Many exciting things going on....
We keep growing, so we keep needing new hardware. My apologies for the few days awhile ago when LJ totally sucked. Webservers are easy to keep adding (except for Stan which is broken physically), but the database and the speed of the disks were starting to become a problem so I removed a number of calls to the database leaving the results cached in the webservers, we changed some queries around, we spread unrelated tables between disks, etc... In addition to tuning types of things, we're adding another 512 MB of memory to cartman (the db server), and adding two new 10,000 RPM drives. All these changes should keep things running nicely until we have enough money for our new database server.
The new database server that we're looking at is a dual-processor Alpha (64-bit) with 4MB of cache per ship, 2G of DDR memory and a nice external RAID 10 array. dormando is doing a lot of the research for this... he's also been helping out a ton with sysadmin stuff, which relieves a ton of my stress. The "bad" news about the new database server is that it'll cost around $21,000 for everything... including the RAID array. This is a lot, but we have around $10,000 now, and the money continues to come in for paid accounts (plug). If you've been waiting for a good time to get a paid account, now would be it. Why? Well, we need the money, but also...
When we have the new database server, we're going to convert cartman into the photo album server, giving paid users space to upload pictures and have automatic thumbnail gallerys and everything... giving titles pictures, descriptions, etc... along with optional integration with other LiveJournal features. We haven't decided details, but it'll probably be like free users will have a little or no space, existing paid users will get some bonus space, new paid users will get 'x' amount of space, and any paid user will be able to buy more space. Our main motivation for this is that so many people ask us how to put images in their journal and so many webhosts nowadays don't allow you to upload pictures and reference them from other sites. Plus, the thumbnail pages will be all customizable (once S2 is done) and it'll just be cool. Hell, I just want to upload my entire photo archive. :-) I might even start working on the image server before we have the new database server, but its use will be limited.
I've given in. I've always told people to "just use IRC" for chatting in the past, but now I realize we need something "better"... probably a pretty Java interface to an IRC server running on LiveJournal that uses LJ usernames and passwords for authentication. Recommendations on extensible irc servers?
New Style System
You've probably heard about S2, the new style system. I had to put it on hold to deal with system issues, but in a few days my finals are over and I'll have about 2 weeks to work on it. Evan's going to be helping me too, if I can rip him away from his own projects. :-) S2 will rule.... I can tell that already from the work I've done on it. I see some of the styles you all have made and it just pains me to think how much effort you probably had to go through to get the current style system to behave. I also see some really poor styles and blame it on the complexity of the current system. The new system is also a lot faster to process, so the servers should be faster in the end.
We're releasing all of the LJ source code to the public. Currently there are a dozen or so people from lj_dev auditing it for security holes and major bugs. The plan is to have all their feedback in by the 16th or 17th, and then I'll release it to everyone (GPL'ed) on the 17th. The idea here is that there are a ton of people that want to help work on LJ, and it's too big for me to control anymore by myself.
So many helpers!
I can't even begin to list and thank all the people that have been helping out lately... I'm really happy things are working so well. I just wish LJ had enough money to buy new hardware and pay for a few of your salaries so you didn't have to do your regular jobs. :-) If any of the new users are reading this and are confused, let me clear something up.... LiveJournal is not a big venture-capital funded pre-IPO company... it's run by the people that use it. We're not even paid. Maybe one day, but for now we all do it in our spare time and all the money goes for new servers and stuff. Want to get involved? Go join the lj_biz and offer to work on something, or ask what needs work on!
I forgot what else. I thought I had more to say. I'll post later when I remember.