Monthly Archives: April 2003

Afternoon Off

After our fourth outage in as many days as we scrambled to get Recipezaar’s new hardware and new cache architecture working, we were about to throw in the towel we were so fed up. Finally Troy discovered the dumb permissions problem causing this last error and Recipezaar was running again, but the owners hit the wall. We took the afternoon off, took a nap, had dinner at an outside restaurant (see Troy’s blog) and watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — review to come, the old kids fell asleep watching it.

iTunes

One day after Apple introduced their music service and iTunes 4, Monster.com posts a job at Apple for a software developer to work on iTunes for Windows. Apple is going to do for music what they did for WiFi, GUIs, ease-of-use, etc.

Dinner excitement

Being tired from the late nights and stressful days, we went to La Playa (mexican) for dinner, which is right next to the ferry pier, and sat outside watching the ferries float by. One (of the 2) cops on the island drove up the pier, parked, got out, walked to another car, tapped on the window, asked the driver to get out, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the police car. Then another cop. They took pictures of the car and then they took pictures of the guy. Then an ambulance, two fire cars and then a big fire truck drove up. The guy was unhandcuffed, the medics took care of him. Then another ambulance drove up. Out came a stretcher, the guy got a neck brace and was put on the stretcher and put in the second ambulance. This is odd on Vashon, by the way. A bystander told us that the windshield and/or front window were smashed. Seems like the guy was in a hit-and-run accident.

I need a vacation.

Alexa

Another jump in Alexa. Up to 9,150. I hate to say it, but I enjoy that our biggest competitor, AllRecipes, is consistently falling in the same ranking. $20 million in debt and still losing $4 million/yr, AllRecipes should be humbled, but they are less than the nicest people in this biz and they’ve even tried to flex their muscle against us with copyright violation claims on recipes they stole from other people. I also think it’s funny that we’ve had more than one employee of theirs call us asking for a job. :-)

Long day

After the longest outage in Recipezaar history (almost 4 hours), Gay & I just got back from downtown Seattle after installing another new machine with a 120GB hard drive. This should be enough for the new caching system (for now). In case anyone doesn’t know, standing in a loud server room with the air conditioning blasting so much you get a headache from the cold, cramped between rack cases and no chair in sight is not a fun place to spend a few hours.

Since we had some time before the next ferry home, we stopped at a brewpub we discovered weeks ago in West Seattle. They have a really good Pale Ale that I really like and very good food for pub food. Beer is good. 5 minutes before the ferry left, we realized the time and bolted out the door and made the last few miles to the ferry dock in 4 minutes and was the last car on the ferry.

Quick fix

Our new caching mechanism is great, but it requires a huge amount of disk space. We ran out of space in 12 hours after first installing it. And this was on a Sunday, which is a very slow day for the site. We made a quick-and-dirty change to pull disk space from another server. We’ll see how long that lasts. In the meantime, we’re working on getting more hard disk space. Good thing hard drives are cheap.

Aaaaarrrrgggghhh!!!

To add to Gay’s analogy of running a 24/7 store, also imagine that you think your store is plenty big enough, your staff is sufficiently trained, the door is functioning at optimum performance in all your testing. You’ve planned and tested and you’ve been building stores for your entire professional life. Then you put the “Open” sign up and within minutes your store is completely filled with people, all wanting different things at the same time, your staff is overworked and asking for higher pay and more benefits. Unfortunately, you’re not taking in any revenue from all these customers (you’re a store-builder, not a business(wo)man).

It can be extremely frustrating at times. Part of you wants to just shut it all down and give up. But the other part of you sees it as a challenge and you refuse to be beaten and you just know that if you work that much harder, you sacrifice yet another day/weekend/social event, you will win.

I see dead people

My godmother Jean Craigen died last week. I have not been close to my godparents since I’ve been in high school, but my mother has been. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them both, and feel very sorry for Pat — I just don’t know what he’ll do without her. Jean was perhaps the nicest lady in the world and had a distinctive voice and cadence that I always adored. I would have missed work and traveled to the funeral Tuesday, but mom said if I could make my own peace with Jean’s death, then coming to provide support might be futile — I’d be lost in the sea of her admirers. I hope to make a more meaningful visit to Pat later this year, and I’m glad she was well-remembered and loved.
Several other people have died…
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Now I know how eBay feels

Running a store that customers enter during business hours is difficult. Try running one that is open 24 hours a day, which can fill up or the doors just arbitrarily jam so no one can get in — sometimes not even you. Oh, and it is mostly obscured what the heck is going on at a given moment. Try as you might to work all weekend and improve “door” and “product” performance…sometimes you go through severe growing pains…and the people who visit your store (for free) will complain, but more than anything you get frustrated with yourself for not being able to fix it.

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