Hi folks,

Please accept our apologies for the recent downtime, which was due to technical faults, out with of our control, in relation with our forum hosts, Global Gold.

What's basically been happening is that we're soon going to be upgrading the forum software to the latest version of vB4 (from vBulletin), for a number of reasons (improvements and refinements to the existing system for our members), but essentially because our current software, vBulletin 3.8.7, is not properly supported by the system used by Global Gold, who provide the hosting for the forum, and so when automatic updates to our database were being applied, it was causing the database to crash and produce errors (the reason for the previous downtime of some 50 hours+, until we got it fixed). Therefore, we need to upgrade to vB4, as a matter of urgency, in order that the (essential) automatic updates can continue as normal.

However, before we do so, we're running a test site, on vB4 (viewable only to mods and admin), in conjunction with the current main site, in order that we can customise the vB4 template to our requirements, namely in terms of its aesthetics (and some other elements in relation to functionality), as the stock vB4 forum template is dreadful and totally 'soulless', especially for AoS. Being the ART of sound, we insist that the look of the forum has an 'arty' feel to it, including our banner, etc, which complies with our established visual image and colour scheme.

If anyone wants to see how drab the stock vB4 template looks (apart from some light tweaking and the instalment of their banner), take a look at Wigwam..... (Sorry Wammers, but IMO, the layout of your site and aesthetics, governed by the stock VB4 template, is dreadful). Anyway, once we're happy with the layout and iron out some minor technicalities, on the test site, the new site will go live. We expect this to happen within the next week.

However, what we didn't realise (and indeed at the time were not informed by Global Gold) is that effectively running two sites at once on the server would use up all of our allocated bandwidth and cause the site to crash, which is exactly what happened and why the forum has been down since Tuesday evening (along with more than a little ineptitude from GG, in terms of resolving the matter quickly)! We've now increased our available bandwidth to cope with running the test site, alongside the main site, so that system crashes will not occur.

We've now also taken steps to ensure that in future, the forum, in the event of a problem (barring a major general outage), should not go down for long periods of time, by upgrading the package of support we receive from GG to 'fully managed'. This basically means that, in the event of a problem, we've now been promised to have someone specifically assigned to dealing with our ticket, and to receive a reply from the GG technical department within an hour, 24/7. That was not the case before, as when report tickets were being raised, we were sometimes having to wait 7 hours (or more) until matters were being looked into (essentially until GG had cleared their backlog of tickets raised by 'priority customers', of which we are now one), especially if problems occurred outside of normal working hours (Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm).

Anyway, basically everything is now sorted!

Once again, please accept our apologies for the recent spates of downtime, which were totally unacceptable and also very frustrating for all of us. However, once the vB4 template has been customised to our satisfaction, and the new site goes live, we can promise you a much improved user experience on AoS, as the forum will have an enhanced, more professional look, together with some very useful added functions.

We'll let you all know well in advance when the new site is going live. Cheers!