COVID-19 and the Gateway Scenery Map

As some people have noticed, the Gateway Scenery Map has not been updated too frequently after mid-March. The reason, as many may have guessed lies with the clobal COVID-19 pandemic that has required everyone to make quite drastic changes to their routines; working from home, social distancing, etc.

The developer maintaining the map lives in Espoo, Finland. Espoo has the second highest infection rate in the country and because of this, on March 13th I said "frog this spit, I'm outta here" and hauled my arse to summer cottage about 250 km away.

Of course, this had some consequencies, because even though updating the Gateway Scenery Map is highly automated "for the most part"; i.e. the scenery metadata and any new approved airport sceneries are fetched from Gateway and new renderings get generated automatically ... but there is still a manual step - the actual updating of the database-server and triggering a cache warmup to get rid of any "old stuff" still lingering in caches.

Problem is that the database server is (by design) not accessible through the public internet. Connecting to the database requires administrator to either be physically in the same internal network as the server or connect to the internal network using VPN ... but - for some reason, the local firewall is blocking VPN connection attempts. As a devout believer in Mr. Murphy's law, this isn't such a surprise ... of course it is blocking connections.

In practice?

In practice ... between March 13th and May 3rd, the airport renders have been updated, but no new airport metadata has been stored in the database. This means that if an scenery submission with 3D features got accepted (and the old airport only had 2D features) the search did still show the airport as "2D". Similarly, if a completely new airport identifier was added into Gateway and received an approved airport, such airport was nowhere to be found through the search.

On May 3rd, I re-entered Espoo to do a bit of unscheduled maintenance on the database. This is meant to bring the Scenery Map's data up to date with the most recent data available at the Gateway.

Near future?

Since the COVID-19 situation is still unraveling, I am returning to the cottage, so there may still be delays in the data updates during the following weeks. Finland's Government has been discussing of possibilities to relax restrictions of movement around mid-May, but this is still somewhat uncertain.

Keep creating, stay home, stay safe. Apologies for the inconvenience.


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