Hope your year has been going well so far. The site has had a rough patch but we finally got back on track recently. Progress has been made, solutions have been set up, and advancements are coming. Let's talk about it.
Before we get right into everything, I highly recommend you read our previous blog post and interview if you are into Worlds.com archival and haven't seen it. Not only was it quite an interesting trip to read through, it also uncovered plenty of interesting history and information we had no idea about before. It truly was a fascinating experience and I again want to thank Bo Adler for doing the interview. Check it out!
I have dubbed this event "The January Crash" considering when and what the event was. At the beginning of the year on January 9th, our servers suffered huge data loss. Archives and pages disappeared and were erased unintentionally. This catastrophe was caused by a admin error, where the server was improperly configured. Luckily, considering the communities constant saving and archiving of anything (and for good reason), we were able to restore the servers archives and account for everything that was previously of concern. I'd like to thank the archiver of userworlds.net and the saved snapshots on archive.org for wonderful help with their archival as it saved the work this project has been working on. Luckily, no user files were harmed or touched and proper systems have taken place to prevent this from happening again. Additionally, the server is now backed up constantly and uploaded to an external server to make sure nothing is lost. This event was a disaster, but it only made us strengthen our systems to be more careful and more secure.
I'm sure many of you are waiting on news with the announced account system. The project has been named Butler, for it's goal in creating a system that does not rely on human interaction, and it is still being worked on. Progress has been slow lately but work is being done to pick it back up. This system is only being worked on by a single person, so expect it to take some time. However, I can update you and show off what the interface may look like.
Here is the appearance of the toolbar when not logged in on the home page. This toolbar will follow along account pages in addition to the homepage. It will not show on other pages although account actions can be done through certain operations.
A preview of the complete toolbar for an Administrator so far. Staff will have options to moderate and perform duties through the system. Users will not get these options. Certain users may aswell, given the permissions, get a title beside their username to inform others of their status. Some ideas currently are Archiver, Guide, and Trusted, and will come with a different set of permissions for operations and actions within the system.
And finally, here are the current design plans for the Manager, or My Files. It is incomplete and only an example design done for this post, but it is the idea and plan.
Most of the work is still being done on the backend to ensure stability and security. Designing pages is not yet being done until the backend is ready. I will update you on the system when I can.
I have personally been working on restoring old user worlds and content put up for the purpose of preservation and archiving. Lots of Worlds.com worlds are plagued with the problems of broken links and texture issues, when they could be beautiful places. I've been at work making sure a lot of these worlds are fixed up to how they were originally meant to be seen so that others can enjoy a peice of history. Here are some examples of worlds I've restored and their links.
Fizz is the newest of my restored collection. It was a world created by an old Host and user named Fizz. This world was originally packaged as a World installer, placing the world in the WorldsPlayer folder. This explains why most of the texture links look into the home folder instead of relatively. I changed those links to be relative, as well as renamed some textures for organization and server hosting compatibility (I don't have my server setup to support direct spaces in URLs). The world is now looking beautiful as ever, with it's archived web pages to boot.
Satans City is probably the biggest on the list. It's server history bounced between a lot of places but never completely worked. This is because the texture links in the majority of the world (or worlds since this is made up of many world files) are set to look in the users own WorldsPlayer folder, which will not work unless the user has the world locally in the correct location. I removed this and replaced it with relative links so it'll load the correct textures and models. Another issue came up where textures were missing but the files existed under a different extension. I believe there is still much work to be done but it is in the best state it has been in for it's hosted lifetime.
Pheonix is a more popular one, being a hot tour destination during the events. Most of the hosted versions of this world do work but aren't complete originals. This one was taken directly from it's source, and it's textures fixed. It should be not too different from the current hosted ones, but it's nice to have something mostly original.
I do recommend when building your world that you make sure your links are relative to help your world work on servers and other places correctly. These are only a small few of the worlds I've worked on. If you are interested in helping out, find a world that's broken, download it, and fix it up. Worlds is about exploring and it's no fun when you are exploring broken colorful squares.
This is an important topic because not only is this it's own feature, but also an addition with the Account System.
The plan is to allow a method for users to make their own guides and write their own stuff. The issue is that we cannot allow too much without having major security flaws. Our solution? Markdown. It's a simple formatting method that makes it easy to stylize your own text-based page. The issue is that Markdown just doesn't display on a server, so we enabled a parser that displays it in a site-styled page. We've already converted our basic text guides and history pages to markdown. The idea is to impliment a markdown editor to make this process simple so you can write your own guides and pages in this simple format and have it display on a page. Just something else to look forward to in the future.
Hopefully you feel nice and updated. It's nice to be informed. The site and it's projects feels it's important to be transparent about what's going on.
That is why I feel it is necessary to mention the issues and disagreements that I, the server owner, have had with other members of the communities. This issue mostly involves a Worlds user by the name of AEE-Kath, as she has been nothing but against our work and project and has been very vocal about it. I will keep this short and simple, but I suggest keeping away from her and her hosted worlds. She has stolen from this site and many others, all while claiming we stole all the worlds we host. It has been a very negative experience and it upsets me to see a HOST of this program behave this way. I have been booted on several occasions for things that I haven't done and treated poorly. I feel it is important to speak out about this as this project is being threatened by someone who wants to have their way.
It is why I request that this user be removed from the Host program and become responsible for their actions. And while she claims I am still hosting her worlds illegally, she has yet to go through the proper channels and file a request to remove them after she has modified and configured them herself before FTP access was disabled.
I would like to archive and preserve. I believe my efforts and many others are deeply appreciated by many of the community, but it's very sad to see this targetted behavior against me for the work of mine and others. All we want to do is make sure things are saved. And no, I shouldn't feel honored to have my worlds hosted on the "official worlds servers" without permission after you made threats to sue back last year.
Will all that said, hope you are having a fantastic day and until next time. Hopefully, we will have even more good news the next newsletter.
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