Thursday, April 5, 2007

Month's catch up

So, I haven't updated in a month. I suppose that's good, since it means I've been working instead of writing about working. Though I imagine it's rather frustrating for the readers.

I won't even try to go over the features I've implemented. Judging from the last entry, it includes, comments, comment threading, tabs/subpages for user and game pages, AJAX ratings, comment replies, private messaging, new sort orders, plenty of bugfixes, and probably some stuff I've forgotten. I'd have to go over the Subversion logs to keep track of it all.

There are two developments that I want to include, since they're not in the Subversion logs.

We got our dedicated on March 13. It's a bottom-of-the-line Celeron - no sense spending more money than we have to if it never takes off. IIRC, Mike made the order from GoDaddy on a Tuesday, we had it by Thursday night, and that's when I started setting it up. The default firewall installation blocked DNS, so we thought that the DNS hadn't propagated when it was really my own stupidity.

Even before the domain worked, I started setting it up. Made a few subdomains for dev tasks and setup Apache virtual hosts for them. We're *only* using Apache for development & administrative tasks; the main production server is Lighttpd with an SCGI connection to Python. But I didn't want to figure out PHP/Perl/WebDAV for Lighttpd and I figured it'd be good to have our tools in a separate process for security/performance reasons anyway.

Over the next couple days and the weekend, I setup user accounts, upgraded Python to 2.5 & installed libraries, installed Lighttpd and configured it, configured flup and wrote a quick launch script, learned how to write /etc/init.d scripts to start everything, and basically got things working. By the conference call on Sunday, we were mostly good. I think I needed to do a couple tweaks to SCGI and flup to get the app running, and it wasn't until the next Wednesday that I installed monit.

Speaking of which, there were a few useful utility programs we rely on heavily:
  1. Pligg, for organizing all our links. HOW-TOs, tutorials, documentation, 3rd-party download sites, potential game developers we want to approach, and competitors all go here.
  2. MediaWiki, for documentation. We aren't really using this yet.
  3. AWStats, for web server statistics. I was surprised how easy this was to setup.
  4. Munin, for monitoring server health. Ditto
  5. Monit, for automatically rebooting services when they go down.
Those were all part of the setup process on Friday/Saturday/Sunday.

The other interesting development was that we applied to yCombinator. I had previously floated the idea, but we weren't terribly interested then. However, many of our objections were answered by the ensuing blogosphere buzz (SFP applications are apparently a big deal in the startup world), so I asked my cofounders to give it a second look. Thus followed about 4 days of scrambling to get all the information we needed to fill out the application.

Then PG e-mailed us back and said we had too many weakly-committed founders, and probably too many founders in general.

I had misinterpreted the deadline, so we had an extra day to revise our app. We had an emergency conference call that night, which was probably one of the hardest and most awkward conversations I've ever had. The three founders who were not willing to commit full-time to Diffle were cool about it, though, and we ended up deciding it was okay for me and Mike to apply as a duo, and adjusted equity shares appropriately.

We're still waiting to hear back from yCombinator. Obviously, I hope we get in, since they add a lot of value. But we're going to go ahead with this anyway, even if we don't. I want to see this product exist, and we can continue to do that even if yCombinator doesn't want to invest.

Right now, Mike is working on the layout with Matt's help. I just finished adding comment replies and logout, so I've got a few cleanup items left. Then I want to move towards writing actual Flash games and starting on the game creation engine.

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