The above video (recorded 2 years ago) is for the great free vocabulary building and reading tool, Learning With Texts. (Click to see the full blog post with more details about it that I made a couple of years back, since this blog post is not about how the system works but about how I've upgraded it)
When I first discovered the tool, I thought it was an absolutely great idea! It took everything that I liked from LingQ (which is a paid site, with several limitations especially for which languages you can use it for), removed a lot that I didn't like, and made it free!
The only catch was that the set-up procedure is way too complicated for most computer users (but not that hard if you don't mind following a few technical steps), so I tried to make it work out of the box and installed it on my site.
By signing up to my forum you automatically get a LWT log in, and can start to import texts and improve your reading skills in any language!
Since it first came out two years ago, the developer has made several improvements to it. I tried to get my programmer who initially re-wrote the code for it to work with multiple users on my site, to help me upgrade it, but unfortunately he was always too busy. Because of this the site stayed in its older buggier version for a long time.
As well as this, it turns out that the tool is very poorly suited to multiple users because by opening lots of texts that you don't archive, your single database can get as big as 1GB! As you can imagine, the number of people using my site, with several individual LWT databases that were hundreds of megabytes, had the overall database grow to an immense 40GB. This meant that (and I'm sure those of you using my system were well aware of this!) it got slower and slower with time, and buggier and buggier, still never getting updated.
My original programmer who made all the changes and would understand them, was unfortunately still never available to help me fix this.
To make matters worse – this big database was starting to affect my blog itself, and in the last two months my entire site has been consistently crashing for 10 minutes at a time several times a day, due to database issues. Not good at all!
_d31880b6_ – your new improved free LWT!
So I hired another programmer to start from scratch, on the latest version of LWT, and to find ways to make this database issue not take over any more. The system now works dramatically faster thanks to the following:
- It gets its own dedicated website! It is no longer at fi3m.com/lwt, but instead at lwtfi3m.co – a 100% dedicated LWT site! It's not .com btw! I wanted to keep this as short as possible for mobile users to enter quickly, so I scrapped that pesky final ‘m' 😉
- From now on, rather than every single forum user getting a LWT database, you are only assigned one if you sign in to lwtfi3m.co at least once. So from your perspective it's exactly the same, but on my site way less users will get databases (The forum has 20,000 users, but only a tiny fraction of them will use LWT). This is obviously way more efficient, since previously every forum user automatically got a LWT database, even if they never signed into it, or never returned to the forum.
- What was creating those monstrously huge databases wasn't images/videos, but poorly written original source code that expands innocent texts out to huge sizes when they may be just 1KB if you downloaded them for offline use. On the current LWT FAQ, they give instructions for setting up your own multiple user database but I highly recommend against doing this because if enough people sign up, your own site will be slowed down as mine was (and I'm paying a lot for the absolute fastest possible dedicated server/database, so imagine what budget hosts would put up with!). This huge load is not the case when people archive their texts though, and their database is then optimized. So I see a list of people who have the biggest database that I'll check often, and I can message them directly to request that they archive their texts.
- Along the same lines, if someone doesn't log in for over a month, I'll manually archive their texts, and my programmer made this easy for me to do quickly. You can unarchive your texts in an instant.
- If someone doesn't log in for 6 months, then I'll have to delete their profile. If you don't like these restrictions, then I'd recommend you go for the offline version! I think it's a very fair request that you use the system more than twice a year if you want me to host your free database 😉 You can find details about the offline version here, but if you are of the mindset that you want something to just work (like many of my Apple friends always tell me – I personally don't mind a little tweaking) then you will find the set-up instructions quite intimidating, which is why I have put so much work (and money) into making this great system more accessible to everyone. As well as this, with the system online you can access it from any computer or smartphone in the world, rather than just when you are at home, and can make sure you get the maximum study done to improve your language level!
- From now on, I can implement updates to the original source code, or add in my own features if I decide to, much easier and much more often, so that you know you are using the best LWT available.
Tell me to transfer your old data by NOVEMBER 15th
[If you don't have data on the old LWT system, then feel free to skip this section, since it's not relevant to you]
Unfortunately, my site still crashes a few times a day (and this will include lwtfi3m.co too) because of the old LWT database dragging my server down. As such, I am greatly looking forward to the moment when I can press delete in MySQL (the database management software) and rid my site of that obese 40GB.
I won't do this just yet however, because I want to give everyone time to transfer over.
As such, you have until November 15th to request that your old data be transferred. Please do so by tweeting me @irishpolyglot with your username (public @ tweet) and I'll transfer your account within 24 hours max. My programmer gave me a quick transfer tool, so this only takes me a second.
Alternatively, reply to this blog post with your username, or to this forum post, or use the contact-me form if you want to keep your username private, but note that it may take me several days to activate it that way. Twitter is the fastest way for me to see your message, since I have to manage my time efficiently to be able to work on Japanese well.
Either way, I'll check all streams every few days and definitely by November 15th to make sure everyone who contacted me has their old data transferred.
Unfortunately, after this time, if you haven't requested a transfer, your old data will be lost because I really can't continue letting my site crash so consistently like it is. Luckily, this is just a once off, and I have a LOT of measures in play to make sure the new database doesn't get out of control, and even if I have 100 times as many users on it, we can still keep the database manageable.
The old site is no longer accessible (it just redirects to the new one) so if you want to download your data for offline use, then please still request a transfer and you can download it from the new site.
By only transferring those who request it, I can make sure the new database starts fresh, rather than simply push 40GB (the vast majority of which is not being used) from one site to another. If you read this post after November 15th and your data has been lost, then I apologize, but it really was unavoidable due to how LWT is written for single users, and needed serious changes and admin optimization options, like my programmer has made.
Now none of you have to worry about it, because it has been fixed and now runs smoothly!
Note that if you are new to LWT and don't have any old data, then simply sign up to the forum and then log in to lwtfi3m.co and get started, and don't worry about anything I've written above!
All features on Fluentin3months will continue to be 100% free! 🙂
Hiring the programmer has cost me quite a bit of money, but thanks to those of you that support my site through my separate site's SFD1 purchases (huge update coming in January free to everyone who has it already btw!) and consultation calls, I can afford to keep investing back into the site to cover costs like the several hundreds and on occasion thousands of dollars a month required to keep this site strong against all traffic, and to keep the forum, the new LWT, and the blog posts and professionally edited and always subtitled videos completely and utterly free and as up to date as possible for all of you!
The new LWT will of course continue to be free – all I ask is that you keep sharing my videos and blog and Facebook posts that you like, so more people check out the site. I'll also be asking for a favour in January, related to my Berlin mission this year, so I'd really appreciate if you gave me a hand with that if you've found any aspect of my site helpful in any way!
If you have any technical questions about LWT, such as issues on my site, please ask them in the dedicated LWT forum for my site rather than in the comments below. If there are any bugs on just my version, that are not part of the overall system, then I'll get my programmer on them immediately. Otherwise tweet me or reply below and I'll transfer your data over as soon as I can.
Thanks and enjoy the new and improved Learning With Texts!