php open locking daemon

Don’t you hate that… When it’s 2:00am… and you really should be in bed… But your mind has hold of a problem, and wont let it go. I have a project where it would be really handy for a process to be able to lock (arbitrary string identifier) and for another process to be able to check whether (arbitrary string identifier) is still locked. And the processes that do the locking can die… so the lock really needs to expire when they do. I could use MySQLs get_lock but I’m already abusing the hell out of that for more distributed things (and since you cannot have more than one mysql named lock at a time per connection, i don’t think it would work here…) in the originating processes, and these locks are machine wide, not network wide…

I don’t like flock because you have to actually create a file to try and lock it leaving race conditions and the possibility of orphaned files on the file system which just sucks… I thought about Memcached but I really need something that can be held open for long periods of inactivity and released if the client dies which precludes the infinite and the timed method of memcached value storage…

After some searching I found old — Open Lock Daemon which looked like a super good fit… Until I dug into the communication protocol… What a nightmare for wanting to lock a string… srsly. So not being able to find anything (and apparently not being able to sleep until I had a satisfactory answer) I decided to write one. In PHP, naturally. Weighing in at 180 lines I think it’s a pretty acceptable/workable first pass.

[ edit: code available here ]

Continue reading

And we’re off

So now back off to the vet to pick up the dog who’s gonna spend most of the next few weeks being MISERABLE because he’s gonna have to be crated a a LOT, wont be able to play with the other dogs at all for a while, and will have to wear a satellite-dish-collar. On the plus side he’ll have a drain installed in his ear and he’ll be leaking gross fluids form his head for a while. I guess theres ALWAYS a silver lining, insn’t there?!

quick update

Well… everything that could go wrong this weekend (outside work) has gone wrong.

My replay tv is dying

My wifes laptop is dying

I have one dog getting out of surgery right now because of a hematoma

I have one cat with ringworm

One cat got the crap beat up out of her in a fight

I had my tire punctured so badly it needs replacing (this was on the way to the vet yesterday night when we noticed the swelling in buddy’s ear (the hematoma))

The dogs chewed a hose

One dog ate my wifes flipflops while we were away and puked pieces of it up all over the house

We have to go back to Fremont sometime this week to return the old cable receiver and modem or get sent to collections

Oh, and the IRS sent us a letter about a form missing from my tax return (I used TaxCut to avoid exactly this kind of crap!)

On the plus side… We’re alive 🙂

When simple plans attack!

Well at the zoo we lost a pair of glasses, so off to lensecrafters… no eye exam in 3 years… so eye exam… 2 hors for glasses… and WHAM a day thats supposed to end at 4:00pm ends at 9:00pm… sigh… 🙂 we now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.

Occam’s razor strikes again!

Tonight we ran into an interesting problem. A web service – with a very simple time-elapsed check – started reporting negatives… Racking our brain, pouring over the code, produced nothing. It was as if the clock were jumping around randomly! No! On a whim Barry checked it and the clock was, indeed, jumping around…

# while [ 1 ]; do date; sleep 1; done
Wed May 30 04:37:52 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:53 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:54 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:55 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:56 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:57 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:58 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:37:59 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:00 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:01 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:02 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:19 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:21 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:22 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:23 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:24 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:08 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:09 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:10 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:28 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:12 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:30 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:31 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:32 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:33 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:34 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:35 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:19 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:20 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:21 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:22 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:40 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:41 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:42 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:43 UTC 2007
Wed May 30 04:38:44 UTC 2007

You’re only ever done debugging for now.

I’m the kinda guy who owns up to my mistakes. I also strive to be the kinda guy who learns from them.  So I figured I would pass this on as some good advice from a guy who’s “screwed that pooch”

There was a project on which I was working, and that project sent me e-mail messages with possible problem alerts.  All was going well, and at some point I turned off those alerts.  I don’t remember when.  And I don’t remember why.  Which means I was probably “Cleaning up” the code.  It was, after all, running well (I guess.)  But along comes a bug introduced with new functionality (ironically a from somewhere WAAAAAAY up the process chain from my project).  And WHAM, errors up the wazzoo.  But no e-mails. Oops. Needless to say the cleanup process was long and tedious… especially for something that was avoidable.

I’ve since put the alerting code back into the application, and have my happy little helpers in place fixing the last of the resulting issues.

The lesson to be taken from this is that you’re only ever done debugging for now. Because tomorrow that code, thats working perfectly now, wont be working perfectly anymore.  And that the sources for entropy are, indeed, endless.

DivShare, Day 1 (raw commentary)

I began looking at divshare a few days ago as a way to stor, save, and share my personal photo collection.  The idea of auto-galleries, unlimited space, flash video, and possible FTP access was… enticing.  But it’s tough to tell how something like this is going to work on a large scale…

So… after messing around with a free divshare account for a while I decided it was more worth my while to pay 10 bucks for a pro account and get FTP access than to try and use mechanize (or something similar) to hack out my own makeshift API.  Now I have about… Oh… 8,000 files I want to upload… So… doing that 10 at a time was just _NOT_ going to happen…

After paying for a pro account I was *immediately* granted FTP access, no waiting. And for that I was grateful.  Since I take photos at 6MP, and thats WAY too large for most online uses I have a shell script which automagically creates 5%, 10%, and 25% or original sized thumbnails.  This meant that I had an expansive set of files I could upload and only take a couple of hours doing it (5% thumbs end up being less than 200Mb.)  This, I thought, would be an excellent test of their interfaces.

So an-ftping-i-a-go.  Upload all my files into a sub directory (005). Visit the dash. nothing. Visit the ftp-upload-page to recheck… maybe I did something wrong. AND WHAM! an 8,000 check box form to accept ftp uploaded files… ugh.  Thankfully they’re all checked by default.  I let it load (for a long while) and hit submit… and wait… and wait… and wait.  Then the server side connection times out a while later.  Fair enough. Check my dash… about 1500 of the 8,000 photos were imported… I’m going to have to do this 6 times. Annoying, but doable.  Hit the second submit, and pop open another browser to look at my dash.  And divshare did *nothing* with my folder name… that wasnt translated to a “virtual” folder at all. tsk tsk.

So I need to put about 1500 photo, manually, into an 005 folder… and then I realize… I have to do this 20 files at a time… with no way to just show files that are not currently in a folder.

… uh no …

Ok, so I open up one of the photos that I DID put into the 005 folder, and it did, in fact, make them into a “gallery” of sorts. It made a thumbnail , and displayed all 3,000 photos side by side in something similar to an iframe… no rows. just one row… 3,000 columns… and waiting as my browser requests each… and every… thumb… from divshare. Wonderful.  The gallery controls are simple enough an iframe with a scrollbar at the bottom, a next photo link, and a previous photo link.  And all 3 controls make you loose your place in the iframe when you use them…

Now dont get me wrong. You get what you pay for. But hey… I did pay this time 😉  The service is excellent for what it does. And my use case was a bit extreme. Still I hope that they address these issues that I’ve pointed out.  I’d really like to continue using them, and if they can make my pohoto process easier I’ll gladly keep paying them $10/mo


  1. Don’t ignore what pro users are telling you when they upload
  2. Process large-accepts in the background, let me know I need to come back later
  3. Negative searching (folder == nil)
  4. Mass file controls (Iether items/page, or all-items-in-view (folder == nil))
  5. Give me a gallery a non-broadband user can use (1500 thumbs in one sitting tastes bad, more filling)
  6. Don’t undo what I’ve done in the gallery every click.  Finding your place among 8,000 photos is tedious to do once

And I know I sound like I’m just complaining. And I am. But this is web 2.0 feedback baby. Ignore my grouchiness, and (If I’m lucky) take my suggestions and run with them asap.  The photo/files market is very very far from cornered!

Whoa, talk about neglecting your weblog! Bad Form!

I know, I know, I’ve been silent for quite some time. Well Let me assure you that I’m quite all right! Are you less worried about me now? Oh good. (Yes I’m a cynical bastage sometimes.)

So life has, as it tends to do, come at me pretty fast. I’ve left my previous employer, Ookles, and I wish them all the best in accomplishing everything that they’ve been working towards. So I’ve Joined up with the very smart, very cool guys at Automattic. I have to tell you I’m excited to be working with these guys, they’re truly a great group.

I guess that means I’m… kind of… like… obligated to keep up on my blog now, eh?  I’m also kind of, like, ehausted. Jumping feet first into large projects has a tendency to do that to a guy though.  And truth be told I would have it any other way…




Programmers don’t like to code? says programmers don’t like to code… Yea… I’ll buy that.  I’ve described “what I do” to many many people as “solving tough problems.”  I’d much rather get into the problem itself than write all the scaffolding and crap that lets me get face to face with it.   So yea. Sign me up.