Thursday, December 8, 2011

And we're up again just as soon as I posted the previous message. !@!$%$^&%#$!! Figures. :)
Just received a notice from RackSpaceCloud...
Hello Jason,

This message is to inform you that the host server
your Cloud Server is on requires a chassis swap. To 
protect your data and maintain maxiumum uptime we 
are currently replacing the host server with a 
different server. Once the host server has been 
swapped we will bring your Cloud Server back online. 
You will be notified once this has taken place.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may 
have caused you....

So spotwalla.com will be down until it's up again. :)

During the downtime period Google Latitude devices will not recover location data sent during the downtime period. All SPOT devices will recover messages that were sent during the downtime period.

Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

*** Upgrade Monday January 16, 2012 ***

SpotWalla.com will be upgraded on Monday, January 16, 2012 between the hours of 11:00PM and 1:00AM America/Chicago time. I don't anticipate this upgrade will take long - perhaps 30 minutes or less. Of course, if issues arise, it may take longer.

Here's what's in store for this upgrade:

  • A new polling scheme will be used for all SPOT devices. The new scheme will allow those devices that are active to be polled every 10 minutes for new messages. The longer a device is inactive, the longer its polling interval becomes.
  • You will be able to associate two picture URLs with any location - one URL to a small, thumbnail picture and another URL to a larger version. This will allow your trip, location, widget and family viewers to see pictures along the way.
  • In addition to speed data, SpotWalla will now calculate each location's bearing from the previous location.

New Polling Scheme

So I'm excited about the new polling scheme for SPOT devices which will allow active devices to be polled at 10-minute intervals. The longer a device is inactive, the longer its polling interval becomes. For the purpose of this discussion an active device is one with new messages. An inactive device is one without new messages.

There are five different polling intervals:

  1. 10-minute: This is the polling interval for active devices. When a device in this polling interval is inactive for 24 intervals (~240 minutes), it moves down to the 20-minute polling interval.
  2. 20-minute: Devices in this polling interval are polled every 20 minutes. When a device in this interval is inactive for 10 intervals (~200 minutes), it moves down to the 30-minute polling interval. When a device in this polling interval becomes active, it moves up to the 10-minute polling interval.
  3. 30-minute: Devices in this polling interval are polled every 30 minutes. When a device in this interval is inactive for 12 intervals (~360 minutes), it moves down to the 40-minute polling interval. When a device in this polling interval becomes active, it moves up to the 10-minute polling interval.
  4. 40-minute: Devices in this polling interval are polled every 40 minutes. When a device in this interval is inactive for 16 intervals (~640 minutes), it moves down to the 60-minute polling interval. When a device in this polling interval becomes active, it moves up to the 10-minute polling interval.
  5. 60-minute: Devices in this polling interval are polled every 60 minutes until they become active and move up to the 10-minute polling interval.

Whenever a device's configuration is changed in SpotWalla, the device moves into the 10-minute polling period.

Locations & Pictures

You can associate two picture URLs with each location. A small, thumbnail picture URL such as this:

http://nankoweap.smugmug.com/photos/563692802_ZUTpc-200x200.jpg

And a URL to another bigger picture such as this:

http://nankoweap.smugmug.com/photos/563692802_ZUTpc-XL.jpg

When a location on a map has associated picture URLs, two things happen. First, a small camera icon appears next to the location. Second, the small picture is displayed in the pop-up window when the viewer clicks the icon. If the small picture is clicked in the pop-up window, the larger picture is displayed in a new window/tab.

It's important to note that, at least at this point, SpotWalla is not storing your photos. This functionality simply allows you to associate images that you've stored somewhere on the web with your locations. You can store the photos anywhere, but we're fans of the good folks at SmugMug.com.

Location Bearing

A location's bearing is essentially your direction of travel. It's measured in degrees from true north and will be a value between 0° and 359°. It's measured by drawing a line between the current and previous locations and measuring the angle of that line from true north - think of a line that runs straight up and down from the north pole to the south pole. The bearing calculation also has a directional component that helps identify the North, East, South, and West direction. For instance, if you're traveling straight north, your bearing will read 0° N. If you're traveling in a south westerly direction, your bearing may be 225° SW.

Bearings calculations, like speed calculations, are performed at some point after the message arrives in SpotWalla. The time required to perform the calculation could take as little as a few seconds or as long as 15 minutes. For the next 30 or so days, SpotWalla will be making historical bearing calculations on the 4 million plus messages that already exist in the system. So please be patient while this process churns through the data.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Upgrade Complete

Tonight's upgrade went well and all interfaces are currently coming back online. SpotWalla will be fully operational within the hour.

This upgrade took a lot longer than in the past. I appreciate your patience. Thanks.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

*** Upgrade Monday August 8th, 2011 ***

SpotWalla.com will be upgraded Monday August 8th, 2011 at 19:00 America/Chicago time. All interfaces will be disabled during the downtime. When the system comes back online, all SPOT devices will recover missed messages. All Google Latitude devices will not recover missed messages.

So, here's what's happening with this upgrade:
  • The Fire Eagle interface will be officially retired. I haven't seen any evidence that Yahoo! is actively supporting Fire Eagle as they have in the past. Because of this and given the miniscule number of Fire Eagle devices in SpotWalla, I've decided to disable the interface.
  • You will be able to import location data in GPX format to any SpotWalla device.
  • SpotWalla will calculate speed data for all locations. Speeds are calculated in Miles per Hour, Kilometers per Hour and Knots. Since the speed data doesn't originate from the device, the calculated speed is just an approximation and should not be considered accurate. However, it can be used to demonstrate movement to those watching your trips. You can choose to share speed data with others on a trip by trip basis. By default, speed data is not shared with others.
  • The database has grown a great deal over the past year alone. The upgrade will apply some optimizations and restructure certain tables in order to ensure SpotWalla remains highly optimized and has the capacity to grow in the future.
Due to the time required to optimize and restructure the database, SpotWalla.com will be down for at least one hour, but it could take longer. Y'all hang in there. I'll post a message to the blog when the system is operational.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

*** Upgrade Monday, April 11th, 2011 ***

SpotWalla.com will be upgraded on Monday, April 11th, 2011 at 11:00 PM America/Chicago time. This will be a quickie upgrade to address a couple of issues as well as some system enhancements...
  • Fixed a bug that prevents a device from being deleted when it has zero messages and one or more trips defined.
  • When joining a location page the system automatically adds your location to the page. Fixed a bug that added messages outside of the location page's start/end dates.
  • Changed the Join link on a location page to a button to make it more visible to the user.
  • We thought it was time for SpotWalla to have and enforce a formal Terms of Service and User Agreement. When users log into SpotWalla, if you haven't yet accepted the User Agreement, you will be forwarded to a page where you can read and accept or decline the agreement. Accepting the agreement will let you log into and access the system. Declining the agreement will not allow you to log in and system access will be denied.
  • Prior to this upgrade and for various reasons, SpotWalla prevented hidden and/or password-protected trips from being embedded. With this upgrade you will now be able to embed these trips.

That's it. Nothing major. I don't anticipate the upgrade will take longer than 15 minutes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SpotWalla DNS Changes

Over the past few days a lot of y'all have been experiencing difficulties getting to spotwalla.com while others haven't had any issues at all. The root cause isn't that spotwalla.com is down, but because the name servers that translate "spotwalla.com" into its internet address have been involved in a series Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

Yesterday, we added a third name server into spotwalla.com's internet configuration, but this hasn't alleviated the issues like I had hoped. So this morning I moved the name servers from ZoneEdit.com to NetworkSolutions.com. These changes can take up to 36 hours to propagate throughout the internet, but eventually this should fix the problems some of y'all are experiencing.

If you've been experiencing issues, please check access periodically and let me know the status.

My apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Upgrade Complete

Tonight's upgrade is complete and all interfaces are operational.

Y'all have fun!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

*** Upgrade Monday, February 7th, 2011 ***

It's time to perform some operating system and application upgrades to SpotWalla. The upgrade will begin at 11PM and end at 1AM America/Chicago time. I'm anticipating this will take about 30-45 minutes. If issues arise, it will take longer. If major issues arise, it will take the entire 2 hours. :) Until the blog is updated indicating the upgrade is complete, small outages may be experienced.

All message interfaces will be down until the system is back online and stable. Google Latitude and Fire Eagle devices will not recover missed locations during the downtime period. SPOT devices will recover missed locations during the downtime period.

Not much has changed since the last upgrade. Here's the list...

  • The generic trip profile will use color-coded icons to mark the last known location on active maps. Each color corresponds to the message type - Ok, Help, Custom and Tracking. If you're like me and use the various message types to communicate with your family and friends, the color-coded icons will make it easier for them to determine the last known location type.
  • When joining a location page, your location will be automatically added to the page - assuming a message exists that conforms to the settings you chose. Currently, your location isn't added to the page until new messages are sent from your device.
  • I added cookie support to keep track of the last trip folder viewed. This will make it easier when working with trips.
  • The Device page will look differently. The Security link is now two separate links - Widget and Zones. The Widget link will allow you to configure the device's last location widget. The Zones link will allow you to manage the device's secure zones.
  • You will be able to control the types of messages that update your location on the last location widget.
  • Location pages will use color-coded icons that correspond to the message type - Ok, Help, Custom and Tracking.
  • New Family and Friends functionality will allow you to share your location with other SpotWalla users. The Family and Friends viewer will allow you to see the last known location of all your family and friends on a map. Essentially, it's like a personal location page whose members you manage directly.