Daily Static

Technology, Dynamic Programming and Entrepreneurship

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Thursday, April 28, 2005
Whacked out file server

So we have a file server that serves images and files for our web site at my work. It houses upward of fifty million images, and recently we have started to have serious problems with the machine. All of the sudden the box becomes unresponsive to network requests for 20 to 50 seconds. Initially we thought it was the virus scanner, but we've gone so far as to completely uninstall it, and the problems persist. Unfortunately the problems are highly erratic and we are having one helluva time trying to narrow it down. I finally ended up writing a python script that will randomly check for the existance of images so we can determine if the machine itself is bogging down during these outages or if it's related only to network traffic. I would be interested in moving the images all to a BSD box with a samba share and see if we have the same problems. Intermittant server problems are the worst! :(

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Be careful what you wish for

Well I've been wishing for harder problems to work on. Generally I don't come across too many problems at work that require a lot of brain bending effort to solve. Today one of the junior developers (juneys) was working on a problem that he's spent almost two days on. He talked to me a few times during the day about the problem, but he didn't seem to be making much headway, so I finally dropped what I was doing and went and helped him on this issue. It turns out the problem is a pretty interesting undirected graph. I spent maybe an hour working on it with him, at which point I decided this wasn't a good problem for him to tackle, and sent him packing. The joy of being a senior developer. :)

I'm getting ready to build a solution for the problem right now, which is unfortunately going to keep me from spending too much time on the Nested Sets implementation for Rails. I got some helpful feedback from Glen on the rubyonrails weblog that the blog isn't a support forum for rails, and that I should head over to the rails channel or to the mailing list. I did head to the irc channel, and someone finally suggested I search through the tickets for rails for the nested sets check in. I did exactly that and found some test cases. In any event this will give me some test code to work with. I am envisioning something a little easier to use and set up with the Nested Sets than the current incarnation though. Although as I work through the code, if I decide the current implementation is good I'll post a walk through on how to get it up and running. If nothing else, maybe I'll add an implementation for Transitive Closure tables. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Nested sets in rails 0.12.1

Nested sets are one of my very favorite structures. It is a structure that allows you to deal with arbitrarily deeply nested hierarchies. I saw with release 0.12 of rails that there was a new :acts_as_nested_set keyword in the model layer. I have spent the last two nights trying to get this code to work, and so far I haven't had any luck. Even if the code works as written, I think I'm going to try to get a better implementation in place. Having worked with this structure quite a bit, I'm pretty sure I can add a few things that will make it easier to work with and more powerful overall. Still I have to say I'm pretty impressed that there is *any* type of support for nested sets. Just one more item in a long list of items that have impressed me deeply with Ruby On Rails.