This blog post is the third in a series of posts I decided to write because I felt sharing the recent challenges with making decisions about implementation of new and updated web projects could be a help to people. Part 1 dealt with the process and frustration we went through to decide which advanced web development and database tools to use. Part 2 dealt with the process of learning the tools and about how we gained information on how to install and use our server along with rewriting one of our websites using Ruby-on-Rails. This blog post will discuss the utter frustration that I experienced starting on Wednesday 12/12 and ending very early Saturday morning 12/16 that has resulted in a wonderful learning experience and a much better running and faster server.
At the end of my last post I mentioned that I had enrolled in a Ruby class at a local community college. I just completed that class last week. It was such a help. Along with what I had already learned using the Ruby On Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl
, this class has helped so much in making our Rails applications a lot better and easier to maintain. Now to catch you up on what all that has happened and what lead to the madness I started to experience a few days ago.
The website that I referenced in my last post is iktusNETlive
, a web media ministry website where we feature free media, including live broadcasting, of ministries that we believe in. Our heart is to give ministries that do not have a backing of a church to have a chance to minister using the currently available technologies to reach people. My husband suggested that I rewrite this website using Ruby on Rails as a trial run before I start developing my commercial project, Workpool Online, in early 2013. As frustrating as the process has been working on iktusNETlive will indeed help with Workpool Online.
We launched iktusNETlive on October 5, 2012. We ask people to create accounts to view live broadcasts, access our social network and discussion forum. Because we have had a presence on the Internet since October 2004 the website became popular immediately. We had people signing up every week and continue to do as of the writing of this blog post.
After the successful launch of iktusNETlive along with having a successful YouTube channel we began to evaluate stats on how our website and our YouTube videos were being accessed. Every time we checked we saw that a higher percentage of people were accessing our media using tablets and smartphones. We made the decision to attempt to modify iktusNETlive to make it more easy to access on mobile devices. I began to learn about responsive web design. Basically this is a process where you create your websites in a way where the website will automatically respond depending on the type of device access your site. I had heard about it months ago but did not understand it enough to attempt it. However somehow the light bulb came on. Our goal is to eventually convert all the websites we manage to Ruby on Rails applications. When we rewrite each website we will use responsive web design. I have redone two more websites in Ruby on Rails and will continue until all of them have been done.
iktusNETlive was developed to send emails from the application. We are currently using the email system of a hosting company. However you are at the mercy of the servers of that company. We had a couple of times where emails were not delivered in a timely manner. After experiencing this we decided that we would try and set up our own mail service on our Mac Mini Server running Lion Server. This is when the three days of server madness began.
Over the past year I contacted tech support to see about how to create emails on our server. I got a couple of different answers. At that time Lion was new and probably going through a couple of upgrades. At that time the more pressing issue for me was learning Ruby, Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL, the database we are using for our production, development and test data. So I abandoned the research for setting up a mail server.
Anyway I decided to check this out again so on Wednesday 12/12 I contacted Apple Enterprise Support about this. The excellent representative did a remote connection to view my server and noticed that the DNS settings I had for our domains were out of control LOL. He was leading me on how to change them to get ready for setting up the Mail Service when POOF - all my DNS settings disappeared and the administration program was spinning. I had that happen before so I knew what two options I had. The first option was to reset the DNS service and reenter my entries again. The representative suggested that I do that then call back for help with the mail service. He verified that the commands I had were correct so we ended the call.
I went through and did the Terminal commands to reset the DNS service and guess what? The reset did not work. O-O. I called Apple Enterprise Support again knowing full well that I would be told that I would need to do the second option. Guess what that option is, boys and girls? Wipe the server clean and start over. Yes that is what I was told. I made sure I had good backups of our data and processed to wipe the disk clean and reinstall the Lion Server software. We had said for several months that we would eventually upgrade all our Mac devices to Mountain Lion after it was a few months old. After the Lion Server installation was complete we decided to go ahead and upgrade the server to Mountain Lion and OS X Server. Everything went well except for hosting our three Ruby on Rails applications, including iktusNETlive.
As I mentioned in the last post that for now we decided to use Phusion Passenger
to host our Rails applications on our MacMini Server. At the time we were using version 3.0.13. It is an open source product and when we started using it you could just go to their website and download it. However they changed it where you now initially have to purchase a support package depending on the size of your business before downloading a package. I made the purchase and attempted to install the latest stable version like I had previously running Lion Server. However I could not get Passenger to work.
The going thing for trying to find answers for problems these days is to do web searches so I began to search and search for the error I was getting. I found solutions for people using Passenger on every type of server setup EXCEPT for people running Mountain Lion. After trying to find something all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I broke down and contacted Phusion about the problem. The Phusion company is located in Amsterdam so the time difference is 7 hours from where I am located. I sent an email to them Friday evening asking for help. I needed to at least get iktusNETlive running in time for a live broadcast that we had announced on our website, Twitter and Facebook. Yes I panicked.
My husband and I went to bed Friday night a little after 11 pm. I woke up between 4:30 and 5 am Saturday thinking, 'maybe I could try something else' because I was not sure if I would hear from the support team over the weekend. To my surprise when I checked my email I had a response from the support team. Had I stayed awake a little longer I would have read the email. It was early morning in Amsterdam, maybe between 7-8 am GMT+1. I immediately responded to the email. The support person started asking me some questions when another person, one of the developers offered to help me via Skype chat. The process to find the problem took a couple of hours, including doing a SSH remote login into my server. I will not go into the technical details here other than to say that he was able to figure out how to get this working. For those that are interested in the details you can read my post on Stack Overflow
about this. All three of our Rails websites are working perfectly. That support team went over backwards knowing my situation about having an announced live broadcast coming up. I highly recommend them for those that want to use their service for hosting Ruby on Rails applications on their own server.
There were several mishaps that took place during the server upgrade process. I just thought I would mention the most annoying one. Everything is working well. All our processes are working faster and more efficiently with current versions of our software. At one point I was ready to go back to the old software out of sheer frustration. I am so glad I endured and pressed on. We have a better server as a result.
The one thing we know is that when we pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance we always get it. It is not always an easy process as you press forward but we can tell you from our experience that you will go forward and succeed. Don't just take our word for it. When you have some spare time check out the biographies of current and past successful entrepreneurs. You will hear similar stories. Along with having a relationship with the Lord my husband and I watch CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg often. We focus on programming dealing with technology of course along with programs where we can find out about successful entrepreneurs and their stories.
After the holiday season I plan to start development of the Workpool Online commercial web project. I'm sure part 4 of this series will come as a result LOL.
We sincerely hope that all of you will have a wonderful Christmas holiday season. For those of you that have experienced a rough year we will pray that His comfort will be with you. We remember those in Newtown CT who suffered heartbreaking losses on December 14, 2012. We pray that those around them will minister and walk with them through these dreadful hours.
See you next time................