Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum members)

(Update: I am still pondering what to do about the forum here. I have come to the conclusion that for me to personally moderate and monitor a forum on another platform is, not really possible in terms of the time I can spend. Of course anyone is free to start up a bento community anywhere (there are several around already) but I'm afraid I can't monitor it myself. This site will of course continue to be up and active, and open to comments. In the meantime the JustBento Facebook Page has gotten a lot of new followers, for anyone who is using Facebook. I'm still extremely busy, what with a house basically in ruins at the moment due to extensive renovations, but do keep an eye on all comments on the site and the FB page.)

Hi everyone. You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here lately. This is due to a number of reasons. Personally, I have been both very busy since the March 11th earthquake in Japan, and also a bit depressed (or rather, less inclined to be cheerful....more inclined to be pissed at the world, etc.) I have been in Japan since late March, or about 2 weeks after the quake happened. While life in the corner of Japan where I am is quite normal, the news continues to be quite dire, and while it may have receded into the background in other countries, being here we get pummelled with it day after day. (Plus the over-reactions, mispresentations and so on fromsome quarters haven't helped one bit.) Nevertheless, my mood is improving little by little, and I feel ready to talk about FOOD and EATING again. So you'll see the main part of the site getting new articles regular very soon!

Another more mundane reason why there haven't been more updates is that the software running this site is seriously due for an update. (Security patches have been regularly applied, but the infrastructure is gettin' really old.) Despite the popularity of JustBento and stuff, it's not like a major (or even minor) money making machine by any means due to server running costs, etc. and I do about 99% of the background structural stuff myself. So...the updating has been taking a lot of time. But really, for the site to continue working properly going forward, it really needs to get up-to-date soon.

Now, the part of the site that the forum runs on is actually the most complicated to update properly. However, forum activity has been quite low key for some time now. I know this is partly due to the fact that we haven't done stuff like monthly contests or challenges in a while, etc. But as my time and resources are limited, I have to make the hard decision to at least temporarily disable postings to the forum, so that I can get the main part of the site updated sooner rather than later. This will not be immediate, and I'll give full warning before it takes place. Also, none of your forum posts will be lost. I will be restoring access to the forum posts as soon as I can - however, new postings to it may be delayed some more.

I am also wondering at this point, whether the forum is worth continuing or not. It does take some effort to maintain, and while we have cut down on spam and so on due to filters and the great work of our moderators Bronwyn and Loretta, in terms of load on the server and so on it does take a lot more resources than the current usage seems to justify. So....I'm wondering if, for example, we should just use the JustBento Facebook Page more, or something like that.

At this point I'm very much open to suggestions, so please comment away!

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