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the eFestivals blog

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Neil

... when everyone should be watching the footie, and defo not tuning into Radio 1 at 9pm for their show "In music we trust...", which tonight is titled "Radio 1's Ultimate Festival Guide" and will probably include yours truly blabbering on about festies.

Neil

I've just had confirmation that something that has been planned as a nice addition to the eFestivals website for the last 18 months is able to go ahead - the current plan is for it to hit the website on 1st May, tho it might slip back a little as there's still a lot of planning to be made.

This is an exciting development, and one I hope that people will enjoy. :)

I'm going to be keeping the exact details of what this is under my hat for the moment (so those that know, no mentioning what it is please), but they'll be full details announced when all the bits are in place.

Neil

radio star? :-)

I've just been approached by a major radio station to help them with a long show they're doing about festivals - from what they've said so far, it sounds like there could be me droning on about festivals for around 15 minutes! :)

Those that know me know that I can talk about festivals for hours and hours and hours, but that doesn't mean it's actually interesting or anything anyone wants to actually hear. :)

It looks like I'll be spending some time in a recording studio tomorrow to do the piece - I guess with it being such a long piece they don't want the poor quality they'll get over the phone. What they can do about the poor quality that might come from my mouth I don't know, other than not use it. :)

Neil

efests survival

eFests stood up well to the hammering of Glasto ticket day yet again ... it slowed down at times, but was never in danger of crashing, and succeeded in breaking the previous forums record by over 50%. The tweaking done since the Reading/Leeds announcement obviously made a good difference.

But I guess that's the last time that eFests will get away without a full-on load balancing system rather than me working a kludge, so I guess I should start saving some pennies for next year. :)

Neil

I've spent much of the last couple of weeks thinking how to get the best out of the efests servers during the mad Glastonbury ticket rush tomorrow, mostly doing little things which combined will add up to something hopefully worthwhile ... but just now I've had a brainwave which will make a great difference to things. :)

Neil

performance testing

a major bit of performance testing has just been carried out, and given me one set of numbers. I now have to do some re-configuration of the servers, and do the test again to get a another set of numbers.

Hopefully, the second test will give significantly different - and better - results. If that proves to be the case, then the re-configuration will need to be made permanent, and these forums will perform better* on Sunday than they did when the Reading/Leeds announcement was made.

(*actually, they'll perform better on Sunday anyway, as some other changes have already been made, and some of the website functionality will be disabled to benefit the forums).

If the second test does prove to be better, then the forums will have to be taken off-line for a number of hours while the reconfiguration is made. The plan is to do the reconfiguration (if it happens) in the very early hours of Saturday morning.

Neil

This was the first time I've sat thru a licence hearing under the new licencing act, but the procedure was much the same as under the old one. The only noticeable difference is that "interested parties" who are members of the licencing board are no longer allowed to be involved with making the decision.

This meant that a certain Pilton councillor (I won't name him, this isn't meant to be personal) who has been a member of the board in the past was excluded this time around, tho he was still free representations within the legal remit of the licencing act. And as ever, he moaned and moaned on anything he could, and it's obvious that he'd stop the festival tomorrow if he could, on the basis that he just doesn't like it.

It was good to see that this year there were no outright objections to the festival going ahead - this is a first. I do presume, however, that this new attitude from the objectors isn't because they're happy with the festival, but just because they've recognised the reality that they won't be able to stop it. Instead, this time around, the objections were attempting to stop the increase in size, and the granting of a four year licence. With the festival so much better run nowadays - and with Michael taken out of the process with Melvin Benn as licencee (there's many that simply hate anything to do with Michael) - it's good it got the licence it wanted.

At the end of the hearing, I had Chris Malcolmson (who is the council officer [not a councillor] responsible for health & safety [i think]) come up and ask me if I'd be doing the online commentary that I've done in previous years. He said he'd very much enjoyed reading them in the past, which was good to hear - I'm always concerned that along the way somewhere I might accidentally misrepresent what someone has said. Although I've had positive feedback on what i've written in previous years from GF staff and supporters, as I'm of course on their side I'd sort-of expect that; Chris' comments gave my confidence in my writing a nice boost! :)

Neil

server tuning

Following the problems of last Monday night (when the Reading/Leeds announcement was made) with accessing the forums - they were incredibly busy - I've been looking at how things might be improved before Glasto ticket day.

Some changes have already been made that should see a small improvement of around 5%, and a number of other issues have been identified that should improve things a fair bit more.

Rather than just go ahead and make the changes and then discover that too late that it's made things worse, they'll be some testing done under heavy load before they're put in place. The first tests are likely to happen over the weekend sometime (most probably in the small hours) so if you come onto the forums and find them very very slow, this is likely to be the reason why.

Once the first set of changes have been made and tested, they'll be further changes and tests made during next week that should improve things even further.

It's hoped that these things will make a significant difference to the numbers able to use eFestivals at any given moment.

Neil

Today is the first really busy day since all the recent upgrades were put in place ... there's currently over 900 people on the forums (and many times that number using the green pages of efests), and the servers are ticking along nicely, no stress at all. Good news! :)

Neil

I always get scam emails with false rumours - I've become rather good at spotting them i think (tho a few always get thru) - but one I got last night is just brilliant. :(

Insider news Reading Festival headliner..

I have insider news that I know Snow Patrol will be headlining the main stage after the Killers have played.. I know this because I work for the drummer of another band who have just agreed to be playing in the Radio 1 tent in the gap between The Killers and Snow Patrol.. however, at this stage I can't provide the band name as they only confirmed that they will be playing to mean fiddler yesterday afternoon so I would probably lose my job at this stage lol! Give it a few weeks when a few more insider people know however and I will email further details.. this band in the radio 1 tent will be releasing their first studio album in May following their last 2 EP's and have also been asked to be the opening act for this years Glastonbury Festival but are yet to confirm this due to the bands other commitments.. few more weeks I will email again

Surely he didn't really expect me to fall for that? ;)

Neil

For the last three minutes, I have been working away behind the scenes (;)) to add details about this year's festivals onto the forum calendar and the main forum page.

This is just one of many new developments coming that's the culmination of 3 weeks work - it would have been sooner but we do have to stop to eat a curry now and then, and to whip the hamsters to paint your computer screens that bit faster. Although a project of (not) enormous complexity and scale, we're going to waffle in a patonising way like these developments are now being built into space rockets, because you're all suckers (or not) for a few pretty new buttons and some marketing drivel.

To the small festivals of Britian: eFestivals will keep supporting you as we have been doing. For free. Forever.

If this all sounds a grand gesture, it's not. It's what any self-respecting music festivals website would do, and only the sorts of websites that are keen on deep-lining their own pockets from the efforts of others would have done differently. The is the result of casual underground planning (we once held a conversation about this on the Tube) and no-brainer developments - it's just the right and proper thing to do.

The great advantage with eFestivals? Everyone has joined of their own free will - we haven't done a tie-in with another website and opted in lots of people for our spamming. We don't have a long and detailed reputation for inventing non-existent festivalers, or bullshitting and taking money under false pretences. People come to eFestivals to read and talk about festivals because they love festivals, and love that they find all they need to find on eFestivals.

Things will be the same again. The sun will rise, and in the evening it will set again. And the number twos will still lose.

:(

Neil

more server upgrades

Another upgrade was made to the eFestivals servers last night, after a week of false starts, technical failures and cock-ups in trying to put things in place. ;)

Anyway, the new set-up really is the dogs (as is being proved right now with the traffic for V tickets), and come Glasto ticket day I expect things to cope extremely well - the capability of the new servers is massively greater than what was in place two years ago for the last Glastonbury (and even back then eFestivals was the only major Glasto-related website to stay online :().

Neil

I keep getting press releases for Global Cool - an organisation set up to help fight global warming thru reducing your emissions and offsetting. At the bottom it always says that they're "one of only four current organisations who reach the Government’s proposed standards for carbon offset schemes".

I was aware that only four organisations have been approved (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6276305.stm), and I was aware that The Carbon Neutral Company - who eFestivals use for offsetting - weren't one of the four. I decided to use The Carbon Neutral Company anyway, because I was aware of their history and knew they weren't some jonny-come-lately cashing in on a new trend. What I didn't know till now was why they're not 'approved'.

It turns out that they're not approved not because they're sub-standard, but because they're too good. They do a full audit of energy use and emissions, when the 'approved' companies/organisations work on just a few of the basics.

It seems that doing things properly is officially frowned upon, and in the govt's eyes won't be good for the world. How f**king stupid. ;)

Neil

I'm pleased to say that eFestivals is now a carbon neutral website.

We're working with The CarbonNeutral Company to offset the emissions created by our business, as well as doing all we can to reduce our energy usage and emissions creation.

Climate change is happening - just look around you. We can wait for governments and businesses to stop pointing the finger at anyone but themselves, or we can take responsibility for our own actions and the consequences of those actions.

The amount of energy a person or business uses can be reduced by a significant amount by a few simple measures - and save money too! Turn your heating down just a little, and put on warmer clothes; turn your TV off properly (don't leave it on 'stand-by'), and unplug your chargers when not in use; fill the kettle with just the water you need; turn lights off, and use low-energy bulbs; and think about whether all your journeys are really necessary, and whether they could be made using public transport.

eFestivals is urging each company we do business with to act to reduce and offset their emissions, and we urge you to do the same. The longer we take to act, the more we'll have to do.

CarbonNeutral-1-500.jpg

Offsetting and reducing our emissions is one part of eFestivals' ethical policy. We donate 1% of our turnover (turnover, not profit) to charities, with the major beneficiary being WaterAid. We also put 10% of our turnover directly back into festivals.

Neil

no water

I woke up this morning and turned on a tap, to have only a trickle of water come out - luckily enough for the kettle. When I went to the shop over the road, I discovered that a main has burst nearby, and this whole area is without water.

It's not like I can't cope without water - I bought a litre of bottled for brewing up, but it's bugging me that I can't flush the loo, do the washing up or put some clothes washing on, even tho I know that there's guys out there working to sort the problem and it'll probably all be sorted before the end of the day. It's a short-term inconvenience, that's all.

It's a reminder of what life is like for those without a ready water supply. We in the UK find get so used to turning on a tap and safe & clean water just being there that it can be hard to appreciate what life must be like for those in less developed countries. Normal life things that are easy for us - that we do without much of a thought - are huge chores for some people on the planet and we should remember how by just a geographical fact of nature we're born with it all here for us.

eFestivals has been supporting WaterAid for a while, but today has put at the front of my mind how valuable their work must be for those that that benefit.

WaterAid works in 17 countries providing water, sanitation and hygiene education to some of the world's poorest people.

http://www.wateraid.org.uk

Neil

upgrades

eFestivals has been moved to a new server, to help ensure that on the busiest days everything will still cope. Fingers crossed that the new configurations works as well as hoped for.

Neil

I sleep all winter

Now is the time of year when most people seem to think I spend my time sunning myself on a beach. I wish. :ph34r:

Although there's not much festie news at this time of year, now is when lots of little bits and pieces on the website get improvements made to them, the company accounts gets sorted out, deals are made for next year, new servers are installed or upgraded, etc, etc, etc - it all takes time, and normally more time than I think it will (hence me asking for a php programmer to help me out with some stuff).

The most recent additions/changes/upgrades on eFestivals are:-

- the latest version of the chatroom software has been installed.

- an upgrade to the line-ups software, to make it nicer to use.

- several upgrades to the festivals listings, to make it nicer to use, more searchable, and to display some confirmed line-up info. There's still much more to add on this, time depending (I've moved onto other things for the moment).

Several other projects have been started too, rather stupidly. They've taken more time to get part way than I expected them to take in total. For the moment, I've put these to the side.

Coming very soon by the looks of things is a major-ish upgrade to the forums, member galleries and blogs ... when the new software for these things is released, there's some other tweaks for the forums planned, but you'll have to wait and see what exactly.

And of course, there's eGigs to develop and upgrade too - and with that now having the staffing levels it needs (and having more gig reviews than any other UK website some weeks :)), the time has very nearly come to properly promote eGigs on eFestivals - I didn't feel it was worth doing until eGigs was actually of a standard that people would want to revisit ... with the hit stats now starting to climb, as soon as a few minor-ish improvements have been made it'll be done. :)

Neil

Inner City Unit

WOW! - Nik Turner's reformed them, and they're playing a gig in Slough in mid-November .... I quite fancy going, but Slough's a bit of a trek ... I guess I'll have to decide soon, I'm sure it'll sell out pretty quick.

Neil

crap bureaucracy

I just picked my post up from my doormat.

I opened a letter from DVLA, saying that I hadn't sent them my licence to be endorsed for speeding as they'd requested, and so my licence will be revoked from this coming Sunday.

I open the next letter, and it's also from DVLA .... all it contains is my licence, newly endorsed for the speeding offence.

If the guys at DVLA could add two and two to make four, they'd be dangerous. :ph34r:

Neil

I stopped at a garage today to fill up with some petrol, and about a minute later a posh-ish motor pulls in. Out gets Peter Gabriel, and he looked across at me, nodded and said hello.... like I'm his mate. :ph34r:

OK, I had met him earlier in the afternoon at a press conference, but that was there (I don't count something like that for a 'cool list' as I expect to come across such people now and then thru my job), and this was out there, on the street. :)

BTW, if anyone is wondering if Peter is getting involved with any Genesis reunion plans in the near future, he said that a conversation had been had about it but that he's not going to be involved ... he didn't seem to rule out the possibility of something happening at some point tho.

(no, it wasn't me asking him that - I've little interest in Genesis).



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