Login / Logout is now in the top menu. Accounts are for OCTRA members as well as supporters. If you are a legitimate OCTRA enthusiast, volunteer, or supporter but not a member, you can request a Subscriber account . If you have trouble logging in contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Here is the form to request a website account.
Restricted Access to OCTRA Core Database
Non-members, hackers and indexing bots like Google and Bing have created massive resource loads on our website due to excessive calls to our OCTRA Core database. Bots in particular are a problem. Once a bot scans a page like Ride Results it crawls through every link it can find eventually loading all ride results and all horse and rider profiles for all years. This pushes us over our resource allowance for our web hosting account. When that happens our website slows to a crawl. What to do?? We have two options. I chose #2:
- Request more money to pay for more resources. The next tier up is about $60 per month. That’s almost what we now pay per year. And that may not be enough.
- Block all bots, hackers, and unknown users from reaching pages with database calls.
I chose option 2 as a first step. I have adjusted the templates for every page with a database call (or the top page in a hierarchy of pages) so that visitors must be logged in to make the database call and see the data.
Some sensitive pages, like the Membership Directory, require you to be logged in with “Member” status. Less sensitive pages can still be seen by those whose memberships have expired but remain “Subscribers” on our website. Day members can also ask for a subscriber account in order to see ride results and other non-sensitive OCTRA data.
The website now blocks unknown users from doing a deep dive into our database systems. Legitimate users must login.
I will now work to make sure all members have “Member” accounts. However, every website account requires a unique email address. So if a family all use the same email address there will be only one web account in the name of the primary contact person.
Calendar Software Removed
Recently the software enabling the OCTRA Ride Calendar was disabled. The website had experienced periodic heavy traffic resulting in slow performance and the occasional stoppage partly due to incompatibilities in this module.
I traced the problem to an interaction between the “My Calendar” plugin we have used for years and the Google Web Crawler that indexes our site. After considerable effort trying to get these two software agents to “play nice” I finally decided to pull the plug on My Calendar.
In the meantime, on the same page, i.e. Ride Calendar, there is a list of ride names with dates plus the downloadable PDF calendar with details on each ride. As Ride Flyers come in from the ride managers they will be posted and each item in the ride list will be linked to its respective flyer.
If this is insufficient, let me know what features you miss and can’t live without.
A New Look
A new year, a new look, albeit forced upon us by a series of software updates. The old theme was very slick and pretty but had its issues:
- Touchy menus
- High resource usage
- Incompatibility with other software
I waited until after the AGM to do a series of necessary updates just in case things went south knowing full well some of our installed software was showing strain. Well…things went all the way to Antarctica! I finally got it all working again about 7pm last night. Work will continue for another week or so to tweak colours, fonts, and layout. But for now all the information that was there is back.
For those interested in the gory details, the old theme interfered with software that connects certain pages to the OCTRA Core database, e.g. Membership Directory, Ride Results, etc. Over the past few years I had carefully updated the theme and other software when due. Incompatibilities arose but were not too hard to resolve. On Family Day I installed several overdue updates. First, the WordPress core needed a major upgrade to 5.0.3. No problems there. Then I updated the database software to 2.4. Again, no problems. Next I updated the theme and all the database pages broke. When I put the site in maintenance mode and tested another basic theme, all the pages worked again…they were ugly but they worked.
Decision point: try to fix the existing theme again with all its inherent flaws, or ditch it and start from scratch. I decided it was time to fish, not cut more bait.
So please be patient as I clean up what is admittedly a rougher looking theme. In a week or two it should be looking spiffy again. And the menus already work a lot better!