Now accepting subscribers

At this point, I have a rather small audience following my posts.  I’d love to grow that number and create some more interactions between my posts.  This is why, today, I have added the ability to subscribe to my blog by email and through Facebook Subscriptions, a new feature which they released this week.

My posts are often written in such a way to entice feedback and create a discussion.  I am hoping to expand on that with subscribers as I move forward with my work / research.

 

Algorithms vs the world

[EDIT: For some odd reason, WordPress decided it wanted to delete the rest of this post… so here’s to writing it again]

Haven’t you ever told yourself while in school : “I won’t ever use this again, why am I learning this?”.  Well I do all the time, being that I am fresh out of university, those are still thoughts that continue to come to me. However, recently I’ve discovered that I am beginning to use concepts learned in school in order to adapt them to real world scenarios.  More importantly, I am using algorithms.  There are two algorithms I am using primarily these days, that revolve around Tree Structures and Statistics (as in that really confusing class you need to take when enrolled in Computer Science).

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One month of Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing’s launch on September 13th 2011 has been quite exciting.  Since the launch, we’ve witnessed over 1.1m eyeballs.  Scaling had its own set of complications, of which we all managed to resolve in a relatively good order.  In the first days of launching, we achieved some interesting numbers, perhaps not comparable to what companies like Zynga achieve, but great nonetheless.  We’ve been consistently growing since the launch, averaging over 20k installs per day.  Over a million wall posts made and invites sent.  However, the stats of the game and interactions aren’t what I’d particularily like to focus on, rather, I’d like to look into the challenges we’ve encourtered.

For launch, our original analysis of the servers indicated we could support at least 100k DAU.  Such seemed to be reasonable based on the dozens of tests made.  However, what we had issues with the most were bursts of traffic.  Some bursts of traffic had enough traffic that would equate to around 600k DAU.  As such, it lead to some rather interesting effects on the servers, making it hard for them to stay up or chugging along at a normal rate.  This was our biggest problem since the launch of the game, which we resolved by setting up a proper database setup to properly replicate and manage the load over multiple nodes.

On October 1st, Facebook turned on forced HTTPS support.  We use Zeus Traffic to balance our traffic, which made this migration simple, by sending the HTTPS traffic to it, decrypting it, sending it back to the web nodes and then back to the client encrypted again.  This meant that no changes were made to our server side code to support HTTPS.  We did have to change some things on the client side to support it, but it was a rather simple set of commands, which replaced all instances of HTTP with HTTPS when in secure mode.

Since the launch, our databases have registered over 15b queries and stored over 25GB worth of data.  Such has caused some rethinking about how data would be stored, how indexes would be generated, and how we run some of our queries throughout the platform.  In some cases, we have managed to cut 80% of stored data size (including indexes) and managed to cut the number of queries by 75%.  These have been particularily interesting challenges, as it would have to be done in such a way as to not effect current players and limit downtime.

Although the game has been running smoothly for the past few weeks, the problems are now ones that are to be addressed with data.   Data is always something I’ve loved and could never really get enough of, but the problems for me have always been finding a properly indexable way of storing and querying this data.  Such a goal was accomplished by our platform and has given us more than enough data on our users, now the problem lies in making software to analyse this data in order to make reacting more efficient.

The Email Authority

It’s been a while since I’ve tinkered with sending authenticated emails.  Recently, I’ve been tasked with doing just that in order to decrease chances of emails landing into spam box.  Integrating DKIM has become surprisingly easy to what I have done some 5 years ago with cy-Mall.  What has surprised me even more are the tools available to validate the authentication of the emails sent.  I was able to validate my emails’ spf, domainkeys, and dkim with some detailed information to help me debug.

I am very happy to report that all my emails going out are DKIM and SPF validated, where I have found DomainKey to be reduntant.  DomainKeys do not seem to be supported by the majority of top email providers, their signature being nearly identical to DKIM (except that only headers are signed).  Email providers are now reporting my emails to be whitelisted and have followed up with those email providers to ensure everything was done to remain on their whitelists.

With all that said and done, one lingering question remains.  Why does ICANN not provide more options to cut down on spam and ensure the validaty of emails.  Its been said that the majority of emails going through the internet today are spam.  After going through setting up DNS entries for DomainKeys, DKIM and SPF, makes me wonder why they aren’t setup by default.  Beyond that, provide additional settings to force signed emails from that domain or have email providers reject non-signed emails.  This could very well help with cutting down phishing, who like to send emails (or make it seem like they do) from other domains.

Perhaps a crazy idea, but wonder what stops them from doing it.

New chrome bezels and UPS frustrations.

Firstly, I have to say, as much as I love my Camaro, the one thing I wished Chevrolet would have done is get rid of all the plastic.  However there are solutions in doing that, but will require you to look around or spend a few extra bucks.

In my case, I was really looking for ways to get rid of the flat black plastic bezels on my Camaro.  At first I didn’t think they looked too bad, but it has become more and more of an annoyance to me since changing to chromed rims (which I love by the way!).  I bought a set of chromed bezels from carid.com, supplied by Defender Worx.

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Internal launch? You don’t say!

I’ve gotta say, the past few weeks have been tough, but exciting all the way through.  The questions we’ve asked ourselves were how to be innovative, but fun at the same time.  Often that is a mix that doesn’t go well together, which has lead to a lot of work massaging the user experience and making the game fun.

I still can’t quite tell what this game is, but I can assure you, it will all be known in a matter of days as we await the final word from our partners. I can’t wait to blog and write about this game.  By far one of our greatest games, the technology under the hood is very unique and the game mechanics are ones you’ve never seen in a social game before.

In the meantime, enjoy an image of squirrels being annoying around some golfers attempting to make their putt.

After Day 1 of Camaro Homecoming

I must say, I was shocked at the event’s first day.  It was nothing short of amazing.

The event started at 9:00 am that morning, yet I was there at 9:05 am, thinking I was early.  But, upon arriving at the event, I was in a line of about 20 Camaros, waiting to go through registration.  As I got out and walked towards the registration tent, I noticed a few hundred more Camaros already parked in the mosaic formation.  I rushed along to get my papers taken care of, went back to my car to get in line to park my car in the formation.  As I was driving along, I was greeted by GM Employees, event organizers and police, all seeming to be thrilled to be a part of something so big and full of energy.

 

Upon placing my car (near the very back of the formation), I got out to great my fellow Camaro owners and ask about their drive.  A few of them from Quebec, though a large portion of those around me were from the US, particularly Indiana.   I then buffed my car a little, since it was quite dusty there and I had driven in a puddle along the way.  It must be perfect you know. Continue reading…

First day of the Camaro Homecoming

I’ve been looking forward to this event quite some time.  I have spent the better part of the past few days cleaning and polishing every inch of my car.  Boy is it ever shiny!   I can’t imagine what the event will be like, but coming home after work yesterday has basically left me in shock, driving by Camaros at nearly every intersection, some sounding so godly that makes mine sound like some mediocre4 banger.

Nonetheless, here is my car, ready to go out and meet hundreds more of its brothers and sisters, at the Camaro Homecoming, hosted across the street from where the Camaro is built.