More News on Landmarks

I wrote this on the plane Thursday, and only now got a chance to post it.

I have certainly enjoyed the last weeks at home. Periodically, my business is such that I have a lull in the travel. It’s not good from a business stand point, but it’s a very good thing for retooling my message with new discoveries, and trying out some ideas on the web and writing. Since Christmas I’ve built up BlogMeister, a classroom blogging tool, that enables teachers to assign writing tasks for students, assess and publish their works as public or semipublic blogs.

I’ve also written a 4th edition of Raw Materials for the Mind, and a new book, Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere. The last one was actually fun. Lots of truly interesting things going on with the emergence of the great digital conversation.

But now, the travel is picking up. I’m currently at about 27,000 feet heading into Central Standard Time, and the beautiful city of Chicago, for the Technology & Learning Magazine’s Tech Forum. I’ll see lots of great friends, old and new there, and I’m sure I’ll be talking more about them soon.

The bummer is that I am heading into this travel period with a web site that is on the verge of collapse. Let me give you the whole story. When I left the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction to start my next life as a consultant, I purchased a Mac web server to run my new website. I knew of Blast Internet Services (then called EMJI) from their work with Chatham County Schools, just west of Raleigh, They had completely wired the schools and even hired a tech facilitator for the county to help teachers learn to integrate Internet technology into their teaching. I was extremely impressed with the company’s dedication to the community and it vision. So I went to Blast to host my server.

Eventually, that server became too old and slow for the growing sofistication of web sites, and since I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to keep buying web servers, I switched to a number of companies that rented server space. This worked fine, except that I was just doing business with them. There was no sense that they cared about what I was doing. Perhaps it’s unfair to expect that, but I did.

I eventually went back to Blast, and after a couple of years of running my site on their cohosting servers, the placed Landmarks for Schools on a dedicated server, that they had. Of course, with that kind of power and my love of programming, the site grew, and grew.

Well that old server got older, and over the past few weeks it became increasingly unstable, finally necessitating a new home for Landmarks. They moved my site over to their state-of-the-art server, that was also running a number of other non-profit sites and Blast’s home site.

For the first five minutes, it worked great. I could hear the “ting” of the web pages slapping up against the glass of my computer display. But then, it got slower, and over about a two minute period, the site ground to a halt, bringing 14 other web sites down.

Since then, we have tried many combinations of services to try to economize Landmark tools so that the server will handle it, but there now appears to be no way. I am working on some options to obtain a dedicated server for Landmarks, so that we can get these popular tool back up and into classrooms all over.

If anyone has suggestions, please let me know via e-mail. And do continue to have positive thoughts about Landmarks and its return.