Awasu » 2007 » September
Saturday 8th September 2007 3:38 AM [General]

Amen to that, brother :clap:

The most satisfying thing in programming for me is still making a physical LED blink. It never gets old for me.

It might sound a bit facetious but there's actually a lot of truth in that remark. It's about getting the computer to do cool things [1][2].

The recent upgrade of Awasu's feed updating engine is a case in point. There wasn't really much of a business case [3] to spend all that time and effort getting your feeds to update faster (most people don't have so many that it would make a huge amount of difference) but the way it was done was Seriously Cool (from a programmers' point of view) and I'm really pleased with it, not to mention how insanely quicker it is 🙂

And doing cool stuff like this certainly beats working at a bank or consultancy. A friend of mine has just taken a new consulting gig at a company where the main graphic on their home page is, I kid you not, a bunch of guys, decked out with corporate baseball caps, in a boat, all rowing together :hysterical: I have to ring him later today to find out just what the hell he was thinking :whistle:

Anyway, can you tell I'm procrastinating? I'm sick as a dog so no woodshed for me today but since there's a bit of time pressure for the next release to be pushed out, I'm settling in for a marathon coding session. Sigh... :whip:

[1] Your definition of "cool" may differ 🙄
[2] And lest you think turning an LED on and off is trivial, you should know that das blinkenlights have an important place in the history of computer hardware.
[3] This is not quite true. Awasu Server may be updating thousands of feeds so a faster, more efficient feed engine is very useful here. Awasu Server is still in an experimental stage but this is the business case I presented to rationalize justify this change 🙂

Thursday 6th September 2007 9:36 AM [Awasu News]

The first 2.3.2 alpha release [?] is now available here.

This was a particularly tough release since it involved a major upgrade of Awasu's feed updating engine, a very complicated and high-risk change. There were two mysterious problems along the way where Awasu would simply disappear, and even when running in a debugger, the process would just silently die with no clue as to what had happened. Fortunately (?), both of these turned out to be caused by something else [1] but combined with some other bizarre, impossible-to-reproduce problems and general difficulties with testing, I was ready to give up and back out the changes.

But I'm glad I didn't because this new version now updates channels a whopping 2-5 times faster than before! How much of a speed-up you see depends on your PC, internet connection and which edition of Awasu you are running but Personal Edition users will be pleased to know that they will see the most improvement. Single-core systems also seem to benefit more than multi-core [2].

A couple of other optimizations and bug fixes make this release a real pleasure to use. Alpha2 will be out fairly quickly so get yourself set up with this one and have fun 🙂

[1] One of these problems has already been fixed, the other will be in the next release.
[2] One of the fun things about writing high-performance code like this is trying to predict how it will perform under both heavy load and real-life situations, testing it and then seeing how completely and utterly wrong you were 🙄