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Major changes coming in September
by on Thursday, August 24, 2017  (4 comments)


I'm going to attempt to explain what will be going on without getting into too many technical details. Hopefully, this won't sound intentionally vague. Sorry if it does.

HillRunner.com has been around for over 18 years. In that time, I've always built upon what has already existed, not wanting to rock the boat or even temporarily take away things that you have become used to having available unless absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, that leads to a lot of old code that I wish I could clean up but, without major disruption, feel like I can't. It also leads to problems in other behind the scenes ways, meaning I spend more time on maintenance and less on either writing for HillRunner.com or developing new features.

I've been looking for a few years at making some major coding changes. I've also wanted to beef up the security at HillRunner.com in response to security leaks other sites have faced. I don't think I ask you for information that is all that sensitive but we can't be too careful these days.

In recent months, certain developments on the Internet have forced my hand and I'm now left with no option other than cause significant disruption to HillRunner.com in one way or another. I have to make changes before October or HillRunner.com will be tagged "unsafe" by a major industry player and you'll be warned that HillRunner.com is unsafe every time you do almost anything interactive at HillRunner.com.

As long as I have to make these disrupting changes, I'm also going to move forward and make the coding changes I've been hesitating to make. Essentially, HillRunner.com is going to be rebuilt from the ground up.

As a result, HillRunner.com will be undergoing a significant transition in September. I'm going to attempt to make this as seamless as possible but to make it completely seamless is impossible, which is why I'm devoting a weekly blog post to this.

Tentatively scheduled for Thursday and Friday, September 21st and 22nd, HillRunner.com will be moving to a new server. I will attempt to have as much of the site as possible, especially relatively static pages like the Treadmill Pace Conversions and the Calculators, up and running as soon as the change has been made. However, there may be some issues that need to be worked out. Specifically, I'm concerned about training logs and blog posts.

I'm concerned about training logs because you will need to create a new account to log on to HillRunner.com. I'm working on ideas on how to relink your account to your training log data. I'll come up with something, even if it involves a lot of work for me. I'm going to make sure nobody who has entrusted their training logs to HillRunner.com loses their history.

I'm concerned about blog posts because we're going to be on a new blogging software. I'm working on plans to import blog posts so we don't lose the hundreds we already have but I'm not sure how this will work or if they will be up immediately.

I know this is a concerning transition. I've not done this for so long because I've constantly been searching for better solutions or hoping one might be built. However, my hand is being forced. Something needs to be done now, I can't wait any longer for a better solution to be made. I apologize up front for any problems this will cause. Please know I'll be working as hard as possible to minimize the problems.

As always, I appreciate your support and understanding. We'll get through this and have a HillRunner.com that is better than ever in the end. Hopefully, we'll also have one that is easier for me to maintain so I can commit more time to improving the site and adding more content to help you be the best runner you can be.

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Note: I'll keep everyone updated on important developments during testing/preparation here. I'll try to keep updates to a minimum, just things that will affect you upon the upgrade.

As of now, I'm planning to start the transition on Thursday, September 21st and expect to finish on Friday the 22nd at the latest. I doubt there will be a blog post on the 21st but we'll see how things go.

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Learning a lot about what different hosts offer this weekend. Right now, I'm leaning toward one that would make my life simple and predictable so I don't have to be tech support and I can focus on building out content and tools on the site. Unfortunately, this one also means potentially more significant changes initially.

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Currently, I want to plan to make the transition at 2:00 PM CDT on Saturday, September 21st. At 1:00, I'll have a notification going up asking people to not make any blog comments or changes to the training log. If you make changes after this time, they may not make it to the new server. At 2:00, I will redirect the address. Once that is done, HillRunner.com will be pointing to the new server. It will take some time, anywhere from minutes to up to a day, for those changes to propagate around the world and on to your computer. I'll offer some tips on how to try to speed up the process but we will be, to an extent, at the mercy of the internet.

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Just want to offer a quick heads up on what has been going on over the past week.

I'm still planning to make the transition on THURSDAY, September, 21st (not Saturday). However, I'm going to make it less impacting than I was originally planning. Most old links will still work, taking you to the old site. However, as I bring up new links, I will be taking down those old links and redirecting most of them to the new pages. The redirection will not be necessary as we will not be changing servers.

In addition, one of the primary reasons for this change is because I want to give you additional security. You can't be too careful as we've seen repeatedly recently. I turned on some of these security aspects already. You will notice that most of the site is redirecting to addresses that begin with "https" instead of "http". This "https" pages offer additional security that prevent hackers from getting between you and the HillRunner.com server to steal your data, such as your email address or password.

If you check on the security information at HillRunner.com, you might see that things haven't completely transitioned. I'm continuing to work on this transition, though some pages that will quickly be retired on or shortly after the 21st will likely not be changed. The new versions of these pages will be 100% secured from day one.

So, in short:
- You will now see HillRunner.com being served through "https"
- Some warnings may pop up if you look deeply. These will be phased out in the coming days or weeks.
- On September 21st, the new site will come online but many parts of the old site will continue working until they are fully functional and tested on the new site, at which time I will redirect links.

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