Website Maintenance

This summer has been a busy one. Besides finishing the first 7 chapters of Song of the Mysteries while evading viruses and hurricanes, Janny has also been choreographing an upgrade of her official website. "When it's done!" is usually the safest response to questions about release dates, but we're now far enough along to promise that you'll see the new site in the next few weeks. Our early goals are simple:

  • Give it a unique character that reflects Janny's dual hats as an author and artist.
  • Simplify the navigation so it's easier to find things and a joy to explore.
  • Make it modern and mobile-friendly to support the way that many visitors (over 50%) browse the web these days.
This makeover is just the FIRST of many upgrades to support Janny's (current and FUTURE) fanbase. We'll release bug fixes and cosmetic refinements early and often. We'll update the rest of the paravia.com universe (the Studio Shop, Don Maitz's site, and Janny & Don's Collaborative site) along the same lines as Janny's site. We'll continue to add more of Janny's original artwork that has piled up in digital warehouse limbo, including many more pages of the Paravia Sketchbook. Most notable for people here, we'll be replacing the Chat Area with something more modern while preserving the historical context of the old posts. No promises on release dates, but you should see regular improvements through the day that Song of the Mysteries is finally released, just in time for that flood of new fans that suddenly notice a completed series.

To help pass the time while you wait, here is a poll question that will help us hammer out the final pages of the new website: How much do direct BUY links on a Book page (to a vendor like Amazon) influence you when discovering a new book? Assuming you aren't already a superfan, has a BUY link ever triggered an impulse buy? Are you more likely to want to write down the book title and browse to your preferred book vendor (or physical bookshop) instead?

I'll post website updates in this thread throughout the month. Check back soon!
BU

originally posted by Daisy

Hi, I’m very much more likely to write the name of the book down and look for it somewhere else when I get the chance. Or go to the library and see if I can borrow it. Pop ups annoy me so much, especially when they start flashing so I ignore them deliberately. I understand if you want to use them as they are everywhere anyway. Love the work that’s happening with the story and the new site. Can’t wait for both to be finished.

Hi Daisy,

Thanks for your feedback. Interrupting popups are definitely the worst – "how do I know if I want to subscribe to your newsletter if you won't even let me read the article first!?"

The new site will not interrupt your visit with popup notifications or popup ads. Going further, there are no third-party ads or marketing affiliate tracking cookies (Google, Facebook, etc.) used anywhere. In fact, the majority of the site does not use cookies at all. We may consider allowing visitors to keep themselves logged into the new forum software with a cookie but we'll make sure to publicize that and require opt-in.

Regards,
BU

The first phase of the website makeover is complete!
https://paravia.com/JannyWurts/

Special thanks go out to Jeff Watson (Trystane), who brought the original website to life in the late 90s and kept it running for over a decade, and Andrew Ginever, who had the unenviable task of keeping it alive in the face of GoDaddy's unannounced server "improvements". We could not have come this far without Jeff and Andrew's tireless support and methodical collection of code and technical expertise.

All old bookmarks should still work (or at least get you in the general vicinity of what you're looking for). No release is ever without bugs, but we hope we can rely on your goodwill to help find and report problems as you notice them, especially in rarer web browsers. You can report them here or through the new webmaster email: paravia AT urizone DOT net.

Feel free to share the new website with friends on social media. Please hold off on announcing the relaunch in massive communities like Reddit for now. We want to make sure that everything is stable and that flaws are found and fixed while it's still "among friends".

Enjoy your exploration!
BU

EDIT: An update on cookies – there are still no cross-site ad, tracking, marketing cookies used on paravia.com. However, we are using StatCounter web analytics to monitor visitor trends (most visited pages, broken pages, common search terms, etc.) StatCounter creates 1 cookie “sc_is_visitor_unique” that helps us group individual page requests into “unique visits” when we run reports. If this concerns you, feel free to block this cookie – doing so will NOT break any pages.

originally posted by Jon Moss

Looks outstanding.

originally posted by Jeff

The site looks great, Mr Uri!!

I'm using a phone and it's easy to read and navigate. I'll check it out on a PC browser later.

originally posted by Melanie Trumbull

The new webpages look beautiful!

originally posted by DarthJazy

From another coder and tech, this is well done sir!

More of Janny's original artwork was recently discovered in the back of the digital warehouse (probably under a digital tarp):

  • There are 18 new images scattered throughout the various albums in the Art Gallery, including artwork from Master of Whitestorm and the Empire Trilogy.
  • There are 16 new images in the Paravia Sketchbook, including images from Story Arc IV: Sword of the Canon.
Enjoy!

originally posted by Annette

Thanks for putting up the new artwork and sketches some I had not seen before.

I performed some under-the-hood maintenance on the Paravia Wiki to replace some software that was reaching end-of-life (PHP 7.2.31 -> 7.3.23, MediaWiki 1.31.1 -> 1.35.1). Please let me know if you encounter errors while browsing – MediaWiki can be finicky about upgrading.

Following the holidays, I'm now getting back to the forum migration and hope to have progress to report in the next few months.

Regards,
BU

Sneak Peek! We released an overhaul of the Don Maitz - Official Website today, with over 200 new works of art (including cover art for many fantasy classics), mobile-friendly navigation, and numerous interviews and articles about Don’s work and process. EDIT: We have announced Don’s new site to the public, so you are free to share the link willy-nilly.

With the upgrade to Don’s site, the entirety of the paravia.com empire is modernized:

I hope you discover something new to appreciate. Have fun exploring!
BU

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I’m going to be doing some much needed server maintenance over the coming week. If this forum or the Paravia Wiki are down, rest assured that it’s only temporary. The main websites and Studio Shop will not be affected.

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This round of Website upgrades is now complete. The only change that might affect YOU is the upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6 – please read the IPv6 FAQ thread for more details.

Here is the changelog from this week’s upgrades, for reference in case I get hit by a bus:

Janny Wurts Official Forum

  • Upgraded operating system from Amazon Linux 1 (EOL 2023) to Amazon Linux 2023 (EOL 2028)
  • Replaced dedicated IPv4 address with dedicated IPv6 address and temporary IPv4 address. IPv4 traffic is deprecated and will be removed at some point in the future.
  • Upgraded Discourse to 3.2.0b5.

Paravia Wiki

  • Upgraded operating system from Amazon Linux 1 (EOL 2023) to Amazon Linux 2023 (EOL 2028)
  • Replaced dedicated IPv4 address with dedicated IPv6 address and temporary IPv4 address. IPv4 traffic is deprecated and will be removed at some point in the future.
  • Upgraded PHP from 7.3.30 (EOL 2021) to 8.2.9 (EOL 2025).
  • Upgraded MediaWiki from 1.35.1(EOL 2023) to 1.39.6 (EOL 2025).
  • Upgrade MySQL from 5.7 (EOL 2023) to 8.0.35 (EOL 2025).
  • Fixed a few desktop and mobile style issues caused by upgrade (Vector skin and MobileFrontend extension).

Main Website (Janny’s site, Don’s site, Collaborative Worlds, Studio Shop, and other miscellaneous one-off sites)

  • No changes to web addressing. Traffic still served over IPv4 via GoDaddy.
  • Upgrade MySQL from 5.7 (EOL 2023) to 8.0.35 (EOL 2025) for front-page news database (not Studio Shop database).
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EDIT at 4 PM Eastern on 1/18/2024: This work is now complete.

Original Post

Coming up next in the web maintenance queue: moving the Forum and Wiki onto the paravia.com domain. I will start this work on Thursday, January 18 and hope to finish in the same day.

Background
The Paravia Wiki moved from wiki.paravia.com to a urizone subdomain in October 2015 after GoDaddy had a catastrophic series of “upgrades” and broke it permanently. Later, this new forum was created at a urizone subdomain in February 2021 because getting Discourse working on GoDaddy was a non-starter. I originally colocated these sites with my personal websites for convenience and cheaper hosting costs. Since then, I have moved the sites to their own servers and AWS accounts so some future web administrator can cleanly take control. All that’s left is the legacy hostnames: it is now time to update the DNS records so 100% of Janny and Don’s resources can be reached through a paravia.com host name (wiki.paravia.com and forum.paravia.com).

Planned Work

  1. Add new paravia.com DNS records to point at the correct servers.
  2. Set up free, auto-updating SSL certificates (through LetsEncrypt) for the two host names (eliminates $44 annually from Paravia SSL costs).
  3. Update webserver configuration (HTTPd for the Wiki and nginx for the Forum) to respond to the new hostnames.
  4. Update urizone.net DNS records to redirect to the new paravia.com records, preserving all old links and bookmarks.
  5. Update all links on static websites to use the paravia.com domain instead of urizone.net.

Short-Term Impact on YOU

  • The forum and wiki may experience a short outage during step 3 (estimating < 1 hour but may be more if something goes wrong).
  • The old web addresses for the forum and wiki may experience some weirdness during step 4 until everyone’s DNS servers have updated with the new redirection rules (up to 1 hour).

Long-Term Impact on YOU

  • All bookmarks should continue working. A wiki page bookmarked on the urizone.net domain should automatically take you to the same page on the paravia.com domain without any manual changes on your part.

What’s after this?
This spring, I’ll be overhauling the Studio Shop so it doesn’t rely on 14-year-old software. After that, I can bring my focus back to things that you all actually care about:

  • Updated website pages about Song of the Mysteries
  • New Song of the Mysteries entries on the Paravia Wiki (after the global release)
  • New Song of the Mysteries points of interest on the Paravia Map (after the global release)

As always, thank you for your patience. I know everyone is here to talk about books not bytes so I try to limit the tech talk to just the big stuff that really matters.

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