Fall Newsletter 2019 - Important Update and Membership Fee
By Justin Poublon
September 6, 2019 - 5:08 PM CST | 251 0
I've always known going down this path there would be challenges. That there would be growing pains. I was right. The last few weeks have been mostly pain... some growing. The future looks so sweet though!
It will be remembered it as "Pure Chaos"
Things were constantly changing, getting messed up, and even super uncertain at times. I had a moment where I thought about giving up. Maybe I'll go back to school and get that broadcast degree. Trade in the sweat pants for a suit and tie. Thankfully that delusion passed. My goal was to get back to where I was before the move, before the baby, before I took time off from the day job. Get caught up on videos. I spent several weeks getting things back to square one and it wasn't until this week that I started to move forward with new projects.
IT'S ALL GOOD NOW THOUGH.
Let's discuss somethings that have happened or changed.
New Hosting Server
In early August, our web host forced us to migrate to a VPS/dedicated server from a shared hosting environment. Yes, this was the right move BUT it was bad timing and sudden. Thankfully I had time to do it. We now have a lightning fast server. The cost is much higher but was able to secure a lower price by paying two years in advance. The perks are that the database is now reunited on the same server after spending a year+ at a separate host. You definitely notice the performance boost on every page.
Optimizing for Performance
Speaking of performance, we did run into some issues. Our server is sort of lawless. We don't have unlimited RAM. It's up to me to optimize it correctly. To do that I had to reduce the number of graphic generating processes happening constantly on the site which tends to soak up memory. There was a massive memory leak caused by the GIF's. The RAM was just getting hammered. I've since fixed it but it might need more optimization. Going forward we will focus much more of the forecast and don't need all these current weather graphics constantly hogging resources. My biggest concern is that when the website is buzzing ahead of big storms that we have enough bandwidth to serve everyone. So to preserve that; the GIFS were just not as important when push comes to shove. But overall; excited to push the limits and see just how fast she can go.
Was ready to roll this week, then catastrophe struck
On Monday we did a soft launch of the membership fee. On Tuesday Sep 3 I push an update to wisconsinwx.com and begin final testing when I broke something. I spent the entire day trouble shooting. Eventually decided to burn it down; restore from an Aug 20 backup. It was pretty much the worst day of my life. All that momentum and progress lost. I learned shortly after the issue was my mistake; a simple fix and I burned it down for nothing. I was just happy to find the fix. It took 24 hours to bring the database back up and I'm happy to say we're back to where we started; pushing forward right now. I made serious progress this week no doubt.
7-Day Forecast Graphic Upgrades
Wanted to make improvements for a long time. Had some time to tinker with it. Figured out how to do color gradients on lines. Will keep playing around with it. Just wanted a fresh look.
New Weather Icon Graphics
On Weds/Thu I created a new weather icon set for the website from scratch. Originally I only needed something for the t-shirt I was designing...but then I get carried away. It's fresh and clean. SIMPLE. The nice this is - being the creator - we own the source files and can change as need or sell them to raise funds. Or create more. The limitation is just the logic of the forecast model guidance; it's pretty simple and don't really want to over complicate it. I'm okay with it right now! It ties everything together very nicely.
Privacy Mode is Gone
Not a huge deal and it's been dead for awhile but on today's update I removed access to it completely. Anyone who was in private mode before has been changed to public (~120 of 970). The stuff you posted in privacy mode in the past will stay private. Anything going forward will be visible to our members. I've locked down the community and profile pages. Need a membership to post or interact now. Being one person; I don't want to recreate the wheel (aka facebook). My direction for wisconsinwx.com is a little different right now. Maybe we revisit in the future.
T-Shirts for Sale!
Hey, the Wisconsin Weather Store is back! Support our dreams buying check out our brand new design for fall 2019! 19.99 (not including tax & shipping). Read up on the story behind the shirt here!
Membership Fee is Here!
It's totally here. The soft launch is over. Fully tested and ready to roll. We had our first subscriber on Monday (upgrade from free trial)(you know who you are, thank you! ;) ) The monthly fee for new members from this point forward has been set at $4.99. As I've mentioned before this is new territory for everyone so please be patient as we work through this. To show my respect and gratitude to everyone who has supported us and believed in us before this point; our current members won't have to pay until March 2020! There is much more to talk about! Read this story about memberships for more!
Plan for the Immediate Future
FORECAST THE WEATHER
I keep saying it and I feel it so strongly but it never seems to happen. I've concluded that it will happen at the right time.
It's been a chaotic schedule lately with all the turmoil, website problems, new baby, house, and life stuff. Blah blah blah. Time to move on. That's all done but September is another busy month. Next week I will be back on a normal work schedule (day job) and looking to start producing weather forecast regularly. Get into a rhythm. This time of year is the worst for us. The weather always stagnates. Winter into spring is our best time. We are positioned pretty well for that now. Gosh just feel so good about the foundation we've built. Ready to go to war but first...
I wish I could be more "spirited" about all these changes, in my heart I am. This is a really big pivotal moment for us but it's been a constant slug fest/emotional rollercoaster. I'm tired - not burned out - literally just need to shut the book and end this chapter. It's like walking around in dead skin you just can't shake off. Come Monday it's time to write a new chapter not just in my book, but in Wisconsin history. Such a huge deal. A new challenge. The next few months will be a grind as we grow into our new skin! Really really really want to sink my teeth into this. Put the hammer down anyway I can. I've got a little runway. Just need a little help from ma nature now.
Thanks for reading! Thanks for believing in me. You guys are the best! Lets get to work.