Getting the car back on the road
By Toh Hsien Min
Readers may know that QLRS was hit by some significant technical problems last year, just as the editorial team were working on our April issue. Briefly put, the server melted down, and as it was not hosted on a professional webhosting account, there was literally nobody around in Singapore to rescue it.
It's the downside of always doing things on the cheap. When we started out, behind the site was nothing more fancy than manual HTML sitting on a bit of borrowed space in an Apache server plugged into an SDSL line. It wasn't that much different by the time the server melted down, except that the hosting was done on a different machine and there was a content management system driving it. It was as though we had upgraded from a CitroŽn 2CV to a CX.
The upshot of that is not just having to watch the Mercedes SLKs of this world zooming past you on the outer lane, it's also having to expect the occasional breakdown. We've had our share in the past, from the old Perl forum having to be shut down because of automated spam attacks, the email failing more than once, and our domain name registrar completely screwing up our DNS records for around four months. But this one last year was the worst yet, it was the equivalent of the CitroŽn being flattened by a trailer truck.
The team of editors wanted to keep QLRS going, and Kai Chai and Shu Hoong came up with an idea to host a film screening so as to generate some funds to pay for the costs of upgrading the site to a Toyota from sometime this century. Thanks to the generosity of an audience who came to watch the pre-commercial screening of The Willow Tree, a new film by renowned Iranian director Majid Majidi, we were able to start an account with a professional webhosting provider for the purposes of hosting and eventually mirroring the site, and the public support has assured our funding for the next few years' hosting costs to boot.
There were a few twists in the story, mainly because we had a couple of parallel streams working to restore the site and data and it was not clear which one would actually come through. In the end, both streams concluded successfully at about the same time, and we had the happy choice of simply having to choose between the look and feel before the site came live again by the fourth quarter of last year. It was a close thing, but we eventually went with the old "classic" QLRS look. (The alternative QLRS look, incidentally, had a curved blue top, a cursive logo, and only one menu bar on the left-hand side with the right side unbounded.)
At this time, I would like to say a few words of thanks to the people who have made it possible to bring back the site. I've already thanked those who were involved in the film screening above, but I would add that Kai Chai and Shu Hoong also ensured that the downtime on the Internet was offset by uptime in other activities, e.g. The Illusionist - National Short Story Writing Contest, whose prizewinning entries are published in this issue. Thanks - and apologies - also to our patient contributors during the past year, who had to wait rather a long time to hear back on the outcome of our reading decisions (and in the case of the short story contributors, a little longer yet). More directly, both Alvin Pang and Luke Yip not only contributed their wealth of technical expertise but also many hours of their time, and deserve a huge portion of the credit for the journal being available for public consumption again.
With luck, the wheels will keep turning smoothly on this vehicle we've just put back on the road. We've got a few ideas on some of the directions we could take in the future, but these are directions you also help to set; so, as ever, we'd be delighted to hear from you.
Besides the short stories, we're happy to present a good lineup for this issue. In the poetry section, we have a new, unpublished Arthur Yap poem, which was uncovered from our archives when Kai Chai was putting together the Singapore Writers' Festival memorial event for the late Singapore poet. We also have an English translation of a poem on Singapore by noted Russian poet Regina Derieva, who had also taken part in the SWF in December. In Essays, Ken Kwek completes his trilogy of Greek essays, and in Criticism Aaron Lee takes a close look at Ng Yi-Sheng's Last Boy. we also have an illuminating interview with Singapore-based Malaysian playwright Huzir Sulaiman, which leads in to a pair of Extra Media articles on the theatre. Enjoy!QLRS Vol. 7 No. 1 Jan 2008