Tag: scribd
ActiveMQ Tips: Flow Control and Stalled Producers Problem
23 Jan2009

It’s been a few months since we‘ve started actively using ActiveMQ queue server in our project. For some time we had pretty weird problems with it and even started thinking about switching to something else or even writing our own queue server which would comply with our requirements. The most annoying problem was the following: some time after activemq restart everything worked really well and then activemq started lagging, queue started growing and all producer processes were stalling on push() operations. We rewrote our producers from Ruby to JRuby, then to Java and still – after some time everything was in a bad shape until we restarted the queue server.

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ActiveMQ + Ruby Stomp Client: How to process elements one by one
30 Oct2008

Few months ago I’ve switched one of our internal projects from doing synchronous database saves of analytics data to an asynchronous processing using starling + a pool of workers. This was the day when I really understood the power of specialized queue servers. I was using database (mostly, MySQL) for this kind of tasks for years and sometimes (especially under a highly concurrent load) it worked not so fast… Few times I worked with some queue servers, but those were either some small tasks or I didn’t have a time to really get the idea, that specialized queue servers were created just to do these tasks quickly and efficiently.

All this time (few months now) I was using starling noticed really bad thing in how it works: if workers die (really die, or lock on something for a long time, or just start lagging) and queue start growing, the thing could kill your server and you won’t be able to do something about it – it just eats all your memory and this is it. Since then I’ve started looking for a better solution for our queuing, the technology was too cool to give up. I’ve tried 5 or 6 different popular solutions and all of them sucked… They ALL had the same problem – if your queue grows, this is your problem and not queue broker’s :-/ The last solution I’ve tested was ActiveMQ and either I wasn’t able to push it to its limits or it is really so cool, but looks like it does not have this memory problem. So, we’ve started using it recently.

In this small post I’d like to describe a few things that took me pretty long to figure out in ruby Stomp client: how to make queues persistent (really!) and how to process elements one by one with clients’ acknowledgments.
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Advanced Squid Caching for Rails Applications: Preface
25 Oct2008

Since the day one when I joined Scribd, I was thinking about the fact that 90+% of our traffic is going to the document view pages, which is a single action in our documents controller. I was wondering how could we improve this action responsiveness and make our users happier.

Few times I was creating a git branches and hacking this action trying to implement some sort of page-level caching to make things faster. But all the time results weren’t as good as I’d like them to be. So, branches were sitting there and waiting for a better idea.
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Bounces-handler Released
3 Aug2008

Today I’ve managed to finish initial version of our bounces-handler package we use for mailing-related stuff in Scribd.

Bounces-handler package is a simple set of scripts to automatically process email bounces and ISP‘s feedback loops emails, maintain your mailing blacklists and a Rails plugin to use those blacklists in your RoR applications.

This piece of software has been developed as a part of more global work on mailing quality improvement in Scribd.com, but it was one of the most critical steps after setting up reverse DNS records, DKIM and SPF.

The package itself consists of two parts:

  • Perl scripts to process incoming email:
    • bounces processor — could be assigned to process all your bounce emails
    • feedback loops messages processor — more specific for Scribd, but still – could be modified for your needs (will be released soon).
  • Rails plugin to work with mailing blacklists

For more information, please check our README file. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please leave them here as a comments and I’ll try to reply as soon as possible.

Using Sphinx for Non-Fulltext Queries
19 May2008

How often do you think about the reasons why your favorite RDBMS sucks? 🙂 Last few months I was doing this quite often and yes, my favorite RDBMS is MySQL. The reason why I was thinking so because one of my recent tasks at Scribd was fixing scalability problems in documents browsing.

The problem with browsing was pretty simple to describe and as hard to fix – we have large data set which consists of a few tables with many fields with really bad selectivity (flag fields like is_deleted, is_private, etc; file_type, language_id , category_id and others). As the result of this situation it becomes really hard (if possible at all) to display documents lists like “most popular 1-10 pages PDF documents in Italian language from the category “Business” (of course, non-deleted, non-private, etc). If you’ll try to create appropriate indexes for each possible filters combination, you’ll end up having tens or hundreds of indexes and every INSERT query in your tables will take ages.

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