Westeros: Updates

Westeros is the premiere fansite for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Discuss the series on the forums, browse our resource collections, read about the TV series from HBO and play the MUSH, to name just a few of the things we offer.

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A Forum of Ice and Fire

Ice and Fire Forum App Goes Free

For those of you who’d like to more easily browse the A Song of Ice and Fire forum on your mobile iOs device, some good news: Invision has now made their Invision Power Board app entirely free of cost.

It works both for the ASoIaF forum and any other Invision Power Board-based forum (at least those that are upgraded to IPB 3—possibly it’ll work with IPB 2 forums as well), and is quite easy to use.

And if you want something a bit more fully featured, or your mobile device runs Android or Blackberry, there’s Tapatalk. It supports a wide variety of forums, so long as they have the Tapatalk plugin installed (as we do). The app itself costs a small fee, but we have a number of forum members who enjoy it, so it’s worth a try if the IPB app isn’t to your taste or not available for your device.

Forum and Wiki Downtime

Please read for more information about the issues the forum and the wiki have been having lately.

As you probably know, the TV show leads to spike in traffic that lead to intermittent outages. We have slowly been working to reduce the frequency of these. However, last Friday new problem cropped up: msnbot spiders were slamming the server with hundreds of requests per second. If you Google, you’ll see that this is a common problem that other webmasters have had to deal with for their own servers, but it was a new experience for us. We thought we had mostly fixed the problem… only to have something new crop up, which may be connected to potential hardware failure.

The last few days we and our host have been spending a huge amount of time trying to track down what is going wrong, but as of yet we have not found a solution. We’ll keep trying, but right now we do not have an ETA for when the problems may be fixed.

Nameserver Change

We’re experimenting with a new nameserver host for all Westeros.org sites. We’ve switched to Cloudflare, which uses its nameservers to cache static content (images, scripts) on its servers distributed across several continents, and to serve that content from the server nearest to the user. This should, in theory, improve site performance and marginally improve server load, as the server will spend less time pushing images and scripts and have more time to churn through the database which powers Westeros-proper, the wiki, and the forum.

For most of you, this change should happen in the background and will require no action from you. However, in some cases your ISP’s domain name server may change in an incorrect fashion, or your own computer may be holding on to outdated information. This may lead to your not being able to reach some Westeros sites but not others.

In this case, we recommend flushing DNS on your computer (if on a Windows PC: Start -> Run -> cmd -> ipconfig /flushdns; for Mac OS X users, please see this.) That should correct the problem in many cases. If your own ISP’s name resolver is at fault, usually they will update their records in anything from 2 to 4 hours. Please be patient and try again after that time (making sure to use ipconfig /flushdns again).

If problems persist, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we’ll try to help you resolve them.

Forum Passwords Reset

Due to a possible bug or exploit, the A Song of Ice and Fire forum has had all passwords reset. No vital data or private information was lost or compromised, but we wanted to make sure that there was no way someone could access accounts despite this.

To get a new password, just use the ‘I forgot my password’ option and have it send a validation e-mail to you, which on response will provide you with the new password.

If you no longer have access to the e-mail with which you registered on the forum, please contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your login name and an updated e-mail address.

We should caution that we’re not absolutely sure that the bug/exploit will not be a problem again in the future, but we’re taking steps to make sure that if this happens again, we’ll be able to fix it in a more permanent way.

Online Chat with Patrick Rothfuss

One of the cool things that has developed pretty much from the get-go with the fandom at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum and its predecessors on EESite and EzBoard is a very robust Literature sub-forum, where others works of literature (both in and out of genre) are discussed by passionate readers and fans.

The forum’s won some recognition in this regard, both from fellow fans (Patrick St. Denis of the popular Fantasy Hotlist review site has repeatedly named it his favorite discussion forum on the web) and from authors (a number of whom have joined the forum over the years, either for a few brief words or for a longer period of enagement, such as Richard K. Morgan, R. Scott Bakker, Joe Abercrombie, Jon Sprunk, Daniel Abraham, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and ... well, more; not GRRM, though, we should add!)

Now, we’re adding one more author to the list: Patrick Rothfuss, the author of the very popular “Kingkiler Chronicles”, starting with his award-winning The Name of the Wind and this year’s NY Times #1 Bestseller The Wise Man’s Fear. Rothfuss is, suffice it to say, quite a well-regarded author on our forum, and in the general community, and with good reason: a talented writer with a knack with prose, a complicated lead character, and a richly-realized setting, Rothfuss is among a “new” crop of fantasy authors who are pushing fantasy into the mainstream.

Rothfuss will be visiting the forum for our first ever author chat, on August 6 at 4 PM Eastern (that’s 1 PM Pacific, 3 PM Central, 9 PM UK, 10 PM CET), at the forum. The thread where questions can be posted and Patrick will give his responses can be found here, and will open up a few minutes early so as to allow fans to get in a few initial questions for Patrick to work with. The only ground rule for the discussion is that Patrick would prefer not to have spoilers from his series (or GRRM’s, actually!) in the thread, so bear that in mind when posting questions.

Joining the forum is easy, and it supports Facebook and Twitter logins, so please, feel welcome! and start thinking up questions for the chat!

Forum Fundraiser

It’s that time again—each summer we run a bit of a fundraiser to help pay back our wonderful host, Rachel (aka Sparks), for giving the community a place to hang out. It’s been especially challenging this past couple of months, with activity surging thanks to the TV series and now the imminent release of A Dance with Dragons. Sparks has worked like a trooper to keep everything running, and is in the early stages of moving things to a more powerful server.

I don’t even want to think about how many words have been written on the site, how many hours have been spent on it, how many people have made new friends—it’s the finest forum I’ve ever been part of, and that’s because of the community of fans who’ve helped to shape it.

So, if you can spare a few dollars, please contribute! You can pay directly via Paypal, or use any major credit card (sorry, we have no alternative payment options). And if you’re concerned about privacy, there’s an option to donate privately, we believe.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and to consider contributing. We appreciate it!

Upcoming Forum Downtime

Due to some hard drive issues, the A Song of Ice and Fire forum was down for a bit. Our wonderful host has done some things to try and stabilize it to (hopefully) handle the post-Game of Thrones crush of traffic, but some time next week the system will have to go down to have the disk replaced and an image restored. We don’t have a day or date as of yet, but bear that in mind if it goes down at some point at next week. And bear in mind that if it goes down this weekend, it’s probably that disk acting up.

Forum Reskinned

Ahead of tomorrow’s premiere of Game of Thrones, we’ve made our newest skin for the A Song of Ice and Fire forum go live. The largest change is that we’ve moved from two columns (on either side of the forum) to one, somewhat larger one on the left side (however, overall the forum now dominates more of the dispaly). With the kind permission of Ted Nasmith, who’s allowed us to use his 2011 A Song of Ice and Fire Calendar imagery in other parts of Westeros.org, we’ve added his amazing depiction of the Hightower of Oldtown on the sidebar as well.

We’re aware this skin is not 100% yet, but it’s mostly there, and in the next week or so we manage to deal with most outstanding issues. In the interim, however, we’re leaving the “old” skin—renamed Legacy Song of Ice and Fire—available for those who need some time to transition, especially those members of the forum who are using one of the mods that turn the skin much whiter (ala the old “Stark” skin) for whatever reason. Note that it’s staying put only for a limited time, however, just to help with the transition—we’ll probably remove it entirely in a month or two.

As we said, it’s not 100% yet, but we’ve a list of things we’re going to tweak.

Tapatalk Support for Mobile Browsers

The A Song of Ice and Fire forum now includes the Tapatalk plugin, which provides greatly improved readability and usability of the forum for users of mobile phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia, and Android-based) who download the Tapatalk app. The plugin comes in a light, free version which allows reading but not posting, and a $2.99 version with posting and other features.

The regular mobile skin is still available, so the Tapatalk plugin is not nor ever will be mandatory for using the forum on a mobile platform.

Best SFF Forum

Patrick of Pat’s Fantasy Hot List has again selected the A Song of Ice and Fire forum as the best SF/F forum on the web. It’s always an honor and a pleasure for the community to receive such recognition. Our Literature sub-forum has attracted a host of insightful fans, well-read reviewers, and interesting authors over the years which has led to a good deal of interesting discussion.

Forum and Facebook

The A Song of Ice and Fire forum now has the option to use Facebook Connect to log in. For those who already have accounts, you can associate your forum account with Facebook via the following steps:

1) Open profile.
2) Click “Edit My Profile”.
3) Click “Manage Facebook Connect”
4) Follow instructions for how to use Facebook Connect to associate.

Once done, you can select to have your Facebook picture be used as your profile picture. Remember to Synchronize and then Save Changes.

Forum Upgrade Downtime

It looks like our upgrade to Invision Power Board 3.0 is a success. However, the last maintenance step needed—rebuilding post content—is a very lengthy one, during which time the board will have to remain down. According to my calculations, it may take twelve hours before this process is done. Apologies for the inconvenience.

The forum will look very different for the time being once it’s up again, as we’ll be using the default skin. We’ll slowly develop the look back to something more unique, but this month is a busy one so it may take a good while.

Blog Posts in the Forum

To increase the intergration of the A Song of Ice and Fireforum  with the rest of the myriad of Westeros.org sites, we’ve begun to make use of the RSS Import feature. This allows posts from our various blogs to be inserted into the forum as new topics. Presently, the feeds that are being imported are this present feed, Westeros.org Updates, into the Announcements forum; Game of Thrones (TV series site), into the General TV series forum; and Blood of Dragons Announcements, into the Blood of Dragons MUSH forum.

These imported blog posts can be responded to in threads, hopefully facilitating discussion and increasing awareness on the various topics Westeros.org keeps track of.

Forum and Wiki Update

The A Song of Ice and Fire forum and the Wiki of Ice and Fire are up and running on our new server; response-times should generally be faster. Those who can’t get there just now need to wait for DNS information to propagate (which can take as much as 24 hours). If after that time you are still unable to reach the site, do please let us know via our e-mail address.

Site Move

A misunderstanding on our part got the time of the website move wrong by about twelve hours. The wiki and forum have now been moved. However, for some people it seems that the site appears to be down or not available, while others are seeing it just fine (with some minor issues). We have mailed our server admin, but she’s probably in bed now, so it may be awhile before the issues are corrected. Please keep an eye on the updates page for further news.