Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Near Disaster....

Today, I actually have plans that do not include Atlas Quest. There's a water taxi here in Seattle, that travels between downtown Seattle and West Seattle. It doesn't run during the winter months, though, and today is the day it starts up again. I read this in a newspaper last week, and for the inaugural day of the season, people will be allowed to ride it for free. I've never ridden the water taxi before and considering it's FREE today, I figured I'd be a fool not to take advantage of it.

So I called up one of my old college buddies from San Luis who, after graduating, moved to Seattle to work for Microsoft, where you'll still find her toiling away. There are a few of my old college buddies who got sucked into the Microsoft engine, but Gloria is the only one I've kept in touch with over the years. At least sporadically. The last time I actually saw her in person was about a year ago.

But I digress.... I called her up. Okay, I e-mailed her up, and told her my idea. I'd meet her downtown and we could walk to West Seattle and use the water taxi to make a full loop of the walk. Okay, it was actually her idea--she suggested it over a year ago. I've walked from downtown Seattle to West Seattle more times than I can count, but she'd never done it and wanted to try it. Somehow, it never ended up happening.

So when I read we could ride it for FREE this afternoon, I called--err, I mean e-mailed her--and said, "You still interested?"

She was and we hashed out a time and location we'd meet downtown. (Eleven o'clock at Westlake Center, for those who are really nosy.)

How's this relate to Atlas Quest? It doesn't really--that's the whole point. I was taking the day off. =) But I couldn't help myself. I deliberately pulled myself out of bed earlier than normal just so I could check Atlas Quest. Make sure everything was running as expected before I left for most of the day.

One of the first things I check are errors that AQ recorded. When I log in--when anyone in the webmaster user group logs in, in fact, but I'm the only person in that user group right now--there are two small buttons in the upper-right corner of the page. One of them are errors that AQ recorded while the other are slow query warnings that were recorded. The error button is bright red. When things show up there, I have to check things out. Maybe once or twice a day something shows up as an error, and usually it's not important. Perhaps AQ was unable to connect with a blog's server while updating the Letterboxing News so it reports the problem, the problem is on the blog server, not Atlas Quest. So I delete the error messages and continue on.

This morning however, there was an error in the clue caching page. Atlas Quest only caches clues late at night when the server load is low. This has two benefits. It can make use of the excess system capacities at night, but when it caches clues on LbNA, it's also using LbNA's excess capacity at night. I'm assuming, of course, that LbNA doesn't get as many visitors at 2:00 in the morning just like Atlas Quest. That way, Atlas Quest is only "bothering" LbNA late at night when it was lonely and bored anyhow. Yes, Atlas Quest runs off with LbNA each night. Sordid affair, that it is. =)

Anyhow, I'd been updating the nightly scripts, as well you know if you've been following this blog lately, and the clue caching page generated an error. In a nutshell, it was trying to assign the number associated with a clue to the number associated with a letterbox. This should NEVER HAPPEN. Once something is assigned a number, it should NEVER change. I accidentally did that with the letterboxes. What would happen if it changed? It would assign the clue for ABC box to the XYZ box. All of the clues would get switched around! A disaster of the biggest magnitude!

It complained about the query trying to assign more than one number to Box #0. (There is no box #0, I might add--numbers always start at 1.) With a growing sense of doom, I tried checking box #1, my Los Osos Oaks series. "Box not found."

Crap. A slight bit of panic on my part ensued. Did I have to reinstall the boxes from the backups the previous night? I wasn't going to get that finished before I could meet Gloria in downtown Seattle.

I checked box #2, Victoria Falls, and it seemed to show up fine. Then I ran a query to look at the first 50 boxes, and they generally all looked good. #0 was my Los Osos Oaks series, and #1 was missing, but the rest seemed to be in tact and working fine. Whew--it was not the disaster I first imagined.

The query that ran, it converted box #1 into box #0. Then it tried to convert box #2 into box #0, but it couldn't--box #0 already existed. The query failed, threw up, and generated an error report. Disaster averted.

I fixed up the Los Osos Oaks series, and then fixed the broken query. It only took a few minutes--I had left myself with a full hour to goof around on AQ this morning before I needed to get going.

Everything seems to be in working order once again. Those who have finds on Los Osos Oaks--your F-count will be off by 4 until the nightly updates again. (After all, you couldn't "find" a box that didn't exist on AQ, so those finds weren't counted in last night's update!)

Now I'm taking the afternoon off. =)

I might also mention this, once during a walk from downtown to West Seattle, I found a small plaque on the side of the road that claims to mark where the first service station in America was opened. The actual location is fenced off, part of the Port of Seattle now, but for probably two or three years now, I've wanted to hide a letterbox there to honor that first gas station. I've never met anyone's who knows this. Not even any locals seem to know this interesting piece of history here.

Just in case you thought I was getting too far off from letterboxing in this blog. ;o)

1 comment:

Music Woman said...

Oh, so this may be the reason why Atlasquest wasn't working at 4:00 ET this morning?

Ya know Ryan, when I have deep bouts of insomnia, I would REALLY love it if AQ was up and running

;-) Just kidding! You're doing a great job! And yes, I was up at 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning....

Music Woman