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RocketReview.com Discussion Forums

I’ve restored the discussion forums at http://community.rocketreviews.com/.

The discussion forums include topics specific to RocketReviews.com and will be used to replace the system used currently for posting and reading comments at RocketReviews.com. There are also general discussion forums for rocketry topics.

When I first put the discussion forums online last year, I was using a beta version of the forum software from Invision Power Systems. I modified the software to integrate it with RocketReviews.com and to add other features specifically for rocketry people. By the time the release version of the software became available, it had changed too much and my updates to it no longer worked correctly. So, I temporarily shut down the forums.

Now they are back. This time, I am using the release version of the software and making changes to it more slowly and carefully. I’ve started using it as the framework for new features (such as the Rocket Name Generator)

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Flutter-By Caught By Spider

From Scott Johnson:

“So I was painting my Flutter-By (Centuri Style); doing 10 minute intervals of red paint. In between painting, my Flutter-By was caught by a spider…”

See: http://www.rocketreviews.com/flutter-by-caught.html

Flight Log Improvements

You can now manage your Flight Log at Community.RocketReviews.com. Log in using your RocketReviews.com email address and password. Then click the “My Flight Log” link in the “My Account Menu.”

The Flight Log dashboard will be displayed with brief statistics about the information in your Flight Log. At the top of the dashboard is a menu bar.

Click the “Rockets” button in the menu bar to see a list of the rockets in your Flight Log. Click “Add Rocket” button to add a new rocket.

Click the “Flights” button in the menu bar to see a list of the flights in your Flight Log. Click the “Add Flight” button to add a new flight.

The new Flight Log feature in the RocketReviews.com Community uses the same database as the existing Flight Log feature at RocketReviews.com. But, it offers a much nicer interface for entering and editing flights.

The new Flight Log interface allows you to

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The RocketReviews.com Community

After a false start a few months ago, I’ve reintroduced the RocketReviews.com Community. RocketReviews.com Community adds a new layer of social interaction on top of RocketReviews.com.

The most obvious new feature is the collection of Forums where members may discuss various rocketry topics.

The RocketReviews.com category of the Forums includes content originally posted to RocketReviews.com. Currently, it has just one forum, the Reviews forum, but more will be added later.

When a review is published at RocketReviews.com, a topic is automatically created in the Reviews category containing a summary of the review and a link to read the full review. You can comment on the review by posting a reply to the topic. This replaces the review comment feature which was a part of RocketReviews.com. Replies to a review’s topic will be displayed on the review page at RocketReviews.com along with a link to the Community forum.

For example, look at the Scratch – Uranus

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RocketReviews.com Moved to New Server

Over the past weekend, I transferred the RocketReviews.com website to a new server. One of the hard drives on the old server began showing signs of failing, so I decided to move RocketReviews.com and the other sites I host to the new server.

The new server is very similar to the one used before. It has an Intel Xeon Quadcore processor and 4GB of memory. It’s running RedHat Linux and is located in one of Softlayer’s data centers in Dallas, Texas, with direct connections to the largest and fastest internet backbones.

The only real difference between the new server and the old is that the new server has three 500GB hard drives in a RAID 5 configuration while the old server had just two 500GB drives configured individually. The RAID system provides protection in case a drive fails. If one of the drives fails, a new one can replace it without turning the system off.

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Performance Improvements

I’m aware that the RocketReviews.com web site has been performing slowly at times, but I’ve addressed the issues and the site is performing much better now.

If you found RocketReviews.com to be slow in the past, please visit the site now and let me know if you are still having problems. You can use the Contact Us link at the bottom of any page at RocketReviews.com to contact me.

For those interested in the details, a number of issues were causing the problems. These issues came together in a “perfect storm” a few days ago causing the site to be down for a few hours.

The main issue was that the database engine’s parameters were not tuned very well. It was using more memory than physically exists on the server. Combined with some inefficiencies in the way the database was being used, this caused a high load on the entire server. A monitoring program rebooted

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RocketReviews.com Site Updates

Look for more designs to be indexed in the Rocksim Library and the OpenRocket Libray. I updated the “spider” which searches the internet for designs. It now also looks inside zip archive files. This has already added dozens of designs to the indexes.

I made the “thumbnails” displayed in Photo Albums larger. The pages will take longer to display, but the photos look much better.

I added a “Search” tab to the Rocketry Plans and Instructions index. This will make it easier for you to find plans or instructions without having to search the entire site.

Mobile RocketReviews.com – Add Your Flights at the Launch Site

While working on the major update to RocketReviews.com, I realized that some of the tools I was using could be used to develop a mobile version of the web site tailored for smart phones and tablets.

The mobile site is accessed by visiting:

http://m.rocketreviews.com/

While the above site works in a browser running on your PC, it’s best view using a smart phone or tablet. Currently the site allows you to view and enter flights in your Flight Log and to view and add rockets to your Rocket Gallery. You must have an existing RocketReviews.com account which the mobile site will ask you to log into.

The new site is … well … new and I’m am still working on it. But, I think it’s worth checking out right now.

A Sneak Peak at the Flight Log Updates

Here’s a quick sneak peak at the new form that I am currently developing for entering flights.

Please click the image if you wish to see it full size.

The first thing you that you’ve probably noticed is that it’s more attractive than the current “wizard” and multiple-flights form available at RocketReviews.com. And this is before I’ve spent any time on the “look and feel” of the form. It’s appearance is based on a standard template. But, it already looks very nice.

Besides looking better, the new form will work better. For example, as you type the name of the rocket into the “Rocket Name” field, the form will display a list of matching choices from rockets you’ve previously flown. The same “autocomplete” function works when entering other information, such as the launch site and types of motors.

The input form is divided into sections. The

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Help Determine the Future of RocketReviews.com

I’ve begun working on a major update of RocketReviews.com. The main goal of the upgrade is very general – to make things work better.

I’ve adopted the Invision Power Services Community Suite (IPS) as the basis for the new version of RocketReviews.com. The IPS architecture is similar to the one I developed for the existing RocketReviews.com web site. Like the architecture I developed, IPS makes it easy to expand the site by adding new features (IPS calls them “applications” and “modules”) on top of the existing framework. IPS’s architecture, though is more robust and capable than the one I developed.

In addition to providing a framework for custom functionality, IPS ships with a number of full-feature applications including a discussion forum, an image gallery, a blog, and a chat application. IPS implements hooks allowing the existing application and custom ones added later to work together.

I’ve installed IPS at Community.RocketReviews.com. You can log into the

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