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Day Two: The Grindstone

07 Dec 2010

And so ends day two, the first day. Setting myself up to fail by setting a daily blog precedent. *arrgh*

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." - Douglas Adams

I can appreciate that people have extraordinarily justifiable frustrations. Lasso forms the fabric of many of our businesses - if it doesn't have our backs, we are left in the cold.

For years, I personally, as the first and thus lone tech guy at Treefrog, suffered from extraordinary stress related to server restarts. Rarely did a night or day go by that I wasn't restarting or pushing the power button or trying to figure out why the server was crashing all the time. Especially in the 5.x days, years ago - when we had dozens of servers cranking out TB's of data.

Leaky sockets still haunt my dreams.

Eventually I even moved the most troublesome servers to my house, into the basement, so I could stumble downstairs in the dark and restart macs when they cut out. My wife loved it. I remember spending tons of money on MasterSwitches - remember those? I remember tripping and falling in the dark, groping for the power button and then turning on a blinding computer screen and frantically trying to check for signs of life.

I have not forgotten the insulin rush after the cell-phone chime, letting me know it was back on.

I can remember visiting my parents (missionaries in Africa) many years ago - and not being able to enjoy myself, for fear a server would go down and I was too far away to fix it - and having to log in every few hours to check. I can remember going on safari (real safari, with lions and elephants, btw - not the fake Safari) and trying to call back to Treefrog to see if everything was OK.

A few years ago, the single largest issue plaguing Treefrog was server restarts. In fact - we chose to never release our product LEAP™ at the time to the Lasso community, as we feared the technical support recoil. Years and years of my own work, all unrealized for direct end-user product sales. Lost clients from crashes. Lost sleep from crashes. Lost opportunities from crashes.

Those of you suffering from these problems, I feel your pain, I assure you.

A few big things happened to alleviate my pain. One - Jono arrived at the door. Jono went through our code and identified some critical programming errors on our end (OK, I admit, my end). In addition, he found some remarkable issues with how I had set up MySQL (or failed to do so - what's an index?) and further issues with sloppy setup and coding on my part. The constant crashes started to subside - now they are practically non-existent, except in very specific cases. We were able to weed out the problems and cluster them into key problematic servers (usually with high email-broadcast needs). Most of my problems turned out to not be Lasso.

And, of course, Treefrog grew and now it's Jim, Jordon and Eric's problem. (Thanks, btw).

I am not suggesting - in the slightest - that these issues are everyone's issues, or that Lasso shouldn't just "handle" whatever comes it's way. Our high-yield servers still crash more than our php servers (though they sure get hacked less, and I sleep well for other reasons). That's just Treefrog's story.

However, I am determined that the new LassoSoft try and find solutions for everyone, to save them the crippling stress of server restarts, and let them go to the beach and not be shackled to the server pings.

Today we take another step towards excellence.

Fixing Listsearch is turning out to be a chore and a half, but we are struggling through. The Ubuntu install for 9 is roughed in, and undergoing testing. Our Lasso 8 bugs list - in my opinion - is incomplete, and needs attention (and I've asked the community for help on that).

We have a lot to do. And by god, we are going to do it.

Now if only the two-year-old would sleep through the night.
I wonder if I can get him to run on Lasso 9?

Sean Stephens
LassoSoft Inc.


by Alex Pilson, 09 December 2010

Your two year old is now your new server restart in the middle of the night. :) Great sum up that parallels my history as well.

by Dom, 08 December 2010

the feed of this blog opens up in Firefox but is rejected by Socialite, my feed reader ...

by Rick Draper, 08 December 2010

Excellent work, Sean. I see a parallel career as a writer but suspect you don't have a lot of spare time :-)

by Göran Törnquist, 08 December 2010

Absolutely. I feel your pain through my own experience. Vacation in Colombia means being off timezone and restarting websites during the night.

by Richard Taubo, 08 December 2010

All to familiar; beach trips, boat trips ... always happen then it seems. And the worst: The current outage always takes priority over more important things: "Honey The Machine is down! Yes, it is just a machine. And no, it is not more important than the family. Why it has first priority then? Well, I really don't know ..."
BTW Saw that your company supports -- looks like great work!
Thanks for updates!

by Marc Pope, 08 December 2010

"Now if only the two-year-old would sleep through the night. I wonder if I can get him to run on Lasso 9?"
Good luck with that, just like kids, Lasso 9 doesn't have documentation :)

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