If you visited our site in the past couple of days, you probably noticed it was down or in various stages of undress. Our server company accidentally deleted our server and they didn’t have a backup. While the free stuff they’re giving us to smooth things over is appreciated, it’s hard to put a value on the time it takes to restore a WordPress site and call it good. Yes, of course we have backups of everything. But there’s no magic button to restore everything like it was (there are actually services that can do that for you but you have to pay and this site doesn’t make any money). We didn’t lose any posts, thank goodness, but we’re still working on restoring images. We’ll get it in time. Please be patient.
In the meantime, this was a great time to upgrade to a better, faster, and more secure server and you may notice our site now loads via https. That’s a Google requirement starting in October of this year, so we’re a little ahead of the deadline. While we don’t store any secret stuff here, there’s no harm in putting an extra lock on the door.
You may have noticed that our site was down for a few days. Servers need to be updated just like other computers. However, what was supposed to be a routine server update, turned into a full rebuild and restore. It’s not something we had time to do but that’s life. So we took the opportunity to upgrade and update other features to improve speed and security and I think we’re almost entirely back to normal. You may see something funky here and there but for the most part, everything should be here (thank goodness for backups!).
During this process, I came to realize that it’s been a few years since we updated the design, so Mikki and I will be working on a refresh soon.
Subscribers – we switched to a new subscription system so you’ll need to re-subscribe. We thought of moving everyone but many subscribers were just spammers so we felt it was best to start from scratch. Those who subscribe will receive an email when we post something, which is a great way to keep in touch since we haven’t been posting new entries very often.
In response to a growing fan base and complaints about slow performance, we’ve upgraded our server hardware. We’re also taking the opportunity to upgrade our software and apply security patches. Upgrades like this take a little while so please bear with us for a few days. When we’re done, you should notice a considerable improvement in the speed and reliability of our site.
In addition to the site being occasionally offline, you may notice some of our images not loading or the design being off. Thanks for your patience!
10/23/10 Update: Posts, pages and comments are all restored and the site is functional, though a few pages that require special coding aren’t working just yet. And as you can tell, the design is a little different. I may use this as an opportunity to update the style but at the moment it’s kind of ugly. Expect some design changes over the coming days and feel free to make suggestions and offer constructive criticisms.
We’re also enabling some new features, such as post tagging and automatic mobile versions of the site when you view it on an iPhone, Blackberry, Windows 7 smart phone or other mobile device. Starting with this post, we’re also bringing back representative images. The new software update made is considerably easier to add images to our posts and as long as we don’t overdo it, I think images add a lot.
If you stopped by in the last two days, or should I say tried to stop by, you probably noticed the site was down. To our surprise one of our dedicated servers was being moved to a new data center. To our further, albeit more unpleasant surprise, the data center had trouble getting it back online. Not sure how that can happen in this day and time but it appears someone finally figured it out and here we are.
Sorry for the downtime! In the two years we’ve had the site, nothing like that has ever happened. I’d like to take this opportunity to make a note of something though. Barring some unforeseen disaster, we have every intention of continuing this website. If, however, we decide to end the site, we won’t just pull the plug. We’d make a note and then let it die slowly. So if you come here and the site’s not working suddenly, it’s almost assuredly a technical problem of some kind. Please check back later.
Thanks to those of you who got in contact with us to make sure everything was okay!
You may have noticed that there have been almost no ads on our blog. It’s been this way for well over a year now. We have a few Google ads that appear at the bottom of our links list and if you search for something and no results are returned, you get a Google search box. But other than that there have been no ads. We also haven’t been sponsored by anyone or paid to write a product or service review. We didn’t start Our First Horse to make lots of money. The objective of this blog was to force us to document the experience, for our own benefit. If anyone else is entertained along the way or learns something with us, great!
But as anyone who operates a blog like this knows, there are expenses when running a website. They’re not very high but we lease a dedicated server and that cost comes out of our pockets each month. To help recoup that expense we’ve thought of selling some advertising space. We looked at all kind of blogs and other websites for ideas on how many ads to have on each page and what layouts were attractive. The problem is, most websites and blogs have LOTS of advertising. Too much. We never want our readers to have to wade through advertising to see our articles and posts. We’ve decided we’re going to experiment with just a few ads here and there. Small, unobtrusive and hopefully complimentary to the theme of our site.
Starting as early as today you might see a small ad at the top of our menu and another small ad at the bottom of the site near the footer. At some point you may see us review a few products that we’re paid to review. We promise: 1) there won’t be many, 2) we’ll pick relevant products/services, 3) we’ll be 100% objective (even if it costs us the sponsorship) and 4) we’ll clearly mark paid reviews. We’ll never try to trick you.
Most blogs have advertising so this probably isn’t a surprise to you. We’ve resisted for as long as we could but we’re caving in gracefully and with a commitment to keep it to a minimum.
Thanks for understanding (we hope you do) and if you see something of interest in these ads, remember that viewing and clicking them helps us and them.
Finally, if you have a horse-related product/service or something complimentary to the horse lifestyle and you’d like information about advertising on the Our First Horse blog, please contact us.
We’re thankful for all of you who stop by Our First Horse each day to read about our adventure. Interestingly, hardly any of you seem to view our discussion forum. I’m wondering if it’s because we’ve buried the link too far down on the sidebar. Just in case you didn’t know about it, we added a discussion forum to Our First Horse months ago and have an “active topics” list of the last 5 active discussion topics to the right of the screen below the menu. On a lot of computer screens you need to scroll down before you see this link on the menu bar on the right side. We’re not trying to compete with the big horse forums, like those found on Horse City or Horsetopia. We just figured this would be a good place for some first-timer discussions, general horse talk with our visitors and stuff we want to mention that doesn’t necessarily warrant a fancy blog post.
Here’s a big old link to our forum:
Please stop by our horse forum when you have a moment and drop a note on anything you find interesting. Or start your own post/discussion. And if you have any suggestions on making the forum more useful, please let us know either there or in the comments of this post.
EDIT: the discussion forum is no longer available.