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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Techie Gear for Game of Thrones

The HBO Store has recently added quite a few new items… in the form of laptop, netbook, tablet, phone, and MP3 player skins featuring the words and heraldry of the various great houses. Have to say, the Baratheon iPhone/iPod

“phone and MP3 player” skin is actually quite striking. We’ve also added links to the heraldic coasters and a mug set in the last few days.

Presently, the store also has a free shipping offer going on if you use the code FREESHIPDAY at check out.

New Game of Thrones Items

Thanks to a tweet from HBO UK, we realized that quite a few things have been added to the HBO Store in the last weeks, items prominently featured on our store page for fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Some hoodies have turned up—I guess this is the right season for them—and there’s quite a few collectables, from house posters to shot glasses(!) and now what strikes me as the coolest of them all, a dragon egg paperweight that looks rather cool.

HBO’s finally listing the Bluray and DVD as well, though without any box art or release information. We’ll be keeping an eye on that, to say the least. (And before you ask, the US HBO Store remains US-only so far—sorry!)

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some cases your ISP’s domain name server may change in an incorrect fashion, or your own computer may be holding on to outdated information.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.

Spanish Language Interview with Westeros

For Spanish-speaking fans, the Miami-based website Café Fuerte has posted an interview with one half of the Westeros.org duo, Elio (aka me), concerning George R. R. Martin, the fans, and more. Enjoy!

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!

New Interviews in the So Spake Martin Collection

The So Spake Martin  collection of interview links, correspondence, and more has been growing by leaps and bounds of late. Today, we’ve added two new entries: a link to an excellent interview at the Sydney Morning Herald, and a transcript of a Q&A with Martin at the Redwood City signing, led by Tad Williams. The transcript comes by way of his Twitter account and his wife, Deborah Beale.

Signing Reports and More

We’ve posted a signing report from last night’s Union Square signing, with reports of the crowd having hit about 1,800 fans showing up for the event (more than twice the crowd that showed up for A Feast for Crows).

There’s a number of other entries in the So Spake Martin collection, linking to various interviews and on-line chats that have been published over the last days. Make sure to check them out!

Signing Report from Burlington

The So Spake Martin collection has been updated with our first signing report in awhile, courtesy of a member of our A Song of Ice and Fire forum. According to the estimate there, some 1,500 people have turned up—not quite as many as the 2,000 in Slovenia, but early days yet!

There’s some interesting details, both about Game of Thrones and the novels, and a hint about what may be in the next novel, The Winds of Winter, so read the report!

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!

On Recent Downtime

Just to bring everyone up to speed on this and past downtime issues:

In the last couple of months, the A Song of Ice and Fire forum has boomed, becoming the #1 spot on the web to discuss the series, and we thought that was the major part of the issues. We’ve worked hard to address many issues, and have succeeded to some degree. But ... we just discovered another part: the Wiki of Ice and Fire. We never realized just how used the wiki is (as an aside—hats off to our various wiki editors who’ve made it such a fantastic resource! Anyone who’s a member of the forum can join in editing it, BTW), until we put in Google Analytics a couple of days ago….

It turns out the wiki draws even more traffic than the forum does! No wonder the forum was suddenly unable to keep up with the crush: it was fighting for MySQL connection space with the wiki. This led us to experiment with a major increase in maximum MySQL connections allowed, but that was badly advised on my part—we should have waited for a quieter period to try it. It ended up completely choking the server, so much so that our wonderful host (Sparks) could only reboot it in hopes of getting in after it restarted to fix things…. but the crush of traffic to the wiki and forum meant that it was no go. Ultimately, the server had to be taken down and a tech at the data center shut off Apache before putting it back on the web for Sparks to settle it down. The reboots and extreme hard disk and memory usage led to corruption that also had to repaired.

End result? Boy, howdy, Westeros.org is an extremely popular site—thank you very much, to our visitors, the members of the forum, the wiki editors, Sparks, and everyone else who’s contributed to its existence!—but we need to do more tinkering. This may well include a move to a mightier server, and some other back-end changes to help alleviate the problems as far as possible. The serve move, if it happens, may happen as soon as next week.

More info when we have it .. and please, keep an eye out for our annual summer fundraiser, a way to pay back Sparks for the work she’s done and to make sure the forum and wiki can keep on going!

So Spake Martin Updates

The So Spake Martin collection of correspondence, signing and convention reports, and interviews has been updated with a number of entries from the past month. These include Dave Itzkoff’s and James Poniewozik’s extensive interviews with Martin, as well as Joe Abercrombie’s chat with GRRM for Sky Arts.

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.

So Spake Martin Update

The So Spake Martin section of our site—an archive of correspondence, chats, interviews, and signing and convention reports—has been updated with a link to a podcast interview with GRRM conducted by Bear Swarm!. This is about a month old, recorded at the time of the Days of Ice and Fire event.