Weeknotes: First Of The Year — 26th January 2019

Gotcha. Sorry, no, this isn’t the song by Skrillex. These are the first weeknotes I’ve published of 2019, hopefully soon to be followed by my retrospective of 2018.

From resizing images to infrastructure problems

  • After migrating the original version of the application to Kubernetes last year, this week (specifically, Sunday) I updated ImageCDN to v2, a rewrite in Node. I placed a strong emphasis on trying to improve its concurrency as I found that the greatest limitation with PHP and PHP-PM was that it was very easy to overload the service and bring it down.
  • Along the way of rewriting the ImageCDN core I had a lot of fun learning about libvips, which is a superb if somewhat underrated image processing library. With more-or-less the same file-size output as ImageMagick, libvips is able to produce better, more-accurate images with significantly less memory usage. Hopefully I will be able to use it in future projects. Expect a write-up!
  • Why the move back from Kubernetes? It’s a really nice technology but it isn’t deploy-and-forget when dealing with non-trivial workloads despite the hype. Cluster maintenance is required as time goes on, and to be effective it is essential to allocate a healthy portion of the cluster resources to monitoring and observability activities. Which adds up pretty quickly. For a free service this meant a lot of operational overhead and a pretty costly cluster.


  • My experiment with Slack has had an interesting result.
  • At first I got a lot of comments from people mildly irritated that I was no longer immediately reachable, but overall it has been ok. Seeing this success I started rolling this change out to my other messaging apps, and started using email a little bit more for managing notifications.
  • Now I have noticed an interesting behaviour pattern: When I've sent a message or I am expecting a reply from someone (say I am in a Slack conversation), I actively go into a "polling loop", cycling between the task I am working on and the messaging platform I am expecting a reply on. It's certainly better than before, but is definitely still rather draining.


  • I’m doing a talk! At BrumJS on the 19th of March. My topic is is software quality, how it is largely misunderstood, how only a small portion can be handled by “QA”, and then how to measure and improve it. I will be writing it up after-the-fact.

  • Nintendo seem to have restarted development on Metroid Prime 4, which sounds bad. Actually it's great news: Now Retro Studios are taking the reigns. My nostalgia bias is incredibly happy that Retro is picking this up, by my nostalgic inner-child is upset that this means the release date has been pushed back indefinitely. I Dread to think how long we might have to wait.

  • I’ve started planning a holiday to visit Hong Kong: Asia is incredibly exciting region and I’m quite thrilled to explore a new city!

  • Booking flights led me into the rabbit-hole of British Airways’ outfit of Airbus A380s and all of the quirks. Most amusing is Seat 25D: It is a standard, economy-class seat with all of the usual amenities of British Airways Economy. However, row 24 skips seat D to allow an escape-hatch for the crew’s cabin underneath, meaning that 25D includes double the normal leg-room. On its own, this isn’t too exciting, but BA took this in stride and reserved all of these seats for their Silver-tier members and up, charging a little extra for the seat with the promise of free champagne.

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© Alex Wilson 2024