A letter…

OK, we don’t always (very often) try to blow our own trumpet because its not the way we do things, but we were asked to share this with everyone, so share it we will… This came to our support email address;



Hi,

I’ve asked lots of questions in the past few weeks in the

process of setting up my diary and I’ve been absolutely amazed at

how fast and how courteous everyone has been in dealing with me.

For a free service, I’d say you guys have gone above and beyond

the call of duty. Give everybody a big pat on the back and if you

can, take an extra coffee break (hehe) you guys deserve it.

Thanks again.

User Name Susie5

Thanks for that Trudy, and thanks to everyone else who has left comments in the past few days on the diary here. Its nice to know that its appreciated. Its helpful to know when its not too (Re: Coral PINK?? NONONONO) 😉

Thanks to everyone that uses the site, its growing nicely and keeping us busy! We enjoy running it and are really pleased people enjoy using it.

Steve.

Outage

We had a five hour outage this morning (Saturday) due to a script that we had updated incorrectly. As a part of our tuning we had changed the overnight scripts to restart the various processes and unfortunately when we awoke we found out that it actually hadn’t started them up again after it shut them down! Whoops!

Still, Steve spotted the problem and was able to get on and bring them up.

Matt.

Dear Diary Performance

Just a quick update on system performance issues on the server.

We have spent a chunk of time today ironing out some performance issues on the server. Steve has already spoken about the ShowMyHits resolution so I won’t go in to that one.

We have removed the AccessWatch reports that would give you a five-minute report on how many hits the site has had. It’s not really worth having given that it spams the processor to kingdom come once every five minutes. We still have the daily report that is on http://www.deardiary.net/reports, in fact we’ve upgraded both the reporting software and the formatting software so we anticipate far less load and only one report to generate instead of the three we were generating.

Steve found some leaks in the authentication code, we suspected they might be there but when he had a look today with the intent of finding them they apparently stuck out like a sore thumb so the fact that some of our processes were just getting bigger and bigger over time (which will definitely not help performance) is now fixed (or atleast, nowhere near as bad). Either way, we now shut down and restart both the web server and the database server every night when the system is hardly used ensuring that the system is at top notch performance at the beginning of every day. We shall continue to find and remove all the other leaks as an ongoing process.

We will shortly be upgrading the database server to the latest version as well, this also reportedly offers speed improvements.

We are continuing to monitor the performance of the system and the various websites that we are running on it. Given that Openfiction is responding significantly faster than Dear Diary is we are even more reinforced in our aim to ultimately get Dear Diary moved over to the PHP system.

Matt.

showYourHits

The showMyHits screens are currently giving incorrect results. The reason behind this is that as the site grows more information is added to the logfiles which means that showMyHits script has to parse significantly more with each passing month. Originally all statistics were going to be logged into the database, but that breaks our overall stats analysis programs, and generates tables with in excess of 3 million rows (already!) which the database really doesn’t like sorting through.

So, many of you may have noticed that showMyHits was getting slow. The really bad downside to it getting slow was that it also dragged the rest of the machine down with it. To give you some idea, the system can cope with somewhere around 30 or 40 people accessing and updating their diaries simultaneously and not really notice any slowdown… But get 2 people running showMyHits at the same time and that was all she wrote. The server load went through the roof and pages slowed down…. Can’t be having that now can we?

A compromise solution has been implemented, after emergency discussion between myself and Matt at the beginning of the week, we decided that the original logging system should remain so that the reports and stuff still worked, and that showMyHits would use a modified idea of the original to store in the database. The reason being that accesses to people’s diaries take up surprisingly few log lines, so the tables should stay relatively small.

As the need to get people off the old showMyHits system has become more imperative over the last few days, I decided this morning to implement the new method and switch to it immediately. This means that the hits counting has started from now. I was hoping to switch it in a weeks time so no-one would notice a ‘lack’ of hits… But it was grinding the box into the floor, so its changed. Apologies for the lack of data presently, it is now counting and normal, meaningful stats will begin to count up…

An improved side effect of the change is that hostnames are now available in your showMyHits listing again, instead of just the IP addresses!! Woohoo.

For those that are interested in the reasons why accessing peoples diaries takes up relatively little log space, the answer is in the graphics… Registering an access to your diary takes one row in the table. But to register ALL activity that results in the pleasant page your viewer is seeing can take considerably more. This is because a log line is generated for every single image that is downloaded too. So with the new button bar, thats 6 lines, plus the diarylogo, plus the (potentially) 4 navigation buttons and maybe 3 or four backgrounds too, depending on how your diary is customized. Suddenly that one access to your diary has resulted in upwards of 12 log lines for the server to parse!!

Hopefully this answers the questions of why the showMyHits is showing weird information right now, and rest assured, it will recover the data over the course of the next week.

Steve.

Optimization

Well, Steve got the system upgraded to the latest PHP (4.0.3pl1) today, and brought the Optimizer online so the PHP is now using a fair bit less system resource than it was (not that it was all that bad in the first place to be honest).

The upgrade blew up the PHP source though which I was a teency bit upset about – they’ve made rather major changes for a point-release in my opinion. Thankfully they left a switch that we can use to flip it to not have these changes so everything works again and now I can work on fixing the code as per their new requirements before we flip the switch once more 😉 Atleast I can work on it on my own machine rather than on the live one :)

The site seems to have gone ballistic since the upgrade, we had about 3,000 more hits on Sunday than we normally get on a Sunday and today is looking to atleast match those differences, wow :)

Openfiction news will now officially be stored in the new Openfiction diary:

http://www.deardiary.net/show/diaries/openfiction

And ofcourse, the URL is:

http://www.openfiction.com/

Matt.