Monday, November 12, 2007

Launch Day

Launch at Oracle Open World

So a 24 hour period to be forgotten. I had this troubling bug, that I could not reproduce. Sometimes it would come up and sometimes it would not. It was Saturday night and I knew that I would be traveling all day Sunday. So I staged what I had and all I needed to do was to trip the DNS switch and we would be live.

I started the journey relaxing, reading this months Wired magazine. Then it came to me a possible cause of events that could reproduce the bug. I fired up my laptop and low and behold I could reproduce it. I knew that I had to be super careful, you know a last minute change. I spent the rest of the flight looking as ways of fixing it without actually changing any code.

I got to San Francisco with a plan but I had many, many things to do that night. Roughly they were

•Interview the street marketing team
•Pick up all the stuff (T-Shirts, flyers, business cards) for the give aways
•Fix the bug

I’ll talk about the marketing events in the next blog entry. So, I fixed the bug easily but then I was faced with a dilemma. So I stage it from my Laptop or do I push from the build server? Neither seem any easy choice. Was my laptop 100% setup with all the config information to push the live image, could I make the changes remotely and push on the build server?

After a couple of attempts (aka failures) I pushed the image from my laptop. It took 15 minutes or so and at last I thought I could take it easy. But I was wrong...

So what was the issue? By 1am (which by body was really saying 4am) I could not find a good reason why the code was failing to run when I ran it from my laptop on the hosted site at Amazon. I figured sleep would help.

4am I wake up, can’t sleep any longer. I try running it from a remote machine and it appears to work. Ok, then its an issue with my laptop. I add a few extra debug statement and finally narrow it down to an extra Firefox plug-in on my Laptop. It was failing when I upload a new archive. The archive got there Ok and was processed Ok, but an error was returned to the web client. Why was this different? Well is the only form in the Application that was doing an HTTP PUT, since the rest of the Application is Ajax then there were no other PUTs and GETs. The culprit? The Snap shots plug-in was mucking with the return of the HTTP GET.... grrrrrrrr.

So I thought that was the end. Then came my nightmare from DNS street. I switch the DNS entries as I had practiced. Not the best way to do this, but the easiest way... so I thought. As you know if takes time for DNS to propagate, but its pretty quick 5-10 minutes. So I switched at 8.45am. By 9am my browser on my Laptop was still pointing to the old static web page. By 9.15am it still was.... panic!

I tried my build server, and thank god it was pointing to the correct new hosted page. Figured it was a DNS propagation delay. I continue to check all day to find that my Laptop was still pointing at the old page. Holly shit I thought. Then I connected to a VPN end-point that configured DNS and vola! I could now see the hosted web page. The problem? Using the Hotel’s ISP, there was no auto-config of DNS so my laptop was using the cached entry pointing to the old IP. Once the laptop connected to a DNS server, then it got the new IP and resolved correctly.

I think I aged 10 years in those 24 hours...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finishing Line?

Are we there yet?

So the finish line, or is it the start? I’m too tired to answer but happy to get to Oracle Open World and let Joe Public answer the question. So where’s the scores on the doors? Well the good news is this is what did get done! Some amazing work was done by Dave T to put this through its paces!

It feels impressive, but really does not fell like all the late nights, lattes and other nocturnal behavior. It came down to the following

•7116 lines of Java code the the UI
•9354 lines of Java code for the Server
•2382 lines of documentation

UI running on EC2
The UI look peachy, hear seen with the EC2 instances up and running... and I did get a lot done.


But alas, there is also the wall of shame, just those things that I just was never going to get to... I especially liked the “Zoro all todo’s” a callback to older coding days gone by!

Wall of shame

Like Apollo 13, here’s my final, final check list to remember to do before launch on Monday morning... don’t forget, rocket goes bang etc.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Private Beta Begins

So what are friends for after all...

So I roped up a bunch of esteemed friends and former colleagues to bash the site and give feedback... after 24 hours of battling a timing bug in the systems, that was just very painful to reproduce, I opened the gates. God help me.

Only 4 days, 1 hour and 39 minutes left to go...

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Marketing begins

Oracle Open World is just a week away...

shapeimage_1-4.jpgSo marketing is in full force. Thanks to the totally awesome folks at jakprints, we have T-Shirts, Flyers and Business cards on their way to San Francisco... as fine sample is above!

The craigslist ad have been posted for auditions for the gorilla marketing team. And boy what a Heinz-57 they turned out to be. All the way from a “well preserved hippie from the 60’s with beads” (his words) to Hooters girls and extra from the Exotic Erotic Ball. Auditioning will be hell! The attack plan still need to be finalized with what exactly they are going to do. But they have 1000 flyers to last 3 days!

Hosted drinks will be at the W Hotel on Wednesday 14th November at 5.30pm.

And finally, the marketing machine burst out their first email marketing campaign... curtsey of MaxBulk Mailer.