Monday, December 6, 2010

Server troubles

The site was down for a few hours today, I'm still not sure what's going on. It's back up now but super slow at the moment. Sorry about this.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Group Buy Page & Troubleshooting

I've assembled a new page on Forum Vancouver to display the group buys: http://www.forumvancouver.com/pages/vancouvergroupbuy/

If you are having issues or you're not receiving your email, check your spam folder first. Use the contact form on this blog or on the forum and include your email address if you still have issues.

ethicalDeal, HotDealsLive & BCDailyDeals added to the feed

Three new group buy sites have been added to the daily feed: BCDailyDeals, HotDealsLive, ethicalDeal.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TownHog Vancouver has been added to the RSS & email feeds

TownHog just launched today in Vancouver so I have added it to the feed.

The email subscription is still a bit finicky I'm afraid, so the best way to view the deals is through http://feeds.feedburner.com/vancouvergroupbuy or through Google (or another RSS) Reader.

Cheers

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dealfind and SwarmJam have been added to the Group Buy feed

Dealfind and SwarmJam have been added to the feed.

The latter was difficult to add due to a parsing error, so I'm not sure if it'll work perfectly.

Google's Feedburner service (which powers the RSS and email subscription service) has been finicky lately. Today's emails weren't sent out to some people so I did it manually. Of course, in the process I was too trigger happy (and dumb), so I forgot to BCC some of the emails.

As a result, some people have requested to be unsubscribed, which I have already done. Sorry to see you go. However, this won't happen again! I assure you that the emails remain private when the daily emails are sent out. The mistake today was an oversight on my part only.

As a reminder, you can always view the daily deals as an RSS feed here:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/vancouvergroupbuy

Mobile users are able to bookmark this page and view it conveniently from their phone.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

500 HTTP Internal Server Error

The forum crashed in the early afternoon and left me clueless at what happened until now. None of the server logs showed anything wrong but it turned out to be a corrupted/crashed MySQL table that needed to be repaired. Lucky hunch.

This serves as a reminder that I need to create proper error pages that link to this blog.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Template coding changes, upgraded and removed software add ons

I broke the site a few (maybe a bit more than that) times while I was uninstalling and upgrading some of the forum software add-ons. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I also made a few template coding changes to incorporate the Facebook like button.

Do let me know of any problems you come across in case in case I changed something I wasn't supposed to without realizing it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Database error

The same connection problem from last month is recurring. Will have to wait for the host to sort it out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SocialShopper added to the Group Buy feed

Same story as yesterday, a new social shopping website has launched for Vancouver: http://www.socialshopper.com/vancouver&ref=23801

It's been added to our group buy feed and email subscription :). It may take about an hour for the feeds to sync up though.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Indulge Living added to the Group Buy feed

A new social shopping website has launched for Vancouver: http://www.indulgeliving.com/?utm_source=uu176

It's been added to our group buy feed and email subscription :).

Monday, August 2, 2010

Username length

Usernames have been capped to 15 characters to prevent an issue I noticed with longer names overflowing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vancouver group buy email subscription service

If you want to see the deals without signing up for the email, see this page: http://www.forumvancouver.com/pages/vancouvergroupbuy/

Otherwise, sign up below:

------------------------------

I've made some bug fixes and improvements to the group buy summary feed. One of these improvements is the ability to receive a daily email with the deals. We are currently following Groupon, Indulge Living, Teambuy, LivingSocial, Grooster, GoodNews, Steal the Deal, WagJag, SocialShopper, SwarmJam, Dealfind, TownHog, BCDailyDeals, HotDealsLive, WebPiggy, CityFlavr, Delight Daily, TooSave, The Daily Steal, Surrey, GoLowDeal, DealTicker and ethicalDeal.

To sign up, simply enter your email below. You'll get a confirmation email with a link that you'll have to click.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Here's a sample of what the email looks like:

Vancouver Group Buy Email Subscription

Please note that this service hasn't been extensively tested, it's not guaranteed to work 100%. Do let me know of any problems that come up however.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More changes to the Group Buy Feed

I fixed a bunch of odd behaviours that would sometimes crop up.

Bug #1: WagJag often goes days without a deal. When this happened the following would show up:

<title>Never miss a WagJag! - $32 For Tickets to Keane (A $64 Value) <br><i> Disco Lemonade Tour Live at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on July 30th</i></title>

In other words, the script would fail to find a Vancouver deal so a Toronto deal showed instead. The regular expression also gets broken so the HTML tags don't get filtered out.

This only affected users who viewed the feed directly or through an RSS reader. If you viewed the feed via the forum or blog, content within html tags automatically get filtered out anyway so the WagJag entry would get omitted when they didn't have a deal.

Bug #2: TeamBuy often has side deals, the way I've chosen to include these side deals led to duplicate entries if there was no side deal that day.

Bug #1 was fixed by introducing a blocking filter.
Bug #2 was fixed by checking for duplicates before generating the feed.

Connection Problems

Sorry, SMF was unable to connect to the database. This may be caused by the server being busy. Please try again later.

That's probably what you're seeing if you visit the forum right now. It's a server problem beyond my control and the host is currently working on the issue. Stay tuned for updates.

Update: Issue appears to be fixed now.

Changes to the Group Buy Feed

I've reworked some of the internals of the group buy widget. Previously, each daily deal didn't have a unique identifier from day to day, which meant that feed readers (such as Google Reader) had trouble updating daily entries because they weren't considered new. The net result was that the only new entry showing up would be Groupon (since it's directly pulled from their feed). Users would have to visit the Vancouver Group Buy feedburner page or Forum Vancouver manually to get an update on the other the daily deals.

I've since implemented a way for unique identifiers to be assigned so everything should work correctly.

Let me know if you run into any peculiarities. If this solution works out, I will be putting up email based subscriptions for the deals.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Group Buy Widget

Some of you might have noticed that TeamBuy is missing from the Vancouver Group Buy summary feed. They changed the structure of their website and I haven't figured out a way to extract the relevant information yet.

Update: Fixed! Teambuy is now included again. I've also updated to include their side deals. Another group buy (social shopping) website called Living Social recently launched. I have updated the RSS feed to include them as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Win $30 to use at Grooster, free to enter!

Our first giveaway is being sponsored by Grooster, a locally based group buy (or social shopping) website that offers exclusive discounts on select Metro Vancouver restaurants, spas, events, boutiques and more.

Grooster Forum Vancouver Contest

If you haven't registered for a Forum Vancouver account yet, visit:
http://www.forumvancouver.com/register/


Registered forum members with at least 5 posts are eligible to enter and will receive 1 entry for replying to this thread: http://www.forumvancouver.com/threads/contest-win-30-to-use-at-grooster-com.179/

Participating members with 20+ posts receive an additional entry for a total of 2 entries.

Participating members may also receive additional entries by getting friends (1 entry/friend, no limit) to sign up for an account and post 5+ times.

To enter, members must post a reply in the following thread:

http://www.forumvancouver.com/threads/contest-win-30-to-use-at-grooster-com.179/

Forum posts must contribute to the community and cannot be one word replies. Forum Vancouver reserves the right to determine what constitutes an eligible post.

Complete Contest Rules

1. There is one (1) prize consisting of up to $30 to use towards a Grooster Pass at http://www.grooster.com/.

2. Contest closes August 6th, 2010 at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

3. Fraudulent entries (such as registering more than one account per person) will result in disqualification.

4. A winner will be randomly drawn out of all eligible entries and contacted by email. A skill testing question will be administered and must be answered correctly. If the selected winner does not reply within five (5) business days, a new winner will be chosen.

5. By accepting the prize, the winner consents to their user name being revealed.

6. Odds of winning will depend on the total number of eligible entries received.

7. Forum Vancouver reserves the right to modify, suspend or terminate this competition at any time for any reason and without notice. Contest decisions made by Forum Vancouver are final and not subject to appeal.

8. No purchase necessary

9. Contest is only valid for residents of British Columbia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Traffic Report #1

Correction: Graph should read July 6, not June 6. Oops.

Traffic Visitors Graph for Forum Vancouver

Just thought I'd mention that we've hit just about 200 daily unique visitors. There's been a shift from mostly referral sites providing traffic to Google providing the majority. The three sudden peaks of traffic were due to popular threads being linked so they "don't really count".

Now if only membership registration was increasing in parallel.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vancouver Daily Group Buy Widget

Update: this widget has been replaced with this page: http://www.forumvancouver.com/pages/vancouvergroupbuy/

Hopefully you've noticed a summary of the Daily Group Buy sites (Groupon, Grooster, Wagjag, Steal the Deal, and Team Buy) on the left hand side of the forum. I added it when I couldn't update the group buy thread manually.

Vancouver Group Buy Websites RSS Feed

It's also viewable here on the blog on the right hand side!

The "widget" draws upon an RSS feed that I created by using a tool to extract the relevant information from each website, so it updates automatically when the deal of the day changes. It goes a bit wonky sometimes due to the data extraction method but should mostly work.

The feed address is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/vancouvergroupbuy if you are interested.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A few changes to member permissions

I've adjusted the forum permissions so that only members with 5 or more posts will be granted access to:

1. Avatars
2. Signatures
3. Personal Text
4. Editing extra profile fields such as Location, Website, Gender etc.
5. Customized look & layout settings
6. Customized notification & personal messaging settings
7. Buddy and Ignore Lists

This was done mostly for security reasons. If you have less than 5 posts but have added an avatar, signature, or made other edits, they will not be removed. However, you're not grandfathered the above permissions so you won't be able to change what you have until you have 5+ posts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reply & Posting Bug - Fixed

Looks like the issue is resolved for now, can't say it's anything that I did though. It disappeared on its own, likely it was the server host tweaking things.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reply & Posting Bug

There's something finicky going on with the reply and start a new topic functions. When certain text is submitted or previewed, the user is redirected to a fresh "Start a New Topic" page.

So far this only happens when I try to update the Group Buy thread. This isn't something that has happened in the past, so I will look into it.

If you are having similar problems, let me know and include the body of text that you're trying to post so I can isolate the issue.

Thanks!

New Details: This issue affects private messages in addition to replies and new topics. It happens whenever the following BBcode is used four times or more [url=http://website]text[/url]. It has been confirmed with registered members.

I installed a vanilla version of the forum software to test if the issue was due to any add ons or themes, but the problem's still there. So, it looks like it might be a server issue.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Outdoor Movies in Metro Vancouver 2010

About a week ago I started compiling a list of free outdoor movie locations in the Greater Vancouver area. It has since grown to a sizable list, but a lot of these tend to crop up over summer.

I've reorganized the list chronologically for readability's sake (attached below). Complete information on venue, times and links to google maps are in the forum thread. These movie showings are a great way to enjoy our rare sunny weather, so be sure to catch at least one. Be sure to let me know in the comments or in the forum thread of any other outdoor (and hopefully free) movie screenings you hear about!

June 18 - Breakfast Club (0.5 hour after last race @ Hastings Race Course)
June 25 - Ferris Bueller's Day Off (0.5 hour after last race @ Hastings Race Course)
June 26 - Twilight New Moon (9:30 pm @ UBC Rugby Fields)
June 30 - How to Train Your Dragon (9:30 pm @ McLean Neighbourhood Park in Richmond)
July 2 - Teen Wolf (10:00 pm start @ Hastings Race Course)
July 3 - How to Train Your Dragon (9:00 pm @ West Beach in White Rock)
July 7 - Mamma Mia (9:00 pm [?, could be dusk] @ Ceperley Meadows in Stanley Park by 2nd Beach)
July 9 - Pretty in Pink (0.5 hour after last race @ Hastings Race Course)
July 14 - The Goonies (9:00 pm [?, could be dusk] @ Ceperley Meadows in Stanley Park by 2nd Beach)
July 16 - Top Gun (10:00 pm start @ Hastings Race Course)
July 22 - Monsters vs Aliens (9:00 pm [?, could be dusk] @ Ceperley Meadows in Stanley Park by 2nd Beach)
July 23 - Beverly Hills Cop (0.5 hour after last race @ Hastings Race Course)
July 29 - The Karate Kid (Original) (9:00 pm [?, could be dusk] @ Ceperley Meadows in Stanley Park by 2nd Beach)
August 13 - E.T. (dusk @ Harbour Green Park)
August 27 - Hairspray (dusk @ Harbour Green Park)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Site was down

An error caused the site to go down for awhile. I've manually cleared the cache and everything seems to work now. Let me know if you encounter any problems while I look into what happened.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Joining the Blogosphere

The purpose of this blog is to provide announcements and updates about the forum. I might also mention interesting posts or give a heads up if there's an scheduled maintenance or downtime.

Initially I thought about hosting a Wordpress blog so that forum members would be able to use their account to comment here, but the downside to that option is that any server/hosting issue that affects the forum would also affect the blog, which renders the purpose of the blog partially moot. Plus, it's a lot more work bridging Wordpress and the forum software.

Instead, I'm using Blogger so this blog is hosted on Google's servers, which means that in the event of server problems you can still check here for any communications.

Oh yeah, the forum is one month old today :)