i just posted a little guide to designing your own book cover over at Lousy Book Covers. It’s really good, he said modestly.
Cold Fusion Video Reviews also hosted several movie review subdomains which I referred as the “Cold Fusioneers,” independent movie critics who didn’t mind associating themselves with the Cold Fusion Media Empire. When my web empire died through a server crash, they all died with it.
The first one to arise from the ashes is MonsterHunter, who has a new home propounding his cinematic opinions at Monster Hunter Movie Reviews. Consistently entertaining. Go there.
I’m taking a vacation day today to sit in front of my computer and start to put things back together, starting with Lousy Book Covers, since a) I’ve got most of the posted content mirrored to the tumblog for easier restoration, and b) it was the only site that made me any real money.
In other news, I’m literally a single paragraph from the end of the first draft of my story for Space Eldritch II. (Then the word came down that the server was starring in a revival of the parrot sketch, so it took priority.) There are a couple of scenes I need to go back and put in, and then it’ll go out to a few trusted readers. The working generic title is “The Haunted Stars,” but I kind of like that for the subtitle of the collection as a whole, so maybe it’ll end up being titled “Late to the Party.”
I’m finding out, between this story and “The Menace Under Mars” in the first Space Eldritch, that I don’t have many Lovecraftian stories in me. Not that I can ever tire of various tenticular ickies, but for both of these stories, I took to heart that most-quoted opening paragraph from “The Call of Cthulhu”:
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
What frightens me, then, in a Lovecraftian sense, is immensity, the fact that the “vistas of reality” are so huge that it’s only the foreshortening of our human perspective — both in time and space — that makes them amenable to the human psyche. Those who have read “The Menace Under Mars” can see that idea in the closing parts of the story. (Those who haven’t read it can rectify that oversight easily.)
I tried to put a different spin on it in this story, so that I won’t be the guy who’s every Lovecraftian space opera ends the same way, and I don’t think this one’ll give anyone deja vu. I’m just saying that if I do any more Space Eldritch collections, I’m going to have to go the Larry Correia route, where killing alien squids takes precedence over cosmic dread.
I finally got the following message this morning from tech support, in response to my websites being down for almost two weeks:
Unfortunately as you may already be aware, the server hosting your website suffered a catastrophic failure of it’s storage array. We believe this to be a failure of the RAID card in the server, which caused a cascading failure of the file system. This has resulted in the server being completely down, and we have thus far been unable to recover any data despite repeated attempts. We have also attempted to restore the server from our backups, but thus far have been unsuccessful at recovering in that way as well.
In other words, there’s nothing. No data, and no backups. All of my sites are gone. (Funny how those darned backups never work, isn’t it? Especially if you NEVER MAKE THEM?)
Oh, and there’s also this gem:
At this point in time, our only course of action is to recreate each account on a new server, and allow you to re-upload your website(s) and any other data. We will be sending out new account details over the next 24 hours to each affected client. Given the circumstances, we will also be issuing a credit to each customer good for 3 months of future service. Please accept our most sincere apologies for the inconvenience this has caused, and we appreciate your understanding.
Ah, yes. “Sorry if you didn’t like the shit-and-mayo sandwich we just stuffed down your throat. In compensation, three free months of more shit-and-mayo sandwiches!”
In case anyone has forgotten, the pooch-screwing webhost in this narrative is Hostivia.com. Hostivia sucks. Do not host with Hostivia. This is not the first time they’ve been hit by server failures, and responded with silence to desperate customer queries. I waited one crisis too many to cut bait. More fool me.
I will start the slow work of rebuilding my active websites on another host (Hostgator, if you’re curious). I’m lucky in the case of lousybookcovers.com, in that it had a tumblr mirror from which I can restore almost everything (I had 200 future posts queued up which I’ll have to compile again, but that’s the least of my troubles). But a dozen years of blog post, my virtual journal? Gone. Six-hundredish lengthy movie reviews on coldfusionvideo.com? All gone, except for those which I included in The Golden Age of Crap and which I pulled off to polish for the Charles Band book(s).
This blog will be rolled into the new NathanShumate.com when it comes online. Until then, watch this space.
(Know what the worst part is? Other people would soothe the burn by getting drunk. I’m Mormon, so I’m facing it cold sober. (I have a Monster Energy Zero Ultra, but it’s small consolation.))
Oh, and if you want to help assuage my pain, buy my books.
(Large parts of this post are copied and pasted from other sources, as I didn’t see the need to restate everything.)
Ben Wolverton, age 16, was in a tragic long-boarding accident on Wednesday the 4th, 2013. He suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drums, road rash, pneumonia, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.
Ben is the son of author David Farland, whose books have won multiple awards, and who is widely known as a mentor to many prominent authors, such as Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Brandon Mull. Costs for Ben’s treatment are expected to rise above $1,000,0000. To help raise money for Ben, we are having a book bomb (focused on Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines) on behalf of Ben
You can learn more about Ben’s condition, or simply donate to the Wolverton family here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery
A Book Bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day (in this case, Wednesday, April 10th) to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton. Purchasing on a specific day causes the book’s visibility to rise in Amazon’s rankings, leading to more purchase by people outside of the Book Bomb.
Your Action List:
1) The Book Bomb is for Nightingale and Million Dollar Outlines and is taking place TODAY, which is WEDNESDAY. If you click through the Amazon link above, ANYTHING else you buy, Dave will get a percentage of. If the two books being bombed don’t appeal to you, Dave has written literally scores of others, both as Dave Farland (his fantasy byline) and Dave Wolverton (his SF byline). Anything you buy helps benefit the family.
2) There is now a website up for Ben thanks to James Duckett. You can send people there to buy the books. Please link blog posts to it. It can also be used after the book bomb. http://www.helpwolverton.com/
3) Tell others about the book bomb
4) People can just donate money here: http://www.gofundme.com/BensRecovery
This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket.
As you may know, in addition to my blog at NathanShumate.com, I also had ten years of video reviews archived at coldfusionvideo.com (plus five other subdomains containing other writers’ reviews). Plus my publishing company, coldfusionmedia.us. Plus my webcomic, cheapcaffeine.net. Plus my book cover design shingle, fifthplanetdesign.com. Plus lousybookcovers.com. Plus pulpoftheday.com.
All of these domains were hosted in one hosting package, which you can do nowadays because of how cheap storage space is. Seven or eight bucks a month, and as long as your site isn’t draining server resources, you can host as many domains and sites as you want.
Until your server goes down.
I found out on the morning of Friday, March 29th, that pulpoftheday.com wasn’t responding. In fact, none of my sites were. I opened a trouble ticket on my host’s support pages. It could have been a momentary blip, obviously; maybe an hour or two.
I ain’t no math whiz, but I’m thinking ELEVEN DAYS (and counting) is more than an hour or two.
What really galls me is that I haven’t been able to get any response out of tech support, except for a single response a full week after my initial problem, where I was stupidly asked to give more information about exactly what the problem is. Then nothing. My daily bumps on the trouble ticket get no response except crickets.
There was a phone number listed on my host’s website. When I called it, it turned out to be the number of another hosting company, of which my host is apparently a subsidiary. I could get no response from either tech support or sales at the parent company, and the woman who answered the phone in the billing office pointedly told me that she couldn’t help me, nor could she give me any other means of contacting the techs who were supposed to be solving my problem.
After she managed to piss me off by pointedly refusing to answer my questions,* she did volunteer that she knew that my host had had a problem with one of its servers, which they were rebuilding. (A process that is so hush-hush, they can’t even let their clients know directly!) Oh, and there was no guarantee that my data was intact; she hoped I had kept a current backup.
You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
Isn’t that what a responsible host does? Maintains a backup on their servers? I could give them the benefit of the doubt and posit that someone who works in the billing office of a separate though related entity and boldly proclaims her inability to help me (a declaration with which I wholeheartedly concur) may not know the niggling facts on the ground… but the longer we go with nothing back from tech support, the less hopeful I become.
In case you’re wondering: The host who has, to all intents and purposes, screwed both the tech support and customer service pooches is Hostivia.com. Yes, Hostivia.com thinks so little of the customers who are paying for their services that they can’t be bothered to drop them a note when the services for which said customers pay have disappeared for ELEVEN FULL DAYS and counting.
(While we’re at it, Versaweb.com is apparently the parent company manned entirely by one billing person whose job it is to run interference.)
I have not entirely given up hope for my data. I have contracted with another host — one with more of a track record and paper trail — for new hosting. If and when Hostivia decides to replace the hamster which had heretofore powered that server, the new host will copy all of the data lock, stock and barrel. Assuming there is anything to copy.
In the meantime, I’ll use this wordpress.com blog as my one outlet (aside from my tumblogs, natch) to make my mark upon Teh Intartubes. Just so you’ll know that I’m not as dead as my websites.
*Seriously, this is how the conversation went:
ME: Is there any way I can contact Hostivia directly?
BILLING: I’m sorry, I’ve got no way to do that.
ME: You don’t have a phone number or anything?
BILLING: If you’ll give me your name, I’ll get a message to them.
ME: So you do have a phone number?
BILLING: Can I have your name please?
ME: How about you just give me the phone number, and I’ll contact them.
BILING: Can I have your name please?
ME: How are you going to contact them if you don’t have their phone number?
BILLING: Can I have your name please?