Due to recent performance problems the Hot Discussions and Lone Faithful boxes have been temporarily disabled until I implement those features in a way that does not impact performance. Some of you may have noticed the system outage around 1:30 PM MST. I believe it was caused by the inefficient implementation of those two, which make the server hurt if hit two frequently.
Update: found the cause of the system outage. A bot named DotBot from http://www.dotnetdotcom.org/
came to crawl our site and it had a bug, an infinite loop of some kind. So it did rapid fire requests on the same URL over a fast link. It managed about 200 requests per second. This unfortunately was more than our server could handle on that particular request. To prevent something like this from happening in the future I added a bandwidth throttling module to our web server and configured it to throttle voracious clients.
Update: Hot Discussions and Lone Faithfuls are back. Blog listing (show_blogs.php) has a new feature of searching by blog/web name/nickname, as well as Not Update Within. Course Tool has been updated, details athttp://sasha.fastrunningblog.com/blog-A-M-Talked-to-Curt-last-night-and-reali/08-08-2008.html