Planned maintenance took Loosely Coupled's main server offline for nearly four hours this morning. As luck would have it, this extended downtime (the first since the site went live in early April) coincided precisely with the biggest wave of traffic the site has ever seen (shucks, wouldn'ja just know it?).
When Loosely Coupled was named to the 'Blogs of Note' list on Blogger (thanks, guys :-)) at 11.30 am Pacific time last night, traffic spiked up above 100 visits an hour. But it died just as suddenly a few hours later, when my hosting provider Jumpline took the server down at half past midnight Eastern time for a four-hour window of planned maintenance. Now it's back up again, but as we Brits say, it's sod's law, innit? The first major outage just happens to be scheduled right after a major link gets pointed at the site. Both these events were outside of my control, which just shows you how random life on the Web can be sometimes.
Not that I'm complaining about the Jumpline outage. I've been very impressed by the reliability of their service, and the timeslot they chose is the best one from a business point of view, because it falls outside the business day both in the Americas and Europe (my apologies to readers in Australasia and Asia for the inconvenience to them). Meanwhile, the rest of the site continued to function because I'm using a range of hosted services, including Hitbox Professional, which gave me a continuous, realtime view of traffic across all parts of the site. And I'm glad to say everything is back up again now.
Two small notes for users of the current version (0.95) or earlier of Pro2rss:
I had a glitch the other day using the Pro2rss code, which I thought had been caused by including a percent sign (%) in a blog posting. But this posting parses fine even with a percent sign, so I'm not sure what caused it. That's annoying. It was probably caused by a strange transient error that disappeared when Blogger rewrote the file with my amended posting. Still, it's best in any case to use the ISO-8859-1 character code in your blog instead, ie %, since the percent sign is one of those characters that often comes out as something else when viewed on a computer from a different country. So this is not actually a bug, but if I encounter the problem again I will attempt a more conclusive diagnosis.
I made a small change recently to correct the <webmaster> tag by capitalizing the 'm', to make it <webMaster>. Amazingly, the code is not regarded as 'well-formed' without that capital M, and therefore some readers would not recognize the tag without that very small change. Something else that I have not yet done but plan for the next release is to have it change all single quote marks to ', which is the XML-approved way to represent that character. This will help make the feed more universally digestible.
These changes will form part of the next release, which will also introduce some options relating to how the program reads and creates the title and description of the feed, but I can't quote you a release schedule yet. Probably it will be late August.
PS: The other thing I should mention is a change in the hostname for this part of the site, from diary.looselycoupled.com to howto.looselycoupled.com, so any links to these pages should be updated to reflect that change of subdomain. The old subdomain will stay live for some time, but it is no longer explicitly supported and will be shut off eventually.