By on July 10, 2011

Did you notice? TTAC loads much faster. Most likely , you did not notice. An old axiom in the nerd industry is that performance gains mostly go unnoticed. Slowdowns on the other hand drive people nuts.  Our gee-whiz kids in Toronto moved TTAC to something called “Cloudflare,” which really speeds up load times. The trouble is: Once in a while, the Cloudflare suffers burnout and TTAC becomes inaccessible.

Today was such a day. Because TTAC lives (computer-wise) “in the cloud,” you may have experienced outages, or not, depending on where you are. The trouble is, when it happens, it doesn’t seem to clear up. It actually does, but you won’t notice it. Something in the cache of your browser brings up the dreaded screen above, again and again, while others can enjoy TTAC.

So here is what you do: When you see the Cloudflare splash screen, wait a while. Then clear the cache of your browser (in Internet Explorer and Firefox, it is Ctrl-Shift-DEL), and if you are lucky, TTAC is back. If you aren’t lucky, take a break, then try again. Just don’t do what I did today: Pull the rest of your hair out.

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46 Comments on “Got Burned By Cloudflare?...”

  • avatar

    Ahhhhh. It had been down for a while today. Isn’t hi tech wonderful?

  • avatar

    Do Firefox browsers suffer more than others? I’ve noticed recent versions of Firefox are prone to stalling and long load times if they retain information from previous web site visits.

    • 0 avatar

      Firefox is not the browser it use to be. :-(

      • 0 avatar

        Opera is the browser of choice if you want speed. It is not popular in the US but is also overlooked by hackers and crackers when it comes to virus, worm and trojan attacks. The downside is that it cannot be used for all sites or for the NEW Yahoo! mail. It has an automatic Turbo feature that is truly unique to browsers.

        I use Firefox v6 Beta as well because I am one of Mozilla’s Beta testers, and Firefox is super. By far my favorite, and it benefits from continual upgrades and refinements of all aspects of security and speed.

        Google Chrome is also on all my PCs but I do not use it very often because I do not like what they call their ‘intuitive’ format. It may be intuitive for some, but not for me.

        Flock has been discontinued but I keep it around on all my PCs for its old-time features. It still works very good.

        IE8 is also on all my PCs but I only use it when everything else fails. Having used Norton, McAfee, AVG, ZoneAlarm and other precautions to safeguard it, I have found that IE is the most prone to virus infections, worms and trojans. Finally, out of desperation I tried the MS Security Essentials and have not been tagged with any kind of virus, worm, trojan or whatever, since I started using it.

        As far as Cloudflare…. I haven’t noticed any speed increase/decrease since my Cable ISP access is tenuous at best. While I’m paying for the much vaunted and promoted 12Mbps rate, what I am getting in reality is about a 1Mbps throughput. So it sucks all around. Can’t stream sh it without major hiccups.

        But any increase in speed can only add to the enjoyment of visiting ttac. Great site. Wonderful contributors. Excellent adult discussions, most of the time.

      • 0 avatar


        I’m using Opera 11.5 and it works with the new Yahoo Mail quite well. Opera is slow to launch, however.

      • 0 avatar

        I haven’t noticed any speed increase either. In fact, I thought it was actually slower lately.

      • 0 avatar

        James, thank you for mentioning that. I also use Opera 11.50, as do all of the networked systems that my wife and her family use in their real estate business and to access their Yahoo mail accounts.

        We all keep getting messages from Yahoo that within the next couple of months we must either get Firefox, Chrome or IE8 on our PCs to be able to continue to use the New Yahoo. We have all those browsers but I am loathe to try to see how they work with Novell. Why mess with a good thing?

        For the business I use three HP Media Center PCs with Pentium Dual Core 3.6/3.6 GHz processors and 3Gigs of RAM each, running XP-Pro, as the servers of the Novell Network. They are incredibly fast! One is used as the server for the clients connected over Ethernet (Thin), one is the Shadow server, and one is the Backup. The print servers are hardwired Equinox and serve the different printers (only).

        The whole thing is controlled through a Firewall PC server, a Battalion Core i7 from ‘ibuypower’, to access the internet through a Motorola Cable modem and a Netgear Dual-Band router, with four PCs hardwired to the Cable modem, and the rest, including guests, connected to the Netgear Router using either the N-band or the 24-G Wi-Fi connections.

        This set-up has worked very well since I installed it in May 2006 so it must be something that Yahoo is doing differently these days. It was a breeze to set up, but I’m not sure how well these new-fangled browsers will do running in a Novell environment, and I don’t want to have to upgrade to a newer shell. Some of the old real estate software and applications won’t work with Vista or W7, (tried it on a separate server, failed miserably!) and who knows how they will fare under a new shell environment?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been an Opera user for several years as well. IE was awful through version 6.0, and didn’t start actually becoming a decent browser until 8.0. Firefox was good early on, but seems slow and bloated now.

        The things that have kept me with Opera are the overall speed, the robust tab system, the customizable URL bar search shortcuts, and the mouse gestures. Being able to just type ‘g -whatever-‘ into the URL bar for a Google search, ‘y -whatever-‘ for a YouTube search, or ‘w -whatever-‘ for a wikipedia search without first having to load that page is a great timesaver. The Mouse Gestures are a killer app. They’ve become such a second nature part of using a web browser to me that I get quite annoyed when I have to use a browser that doesn’t have them.

        I know the search field shortcuts and mouse gestures can be added through extensions on other browsers, but I like having it all built it from the get-go.

        Chrome is starting to shape up pretty nicely, and the sandbox feature as well as each tab running as a separate process are both very clever features.

        Lack of support for Opera on web pages is usually a result of lazy web design. The browser is capable of displaying the site correctly most of the time, but to cut down on having to optimize for a variety of browsers the site development team sometimes throws in a bit of code that just displays an error page if it doesn’t detect IE or Firefox. You can switch your ‘user agent’ on most browsers though so that you can make Opera appear to be IE or Firefox to websites to get around that lazy coding.

      • 0 avatar

        What sold me on Opera was that it is largely overlooked by hackers and crackers and that it displayed the videos and images of the real-estate websites seamlessly. Add a 1-Gig HD Video card to the PC and a 65″ LCD TV and you have spectacular real-estate videos and images, often larger than life. Impressive as all get out!

    • 0 avatar

      I use Firefox, and have noticed an improvement. Thanks TTAC team – good on ya.

  • avatar

    No need to clear out this “cache” you mention.

    Is it pronounced akin to “cash” or “cake”?

    These folks declare it is pronounced akin to “cash”

    but I am unsure if they are correct.

    This burning question may prevent me from formulating my well-conceived plans to invade a random 3rd-world country, stage a coup and become a benevolent ruling despot, pilfer begged-for assistance to feed my “subjects” then sell said food to sundry brokers and enrichen myself to an unimaginable degree then retire to southern France and hob-nob with the folks down that-away.

    • 0 avatar

      According to it looks like Cloudflare’s San Jose node is under a denial of service attack.

      I use Cloudflare for quiet a few sites, and I have been generally happy with their performance.

    • 0 avatar

      Cache is pronounced like “cash”.
      Your plan with the coup and the pilfering sounds like a wholesome activity, good luck !

    • 0 avatar

      Obbop: need a second? It’s a good plan, well rehearsed with well known support teams. I’m in!

      • 0 avatar

        What other paths to wealth remain for the commoner within the USA?

        If done properly and using proper propaganda techniques a “bloodless coup” may be possible.

        And the wondrous opportunity to scam the USA politicos by declaring love and loyalty to Corporate USA!!!!

        Immense wealth within a short time then abdicating and head elsewhere with immense diverted funds.

        A win-win-win scenario awaiting the entrepreneurial-minded gents.

        We will be rich and famous… or infamous.

  • avatar

    I am using the Chrome browser running on Mac OS X and have seen failures to load for the past couple of days. It loads successfully after a retry in a few minutes.

  • avatar

    I’m so glad this subject is up. For a few week, something happened to this site that make it unreachable at work. Basically, the mcaffee antivirus detects a cookie named cars and blocks the site. Please find a way to make it accessible again! I just tought of how many other fan of this site got the same problem, it could be a big deal for TTAC. I use to come here everyday but now i can only check it from home…One last thing, i use a canadian governement computer at work and i access the internet with the same system as other governement employee so i’m pretty sure i’m not alone with that problem…

  • avatar

    The site has been loading great for me since I added AdBlock to kill all those amazingly annoying Vibrant green text links. The “loading” indicator for the page never stopped. I understand this is a revenue-generating enterprise but you should have passed this enhancement up.

    Those embedded links made moving the mouse akin to crossing a minefield.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex French

      I absolutely *hate* those things, but I don’t want to disable ads here (after all, that’s how they make their money). What I find even worse are the ads on top of images. They’re extremely obtrusive, and I feel compelled to close them whenever I see them.

      Oh, the talking ads suck too, but I’ve only seen a couple of those here.

      • 0 avatar

        Do you also read the ads?

      • 0 avatar
        Alex French

        Ad revenue is usually generated by views and clicks (with clicks being worth considerably more). Of course I don’t read them, but I do “view” them, as far as the ad server is concerned.

        If TTAC only gets money from clicks, then I might as well disable ads. I have never clicked on a banner ad in my life.

      • 0 avatar

        I actually feel bad about having to resort to AdBlock, because I love TTAC and want the site to succeed. But Vibrant popups are just too intrusive to tolerate. (Move the cursor down to here…DAMMIT!!…just triggered another popup!…x it off…proceed..)

        I don’t begrudge the use of the right third of my screen to display whatever ads that are placed there as long as they mind their manners and are seen and not heard. But ads shalt not alter my browser’s function, and little green landmine links violate that commandment.

      • 0 avatar

        Really, text links provide minimal revenue (I used to run a 10M page/month web site, and we had them), and none at all if no one clicks on them. Go ahead, block Vibrant, and don’t feel bad about it.

  • avatar

    I had noted this too this morning and I use firefox too, the latest version and it’s a bit flaky I would agree but seems to have largely fixed whatever problem(s) I was experiencing earlier.

    I had not realized this site is in the cloud but have seen this page come up one other time and I just waited a few minutes and I was able to access TTAC again.

    I’ve noticed a general lag in load times for virtually ALL sites these days and as one other commenter says, it’s all those ads and hypertext links that are green that pop up when you accidentally mouse over them seems to be part of the culprit.

    I may have to get adblock and get it going here.

  • avatar

    Depending on which browser you are using, either ctrl-F5 for holding down shift before clicking on refresh forces a full reload of a page. No need to clear your entire cache.

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    Ive already lost enough, thanks.

    *Singing, put the lime in the coconut*

    Remind me again why CLOUD sharing is a good thing?!

    • 0 avatar

      If it’s done well, it’s cheaper to use and easier to scale out than your own servers, or even your own private cloud. It’s probably more reliable than your own rinky-dink setup, too.

      We’ve deployed our entire development & QA environments into Amazon’s EC2/AWS/S3. It works really, really well, saves a whack of capital and operating expense and is by far faster. I’m ready to drop Production into the cloud as soon as I can get a more robust backup solution.

      Cloud computing isn’t a bad thing, but using a shitty provider (or botching your own implementation) is. Same goes for using a poor co-lo or provisioning your own crappy internet connection.

  • avatar

    I did notice it was faster. Just didn’t know why.

  • avatar

    FWIW I generally prefer to read sites like TTAC on an iPad, where the speed up in load times has been very noticeable. I’m also thankful that the log in and commenting system is once again working on iOS devices.

    • 0 avatar

      Interestingly, TTAC (and CrackBerry–go figure!) are two sites that are absolute dogs on the BlackBery Playbook. More times than not the site doesn’t finish loading.

      I really suspect it’s the adservers (and the PlayBook, which I’ll call the Chevy Corvair of the tablet world). I can’t run AdBlock and the browser suffers for it.

      And yes, I feel bad for using AdBlock on a site I enjoy, but it’s self-defense at this point.

  • avatar

    Bertel you say I should clear my browser cash. If it doesn’t work I should try again… But then my cash is already cleared how could I clear it again?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex French

      I think he means try coming to TTAC again. If I’m mistaken (and visiting the site while it is “down” screws up your cache), then it is time to find a different host, because that shit is ridiculous.

  • avatar

    Since the move to Cloudflare and the twitter splat, the website was plainly inaccessible for days from my IP (accessible from other IPs to which I have access). I figured that vindictive Cloudflare banned me from TTAC – which they denied, of course. Out of principle I refused to use available proxies to bypass the ban, effectively giving up TTAC altogether, but eventually it all went away.

    If anything, I should be thankful to Cloudflare for weaning me off TTAC, since I was reading and commenting way too much.

  • avatar

    It’s a little quicker on the BlackBerry via Verizon.

  • avatar

    I got the msg on Firefox but not on Chrome, I have noticed long time ago that you can’t work with one browser, each behave differently on certain sites.
    So, I have Firefox, Chrome and IE9, the problem I’m still having with all 3 is the galleries, I can’t stand it, something need to change, there are so many technologies to show images, why choose one that does not work well?
    My suggestion, use the one that is on “insideline” from Edmunds, it works perfectly, full screen or just a window, also the videos work great.

  • avatar

    I got that error once, and then it cleared. But I also got another weird error, saying “This page is not available, but here’s a snapshot from Cloudflare, blah blah blah” It loaded the page and I could read the post, so I was happy.

    I remember Cloudflare being on one of the gadget/tech news sites because they successfully protected one of their clients from a gigantic DDoS attack & every IP was logged from that attack and added to their database so it prevented many, many, future attacks for their clients.

  • avatar

    I have had no issues with TTAC running. I did notice it loads faster. Whether at work or at home on our laptop or my old junk computer, it does fine on Internet Explorer. I’m Windows all the way.

    Question: What does this have to do with cars?
    Answer: Everything as far as TTAC is concerned, how else do I – we – get to read all the great comments and enjoy the controversy and supposed-bias arguments, as well as the (mild) flame wars? Oh, yes – news about the auto industry, too!

    Keep up the good work, TTAC, you and the commenters always make ny days!

  • avatar

    Yep, I was cloudflared today and denied access. I use FF and loading lately seems a bit faster. I will have FIOS soon, which should help even more. Holden, I agree. FF is not what it used to be.

  • avatar

    CloudFlare is “caching” the hacker site and knows about it – specifically Damon Billan of cloudflare. Damon said they weren’t going to censor their customers even though the group was breaking the law. I wonder if some of the performance issues are related to attacks on lulzsecurity? Cloudflare shouldn’t be protecting these scumbags. Anything for a buck I suppose.,2817,2387132,00.asp

    PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
    64 bytes from ( icmp_req=1 ttl=55 time=17.9 ms

  • avatar

    It’s better for me. Before, when changing pages and scrolling, it would jump around while various elements of the new page loaded. Just as I’d get annoyed enough to click on the Stop button, the new page would finish loading. Seems to work fine now. Thanks

  • avatar

    Got it yesterday. Thought I got banned since it wasn’t loading on Opera but does on Chrome where I wasn’t logged in. lol

  • avatar

    I got this a few times. It’s irritating, but no more irritating than having posts quarantined for using the kind of language that, well, you hear six-year-olds use at recess.

    Come on, if you’re going to give Jack Baruth column space, you can assume that your audience can handle seeing words like “sh_tty”.

  • avatar

    For what it’s worth I’d like to better explain the causes behind this and why you’re seeing that message, and why you sometimes have to clear your cache.

    That message happens when cloudflare gets an improper response from the origin server (the server that actually hosts TTAC), this is typically because there is a problem in the web stack. More often than not its caused by an invalid cache on our end (typically APC [runtime php opcode cache]). This causes the origin to return blank pages, cloudflare notices this and does not cache the blank page- instead choosing to serve you an older copy of the page from its cache and warning you about it. This is an option and benefit to cloudflare as your site is never 100% down. Now, some browsers will cache this page for an extended period if the content has not changed in a few hours and may not re-request the page on the next reload, in which case clearing your browser or issuing a forceful reload should fix the problem.

    In short, the problem is most often on the origin end we are aware of it and are working for a solution. The good news is that TTAC is -WAY- faster than it used to be, and with a faster service we can start adding more rich features.

    If anyone feels that they have been incorrectly banned by cloudflare and find the site inaccessible please contact [email protected] and we can whitelist your IP address. I’ve already done this for a handful of people using weird devices or coming in from questionable countries/ip blocks.

    One of the few, the proud, Toronto Tech Guys.

    Note that I may not be around to read replies, if you have an urgent issue please contact support.

    Thank you.

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