Voices on the Web

July 10, 2000: The good news is we have LOTS of good news. The bad news is we don’t have any new poetry posted yet. But we will have. Very soon.

Many of you have written to me over the past few months and already know the story. For those who don’t, I’ll give a brief summary. Very simply, we ran out of disk space. When we moved from a shared server to Ceres, our own dedicated machine, way back last September, we went from 350 meg to 4 gig of disk. Wow, I thought! That’ll last us forever! Those are "famous last words" in the computer industry.

In truth, though I didn’t realize it at the time, we didn’t really get 4 gig. After the operating system took its share, we were left with about two. Our last big update added nearly 3,000 pages to the main site, grabbing a big chuck of that, and about the same time our forums starting going crazy with increased traffic. As I write these words, the forums now hold in the neighborhood of 35,000 poems. For the past several months, I’ve been struggling almost daily to keep us running, at one point removing a very large portion of the forum archives.

Yea, I know disk drives are cheap. But not cheap enough, especially when we’re talking about SCSI drives rather than the slower IDE drives you normally find in PC’s. Passions relies almost entirely on advertising to pay our way, which in turn relies on your support, and frankly, not many people seem willing to click on a banner and leave all this great poetry behind. Can’t say I blame you too much, either.

Honestly, I thought we were pretty much stuck until September. That’s when our one-year lease on Ceres expires. As is so often true in the computer industry, it’s actually cheaper to get a new, faster computer with a much bigger disk drive than it is to add a new drive to our existing machine. I figured we had little choice but to struggle though until the Fall.

But I surprised myself. A few weeks ago, after several months of programming, I installed new software in our forums. There are lots of new features (including an exciting one I want to talk to you about in a few moments), but maybe the most significant was finding a way to compress a large portion of our forum database. Overnight, we went from having our available space 93 percent full to only 59 percent. We got back roughly a third of our disk, about 700 meg, more than enough for a pre-September update of the main site. We be rocking!

It’s going to take another week or two, but you can look forward to new poetry at Passions very, very soon. Perhaps more important to many of you, I also give you my solemn promise that this update will finally exhaust our backlog of submissions.

Passions, in short, will very soon be accepting new poetry submissions!

Are You A Poet?

If you’ve looked around Passions today, you might have noticed a new icon sprinkled here and there (there’s one on this page, just below our menu). It really should read:

Are you a poet who would like the opportunity to be published in Passion’s very first, printed-on-real-paper poetry anthology?

But, uh, it wouldn’t be an icon any more if I made it that long.

That’s the "other" new feature in the forums I wanted to talk about today. The forum software now allows our Members to submit poetry for inclusion in Voices on the Web, our first real book. It also allows the other Members to vote for the submissions. Those that receive the most votes will become part of what I believe is going to be the best English poetry anthology ever published. We have some really, really talented people participating!

I could say a lot more about the book here (don’t get me started!), but in truth, I’ve already said it elsewhere. If you’re a poet, look for the "Are You A Poet?" icon and click on it. I suspect you’ll soon be just as excited as I am.

We’re just getting started…

The main site update, new poetry submissions, and (of course) the book are going to be occupying most of our efforts during the early summer months. But as exciting and important as those are, they don’t even scratch the surface of everything planned at Passions. I’ve already completely redesigned our Greeting Card section, for example, adding a dozen new graphical poems that are just as unique as our original ones. I’m hoping that will be part of our next update in the next week or two. But even that is just a beginning.

Some of the new features you’ll see at Passions have already surfaced, albeit in a limited fashion, within our new forum software. Soon, every poem at Passions will be a Greeting Card, an ability already implemented in the forums. We’ll have printer-friendly pages for every poem. Perhaps most exciting for me, Passions will soon offer free web sites, designed specifically for poets. And, of course, we’re already planning our next book, one centered around the great poetry at the main site and based on the votes of our visitors.

Yep. We’re just getting started.

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