A lot of new things on planet

published on November 19, 2010 by Tim.

There has happened a lot since the last entry on 18 August. I'm very glad that I don't have to deliver any bad messages this time, but only good ones. The longed for Archive Uploader has been finally finished, we got new servers, there is a help for the frequently asked questions now, the user area has been extended and the contact page has been revised.

There have already ran two new web servers for since 5 November. They also offer an additional plus for scalability next to a higher security of failure. The old web server which has taken on the task of load balancing and the delivery of the HTML pages of until now, had been installed new and has been started as a further image server. That's why there are three image server responsible for your images and their delivery now. On our about us page you can find some information about our system in detail.

The archive uploader - which a lot of users longed for - was switched from the closed beta phase to the live system. Now you have the opportunity to upload a lot of images at the same time. Three different modes are available for you. You can select between the upload from servers away or the upload of a package in which you have packed your images. You can choose already before the upload whether the images should be moved to a file which already exists or to a new created file. In addition to that, there exists the opportunity to send links per email.

The new contact page went online two weeks ago. We also offer the opportunity of the phone support around next to the familiar form for getting into contact with us. We are available for you from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On weekdays under 0800 PICLOAD. This number is free out of all German networks.

A help page with good advise has been ready since the middle of October so that you won't depend on our reaction time if you have some problems or questions about our service. We composed the frequently asked questions and answers on this page. The collection hasn't achieved completeness for a long time yet. Please understand that the search of the questions and answers which are really interesting takes some time. Especially articles around the user area are still absent but they will follow the next days.

In the user area, you have now the opportunity to export the links from selected images, whole files or all of your images as comfortable CSV data file. This function is available for you in the image list and the file administration.

Only yesterday, there has been integrated a special feature in the system. You can decide now for every file whether visitors of your file view can download all inclosed images as ZIP package. However, the preadjustment during the creation of the file forbids the download. You explicitly have to admit it. We are responsive with it to repeated desires of users.

There are still further new functions in development which will be finished the next days and will be available short spell later on our page.

So, enough from us...for now!

Autumnal regards from Schmalkalden wish
Markus and Tim

Blackout created big problems

published on August 18, 2010 by Markus.

A large-area blackout in the whole centre of Erfurt has created big problems for us as well on Monday, 16th August. A defective UPS-equipment in the data center of Keyweb AG was blamed for the fact that all our servers weren’t available.

The area of the inner city of Erfurt was suddenly without electricity on Monday 1.18 p.m.. Lights died down, tramway stood still and all servers of Erfurt’s data center went out shortly after the breakdown of the electricity supply. Construction works - which apparently went wrong - were the reason for the total failure.

The emergency current system of the third data center of Keyweb AG - where all our servers are situated - couldn’t come into action due to a defect of one of two available UPS-equipments. A total failure for hours resulted from that. The mains adapter of our main server was affected through the abrupt stop of the machines. It could be repared not until the late afternoon of 17th August because of the amount of servers which were affected by damages. A backup server limitedly assumed the services since 10.10 p.m..

The interconnection of our data base servers was interrupted through an unfortunate circumstance. That led to the fact that the data status of both master servers dispersed (inf. Split Brain). The texture of data wasn’t warranted anymore. The situation couldn’t promptly be recognized because of the monitoring server which failed due to the damage. The repair of the replication was very time-consuming. It has proved to be very difficult until some minutes ago. A self-developped tool will identify the data status in the following hours and - if necessary - adjust once more.

We will promptly inform about the current status of our equipment as well as about general information around through our Twitter account. It’s worth following us through Twitter.

We’d like to make a formal apology for the occured trouble and we hope you have understood the failure for hours.

So, that’s from us and the blackout.

With kind regards,
Markus & Tim

Simply changed

published on July 1, 2010 by Markus.

It’s almost two weeks ago since our entire data base replication laid down its service. The master suddenly started to jerk again two days ago. It simply forgot data bases although we have practically changed the whole servers’ hardware on 17th June.

I had an unpleasant feeling anyway because so appropriate hardware problems like a crashed CPU or RAM bar with defective sectores aren’t eventually available. If the mainboard doesn’t just like the network interface card, our hands will be tied. Driving to the computer centre every week to stroke the boxes- which temporary helps at least first-hand and also according to statements of one engineer in the computer centre- is no real solution for us.

We contacted again the kind ladies of the section “Distribution corporate client” already on 17th June to inform about current servers as substitute for the old data base servers. An offer- which we couldn’t quasi disapprove- was available on 24th June after some emails and telephone calls.

Our complete new data base cluster with recent hardware has run for two hours. An Intel Pentium Core2Quad Q6600 with 4 cores each 2,400 MHz and 4 GB RAM runs as Master. An Intel Pentium Core2Quad Q9300 with 4 cores each 2,500 MHz and 4 GB RAM even works in the slave. The bottlenecks were always during the calculation so far. That’s why we decided on thicker processors for both machines.

The announced optimization works have already produced first results. Meanwhile, our servers have more write than read accesses. That’s insofar good because our software is already able to satisfy more than 90% of all reading information retrievals out of the memcache memory. We can trap several information retrievals- which have directly gone to the data base until now- but there’s still no demand.

And now we’ll relax and curiously trace the computer monitor(ing) how the both new ones work on their first day in the toFOUR family.

Sunny regards from Thuringia,
Markus & Tim
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