gocept Developer Punsch 3

Nachdem wir dieses Jahr bereits zwei “Developer-BBQs” veranstaltet haben, laden wir am Freitag, 7.12.2012 ab 14:00 Uhr ein weiteres Mal in unser Büro ein. Jahreszeitenbedingt unter dem Titel “Developer-Punsch”!

Die Veranstaltung richtet sich wie immer an alle (Web-)Entwickler und Sysadmins, die wie wir gerne mal über den Tellerrand schauen. In einem an Open Space angelehnten Format möchten wir uns vorher gesammelten Themen widmen, die auch gerne mitgebracht werden können [1].

Wir würden uns freuen, zahlreiche Interessierte aus der Region und auch darüber hinaus  empfangen zu dürfen.

Ab ca. 19 Uhr wird es etwas zu Essen geben und der Punsch wird serviert.

Um Anmeldung per Mail (mail@gocept.com) oder auf dem Etherpad [1] wird gebeten.

P.S.: Since we are addressing local audience we are keeping this post in German. Basically we want developers and admins in our area to meet up, exchange ideas, and enjoy hot punch.

[1] Etherpad zur Anmeldung und Themensammlung

Introducing the “Flying Circus”

We have been busy in the last months to improve the presentation of our hosting and operations services a lot – and if you attended the Plone Conference in Arnhem, you may have noticed some bits and pieces already: T-Shirts, nice graphics, a new logo, etc.

When pondering how to name our product we quickly decided that just using the old “gocept.net” domain wasn’t good enough. As we are also ambivalent about the whole “cloud hype” we were looking for something else: something specific, something with technology, something where people who know their trade do awesome stuff, something not for the fearsome but for people with visions and grand ideas.

What we found was this:



We call it the “Flying Circus” – for fearless man doing exactly what is needed to boost the performance, security, and reliability of your web application!

All this is just getting started and we will show a lot more at the PyConDE next week. Or, if you can not make it there, register for more information on flyingcircus.io!

gocept-Developer-BBQ 2

Unser erstes BBQ (Rückblick BBQ 1) war inhaltlich und kulinarisch ein voller Erfolg, und soll nun am Freitag, 14. September ab 14 Uhr seine Fortsetzung finden.

Also, alle (Web-)Entwickler und Sysadmins die wie wir gerne mal über den Tellerrand schauen, sind herzlich eingeladen. In einem an Open Space angelehnten Format möchten wir uns vorher gesammelten Themen widmen, die auch gerne mitgebracht werden können [1].

Ein paar Themenvorschläge haben wir schon gesammelt:

  • Wartbarer und testbarer  JS-Code
  • Resource-Inclusion, Server vs. Client
  • CSS-Präprozessoren (SASS, …)
  • Logging und ubiquituous graphing
  • Layouttests; hilft needle, sikuli?
  • Python 3
  • Automatisiertes Deployment mit “batou”
  • „Ist django der neue Trend?“
  • Meteor
  • ipv6

Wir würden uns freuen, zahlreiche Interessierte aus der Region und auch darüber hinaus in unserem schönen Garten empfangen zu dürfen. (Oder je nach Wetter in unseren Büroräumen.)

Auch dieses Mal wird es ab ca. 19 Uhr wieder leckere Speisen vom Grill geben.

Um Anmeldung per Mail (mail@gocept.com) oder auf dem Etherpad [1] wird gebeten.

P.S.: Since we are addressing local audience we are keeping this post in German. Basically we want developers and admins in our area to meet up, exchange ideas, and enjoy BBQ and beer.

[1] Etherpad zur Anmeldung und Themensammlung

Surprising experience with DELL support

Background: we had terrible support experiences with DELL over the last 4-5 years or so and I just had a single really good one today. We started moving slowly to a different vendor and won’t change our decision because of this one experience.

Our situation: we are currently fighting a subtle issue in or data center: spontaneous reboots of physical servers. It only happens rarely but is a bit of an annoyance. We have now experienced 10 cases over the last year and starting to investigate. The problem is that almost all machines rebooted only once and we can never find an actual cause.

While getting an overview of all restarts (machine, time, hardware model, role, bios version) we had to contact DELL ProSupport to figure out a contradictory statement on new BIOS versions.

First, I got directly to the technician and he actually (for once) did have our machine’s service tag on his desk. I explained to him that I needed a specific piece of information and that I’m currently investigating a broader issue that doesn’t seem to be related to a single machine. He took up on that, passed me the information and followed me building and correcting our model of the fault and gave helpful comments and additional data from their experiences in the support with those machines.

What I wondered about is that he gave me information which I expected to be one of the selling points of DELLs machines: management features, access to support experience instead of scripted/technologically challenged call-center Zombies. Again: kudos to the supporter who helped me today.

Here are the positive surprises:

  • The DELL R610 and R510 iDRAC express cards have SSH and WEB UIs for accessing some of the fancier features. I even finally found the power meter!
  • There seems to be a tool called “repository manager” which can create a bootable ISO that includes all firmware updates for all the machines that you select. Cool! However, it seems to need Windows 2008 (WTF?). Even on Windows
  • Maybe (I didn’t understand this fully) the lifecycle controller can perform all required firmware/BIOS updates via FTP directly when entering it during boot time. (Unfortunately you need to reboot just to find out whether you need updates.)

Recapitulating this phone call and the information I got, I reached some conclusions:

  • Big, big personal thanks to the DELL supporter, you made my day! (And you know who you are!)
  • Why do I get huge amounts of stupid manuals that I just through away but readable, accessible information that the iDRAC Express has HTTP and SSH support?
  • Why are all Linux updates for no reason wrapped into binaries that require Red Hat stuff? All the tools are there on other distributions. Can you please release things so that grown-ups can use them?
  • Can we please have an accessible, platform-independent way to retrieve the information whether firmware updates are pending? Aand whether any update in the chain is urgent?
  • I see myself confirmed that hardware vendors are just terrible at software. Even your supporter is trained by now to think that having to hit a button twice isn’t a bug but a feature. Come on!
  • We knew that the express cards do not support VGA redirection (we use ipmi sol generally) but that leaves AFAICT only the “mount a remote disk” and “redirect VGA” as features of the bigger iDRAC option. And that thing AFAICT costs around 300 EUR more.
  • Given the issues of how to update firmware if you are on a true free platform then I wonder why those cost extra. Seems like DELL does support MS and RedHat’s business model by forcing customers into those options.

Lastly, it’s nice to have an actually good experience with DELL support for once, but, given our overall experience we’re more than happy to be migrating to Thomas Krenn now.

Einladung zu Un(konferenz|camp|meetup) und BBQ am 29.6.2012

(We are addressing a local audience near our offices so we are keeping this post in German. Sorry. Basically we want developers and admins in our area to meet up, exchange ideas, and enjoy BBQ and beer.)

<tldr>Wir wollen uns mit Entwicklern und Admins aus Halle und Umgebung austauschen und laden euch deshalb am 29.6.2012 ab 16:00 zu einer kleinen Unkonferenz und einem BBQ ein.</tldr>

Wir bei gocept tauschen uns gern mit anderen Entwicklern und Admins aus.

Leider ist die nächste tolle Konferenz[1] für uns aber noch eine Weile hin und so lange wollen wir nicht warten. Wir möchten auch gern abseits von Konferenzen mit Entwicklern und Admins aus der Umgebung von Halle ins Gespräch kommen um über Themen wie Webentwicklung und DevOps zu reden.

Wir setzen hier zwar hauptsächlich Python und Linux ein, möchten aber auch über den Tellerrand schauen und hoffen, dass es euch auch so geht und ihr euch angesprochen fühlt. Wir stellen uns nichts Formales vor, eher etwas wie ein Open Space. Jeder mit interessanten Fragen und Themen im Gepäck ist willkommen.

Also: meldet euch an, wenn ihr am Freitag, dem 29.6.2012 ab 16 Uhr noch nichts vorhabt und Halle für euch bequem zu erreichen ist. Ein Etherpad gibt es natürlich auch.

Unser Büro befindet sich in der Forsterstraße 29 in Halle.

Der Lohn am Ende des Tages erwartet euch, wie eingangs versprochen, in unserem schönen Garten: BBQ und Bier.

Bis bald!
die gocept-Entwickler und gocept-Admins

[1] Für uns ist das die PyConDE 2012

Sprint report: Deploying Python web applications – platforms and applications

Last week I met Stephan Diehl, Michael Hierweck, Veit Schiele, and Jens Vagelpohl in Berlin for a sprint. Our chosen topic was “Python web application deployment”. In this post I’d like to recap our discussions, gocept’s perspective on those, and the deployment tool “batou” that we have been incubating in the last months.

Continue reading “Sprint report: Deploying Python web applications – platforms and applications”

Python Barcamp Cologne

The Python BarCamp Cologne 2012 happened last weekend. It was well organized by Reimar Bauer and the Cyrus office space is just very well suited for this kind of event: lots of space, rooms, equipment, drinks, …

The proceedings of Saturday and Sunday are available on Etherpads.

My most favorite discovery was Sentry – an open-source exception logging tool that has a nice UI and is simple to set up. Kudos to the Disqus crew! I’m looking forward to making this available as a managed component in gocept.net as soon as I get time to do so. 🙂

Other interesting topics that I joined were: a discussion about WSGI servers, parallelization, template engines, debugging and the infamous lightning talks.

Obviously I couldn’t restrain myself and so I offered a session on service deployment trying to answer some questions that people had and presenting some of the code we wrote when extracting our knowledge into batou.

Another session that I tried to foster was about #failure: in addition to talking about the cool things that we found working I wanted to hear about stuff that doesn’t work: software, organisational issues, etc. We kind of got stuck on bashing anything with the label “Enterprise” and the standard library.

On enterprise: the most weird experience I had lately boils down to this video by RedHat about their JBoss offering – say what?

The stdlib bashing wasn’t aggressive at all: we found some specific quirks and tried to get some understanding why things are the way they are. For me, basically, the standard library is what comes out of “batteries included” – it will have something in there that helps you out accomplishing what you want (like a pack of AA batteries) but if you’re serious about it you might need to roll some different module (like a car battery). I don’t think dropping the standard library would be a wise choice and I also don’t think that “one size fits all”.

I also got a surprising invite to presenting at the GUUG meeting next year and I’m pretty excited about that!

So, thanks again to Reimar and the other people organizing and sponsoring this event!

rrdtool restore and merge from backup

We recently had an issue with our backup server which was also running Nagios including pnp4nagios to gather performance data.

We quickly started to deploy a new Nagios server which started gathering statistics again right away.

After pulling the historical RRD databases from the backup we discovered no easy way to integrate the both datasets. After fiddling with some tools we extended an existing script that can be used to integrate different RRD sources into a single file to match our use case.

The resulting script simply replaces all “null” data rows in the new database that the old database has data available for. A second script provides the ability to merge whole directory trees of RRDs.

The script can be found in the rrdmerge bitbucket repository.

AJAX loading spinner without flickering artifacts

We were embedding a spinner to give user feedback while loading data from a server which might take a little longer (but can also be pretty quick in most cases).

Implementing the spinner itself isn’t that hard, but we found that quick responses from the server caused visual artifacts flickering up because the spinner was only visible for a few milliseconds (probably roughly 30ms).

Continue reading “AJAX loading spinner without flickering artifacts”