB's most popular websites to keep the QB community informed about the latest news during Halloween week. This meant that a good portion of the QB discussion and information would have to come from the many popular QB sites serviced by qb45.com. This includes Future Software, The QB Times, and QBasic/QuickBasic News.
Unfortunately, qb45.com had problems of it's own. In mid-October, computer hackers infiltrated qb45.com and caused many technical problems to occur within qb45.com's subsidiaries. Problems included password changes (which made site updates impossible for both Future Software and The QB Times), server problems in general (some pages in qb45.com sites have difficulty loading or are displayed improperly), and worst of all 150MB of QB projects were deleted from Future Software's file archive. In effect, the site hackers made it impossible for Future Software to repair the damages until a new password was handed to them from their server. This required password was given to Future Software on October 30. As this article is being written, webmaster Jorden Chamid is uploading 150MB of downloads in an effort to fully restore Future Software.
If that isn't bad enough, Hulla-Balloo.com went down for a day due to technical problems on October 29. This rare occurence, which had never taken place in the last six months, paralyzed the V Planet! update that was due on October 29. Worst than that, the Hulla-Balloo network itself was down for that day. Fortunately, Hulla-Balloo.com Webmaster Jeremy Hammond was very active in sending apologetic letters to members of Hulla-Balloo.com and in trying to restore Hulla-Balloo.com to working condition. Power to the site returned in October 30.
Crisis Step #4: Other Services Go Awry
Other QB news sites were suffering similar technical problems. In one of our experiments, we had difficulty accessing the Game Developer's Refuge from three different computers in three different locations. We would receive a "Forbidden" message. This Forbidden problem has been occuring for the last three to four days and is critical to being a part of the October crisis since the Game Developer's Refuge is considered to be a major discussion board for game developers who use programming languages like QB.
In addition, a problem occured with QB affiliate GBGames QBasic. A counter routine used by GBGames Webmaster Gianfranco caused problems with the site, and the new Game Review site went under repairs during Halloween week.
So counting all the sites, eleven QB sites were suffering from various technical or internal problems during the last week of October. And that was enough to officially declare the situation a crisis. But not all news was bad news... the remaining QB news sites held up the torch while the majority of major QB news sites went down...
Crisis Step #5: Big Sites Keep QB afloat
Ah!!!... there is good news about this so-called "October Crisis". While October 30 was pretty much the peak of when QB sites received the most damage, five very active QB sites at least gave a percentage of the QB community an opportunity to communicate. The first step was the timely launch of new issues of QB Cult Magazine and The QB Times. Both QB publications had not updated since July and was left for dead by some members of the QB community. The update of the magazine was certainly late but it did provide some rations to a starving group of QB readers searching for new information.
Second, three major QB sites were able to weather the tide of server problems and were unaffected. Both NeoBasic and Neozones Productions carried discussion boards for QB programmers. In the meantime, Abyssware Studios stayed in mint condition while providing a link to the QB Forum. Combined, these five sites literally kept the QB community afloat and satisfied through the tough October month.
Crisis Step #6: The QB Sites Recover
As October comes to a close, QB site webmasters are very active in trying to restore their sites so that QB programmers and gamers will have many places to go. Future Software is already beginning the repairing process at qb45.com. Hulla-Balloo.com is back to full condition. Other sites like GBGames QBasic are repairing their various technical problems. And the reconstructing QB sites are probably working harder than ever in lieu to the October crisis.
But now that this event is over, quite a bit can be learned by looking back at the incident. Taking V Planet's statistics as an example, the day after the hacker incidence at qb45.com, V Planet's hits per day decreased by over 40%. SInce then it has gradually started to recover. The point is all the QB sites, big or small, no matter numerous they are, all depend on each other for support. No one site can be the do-all, be-all site of QB sites. So if technical difficulties ever happen again, next time we should all take precautions to make sure our QB sites are good and ready for the storm.
Article written by Vance Velez