71 stories
·
0 followers

Listen to this incredible Serial remix featuring the Notorious B.I.G.

2 Shares

Serial, easily the biggest podcast of the year, ended this week just as it began — with questions about the nature of truth instead of definitive answers. Plenty of people may feel disappointed by that fact, but it had a hell of an impact. One of the many, many things that managed to burrow into our collective consciousness — from Sarah Koenig's folksy delivery to MailKimp, whatever that is — was that theme song. Naturally, it needed a remix.

What you're listening to is New York-based Soundcloud producer fafu mixing the Serial theme with the late, great Biggie Smalls' "Somebody's Gotta Die." And it's...perfect, even if it gives the music a much darker mood. fafu even included recorded interviews from the podcast to add to the...

Continue reading…

Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2170 days ago
reply
New Jersey
Share this story
Delete

This Self-Penned Obituary Is One Of The Best We've Ever Read

1 Share

This Self-Penned Obituary Is One Of The Best We've Ever Read

Walter George Bruhl Jr., pictured here, died on March 9th of this year. Every line of his death notice, which he wrote himself, is outstanding.

Read more...








Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2218 days ago
reply
New Jersey
Share this story
Delete

A Downtime Irony

31 Comments and 44 Shares

So many things can go wrong and often do, but I spend a good third of my time working on infrastructure, monitoring, and analytics so that they don’t.

Here’s what happened: At approximately 4:30pm PT feed fetching ceased. The feed fetchers were still working, which is why my monitors didn’t fire and alert anybody. But I have a second large Mongo database server used exclusively for collecting data about feeds being fetched. There are approximately 75 servers dedicated to feed fetching. These analytics look at average fetch times on a per task server basis. I use these analytics to ensure that my task servers are humming along, as they each use a ton of network, cpu, and memory.

This Mongo analytics servers works in a curious way. If you right-click on a feed and go to Statistics you’ll see the feed fetch history for a feed, stretching back a hundred fetches if the feed has had any issues in fetching. I keep these statistics on an analytics server separate from the regular Mongo server. I do this so that if the mongo analytics server goes down, everything will operate normally.

But the mongo server didn’t go down. It merely gave this error:

OperationError: Could not save document (Can't take a write lock while out of disk space)

Mongo continues serving read queries while not allowing write queries. I didn’t plan for that! And it gets worse. The way MongoDB stores data is that is just keeps growing, even as you delete data. NewsBlur only saves the last few fetches, but deleting old fetches doesn’t give you back any disk space. Every other database server I use has an autovacuum process that takes care of this maintenance work (PostgreSQL, Redis, Elasticsearch, but not MongoDB). It’s unfortunate that this is yet another instance of MongoDB being the cause of downtime, even though the fault lies with me.

The server that is meant to only be used to ensure things are working correctly was itself the culprit for feeds no longer being fetched. This is the ironic part.

NewsBlur’s developer during happier times wearing the 2013 NewsBlur t-shirt in Big Sur

Now comes the painful part. On Wednesday morning (yesterday) I packed my car and headed down to Big Sur to go backpack camping for the first time. I’ve car camped plenty of times, but I felt confident enough to pack my sleeping bag and tent into a big bag and head ten miles into the woods of coastal California.

I headed out, away from cellular service, at 4pm PT, half an hour before the analytics server ran out of disk space. And then returned nearly 24 hours later to a bevy of alarmed tweets, emails, direct messages, and a voicemail letting me know that things were haywire.

But the real problem is that I set a vacation reply on both my personal and work email accounts to say that I’d be out until September 3rd. Now, I hired a firm to watch the servers while I’m at Burning Man starting this Saturday. But I figured I could get away with leaving the servers for twenty four hours. And I neglected to tweet out that I’d be gone for a day, so theories cropped up that I was injured, dead, or worse, ignoring the service.

Brittany, NewsBlur’s developer’s girlfriend, can handle any situation, including driving a hysterical developer three hours back to San Francisco without breaking a sweat.

If you’re wondering, I think about NewsBlur first thing in the morning and last thing at night when I check Twitter for mentions. It’s my life and I would never just give up on it. I just got cocky after a year and a half of nearly uninterrupted service. NewsBlur requires next to no maintenance, apart from handling support requests and building new features (and occasionally fixing old ones). So I figured what harm could 24 hours of away time be? Boy was I wrong.

If you made it this far then you probably care about NewsBlur’s future. I want to not only assure you that I will be building better monitoring to ensure this never happens again, but to also offer anybody who feels that they are not getting their money’s worth a refund. Even if you are months away from payment, if you aren’t completely satisfied and think NewsBlur’s just about the best thing to happen to RSS since Brent Simmons released NetNewsWire back in 2004, then I want to give you your money back and let you keep your premium account until it expires.

I would like to also mention how much I appreciate the more light-hearted tweets that I read while on the frenetic three hour drive back to San Francisco from Big Sur. I do this for all of your happiness. If I did it for the money I’d probably find a way to juice the data so that I could at least afford to hire an employee. This is a labor of love and your payment goes directly into supporting it.

Big Sur is where a good many new ideas are thought.
Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2290 days ago
reply
The whole day, I thought "Poor Sam, he's gotta be going nuts!" I hope you enjoyed your much-deserved offline day.

Meanwhile, I was looking at all of my feeds manually and realized that I didn't need some of them and did some cleanup.
New Jersey
kazriko
2287 days ago
Hah. I was doing the same, but mostly moving sites that haven't updated in years to my "Dead Sites" folder. I keep them there just so I can see if something suddenly revives on me.
Share this story
Delete
28 public comments
rafeco
2288 days ago
reply
Don't feel bad, databases gonna database.
laza
2289 days ago
reply
Don't feel horrible, this just showed us how valuble Newsblur is for our workflow or procrastination :) , and i'm so jealous that you are going to Burning Man, you should write a blog post about your experience there.
Belgrade, Serbia
samuel
2277 days ago
Writing that post right now. My work made the national news a few times. Look for the heartbeat lotuses.
emdot
2289 days ago
reply
I absolutely love NewsBlur. Thanks to Samuel for the update -- things like this make me even more happy to use the service. Thanks for your hard work.
San Luis Obispo, CA
satadru
2289 days ago
reply
I'm considering it a hallmark of the intensity of the academic program I'm in that I didn't much notice the Newsblur downtime.
New York, NY
jbouvier
2289 days ago
reply
Any developer knows downtime happens. The only thing you can do is your best to prepare, and when the shit hits the fan, be honest about the cause. This is how all developers & companies should treat these inevitable occurrences.
Chicago, IL
chengjih
2289 days ago
reply
Hah, I am so far behind on my feeds I didn't even notice the issue. 6000+ unread articles before the outage, 6000+ after.
llucax
2289 days ago
Same here, I don't have as many unread stuff, but this is just a RSS feed reader, come on! Let this guy have a day off!
loic
2289 days ago
reply
Murphy + mauvais timing + gestion de crise = super post
France
smadin
2289 days ago
reply
Well, here's what happened with Newsblur.
Boston
acdha
2290 days ago
reply
This is such a perfect sysadmin story. Kudos to Samuel for sharing the details.
Washington, DC
smilerz
2290 days ago
reply
Murphy strikes again.
Chicago or thereabouts
sirshannon
2290 days ago
reply
Exactly.
Cafeine
2290 days ago
reply
That combo of bad timing and technical glitch is just crazy. -_-;
Paris / France
Brstrk
2290 days ago
reply
Meh. No worries here. Murphy happens to everybody, man.
bronzehedwick
2290 days ago
reply
No intention of asking for a refund. :)
Astoria NY
sredfern
2290 days ago
reply
Here here.
Sydney Australia
lkraav
2290 days ago
reply
What needs to happen in order for Sam to be able to hire an employee? How much would the yearly rate go up?
Tallinn, Estonia
2290 days ago
Thats a question I also want to raise. There definitely need some kind of business continuity for situations like that (or even worse one). I really appreciate the work Samuel is doing here and I love Newsblur, but I also see that its to heavily depends on one person.
samuel
2277 days ago
Going 24 hours without internet and not paying a server babysitter is pretty new. I often go without access for a few hours, but I almost always have Twitter and email on me and can post status messages. This was a one-time thing.
lkraav
2276 days ago
Well I think there comes a time in every genius' life where a delegation sidekick just leaves more energy for saving the world from bad feed readers.
jlvanderzwan
2290 days ago
reply
Gotta work on your bus factor, Sam! :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor
wmorrell
2290 days ago
reply
It is honest self-assessments like these, and the overall openness of NewsBlur, that makes it better than GReader for me. I remember a few downtimes there that were real downtimes, not just "it takes slightly longer to view feeds".
lasombra
2290 days ago
reply
Samuel, it sucks, but it's part of the job. I love NewsBlur and paid for a premium account after 1 hour of using it. I'm on the second run and all I have to say is "Great job man!"
UK
pablooo
2290 days ago
reply
$PWD
rewingau
2290 days ago
reply
The main thing I learnt from this downtime was just how much I value Newsblur. Hint - a lot!

And as for the downtime - the demon Murphy laughs at your camping trip...
Canberra, Australian Capital T
alannashaikh
2290 days ago
reply
This is really no big deal. Stuff happens.
rtreborb
2290 days ago
reply
Hard to be upset with you, Samuel. Thanks for all you do!
San Antonio, TX
tedder
2290 days ago
reply
it's all good. you have a great story to tell at a conference now.
Uranus
samuel
2290 days ago
reply
Ugg, I feel so horrible about the downtime, and so soon after feeling so wonderful.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
sredfern
2290 days ago
I'd rather you have a holiday and I deal with a couple of hours of downtime :)
brucealdridge
2290 days ago
you deserve a holiday ... and 75 feed servers?!?!
samuel
2290 days ago
That's only the feed fetchers. I also have a few dozen apps servers and a dozen different database servers. NewsBlur's a hungry beast!
larand
2290 days ago
Stuff happens. Thank you for all the work you've put into NewsBlur, and I have absolutely no intention of asking for a refund. Hell, I'd renew early if need be.
mp4328
2290 days ago
have an amazing Burning Man experience!! - don't worry about us while you're out there.
jqlive
2290 days ago
No worries man. Stuff happens. Enjoy Burning Man. Thanks for all the hard work.
rikishiama
2290 days ago
no worries here too. great honest post that makes me feel good I'm a year-plus paying user.
ZeroEffect
2290 days ago
Ditto to all these comments!
acdha
2290 days ago
Enjoy a break. The rest of us can use some practice dealing with not clicking refresh like a rat in a behavioural study…
kpjackson
2290 days ago
Let me add my note of appreciation for your honesty and dedication to this great product. Downtime happens and we can all learn lessons from our mistakes. It's when we don't learn that we should really feel horrible. Oh, and I plan to be a happily paying customer for years to come. Also, any plans for a 2014 NB Tee?
ScottInPDX
2289 days ago
Having been in similar situations in the past, I totally understand. You're doing good work here, and NewsBlur is the only reader I use. I'll be paying for it as long as you're willing to accept payment.
samuel
2289 days ago
I would love to get a 2014 NewsBlur t-shirt out there, but I haven't found a designer yet. Most want $1000+ for a design, and I'm telling them there's only about a hundred of these things that are going to sell. Happy to hear ideas!
getwired
2289 days ago
So sorry that it had to happen while you were away. Thanks for the status update - but mostly, thank you for the wonderful service you've built. It's invaluable to me (I feel like I owe you more than I pay.) Thanks!!!
DavidForest
2290 days ago
reply
Thank you for the explanation. I value it when services I use break explain what occurred. Things like this happen, as anyone in technology based roles would know. I for one still really like using NewsBlur and will continue to do so as a paying customer. Keep up the good work and enjoy Burning Man.
rubin110
2290 days ago
reply
Thanks for rocking the thin blurry line between open source and able to financially support you and your work. In all honesty a random day of down time is a blessing with the number of feeds I've got going. Thanks again for all you've done.
San Francisco, CA, USA
kazriko
2290 days ago
reply
No chances for requesting a refund here. The service is too good, and has been too stable. This is a really unusual bit of downtime. Thanks for being on top of it for so long. I was still able to fetch and read the important feeds by instant-fetching then looking at each feed separately, so no real issue other than being time consuming.
Colorado Plateau
denubis
2290 days ago
I completely agree. Downtime happens, and developers deserve vacations. This is a wonderful service.
g_hoges
2290 days ago
+1 from me too. I love the service, and tolerate far more downtime from things like banking platforms. Continue to rock, Samuel
lasombra
2290 days ago
Right on man. Downtimes happen and Samuel has been rocking on the downtime arena for a very long time. It wasn't the end of the world. It sucks, but happens.
murrayhenson
2290 days ago
Seconded. Also, Samuel took the time to quickly comment on what went wrong and to really accept responsibility. You can't buy that but it's worth a hell of a lot.
JamesDiGioia
2289 days ago
And the thing about it is it's not strictly "downtime" - you could access the service, and with some minor hacky workarounds, continue to use it. Definitely not asking for a refund.
JimB
2288 days ago
I quite agree with you. Everyone is entitled to a break from the grind, and *sometimes* computers do unexpected things. The amazing thing is that you sorted out so quickly once you found out.
cmarshall
2287 days ago
Every system has issues occasionally - the important thing is how you handle them. The two keys are communication and getting it fixed. You done good.

The Westeros Wing.

1 Share


The Westeros Wing.

Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2399 days ago
reply
New Jersey
Share this story
Delete

Saved story tagging

17 Comments and 23 Shares

It’s one thing to follow a handful of sites and use NewsBlur’s training to only read the stories you want to read. But sometimes you want to come back to stories long after you’ve read them. You could save the story, but then you would have to either scroll down your saved story list to find the story, or use the new search feature to find it by title or author.

Today I would like to introduce a big new feature: saved story tagging. It works like this. When you save a story, it is automatically tagged with all of the folders that the site is part of.

After the story is auto-tagged by folder, you can then add your own tags, which are autocompleted by previously used tags. You can also click a button to auto-tag the story with its own tags, easily clicking on the tags you want to remove.

You can also search per-tag and soon you will be able to rename and delete tags. There are more plans to integrate tagging into both iOS and Android apps.

Saved story tags also have RSS feeds. This is a big deal, since this allows you to save stories and have them automatically ingested by IFTTT for use elsewhere. You already could share stories over your blurblog, but now you have a private RSS feed that gives you far greater control.

Stay tuned because there are even more big features coming soon. Telling your friends about NewsBlur, whether on Twitter and Facebook or when spying over their shoulder and noticing that they’re hitting the same dozen sites over and over again without letting the sites come to them with new stories, goes a long way towards getting new features built. More users means more premiums which means more features getting built. It’s a vicious cycle.

Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2509 days ago
reply
I saw mention of IFTTT and rushed over there to see if there was a NewsBLur channel. Now I'm sad, but I still like this feature.
New Jersey
samuel
2509 days ago
Just means you can now feed a saved story RSS feed into IFTTT and it will work.
Share this story
Delete
16 public comments
jasonlbaptiste
2505 days ago
reply
Test
thameera
2506 days ago
reply
It's a vicious cycle.
Sri Lanka
teagueamania
2507 days ago
reply
I continue to be glad I spent $ on #Newsblur
Manhattan, Kansas
mlupo
2508 days ago
reply
Amazing!
Canada
jimwise
2508 days ago
reply
Nice.
Romanikque
2508 days ago
reply
Not that I needed more reasons to continue using Newsblur, but this rocks!
Baltimore, MD
Courtney
2509 days ago
reply
FUCK. YES. TAGGING.
Portland, OR
egoexpress
2509 days ago
reply
Yay, tags!
49.46904200,11.11430400
mihai
2509 days ago
reply
Yay, the forMihai/forAnn 1:1 tag stream can come back!
Cupertino, CA
dbentley
2509 days ago
And the forDan/forBitsy as well. Oh man I'm excited.
chrisrosa
2509 days ago
reply
huge! thank you for all the hard work.
San Francisco, CA
pfctdayelise
2509 days ago
reply
Virtuous cycle, not vicious :P
Melbourne, Australia
chrishiestand
2509 days ago
reply
Not to be too ungrateful but finally!

Now if we could just enable comments on uncommented posts, and sharing arbitrary URLS via mobile app I will be content.
San Diego, CA, USA
DMack
2509 days ago
reply
Envisioning using the tag RSS feeds to automatically do stuff at home while I'm at work...
Victoria, BC
dreadhead
2509 days ago
Linux ISO I assume?
satadru
2509 days ago
reply
"Saved story tags also have [potentially private] RSS feeds." Hello Google Reader Feature parity!
New York, NY
satadru
2509 days ago
Also, any chance of allowing auto-save when sharing?
kicking_kk
2509 days ago
reply
This is great news. It's going to make integration with IFTTT, Pinboard & Instapaper so much easier. Hopefully the iOS app will be updated with this feature shortly.
boltonm
2509 days ago
reply
Great addition to Newsblur features - tagging - an even more worthy Google Reader replacement.
London, UK

Faster parallel network requests for version 3.5 of the NewsBlur Android app

4 Comments and 8 Shares

The single biggest criticism I’ve heard of the Android app is that it can be slow when loading feeds and then loading stories. That changes today with the release of version 3.5 of the NewsBlur Android app.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Completely rewritten parallel network stack
  • All network requests are now much, much faster
  • Bugs fixed when marking as read and saved

And remember that only a month and a half ago, version 3.0 hit the Play Store and the Kindle Store with these great features:

  • New story traversal buttons make it easy to flip between stories.
  • New text view fetches and parses the story from the original site.
  • New logo.
  • Public comments are now be hidden in preferences.
  • Ability to unsave stories.

There’s more coming to the NewsBlur Android app, now that it’s reached speed parity with the iOS app. Look forward to lots of updates, improvements, and new features.

Read the whole story
DrewCPU
2520 days ago
reply
You should do something about that system update.
New Jersey
samuel
2520 days ago
System update?
DrewCPU
2520 days ago
On the screenshot, the notification in the top-left corner means you have an update. Probably KitKat if you're on a Nexus 7.
samuel
2520 days ago
Ohh, thanks! Installing now.
wffurr
2520 days ago
In your screenshot, the window shade is showing a system update notification icon. That said, love me some fast News blur! Thanks Samuel!
Share this story
Delete
3 public comments
joshhsoj1902
2519 days ago
reply
Awesome! I look forward to trying it!
Ottawa
llucax
2520 days ago
reply
Good job! Now the new most requested feature is probably offline reading ;)
Berlin
milowg
2519 days ago
I used to think that but then I found GrazeRSS which can be used for Newsblur offline reading. However I find that I still use the Newsblur app because I am almost always connected. I like the fact that what I read is instantly synched to all my devices. Plus I like the newsblur interface better. So adding offline reading would be nice as long as it is done in such a way that it is only offline when not connected.
llucax
2519 days ago
Yeah, for me it would be enough to have a button to download all stories for offline reading, usually I know when I'm about to go offline and I want the stories to be cached
attackofhubris
2513 days ago
I'm also a fan of GrazeRSS. I used Newsrob for years for Google Reader, so it's nice to have the same experience. All the credit in the world for the official newsblur app though. It's much improved.
TheRomit
2520 days ago
reply
Good. *Still* hoping against hope for a Windows Phone native app.
santa clara, CA
jerquiaga
2520 days ago
Native Windows Phone app would be great. Best alternative I've found is NewsSpot, which is actually really good. A little strange though after moving from an iPad and an Android phone. Love my Lumia though.
samuel
2520 days ago
Metroblur is also a favorite.
TheRomit
2520 days ago
Metroblur is my favorite. Dev is responsive and iterates quite a lot.
TheRomit
2520 days ago
What I meant by "native" was actually "official" but Samuel has heard enough of that plea from me :-)
Next Page of Stories