Brad Fitzpatrick (bradfitz) wrote in news,
Brad Fitzpatrick

State of the Goat

This was going to be a long State of the Goat address but I'll try to keep it short and easy to skim. Things that need clarification will be clarified in the next few days if necessary.

Server Situation
I'm incredibly happy about our server situation now.

Our master database server (Cartman) was down to 200 MB of disk space free, and we were getting nervous (since we consume 100 MB/day). Luckily, all of our new hardware came in on time (a few days early, actually!) and (thanks to the help of a ton of people) we got it all installed and functioning just in time before we ran out of disk space. We now have a huge server and disk array powering the site.

We also have two new fast web servers that haven't been fully set up. Those will go online in the next few days.

I put a half-completed hardware.xml file in CVS that details all the hardware that runs the site. I've asked Dormando to finish it, then we'll update the site hardware page to use that as a data source. A lot of people keep asking what we're running on and it's getting harder and harder to keep all 20+ machines straight ourselves. Which brings me to point #2...

My new mission lately is documentation. Everything should be documented: site history, what the site is, how to use the site, code internals, db schema, the protocol, and site-local documentation like hardware.

Once the master manual (containing all documentation) is reasonably complete and showing progress from outside contributors, then I'll move on to the...

Fun Features!
I remember being on vacation a while ago and getting some email sent out by Dormando and Mark, promising all these fun features in the next few weeks. I laughed and went back to the pool or wherever I was. New features are nice, but I care more about system reliability, cleanliness, and documentation. My personal goal is to have tons of people using the LiveJournal code, not just us. There are already a handful of companies using LiveJournal internally and five or six public websites using it, but I want it to be a hundred times easier to customize, use and install.

However, I'm a sucker for features too. My current wishlist includes the following:

  • Directory -- yes, it's coming back. (My roommate wants to look up single girls in the Seattle area.) It's not even hard to bring back, but there have been more important things to do. Those other things may not seem important, but there's always a lot more going on than is visible.
  • Stats -- again, easy, and I want it myself. These will be just for paid users, since we owe the paid users.
  • Live Front Page -- the main page of LiveJournal should be the portal but with tons of cool live default boxes.
  • ... -- tons of other stuff.
The problem is that this is a wishlist. We've been promising these features for a long time, and though I think I can eventually complete them all, there's too much for me to do. So...

We want the Reverend!
I want to throw an LJ fundraiser to secure money not for new servers, but instead for 6 months to a year's salary for a long-time net-friend of mine and kick-ass programmer to quit his real job and work on LiveJournal full-time. I'm not going to link Daniel's journal here (I think he'd get embarassed) but I'm sure you'll get to know him in time.

He wants to work for LiveJournal (always has) but we've never had enough money to pay him close to what he already gets. Now we could afford to pay him but it'd be a little tighter than I'd like. Instead, I think we're going to pay him about half of what he currently makes and he'll make up the rest doing freelance work. Now, I could tell him, "Don't worry, Daniel, we get enough money each month to pay you," because we do, but I'd feel a lot better if we got that money up-front and set it aside to make him feel more comfortable. If he's going to quit his job for us, I don't want him scared that an unexpected revenue dip in the future will jeopardize his paycheck.

Daniel has helped out on LiveJournal tons in the past and knows the codebase very well. He's wonderfully skilled in everything needed to hack LiveJournal, and then some. He's walked me through tons of stuff since I've known him. He'd be well worth our money.

But what do you all think? Is this a good plan? Should we sell a bunch of permanent accounts again to get a full-time hacker on board? (I'm not even full-time because of school.) Now that we're slowing down on our need for servers, would employees be a good new investment? Give me your feedback on this. We could really benefit from some more help.


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