Sunday, April 02, 2006

A face that could kill the Kraken

So last night co-founder Tai and I were sitting in the room we put our servers - not where our new Web server is, but where it used to be when it was the test server in the room between our bedrooms, though now it's the production server and it's sitting in a rack somewhere in the Melbourne CBD - you still folllowing? We're sitting there, and I'm wearing a look on my face that says death. Death, it says. Much death, in horrible and unspeakable ways. It's a look that visibly frightens Tai, who desperately tries to stave off the doom emanating from my very features by fixing the problems that have suddenly cropped up with our server on the first weekend of the new AFL season. FanFooty is down (and by extension, the three other sites on the server, including Tinfinger).

I have a certain attitude about downtime. I hate it with the burning passion of a thousand suns. If my will was done, I would not just have four nines availability, not five nines, not a million nines. Not even an infinity of nines. Not, and for this you will have to accept my word as to the depth of my feeling on this topic, even 100% availability. If 'twere physically possible, I would strive for servers over which I have some control to record figures for availability that exceed 100%. Hopefully investigations into quantum physics, string theory and TOEs will yield a solution that shall deliver me such an intensely desired outcome.

Back to the problem at hand. It is only under pressure that you find out how good you are at what you do, I have found. We were in the two-minute drill, the hurry-up offence. We had to make every post a winner. Mostly, we had to find out what the hell was wrong with the server. Pure traffic spiking was certainly one strong contender as the culprit, seeing as the second game of the AFL season was in session. Our live fantasy scoring service at FanFooty was server-intensive enough at our old shared server last season, crashing it regularly enough to cause many strongly-worded missives to flow from the host's sysadmin. We thought the hardware specs were more than enough to handle it, but perhaps our RedHat 9 implementation wasn't tight enough, nor our Apache footprint lean enough. Perhaps the sendmail install was the issue, something I was very wary of given the likelihood of an unprotected server on the Intarwebs being used as a spam relay.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I won't reveal the intervening events, but suffice it to say that the end result is that one of us (meaning the ever-suffering Tai) has to make the trek up the Princes Highway to rescue our poor little boxen from the ravages of the unfeeling Vandal horde.

All we have gained is a slightly greater knowledge of the extent of our ignorance, and in the world of the amateurs of Web 2.0, I guess this is as much as can be hoped for. The vast, featureless void containing all wisdom as yet unseen by our feeble minds yawns in front of us, unmoved by our insignificant presence.

Onto far more important matters. The 2Web crew have been cold shouldering me, apparently because I once dissed one of their homies. I laid down some phat rhymes as my application but no play, playa. I'm listening to rage as I write this, and the words of Ice T resonate with this damn fool.

You think you've made it, you're just a lucky man
Guess who controls your destiny, fans
But you diss 'em cos you think you're a star
That attitude is rude, you won't get far
Cos they'll turn on you quick, you'll drop like a brick
Unemployment's where you'll sit
No friends cos you dissed 'em too
No money, no crew, you're through
You played yourself...
That's right, you played yourself...
You played yourself...
Yo, yo, you played yourself...


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