Over the last few months we have been working very hard behind the scenes to provide a major security upgrade to UsingEnglish.com.
Since UsingEnglish.com launched in February 2002 users have been accessing the site using something called the HTTP protocol. You will perhaps recognise this as the first part of many internet addresses, such as in http://www.usingenglish.com/. Without wanting to get too deep into what this is, suffice to say that the HTTP protocol is an old and fairly insecure technology. Many many sites are using this as a way for users to access them, but increasingly sites are converting to the safer HTTPS protocol.
On 14th August 2016 we successfully performed the switch to HTTPS and have been closely monitoring it every since.
On Friday 1st July 2011 from 19:30 - 23:00 BST we will be performing some system maintenance and as a result we expect that there may be periods during which the site will be unavailable. We hope to have the maintenance completed quickly but if you find that the site is not responding, or is otherwise misbehaving, please try again outside of this time period. We will keep you posted if any of the details change, and you can get up-to-the-minute updates by following us on our Twitter feed here: http://twitter.com/UsingEnglish.
Please accept our apologies in advance for any inconvenience caused.
The UsingEnglish.com Team
Whilst this blog has remained quite for long periods of time, it doesn't mean that work and new developments on the site have stopped. Far from it. The server and the site are continually monitored, optimised and improved. The main reason for the quietness is that, on the whole there's not a lot to show for this work on the site's interface.
Here's a case in point:
Last night at around 22:30 in the evening I implemented a little trick to help speed up access to the site. I configured the site to utilise caching in a more optimised and efficient way. It seems to have worked, for me at least.
After months of experimenting with new designs and creating different versions of UsingEnglish.com we've finally settled on a new look for our site and we hope you like it!
UsingEnglish.com helps the fight against spam by using Captchas on many of the forms we have on-site. As of today, we've started used a superb new service that not only fights spam, but helps digitise old books at the same time.
The recent upgrade to our servers is complete, and it was completed (technically) without a hitch. However, there were some problems with some people who were using our forum at the time losing posts. Thankfully this was a temporary problem and the forum is running well again now.
If all goes to plan, we will be upgrading our server to a new and more powerful machine this evening. Our hosts have agreed to perform the upgrade and 03:00 tonight (I'm guessing that is GMT). We do not expect the site to go offline for very long, however we wanted to warn you in case you find that UsingEnglish.com is unavailable. If you do find that the site is unavailable at times tonight, please bear with us.
Anyone who has been a regular user of UsingEnglish.com over the last few months will be aware that we've had more than our fair share of server downtime recently. To address the needs of our ever-increasing user base, we have been working hard to upgrade our site to fit the demands placed on it. I am happy to be able to say that we've made significant improvements that seem to finally be paying off!
During the day yesterday, Thursday 9th March, UsingEnglish.com suffered from a huge traffic load which resulted in our entire server crashing. As a result, the site was unavailable from about 13:00 GMT to about 23:00 GMT.
Due to the fact that UsingEnglish.com seems to keep growing and growing, it has been necessary to upgrade our site's hosting package. This has meant that I've been busy this month ensuring that the upgrade went without a hitch.
We have just completed our new email newsletter for UsingEnglish.com. The newsletter is in HTML format, and the first issue has just been sent out to our members.
Well, now there's a surprise: our web-host has completed the upgrade to our server! What's more, the site is running better than it has done for years!
Recently, we have noticed that the site is starting to struggle a bit with the amount of traffic it is starting to get. There are times, currently, when the site slows down and does not react in a timely manner. We are therefore investing in a series of upgrades to the server.
We've just enabled comments again in each of our blog areas (ESL Weblog, TDOL's Archive, Site Diary).
For a period of time this morning (GMT), UsingEnglish.com was unavailable. This was due to network issues with our web hosts and their providers. We have been assured that the problem has been fixed and that normal service has resumed.
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.
An email containing a virus with spoof details about where it is coming from contains a virus and is pretending to come from the UsingEnglish support team. It encourages you to open the attachment to protect your computer; do not open it. It contains a virus and it does not come from us.
Title: Returned mail: Data format error
If you get any email with this title claining to come from us, please delete it without opening.
It has become obvious that the current UsingEnglish.com membership systems are causing confusion amongst a small proportion of our visitors.
The Printable Version button on the top right-hand of most pages on the site has stopped working temporarily. Our ISP has recently upgraded the PHP they use and this has affected a couple of areas of our site. At the moment the button brings up an error message, but we will be fixing it shortly. Also, in Handouts and Quizzes, the page doesn't always show all of the handouts available. To remedy this for the moment, simply refresh the page.
We are delighted to announce that Shane has agreed to join our team of staff members. He will assist the team in moderating the forum and keeping the forum clean and professional.
Internet safety is a serious issue and here we outline major security issues to bear in mind when online.
We have recently had a number of posters in our weblogs who have been leaving the message 'Nice site' and leaving a URL to an unacceptable site, pornography mostly.
As I described in a previous message, UsingEnglish.com have recently been upgrading their servers. The process is now complete and seems to have gone to plan.
During the course of the next few weeks we will be upgrading our site's hosting account to better cater for the large amount of visitor traffic we now enjoy. This will mean a better user experience for everyone, and will give us the space and server power to expand and provide even more useful content.
During the month of November, 2003, UsingEnglish.com enjoyed a record-breaking month with statistics being smashed in almost every area!
A public record of selected statistics about UsingEnglish.com
I've just discovered that UsingEnglish.com has recently been mentioned in a conference, the "Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar Annual Conference", July 25-26, 2003, in their "English Language Resources on the Internet: Sites for Sore Eyes" section.
One day whilst searching Google I stumbled across a site called The Language Key, a monthly self-study business English magazine and language training centre in Hong Kong.
My role at UsingEnglish is mostly to do with the technical aspects of the site, including site design, maintenance, development and marketing. We started UsingEnglish.com on February 18th 2002 and since then we have grown bigger and faster than we ever hoped to dream.