Deep Breath.

5 11 2007

Aaaaand, we’re back.
What an insane couple of days. There’s a whole series of posts brewing in my head right now, but I’ll just touch on probably the one that’s most on my mind.
Last week, I was in mid-preparation for Ubercon, an awesome gaming convention I regularly work down in NJ. CONGO has been pretty idle for the last few months as the summer is not a big time for conventions. With a week to go until Ubercon started, it was time to pull out all the hardware and make sure everything was working.
Well, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t.
The first major issue was coming to the conclusion that endor, the venerable server of dozens of conventions, really wasn’t going to handle Yet Another Apt Upgrade. It was still running on a baseline Debian Sarge install that had been upgraded a dozen times over the years, and finally, after enough apt tweaking had gone on, a dependency just wouldn’t resolve, and the machine would not take new upgrades. It was time to nuke from orbit and reinstall the OS from an Ubuntu baseline.
No problem, sez I. I whip out my Gutsy Gibbon Ubuntu CD, do a quick database dump and backup, install Ubuntu, and restore my home directory and databases. Reinstalled CONGO, loaded the working databases and…
stopped.
See, CONGO was my first big Java application. And as such, it has some… intriguing ways of doing database work. And by ‘intriguing’ I mean butt-ass stupid. In particular, not using PreparedStatements for SQL commands, not checking for failed transactions, etc etc. While this was okay for a fairly static application, once you replace the entire OS underneath it, things start to get a little squirrely. And, well, we had squirrels aplenty.
So over the space of 3 days I basically had to rewrite every SQL interraction in CONGO, resulting in some fairly major code changes, and all of this 3 days before a con.
Add on top of this the fact that I’m also using a brand new printer from Evolis for the first time under Linux. There’s a whole nother post about this experience, but it did bring yet another variable into play. Oh, and did I mention that I rewrote the print routine in CONGO to generate PDFs on the fly and use them for badge rendering? Yep, also new.
Needless to say, things were a little panicy leading up to the event. Fortunately, by Wednesday afternoon, I had things fairly well stabilized, the code worked, endor was stable and functioning properly, and I could start packing for the event with a clear conscience.

The end result? It all worked. The convention went fine, the printer behaved wonderfully, running badges twice as fast as my old Fargo printers, and we had only minor glitches through the weekend. There’s still some work to do to get endor ready for larger events, but for a week that started out with totally broken software, an unuseable server, and an untested printing system, things went mighty well.
Onwards.

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2 responses

5 11 2007
Perley Mears

Congrats. BTW, did the Mame setup go with you to the show?

5 11 2007
db

It did indeed! But that’s a whole nother post 🙂

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