Why Basenotes is rubbish lately
by, 20th January 2008 at 11:07 PM (19314 Views)
AKA - where are the marketplace bits in the directory, AKA - why is it offline for hours at a time, AKA - why do I have to log into see the review now, AKA - why is something happening that is really quite annoying...
Anybody that visits the site often will have come across an occasion in the last few months where the site unavailable. This is frustrating for us, so we guess it must be frustrating for you too. Here's what is happening.
The main culprit is the scripts that run the directory. These were coded by myself (based heavily on an application called flattext) back in 2001. I'm a self-taught perl coder, so I kind of made it up as I went along.
How the script works is that when you look at the page for Angel, it looks through 11,000 fragrances to find the stuff to do with Angel. It then looks through 30,000 reviews to find the Angel ones. For those of you who know anything about coding, to have to do this everytime someone looks at a page is pretty inefficient. So why did I write it like this? Well, back in 2001 we had 900 fragrances to look through, and about 300 reviews. Plus we had around 100-200 visitors a day, so there wasn't too much strain.
Over December we were getting about 130,000 page views a day. So the server was getting a bit of a kicking due to my bad coding.
I first thought we might start getting problems last February, and so began recoding six years worth of code. By the middle of the year it was becoming apparent something wasn't working, as we were crashing fairly regularly. Traffic had been increasing regularly after winning a major industry award in Canada, and being featured in the NYT. Being not overly technical, I thought the problem was due to my then hosts.
I then took the decision to move hosting to a different company, paying for a slightly more high-tech server. This started off well, until we started getting busier over the holiday period.
The culprit, as I now know, was not the hosting, but my old code. And since then various measures have been put in place to try and minimise the crashes.
As I said, I'm recoding the whole thing to make it more efficient. I don't know how much longer it will take. In the meantime, the directory will have to come down again until it is resolved (I can't work properly on the code unless I can access the site).
The other option is to pay for more powerful machines to run the site on. The quote we received from our hosts (and others) is about the same as what I pay for my house rent each month, which is just too much right now.
We're entering our eighth year online, and ideally would like Basenotes to grow into something really special. We've got some really great ideas we just haven't been able to implement as throughout 2007 we spent the whole time just trying to keep things ticking over.
I'll keep you informed as to progress.
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