Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Upgrade Complete

Tonight's upgrade is complete. Everything looks good so far. All interfaces are up and operational.

Y'all have fun!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

*** Upgrade Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 ***

SpotWalla.com will be upgraded on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 between 11PM and 1AM America/Chicago time. I don't anticipate the upgrade taking longer than 30 minutes, but if problems arise, it may take longer.

During the upgrade all system interfaces will be unavailable. The SPOT XML Interface will recover, but the Google Latitude and Yahoo! Fire Eagle interfaces will not recover lost messages since those interfaces don't maintain history. However, interface downtime will be minimized by upgrading and validating the interfaces first.

Security Updates

I'm really excited about this upgrade. As always, we are concerned about security and want to do everything we can to minimize your default exposure. In other words, SpotWalla shouldn't do anything that potentially exposes your location by default. Instead, you determine and configure your degree of exposure.

  • Location pages can be configured to show/hide usernames. This feature allows users to maintain some anonymity when joining public location pages.
  • Users will be able to choose which message types (e.g. Ok, Help, Custom and Tracking) update their location on location pages. For instance, if you use Ok messages to mark where you spend the night, you may not want to update your location on public location pages with that location.
  • Trips have always been public by default. Not anymore. By default all trips will be hidden (i.e. not shown in any home page searches). The user will have to explicitly make them public.

Usability Updates

SpotWalla is a highly configurable system. Most of the complexities are present because we want you to have complete control of your degree of exposure. Because of this, the configuration screens for trips, device security, etc can seem overwhelming. This upgrade doesn't eliminate any of the security options, but it does make some things easier.

  • The Google Maps API (GMAPI) Version 2 is now deprecated. All GMAPI customers are encouraged to port their applications to GMAPI Version 3. This version has made it easier behind the scenes, but as a user you shouldn't notice a huge difference.
  • As part of the GMAPI upgrade, a new traffic layer is now available in the trip viewer, embedded trips, location pages as well as the last location widget. Traffic information is not available in all areas or at all zoom levels. The traffic information displayed is current as of when the page was loaded. For more information on coverage areas see: Google Maps Traffic Coverage Area.
  • Trips now use track dots by default.
  • A zoom parameter has been added to the trip embedding functionality.
  • We've added support for the <label> HTML tag. This tag makes it easier to select checkbox and radio button elements in forms by allowing you to click anywhere on the text (or label) associated with the checkbox or radio button. In older versions of SpotWalla you had to click on the checkbox or radio button itself.
  • A Test Interface button has been added to the device's Interface screen. For SPOT and Google Latitude users, this button allows you to test the interface immediately. In older versions of SpotWalla you had to wait for the next polling interval to determine if the interface was configured properly.
  • Elevation data is now available for all locations in SpotWalla. We've added support for a new Google service that allows us to acquire elevation data for each location. A background process will run periodically and update a location's elevation. Preference will be given to new locations, but eventually all locations will be updated. Elevation data is viewable on the device's Browse screen and will be included in all downloads - GPX, KML and CSV.
  • Last location information has been added to the left pane of the trip viewer.
  • Users can now join a location page from the location viewer.
  • Create a secure zone while browsing a device's messages.

So this is what's in store for everyone after the upgrade on October 8th. I hope you find these updates useful.

Y'all have fun!

Friday, July 30, 2010

** SPOT Shared Page System Operational **

Not too long after the previous post the SPOT Shared Page system was back online. It appears as though everything is fully operational now.

** SPOT Shared Page System Down **

Sometime this evening around 6:20 PM America/Chicago time the SPOT shared page system went completely down and has rendered the XML Interface inoperable.

I'll post again when I know more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Million Messages!

SpotWalla reached a milestone today when the one-millionth location was acquired via the SPOT XML Interface at 17:46:31 America/Chicago time. The location originated from Billings, Montana USA.

Ya. I know. Small potatoes, but a milestone nonetheless. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SPOT Shared Page System Operational

SPOT's shared page systems came back online around 11:20 PM America/Chicago time last night. Given the number of locations that came through the interface, it appears all messages sent during the down time period were recovered.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

** SPOT Shared Page System Issue **

Sometime this evening around 8:00 PM America/Chicago time the SPOT shared page system is partially down and is no longer receiving new messages. Some of you have likely noticed this already. I noticed it when reviewing the interface statistics and saw that no new messages had been received. We're receiving old messages, but no new messages so the SpotWalla/SPOT interface is operational.

I called SPOT customer service. They are aware of the issue. I was told that they expect the systems to be back online and fully operational in the next couple of hours.

Y'all hang in there.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

** DOWNTIME ** Monday July 12th, 2010

SpotWalla will be down starting at 11:00 PM on Monday July 12th until 12:00 AM for a system/application upgrade. This upgrade will take longer than the ones before as we will be performing various system security updates as well as a database upgrade. And, of course, we'll update SpotWalla with these latest updates:
  • URL Security
  • Custom Message

Securing your location data is important. When enabled, the Last Known Location widget allows you to share your location with others. Embedded within the URL is an ID that identifies the device. Once this URL is exposed to the world on your blog or in a forum post or any other medium, your location has the potential of being compromised. This upgrade will allow you to generate a new ID/URL for the device thereby invalidating the previous URL. Conceivably, you could expose yourself to the world while you're on a trip and generate a new URL when you get back. If a web crawler or person saved your URL for later usage, it wouldn't work.

The functionality described above is also available for trips. Additionally, trip IDs are no longer sequential which will eliminate the ability of someone or something from snooping in a suspicious manner.

The Last Known Location widget, by default, displays an international stop sign when the last location falls within an active secure zone. Now you can configure each secure zone with a custom message that will be displayed instead of the international stop sign.

During this upgrade all SpotWalla interfaces will be down. SPOT devices will recover missed messages when SpotWalla comes back online. Since the Google Latitude and Yahoo! Fire Eagle device interfaces do not provide location history, these devices will not recover missing locations sent during this upgrade.

I don't anticipate the upgrade will take longer than 30 minutes, but if problems arise the upgrade may take the full hour. I'll post here on the blog when the upgrade is complete.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

** DOWNTIME ** Monday June 14, 2010

SpotWalla will not be available between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM America/Chicago time Monday June 14th for a minor system upgrade. If everything goes well, the system should be back up within 15 minutes, but a periodic and brief outage may occur during the downtime period if problems arise.

The message interfaces will not be operational during the upgrade, but will resume immediately afterward. SPOT users needn't be concerned about losing location data as the interface will automatically catch up. Google Latitude users may lose one or two locations depending upon how long the upgrade takes.

The upgrade includes fixes to some minor issues, but also includes:

  • Yahoo! Fire Eagle Support - That's right. It's back! In an effort to support even more devices, SpotWalla once again supports the Fire Eagle interface. For SPOT users, we still recommend using the SPOT XML Interface since it provides much more information about your location than Fire Eagle is designed to provide. For users with other devices, though, Fire Eagle may be the wise choice. Once the upgrade is complete, you may read more about the Fire Eagle interface here: Message Interfaces.
  • You now have a choice on which icon is used to mark each location type (e.g. OK, Help, Custom and Tracking) on a trip. Normally, each location is marked using a numbered, colored flag. Now you can choose to display a smaller, simpler colored dot. This will help unclutter larger trips and, depending upon how you configure your trip, make it easier to see different location types. When the upgrade is complete, you may read more about these new options here: Creating & Updating Trips.
Y'all enjoy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SPOT Shared Page System Operational

As of around 12:20PM America/Chicago the SPOT Shared Page System is operational.

SPOT Shared Page System Down

The SPOT shared page system has been down since a little after 10AM America/Chicago time. This system serves all shared page requests and is at the heart of SpotWalla's XML Interface. Until SPOT rectifies the issue and the system comes online again, the XML interface will be down. At this point I don't know what the issue is nor do I have an ETA on when it will be fixed.

More news as it becomes available.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

** DOWNTIME ** Monday May 24, 2010

SpotWalla will not be available between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM America/Chicago time Monday May 24th for a minor system upgrade. If everything goes well, the system should be back up within 15 minutes, but a periodic and brief outage may occur during the downtime period if problems arise.

The message interfaces will not be affected and will remain operational.

The upgrade includes fixes to some minor issues, but also includes:

  • We've finally cracked the code on how to layer locations on the map. This allows us to give precedence to certain message/location types so they appear on top of other locations. This will come in handy when looking for a particular message type like Ok, Custom or Help among large clusters of locations. When the upgrade is complete Help and Last Location locations will be given the highest precedence. OK and Custom messages will have the next highest precedence. All other locations will retain their default precedence.
  • The device's last location widget has been enhanced with a new format parameter which controls how the last location is displayed. When set to text the information will appear as simple text. When set to anything else the information will appear on a map. When the upgrade is complete you may click the following link for more information: Last Location Widget
  • We've added finer control options to the Days of History list selection when viewing and embedding trips. Now you'll be able to choose the last 2, 4, 8 or 16 hours in addition to the usual choices.

Y'all enjoy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

** Upgrade Complete

The upgrade went well and is complete. Here are some things you'll notice...
  • Multiple Secure Zones
  • Full-screen trip and location page viewing
  • Donations
If your device was secured prior to the upgrade, that information was used to create a secure zone. For more information on secure zones refer to this help section: Secure Zones The trip and location viewers are now "full-screen". To get the full affect, set your web browser to full-screen mode and view trips and location pages like you've never seen them. A lot of you have been asking about this for a while now... After working out some issues and getting a few questions answered, SpotWalla is now accepting donations to help support infrastructure costs like web hosting services. For more information see this help section: Making a Donation Y'all have fun!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

** DOWNTIME ** Monday May 3rd, 2010

SpotWalla will not be available between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM America/Chicago time Monday May 3rd for a minor system upgrade. If everything goes well, the system should be back up within 15 minutes, but a periodic and brief outage may occur during the downtime period. Message interfaces will not be affected and remain operational. The upgrade includes fixes to some minor issues, but the highlight of this upgrade is multiple secure zone support. This version extends device home location security to multiple zones per device. That's right. You may now define zero or more secure zones for each device in your account. This allows you to secure not only your home, but your place of work, a secret vacation spot, Grandma's house or any other region you choose. Additionally, you may turn off secure zones for any trip. This allows you to create a private trip and share your locations (even those that fall within an active secure zone) with your closest friends and family.