New Infopackets Website Relaunch - Complete

Dennis Faas's picture

Dear Infopackets Readers,

I'm pleased to announce that our website relaunch is now complete.

Unfortunately, the transition did not go as smoothly as anticipated. Shortly after the new site went live, the server was maliciously attacked and the databases became corrupted. There were also 185 (or so) documented bugs I needed to correct over the last month, before giving this official 'go ahead' announcement. This is described below.

A Bit of History

This project officially began shortly after April 2011, coinciding with Google's algorithm change which dropped our web traffic and revenue by 50% overnight. (Traffic and revenue has continued to drop since then, and is now estimated to be a staggering 85% loss). The hope is that a major overhaul of the site will reclaim some of the lost traffic; all of this is based on many hours of research.

I began custom work on the then-current proprietary content management system for approximately one year, at which point I reached the conclusion that 'going it alone' was far too complicated and time consuming. Hence, I began a new quest for an alternative platform which utilizes 100% open source and modular technology. Doing so would also allow me to hire others to work on a widely supported platform (rather than a proprietary one), and also update the site in a timely manner.

In December 2012, I chose to go with the Drupal content management system. For the next 6 months, I researched and compiled a multi-stage proposal for a team of Drupal developers to move our existing site and all its data onto the new platform, including many new features for the new site. Some new features include: a responsive web site design (the ability to use the site on a PC, tablet, or phone and have the pages resize automatically), a voting system, public commenting of articles, user profiles, a new editorial system, and much more.

In July 2012, development began; in the 7 months that followed, I worked closely with the team of developers, testing and reviewing their work. The project was completed mid January 2014, though many bugs still existed and needed to be corrected, unbeknownst to me, resulting in many more delays.

On January 21st, the new site went live. Within 2 hours, it was bombarded 17,000 times by Chinese hackers (robot scripts), through various distributed denial of service / flood attacks. This resulted in the web server logs filing up, the databases becoming corrupted, the server eventually running out of memory, and crashing multiple times. In short, everything went to hell in a handbasket. To correct this, I had to make many fixes, including rebuilding all databases and mitigating the attacks on multiple fronts. That in itself took almost two weeks to research, diagnose, and correct, resulting in more delays.

Project Costs and Funding

The cost of the project is estimated in the $15,000 range, not including my time and effort.

Programming of the new web server was implemented by myself from the ground up, resulting in a substantial cost savings. The server runs on Centos 6.5 (Linux) with Apache, MySQL, and PHP (also known as a "LAMP stack"). Technologies implemented include: Named / Bind with Master and Slave DNS, Apache SSL, APC (Alternative PHP Cache), Grep, AWK and Sed (stream editing and statistical analysis using regular expressions), OpenVPN, OpenDKIM, SPF, Postfix / Dovecot / Cyrus SASL, Fail2Ban, Perl, a boatload of Regular Expressions for various configuration scripts, Log Rotate, various BASH scripting, and many more technologies. Server programming began shortly after hiring the Drupal development team (July 2013) and continues to be a work in progress.

We now operate the dedicated server / web site on a virtual private network (VPN) for security purposes, as well as Citrix Xenserver, which operates on a virtualization platform. Benefits of the new system include: being able to transfer the site onto new hardware without any interruption; backups and reversion of backups can be done instantaneously; the entire website can be cloned on the fly and ported to new hardware for development purposes.

Funding of this project was done both privately and publicly through donations. I would personally like to thank all users that donated to support our cause; we appreciate and still need your support. All donations will be used to fund our website, staff, and writers, and further development (including bug fixes) for the site. If you wish to donate, you can do so here:


Dennis Faas
CEO | Chief Editor, Owner

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John Beatty's picture

I have no idea what you are talking about for the most part, but it sounds like a great deal of work. My congratulations.

spiras's picture

1. Congratulations on the relaunch of your quality website. I donated something towards this and call on all other readers to do the same. This certainly is a "worthy cause"!

2. The font used in the articles is a little small, compared to the one used in the previous version of the website. Would it be possible to add a button that will allow users to adjust font size?

Dennis Faas's picture

Yes it is possible and I also would have preferred a larger font, but there is no budget to implement it at this time. However, we could have a fundraiser and I could hire someone familiar with Drupal to do it, but I'm guessing it won't be cheap.

Note that all the fonts and styles are based on CSS (cascading style sheets), many of them inherited or overridden, and depend on database fields. Changes would be site-wide and will affect layout of other properties. In short, it's not a simple or easy change, and would require considerable effort and time.

rogg's picture

All major browsers, recent versions, have a size option; click Ctrl+ to increase and Ctrl- to decrease the size of the webpage, including the font, and the Infopackets pages (because of how they are designed) will repaginate articles as you change the size up or down. If you're still using a really old version of a browser and this size feature doesn't work for you, download and install the latest version.

Dennis Faas's picture

+1 excellent suggestion :-)

You can also resize the screen font using Firefox or Internet Explorer:

1. Press and hold the CTRL key, then
2. Move the mouse wheel up or down to increase / decrease the font size.

Alternatively, from the browser menu, click View -> Zoom -> Increase font size. The font size can also be reset (View -> Zoom -> Reset).

DavidFB's picture

I quite like the new site and the ability to comment. But your inclusion of log-ins via existing credentials on social networking sites is disappointing. For one, this new trend encourages the bad habit of a single log-in on multiple sites. For another, it hands your user data to other services.

While your users may typically be more informed, I imagine many also come for computer help. I would think you'd like to set an example of safe browsing practices rather than feed the advertising beast who wants to track everything we do.