Reviews, the Podcast, and More Technical Stuff


So, last month I wrote a big long update about the site and my long hiatus and all the technical stuff I’ve done recently on the backend to get things up and running smoothly again. I was really hoping that the “horrible technical problems” era of the site had ended, but it looks like it wanted to have a short but very stressful reprise late Thursday night, so sorry if anyone tried to access the site then.

The good news is that it got resolved, and hopefully I can keep focusing on actual content. I also have plans for the podcast for anyone who’s curious about what’s happening with that!

More Technical Stuff

Feel free to skip this section to get to the stuff about the reviews and the podcast, but I was surprised people actually read and seemed curious about that big long post about technical problems from last month. So, if anyone is curious about this, here you go!

Basically, there was a technical blip earlier in the day last Thursday that I thought was simply a matter of removing a malfunctioning plug-in. But I got home Thursday night to discover that my technical difficulties had not ended. The site was down with a vague “502 Server Error” notice. Fuck.

For a few very stressful hours, I tried to debug this by deleting and disabling basically anything I thought could possibly create an error. It seemed completely bizarre, because I’d do some troubleshooting and the site would work again for a short while and then I’d get the same error. This went on for hours. There appeared to be multiple causes for the errors, but that seemed unlikely to me. There didn’t appear to be any big updates to anything that could cause an string of incompatibility issues.

I finally realized it was a disk space problem when I tried to edit a file (ironically, it was one of the files where I was keeping a record of my troubleshooting attempts), but when I tried to save it, it got deleted off my server. When I set up this new, shiny installation of WordPress a few weeks ago, in addition to all the other improvements, I also nearly doubled the disk space so I never considered that it could be a problem. But I did a quick command line check of my disk space, and there it was at 100% capacity. Not great.

When I was disabling stuff to troubleshoot the issue, I ended up deleting some files (thereby ameliorating the disk space problem), which would temporarily free up some disk space so that the site would work again. But then, it would crash again very shortly after.

I realized that it kept crashing because something was increasing in disk size by 1-2 megabytes every 30 seconds or so. I ended up deleting a large backup file to buy myself some time to get the site back up and running, but then I was basically racing against the clock at that point to figure out what was causing this before all the space was eaten up again. I wanted to call a friend for help, except by now it was around 3:30 AM in the morning so it would have to wait until the next day, and by then I knew the site would crash again unless I just kept finding more files to delete, which would also be time-consuming.

More frantic troubleshooting ensues. In the end, it turned out the culprit was the upgrade to my database from a few weeks ago. The new version (MySQL 8) apparently enables by default a “feature” called “binary logging” where it stores a ton of data about any changes to your database. That’s all fine and dandy except that it means it generates these 1-gigabye log files constantly and stores them, and by the time it caused a problem, it was eating up nearly 35 gigs of disk space, which was causing the crashes.

The good news was that the fix was pretty simple (to purge the log files and change the log retention settings), but it was such a pain in the ass to get there. There were so many times during that period when I thought I was going to end up losing a big chunk of data and have to spend a lot of time trying to recover stuff and re-do changes. I was exhausted by the end and finally crawled into bed the next morning very grumpily to try to get a little sleep around 7 AM in the morning.

But all’s well that ends well I suppose. Things seem to be back to normal, I restored some stuff that was deleted, and I’m back to reading and reviewing books!

More Book Review and Book Lists

This update was originally going to be all about my priorities for this year, but got derailed by all that garbage above.

So, apart from that blip, I’ve been reading at a nice pace the last few weeks because the biggest thing I want to do this year is write more book reviews. I’ll also still be making some book lists, but basically I really want to focus on good old-fashioned book content this year.

I have a list of about 25 already released books that I want to work my way through in the next few months. Plus I have a list of another 30+ books that are coming out this year that are high on my TBR (to-be-read). And then of course I’m sure I’ll discover more stuff to add to the list throughout the course of the year. So, my reading list is long, but I’m glad to be making progress on it, and I’ve already discovered quite a few great reads this year, which always makes me want to read more.

In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to spin up a bunch of small projects like the shop (doing book subscription sets, the literary tea sets), the directory, the book club, or doing big revamps of the site and the layout etc. I’ve spent some time thinking about where I want to focus my efforts. I decided to go ahead and take down the book blog directory since it was a little annoying to administrate, and I think there’s plenty of other book blog directories out there.

I still have two projects I’ll be working on (the podcast and the game I discussed in the previous update), but apart from those I think my focus for this site is really going to be to chip away at the ‘ol TBR.

Oh, I’ve also been working on some layout tweaks to make things less confusing to navigate and to increase usability in general. Things like trying to put in sticky headers for some of the longer book summaries, cleaning up the book review pages to make them easier to navigate, etc. But those are all smaller undertakings. I’m trying to avoid doing any big redesigns unless necessary since those can be really time-consuming.

The Podcast

For the tiny number of people who have shown interest in the podcast, I have some happy news! The next episode of the podcast is written, and I’m in the process of recording and editing it. The plan is to post it in the next week or so.

I’m excited to move forward with the podcast, but to be totally honest, I’m still not sure how far I’m going to get with it. I definitely want to try to make at least a few more episodes before I decide how I feel about it. The biggest barrier is that I really just loathe listening to the sound of myself talking as I edit it, and I hate replaying it back to myself after I’m done to check it over. I love the idea of having the podcast. I hate the idea of having to listen to it.

But I’m going to try to power through it for now and see how for I get. Here’s a teaser image for the upcoming podcast episode!

most read books episode 2

Other Stuff

That’s pretty much what I have on the docket for this site at this point. I’m really excited that the Kickstarter pre-launch page for the literary card game I’ve been working on has over a hundred followers now, and the mailing list has a healthy number of sign-ups as well, so I’m hopeful it means it’s something that people are interested in.

Thanks for following along and happy reading! I’m currently reading The Hunter by Tana French, so that review should go up today or tomorrow!

P.S. Happy birthday to you know who you are. Thinking of you.

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Bookshelf -- A literary set collection game