Server Outage Today

For a couple hours today, SuperTeacherTools was down (I knew right away because I happened to be using it with a class myself!).  Apparently the data center that hosts the site had some serious problems that took a number of other sites offline for the afternoon as well.

I understand how important it is for teachers to be able to access these tools reliably and there are few feelings on this earth more disheartening than standing in front of a group of students looking at a blank screen because the site you need won’t load.  I have been assured by the hosting company that this issue has been dealt with and shouldn’t repeat.

For a roundup of the carnage, check out the Twitter widget below on the topic of “GoDaddy down”.

Big Move Ahead…

SuperTeacherTools Server

After months of careful planning and research, SuperTeacherTools is just about ready to move to a new server.  After almost 2 years of living in a shared server environment, the site has grown to the point that it is time to get a place of its own.

What Does This Mean For You?

  • Better site performance
  • Better customer service (easier to locate lost resources for one thing)
  • More secure experience

How Will The Move Affect You?

Hopefully very little!  Existing resources will still be available during the switch.

Why Is This Happening?

Super Teacher Tools now has thousands and thousands of users who rely on this site for tools to make their classrooms more fun and/or efficient (both is nice).

What if I can’t find something after the switch?

With any luck this won’t be an issue.  But in case luck steps out for a moment to grab a coffee and you do experience a technical difficulty, please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help you through it.

I wish you a happy holiday season and thank you for your continued support of this site! 

SuperTeacherTools has been cured…

I have received emails from several users that claimed the site was being blocked by their schools content filters.  After some investigation, it turned out that SuperTeacherTools was the target of an attack.  Some clever (and very dishonest) hacker inserted a piece of code that was forwarding users to the site to other external websites.

The good news is that after scanning hundreds of thousands of your games and class lists, the site has been stripped of this invasive and malicious code.

I will continue to monitor the site to prevent any future attacks.  Please let me know immediately if the site ever behaves in a way that seems strange to you.

Thanks for your continued support and feedback!

Best of luck wrapping up the 2009-2010 school year!

Just a few reminders…

I get a lot of emails from people using the site.  I thought it might be worth posting some of the most common answers in case it ever comes up and I can’t get back to you right away…

  1. First up: finding games weeks, months, and years later.

    Your games are never deleted.  That means if you bookmark a game page, it will always be there for you.  Most of the software on the site allows you to enter your email when you create something new.  I highly recommend you enter your email so you will have something to refer to if you need your game or class list 6 years down the road.

  2. Using the offline player:  In order to use the offline player, make sure the following are true:

    • Make sure that Windows saved it as a text file.  Sometimes windows does not save the game files properly. If the file does not look like a piece of paper when you are looking at the folder, it may not have saved properly.  Rename the file with “.txt” at the end.
    • Make sure your filename does not have any spaces or unusual characters in it.
    • The filenames are also case sensitive. ‘modern dance’ is not the same as ‘Modern Dance’
    • Make sure you are only typing the filename.  For example, science.txt should just be entered as science.
  3. Special characters: I continue to work to get Flash to display foreign language characters and math symbols properly.  Stay tuned…

Hope these all help!

Dealing with Growth…

2009 has been a year of huge growth for SuperTeacherTools.com.  The site has really grown from the one classroom review game (Flash Jeopardy) that I put online to make it easier for me to access it in school.

Now the site has several different review games, a number of popular classroom management tools (seating chart maker, random name generator, and Group Maker to name a few), and some fun tools like the US population counter, world population counter, and Flash Hangman.  I have hundreds of teachers who are updating their students and parents using the easy platform on the sister site: ClassroomUpdate.com. And there is more to come!

Thanks to so many of my users sharing this site and following the updates on Twitter and Facebook, the site is getting over 60,000 visits per month!

Now the time has come to look at how to manage this growth.  We’ve had some growing pains due to the sheer number of people using the site.  Some games have been lost, some class lists have been saved over, and some other hiccups have happened here and there.  You’ve been incredibly helpful in pointing out bugs and making suggestions.  You’ve been incredibly patient as I try to help each of the dozens of help requests I get each day via email.  And I appreciate it.

Big Changes Ahead…

I am currently shopping for a faster, more efficient server for SuperTeacherTools to live in.  Several of the problems we faced in January and February were due to the site outgrowing the current hosting service.  That is a repairable issue and I will be making this change soon.  If it goes according to plan, you won’t even know it’s happened.  **Crossing my fingers.**

I will also be looking for ways to incorporate a search and/or game tagging system so we can classify the subject and grade levels that our games are appropriate for.  This will better allow users to find games created by others (not to mention their own lost games!).

I run SuperTeacherTools on my own in what I call my free time, for lack of a better phrase.  We welcomed our first little baby boy (see right) this past January, so there has been an ever so slight decrease in that surplus time.

I am very appreciative of the amount of feedback and support I’ve gotten from fans of the site.  Thanks for your patience, support, and kind words.  I’m thrilled that my creations are helping you to make magic in your classrooms, youth groups, and other places where interactive learning is the order of the day.  Keep up the good work!

“Text 2.0″ eye-tracking reading companion: crazy or crazy awesome?

I think this is amazing and really exciting!  Imagine the possibilities for education, particularly for struggling readers.

The Class List Nightmare Is Over…

In recent weeks, many users of my Seating Chart Tool, Student Group Generator, and Random Name Generator have returned to their pages to find that their class lists have been replaced.  While many were plunged into an existential crisis wondering if all of their students had suddenly moved out of district only to be immediately replaced by other students, most users were just annoyed that they had to type their lists again.

The good news is that this issue has been fixed and will not happen again.  My code has been updated to prevent your class lists from being replaced in the future.

This issue was the last holdover from the terrible events that kept so many users from accessing their lists and review games in January.  In the last month, I’ve learned a lot and made massive improvements to keep your data from being lost or erased.

As always, I appreciate the support and feedback of all of my users and I am proud of the huge number of teachers I’ve been able to help with my software.

Namaste.

Recover Your Lost Jeopardy Game

At long last, it is possible to recover a lost Jeopardy Game.  All you need to know is your game number.  For example, a game that used to be located at http://www.superteachertools.com/jeopardy/online/game1235613869.php has a game number of 1235613869.

Take your game number to this page: http://www.superteachertools.com/jeopardy/recover.php

There you can restore your game and share the new link with your students and anyone else.

Again, sincere apologies for the chaos and the delay in fixing it.  I will work hard to see that this doesn’t happen again.

Don’t Panic…

PhewAfter a week of stressing out over server issues, lost games, and the general meltdown the site has experienced, we are now finally approaching some sense of normalcy.

You can create new games in all of our current offerings.  You can also create and modify new class lists.  That is the good news.

The bad news is that most of the older games are currently in lockdown mode.  The short version of that story is…the company I use to host SuperTeacherTools.com informed me that there were too many files being stored on the SuperTeacherTools server.  We were given 2 days to rectify the issue.  When that didn’t/couldn’t happen, these files were placed on restricted status.  I’ve been working with the host to free up these files and restore access for my users.

I will be working to restore the older games as soon as possible.  In the meantime, rest assured that your new games can be created with the confidence that the site code has been upgraded in such a way that this will never happen again.

Thanks for all of your patience.  I know that most of the users are teachers, and I know from being a teacher that the last thing teachers can afford is wasted time and effort.  I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Pardon Our Mess…

Sad Face

We are all apologies!  There seems to be an issue with our site host that we need to rectify.  The issue is keeping many, many, many of our users from accessing the resources they have created. I will be working to fix this issue as quickly as possible.

I am very sorry for the annoyance.  As a teacher, I understand that your time is valuable.  I hope to recover all of the information on the site in a timely and efficient manner.

More as it develops…