White House Museum down *Update

The White House Museum website has been down since last night. I have a support ticket in to GoDaddy.

UPDATE: GoDaddy says…

Due to its complex nature, your issue has been relayed to our Advanced Technical Support Team. Our most skilled technicians will be working to resolve your issue quickly and completely. You will be notified promptly upon resolution.

WHM site speed-up

After having been told twice that there was not really anything to be done to speed up the WHM site, I called Go-Daddy again today to try to get improved performance before trying another provider. Now that I could direct the tech to the mirror site for comparison, he looked into a real solution and has moved the main site to a different, newer, less-crowded server, noticeably improving performance.

I may still change providers, since I’ve found one that allows shared hosting among multiple domains (which is convenient, since I have several domains to host). Note that nothing would change on the visitor side (that is, it would be the same domain name), it would just be served from a different server owned by a different provider.

Visitorship is back down to around 20,000 per day—which is still 50% higher than pre-election figures. With better performance, visitorship should go up a bit.

Also, thanks to these folks for helping to support the site financially….

  • Glendon
  • Sandra
  • Jacob
  • Frances
  • Richard
  • Geraldine
  • Gary


I want to acknowledge those kind souls who have contributed recently to the upkeep of the WHM.

  • Dennis
  • David
  • Logan
  • Casey
  • Glendon
  • Faerie’s Finest
  • Rodney
  • Daniel
  • Rick
  • EL
  • Paul
  • Janet

I wish I had bitten the bullet and upgraded the site to its own server for January. There was only a real crush of visitors for three days or so, but I’m afraid many new visitors were disappointed that the site didn’t load quickly. WHM never actually went down, tho (thank you, GoDaddy), and the mirror was always available and will continue to be until I’m sure it’s no longer necessary.

For reference, the site typically gets about 13,000 page views a day. That ramped up to 30,000 in the week before the inauguration. The 20th and 21st saw about 120,000 page views each, with the 22nd seeing 83,000. It’s now ramped down to 46,000, altho the mirror shot up to around to 25,000 since I added a link to the front page of the main site.

Hopefully along the way we’ve picked up a few more regular White House enthusiasts. I noticed that Pete’s Facebook group White House Fanatics has nearly reached 100 members now. Hurray!

New blog!

To improve site performance, I’ve imported the old Blogger weblog into a new WordPress weblog and called it “The Ellipical Saloon” instead of “The Oval Office”. This may just be a temporary name change or it could be permanent.


The Obama administration has lost no time in updating WhiteHouse.gov, intending to make it central to the pledge to make this the most transparent administration. So far, they seem to have removed all the pages on individual rooms, replacing them with a single page without pictures, altho there is a separate page for the Oval Office (there’s a broken link on the summary page, but you can scroll down to the Oval Office section for a link to the separate page).

My hope for WhiteHouse.gov is that it becomes, among other things, the primary source of new high-resolution photographs for use by news organizations and Web-based virtual museums.

Statistics revisited

As you may have noticed from the slow site performance, page views are back up substantially and probably will stay that way thru the inauguration. Oct. 5 represents the last “normal” week. I’ve kept the mirror site updated.

5-Oct-08 56,761
12-Oct-08 70,975
19-Oct-08 73,760
26-Oct-08 78,386
2-Nov-08 192,762
9-Nov-08 369,645
16-Nov-08 525,377
23-Nov-08 150,528
30-Nov-08 115,720
7-Dec-08 96,561
14-Dec-08 137,404
21-Dec-08 82,121
28-Dec-08 104,769
4-Jan-09 142,713

Top search queries:

white house museum
white house floor plan
resolute desk
white house bowling alley
white house residence
oval office
white house swimming pool
white house
president’s bedroom
lincoln bedroom

Presidential archives

Can I just complain for a moment at the appalling state of our nation’s presidential library online offerings? I happened to click one of the credit links to a photo from the Eisenhower Library and got a “page not found” error because they’ve changed the site structure once again and now the photo is nowhere to be found.

My personal website [warning: politics] is almost 5 years old and not a single incoming link made during that time would be broken today. This site is 2-and-a-half years old and only two or three of links made in that time would be broken.

Further, in order to search for photos, they all direct you to a generic ARC search page and give weak instructions on how to find material related to the president in question. The few photos that are available are awful little 256-color GIFs that have scratches and dust, and no color- or fade-correction. A great deal of the work I do to create this site is just making those kinds of images presentable.

These people are the keepers of our nation’s presidential heritage and history, set up and supported by the American people. Is it too much to ask that they post clean, high-resolution images on their own sites and keep them available and link-enabled? Here is a photo of the Carter Oval Office on the National Archives site*; compare it to what I finally managed to produce that wouldn’t embarrass me to post.

* This is actually a University of Maryland mirror of some National Archive resources. It actually offers high-res images and makes them linkable.

Site stats

Visitorship continues to rise, apparently with a mention on MSN this week. Here are the page views from the past few weeks, the first of which represents the last “normal” week.

5-Oct-08 56,761
12-Oct-08 70,975
19-Oct-08 73,760
26-Oct-08 78,386
2-Nov-08 192,762
9-Nov-08 369,645
16-Nov-08 525,377

Mirror site

Visitor Dale sent a note about the mirror site, saying a lot of the pictures didn’t show up. I noticed and fixed a few several days ago, but I can’t find any now. Please comment on this message if you come across a page in the mirror site where photos aren’t showing up.

I knew this would come in handy for something

I decided I can somewhat alleviate the site slowdown problem, at least for those who check this blog. I’ve uploaded nearly the entire site to 1ObservatoryCircle.com as a mirror.

It’s still loading as of the moment, but keep an eye on it. Once the images get loaded, I’ll go thru and fix things like broken navigation links (like links from the site to this blog, which of course isn’t mirrored).

UPDATE: Actually, this is going to take hours. Please be patient.
UPDATE: Okay. All done. 1OC is practically an identical copy of WHM as of yesterday. WHM now has several main room pages and floor plan pages broken out into current and historical versions, as the Oval Office has been for some time.

Site performance still poor

I called GoDaddy again about the slow performance of the site, but they’ve confirmed that even with the upgrade it’s just swamped with user requests. Mirroring content wouldn’t even help, since it’s not a traffic thru-put problem.

The only real solution at this point would be to upgrade to my own server, which is $150 a month. And with donations still topping out at $0 a month, that’s not economically feasible. 😦

I’ll spend some time breaking up content so the individual pages have fewer images and see if that improves things.

Page views

Traffic went thru the roof as election day approached. I’m now getting some offers to add advertising, but the potential sponsors are kind of random (patriotic or DC-related products might make sense). This chart shows page views (not unique visitors) from the beginning of the site to this week, with this week’s final numbers partly a projection.

UPDATE: I’ve updated the chart to show the real numbers up to Saturday, and they’re even higher than I projected.

WordPress and more

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to this site recently, partly because I’ve run out of photos and other good historical material to improve it. This is something I anticipated happening after about 3 months, but I got such good encouragement and tips from other enthusiasts that I had plenty to keep me busy for a year and a half. Thanks!

The other reason is that I went researching WordPress as an alternative to Blogger (since many have had trouble with the Blogger commenting system) and ended up creating a whole new site relevant to a different hobby of mine: movies. As regular readers know, I’ve done several audio commentaries for movies set in the White House and more still for other movies. I decided to create a site where others can submit their commentaries, so there is a central repository for movie and television commentaries available on the Web. Check it out at Zarban.com, if you like that sort of thing.

I’m liking WordPress a lot, so I may convert this blog one of these days.

One Observatory Circle

I was chatting with a friend today about a funny web site, and something about it triggered me to think of another web site to create. I checked domain names and found that domains related to the vice-president’s residence were–to my surprise–available, so I registered:

  • Oneobservatorycircle.com
  • Oneobservatorycircle.org
  • 1observatorycircle.com

I had thought about creating a page or two about the residence of the vice-president–or, as I will now frequently call it, 1OC (official | Wikipedia)–but it had never occurred to me that the actual domain names would be available. The obvious thing now would be to create a site similar to White House Museum, altho there isn’t nearly as much information available about it, nor history (nor interest, for that matter).

I also considered making a satirical web site like Whitehouse.net, that would satirize the vice-president by pretending to be his home page and blog (“Friday: Still missing Rummy,”) but that would take a lot of time and acerbic wit, both of which I need to conserve for Tysto.com [warning: political opinion].