We license a vendor’s services for corporate information, like annual revenue and office locations. Their name shall be kept confidential in this story.
We access their API via http calls. They call it a REST API. But like 95% of the “REST” APIs in the world, it’s not REST at all, and in fact nowhere near REST. The term “REST” has
been corrupted to be become synonymous with, “web API”.
But whatever. It’s an API accessed with http calls.
One of service calls has a parameter called, “countryCode”, which was documented as an ISO 3166 country code.
My friend Kirk has run his dev team in a mostly Agile system. Code sprints, agreeing on tickets for the sprint, declaring victory at the end of the sprint, etc.
But now Kirk’s boss says:
I need you to commit to achieve certain goals by various dates over the next year. Once you agree to them, you need to commit to delivering them on time.
How is this situation silly? Let me count the ways…
A friend, whom I’ll call “Kirk,” works in a startup. A really good developer, whom I’ll call “Amy,” reports to him.
Kirk lobbied his boss for a big raise for Amy. He thought about this the right way:
I’ve researched the current market rates for developers of Amy’s level and abilities. She’s very good, she’s worked hard for us, and I expect great things from her this year. The plan calls for raising her salary to $X, But I suggest we raise her salary to $(X + n) because that’s the going salary for someone like her in this area.
Kirk’s boss thought about it the wrong way:
A raise to $(X + n/2) would be better. It’ll be a large increase over her current salary.
He explained that I experienced a bug in their dynamic image configuration. When you instantiate a VM, a number of things happen behind the scenes to the base server image. It’s not as simple as copying a directory tree from A to B. A bug was introduced into their code, and they caught the bug and fixed it, but not before it bit some users.
So, Rackspace didn’t intentionally change the server image this time. I apologize for drawing that conclusion.
My November 2011 post about mutating server bits is still correct. We talked about Rackspace’s challenge in balancing “simplicity of use” vs. “power users’ information needs” when a server image changes.
Once again, Rackspace has changed the contents of an already-published server image without any notice to its users.
22 days ago, I provisioned a staging system with Ubuntu 11.10. In upgrading from 11.04, I had the typical difficulties — e.g., removing 11.04 package workarounds, and upgrading some software that we built from sources. When I finished, my Fabric script provisioned my 11.10 servers, and I wouldn’t have to futz with it again until we advanced to Ubuntu 12.04.
So imagine my surprise when I tried re-provisioning our staging system yesterday, and the script threw an oddball installation failure for PostgreSQL, and all the servers had oddball network flakiness.
Daylight Saving Time is a gimmick and a crock and flipping stupid and I hate it.
Personality cults are odd. At a conference, I see this most often in the backchannels. Like on Twitter. If Fred tweets XYZ, it probably won’t be RT’d; and if it is, it’ll be RT’d at most twice. But if a community cognoscenti tweets the same thing, it’s RT’d 18 times as a gem of profound wisdom. That this phenomenon is so obvious only adds to its oddness.
Rackspace changed their Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty) server image without telling their customers. Our installation scripts unexpectedly broke. In the cloud, the rug can be pulled out from underneath you without warning, even in a very simple setup.
Rackspace has generally been a very good hosting provider. My only significant complaint is with their cloud administrative dashboard — it’s slow, clunky, and often hangs. But we’ve learned to live with it.
When we upgraded from Ubuntu 10.10 to 11.04, we had some typical upgrade pain with our Operations scripts. We had to remove some 10.10 package workarounds, and we switched some software from source builds to packages, because the 11.04 repository’s version was now acceptable.
We got past all that, and moved our systems to 11.04. Since then, re-building servers meant selecting Ubuntu 11.04 as the server image, running our Fabric scripts, and everything working predictably without surprises.
Until November 21…
How badly can you build and QA an application? If you’re WordPress, you can do a bang-up horrible job with your crap iPhone app. It changes titles, inserts and removes newlines, and applies other wonderful transforms to your blog’s posts at will.
It’s a pity Apple doesn’t allow negative stars in a review. The WordPress app is less than worthless.
Here’s another cautionary performance tale.
If you use Celery subtasks to manage parallel work, know going in that it uses spin-loops to monitor subtask progress. Specifically, if you get a TaskSetResult from a TaskSet and then use
join(), the underlying code will eat your CPU alive. Here’s the code in
It’s sad when an otherwise attractive FOSS project has zero documentation. I’m loathe to use code without documentation, no matter how simple it
seems to be is. By documentation, I mean installation instructions, reference usage examples, and complete (OK, I’ll take nearly complete) information about any turnable knob.
Today’s Undocumented Project Hall of Shame Exhibit A is Sunburnt. Its author describes its rationale in a blog post that practically had me salivating. I want to replace Lucene with Solr, but don’t want to leverage Django’s ORM to do it. Although Sunburnt sounded like the solution, its total documentation turned out to be a ~25-line readme. Good grief. It might be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I won’t touch it without docs that include a working example.
Seattle’s Portage Bay Cafe has the URL http://www.portagebaycafe.com/. This URL redirects you to http://www.portagebaycafe.com/Portage_Bay_Cafe/Seattle_Breakfast,_Brunch,_Lunch_%26_Catering__Portage_Bay_Cafe.html.
SEO “expert” madness! Can I get paid good money to give companies shitty advice?