jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Most of the recent news is on the OTW blog - check it out! It includes more information about performance of the AO3, invitations on the AO3, the latest survey data, and it will shortly have a post about elections that has been consuming a lot of my energy for the past few weeks. The board minutes for the last few meetings are now also online.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Since my last post seems to have sparked off a lot of discussion, there are a couple of things I'd like to clarify. Firstly, attendance is not the whole story, particularly for board meetings.

Read more... )

In happier news, thank you to everyone who gave me hugs on my last post - it's given me an injection of energy, and we've managed to redistribute a couple of tasks so that several of us are making more progress again. New board minutes are now posted, Sidra's thank-you is posted, and so is strat plan's latest update. And although the annual report is several months late, it's getting very close to being ready. So there is some improvement in various areas, even if it's not as much as we might have hoped six months ago.

Tired

Jul. 4th, 2012 07:33 am
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
[personal profile] awatson wrote a great post on burnout recently. I've mostly been suffering from those symptoms too much to write in here, despite my early dreams. If you want more OTW news, [personal profile] renay and [personal profile] hl are also writing a bit from different perspectives.

Board is difficult. We have three people who can hardly ever make a meeting at the moment. I would say you can see from our minutes, but I'm having trouble getting a quorum to approve the minutes so I can post them. And it's getting to be holiday season, so it's only going to get harder. We can't really have the discussions of big issues that we need if only half the board are there. So we tick along on the admin side, and work on making specific committees more sustainable.

That's an uphill battle, too. We have had an unlucky year, with six chairs having to step down in the first six months of the year - that's significantly higher than normal. We've also had a lot of experienced staffers finally hit the point of "too much". So for those who are left, training newbies is balanced with keeping things running, and trying to fit in some long-term strategic thinking in the gaps. It's easy to think that all we need to do is train and mentor more people for future leadership, but mentoring is hard work, even if it's rewarding. There are people who say they have tons of professional experience, but then don't seem to apply any of the expected skills to their org work. Which applies to me some days, too - I forget that the day-job skills for dealing with difficult clients could be applied to fannish friends in the org.

The AO3 performance problems have slipped off the headlines, but behind the scenes everyone knows it's only a temporary reprieve - we need to fix the actual problems so they don't recur. And because of the stress that's causing, still no-one wants to talk about any of the issues that were raised publicly during the last election.

I wanted to end this on a hopeful note, but I can't think of one right now. I guess that's another of the symptoms of burnout. Anyone want to volunteer for Board next year?
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Our wonderful sysadmin [personal profile] sidra added more unicorns and now the AO3 servers are running faster. If anyone wants to send her fic in gratitude, I see she has some AO3 bookmarks which illustrate her taste. We've still got a ton more work to do on performance, but with that, the extra indexes she added, and the fixes for a few slow queries in the next deploy, we've at least bought ourselves a few more weeks or maybe months. Go Sidra! \o/

And then [personal profile] astolat imported her back catalogue - there were over 60,000 emails in the queue at one point yesterday, mostly for all her subscribers. [personal profile] sidra is hurrying those through, and then a coder needs to work on the planned split of different types of emails so we can prioritise better. We already split out some different types of emails, but not enough yet, and when we have that many, it slows down the whole mail server. Systems are also looking at other options for handling the volume of email.

Time for me to get back to work now, but there will be more Board minutes out soon, and then term starts. I'm on holiday next week, so the next couple of sets of minutes will be done by [personal profile] julia_beck as vice-secretary. Feel free to ask questions if there's anything you're curious about in the OTW.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
It's been well over a week since my last quick update, so here are some notes of what's been going on.

We had our first Board overlap meeting! I'm expecting a post to go up on the official blog soon explaining more about what overlap is, but the people who would have been chasing it up have had RL issues (moving house, health problems flaring), so it's taken a while. But it's basically the period while the new Board can shadow the old Board, getting access to some of the Board-locked areas of Campfire and later Basecamp, and sitting in on meetings, though we can't yet vote on decisions. The meeting lasted a whopping 3 hours, but I think we heard some useful updates and laid some good groundwork - we all discussed our hopes for the next few months, and a bit about the general theory of strategic planning.

We'll be talking more about strategic planning in the next org-wide meeting, so if you're awake at 5am UTC this Saturday and you volunteer for the OTW, come along! Or maybe read transcript afterwards :S At some point I'm also vaguely hoping to do a post on the official OTW blog talking more about the process and theory. In the meantime, a quick Google or Wikipedia of "Strategic planning" gives a pretty good overview for anyone who's curious.

AO3 deploy! We had a deploy two days ago, which included fixing some urgent bugs for due South Secret Santa and other challenges, fixing bugs for the tag wranglers and for a security loophole, among other fixes. We had a great relay team working across the Atlantic in different timezones, handing over the baton to continue working round the clock and get everything sorted as soon as possible. Now it's back to working on the new parser, the remaining skins bugs and missing features that were intended for Skins 2.0, as well as fixing the remaining automated tests that were broken by the tag sets changes.

And our donation page on the AO3 is now live, linking users to the main OTW site - the next version will include some more details and graphics, but it's a great start. That was coded by our intern, Firewolf - at the beginning of October, she'd never programmed before, and now she's fixing bugs and adding new features like this! \o/
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
As many of you are already aware, the most recent AO3 deploy did not go as smoothly as we hoped, and we’ve sometimes had issues on previous major releases. The big items are all fixed now, but it reminded me that I know a few places (both work projects at my day job and Dreamwidth) where we deal with similar issues. Here are a few ideas I have been thinking about, around the principles of managing incidents on an IT service.

Sometimes, when a technical group is trying to deal with a major problem or a code release that's gone wrong, management and task prioritisation is an issue. You have everyone putting out little fires with buckets, when actually it needs someone to go, "Wait, guys, this is a pretty big building and it's all on fire. I'm ringing the fire service - they have trucks with big hoses." But to do that you have to have one person let go of a bucket in order to pick up the phone.

The general part )

The AO3 part )
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I realised it's been over a week since the election results were posted (time has flown!) so wanted to give a quick update since it may have looked quiet.

Board-wise, we've been trying to organise our first handover meeting - with a lot of people in different timezones, all of whom need to be there, it's not easy. There's also a post in the works explaining how overlap and rollover works, so that should be posted soon. Rollover is 9th Dec, so we've got a couple of weeks once overlap starts, hopefully this week.

AO3-wise, we've been bug-fixing and recovering from a very busy weekend. Coders and testers have again been doing great work towards a bug-fix release. I've been mentoring our coding intern, Firewolf, who has done a first version of our "Donate" page on the AO3, which will link to the volunteering and donation sections of the main OTW site. Rebecca has also re-written our HTML parser, which is another big improvement. Hooray for Firewolf and Rebecca!

I have a post in the works about Incident Management principles and managing a live IT service, but it's still in draft form, as my day job has also been pretty busy these past couple of weeks, and I've been catching up on all the things since the election.

I also liked the translation spotlight that was posted this week, and want to signal boost the SOPA links roundup for fans in the USA.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I feel like this week has been all fire-fighting, and I desperately want to take a step back and see where it fits into the bigger picture, but I haven't yet had time for that. So, in lieu of the proper post that has to wait until my day job work and the AO3 deploy have calmed down a bit, here are some quick notes. I'd be happy to expand on any of these in comments if people want to know more - each paragraph could easily have been a post in itself.

The AO3 deploy has been a rush and a big deal. Support have done an amazing job. There are things I strongly disagree with about how this deploy was handled, but I've said the key things internally and I don't think there's anything to be gained by going over it here. Suffice it to say that the people who made mistakes have also been doing sterling work helping to clean up the mess, and I want to give full credit for that. I know some of the changes and the way we dealt with them have annoyed and upset people, and I'm sorry for that. I'm also looking forward to all the underlying improvements, and enjoying the benefit of them once the dust has settled. I hope that some day we can regain the trust we've lost.

I am sad about Lucy's resignation. I was looking forward to working with her on the Board if either of us got elected. I understand the need for self-care, and I look forward to continuing to work with her in various areas of the org. I'm also looking forward to implementing some of her suggestions - the things we've all mentioned in the chats can be put forward as proposals, regardless of who gets elected.

I want to link to lim's post about her work. I have really appreciated working with lim over the past few years, and I am very upset that she is leaving. From my point of view as a member of AD&T, the bad aspects of this deploy have not all been her fault - there are several other stages where the backlash could have been prevented. I want to extend a huge thank you for all the work she's done on accessibility. I hope we can finish the code off in such a way that people can see the benefits of the work she's done.

Read more... )

And lastly - a giant thank you to everyone who's supported me in this election. I am reading, even when I don't have the energy to comment, and I appreciate hearing all your views. The encouragement, both for me and for my colleagues, is a big help when we're all doing our best for the OTW.

♥ fandom ♥
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Test driven development (TDD) is a concept in computer programming, and I'd like to take time to explain it for non-technical people, as I think it's a useful start for wider discussions about goals.

Basically, it's awesome )
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
I started drafting a post about test-driven development, objectives and goals, but then day job stuff hit. So this post is a quick exercise in the transparency I've been talking about, on a personal level.

Because we need to show not just data, but also information - not just our rough notes, but explaining and highlighting the important bits. Like Dreamwidth has both Bugzilla and [site community profile] dw_news posts, we have both Google Code and AO3 news posts for the AO3, and we need to clarify what the equivalent is for other areas of the OTW. But that's a discussion for another day.

This election process has been exhausting. It's great to have all this discussion, but one of the things I'd like to think about for next year is ways of making it less wearing on the candidates and elections officer. It doesn't help that most of us have had other stuff to deal with at the same time - computer issues, house guests, illness in the family, moving house, insomnia, et cetera. Of course, in some ways we'll have similar situations throughout the year, whether we're on Board or other committees, so it's good practice, but it's still very hard.

And as I said in one of my answers, the most wearing part is not the work in and of itself, but the interpersonal tensions and feeling that your work isn't appreciated. So here are some thank-yous, for a start: To Ira, for co-ordinating everything. To Allison, for wrangling Drupal to post things on the site, and for doing the Paypal reconciliation to make sure our list of voters is correct. To the other candidates, for answering thoughtfully and participating in the process despite everything. To Via_Ostiense, Volcom chair, for handling all the mediation stuff we don't see. To all the other committees, for carrying on with the day-to-day work at the same time. Thank you all.

Now I'm off for a tough week at work on far too little sleep, in between trying to support a friend who's just moved country, hoping I'll be able to answer the next set of questions as well as writing that post at some point. Oh, and I'd like to help out on some coding for the next AO3 deploy, if I can find some energy. Welcome to a day in the life of me. I'm generally more optimistic when I've slept properly, I promise.

You can find more information about the OTW on the official OTW site. Election voting is November 16th-18th.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Jenny)
We're still having server issues - it looks like something in the deploy had a side-effect that made it worse, even though the bit we changed is better. Sidra and Elz worked a 12-hour shift yesterday to try and improve it, and they're sleeping now but will be up in a few hours and continue looking.

In the meantime, donations towards new servers are always appreciated, as are volunteer testers and coders - extra people taking the minor bugs off our hands leave senior coders with more time to focus on the big things.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Today we deployed new code to the AO3 Test server, so we're another step closer to our next release.

Features in this round )

Testing changes )

Delicious

Sep. 27th, 2011 03:57 pm
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
So Delicious/AVOS broke a load of stuff. And fandom has sent in support requests, and AVOS are either frantically coding to fix it or possibly ignoring some requests - we don't know.

Fannish infrastructure like Delicious that relies on the goodwill of disinterested (or anti-fannish) parties such as AVOS or Yahoo is generally problematic - it's great to have free stuff while it's working, but it does leave us vulnerable. The OTW mission of preservation & access aims to help us in this sort of situation, but we don't yet have a full solution for all the things Delicious does.

This puts even more pressure on the bookmarks overhaul that AD&T are working on for AO3. And therefore more pressure on already overstretched coders and testers, so caring for our volunteers becomes more important. We have 21 improvements/bug-fixes planned for AO3 bookmarks, ranging from minor niggles to major new features. Which of those do you think are most urgent or important to the things you used to use Delicious for and can't any more?

I'm sure there will be an official OTW post about this later today, but I'd be interested to hear people's views.
jennyst: OTW: Fandom is my fandom (OTW fandom is my fandom)
I've been a bit stressed lately with OTW stuff that isn't public yet. The OTW always has internal discussions going on that aren't publicly visible, ranging from usual committee meetings to new initiatives. I think there are always some of those that could be more public than they are, and some that are private for good reason.

In the meantime, I can at least talk more generally about the issues I care about. Firstly, transparency, surprisingly enough! A lot of the content in the monthly org-wide meeting is also in the monthly newsletter, but it feels different when you're there, meeting the people who do the work, and being able to ask questions. So I'd like to encourage anyone interested in the org to watch out for the announcements, come along for part of the meeting if you can, or post questions in the comments of the monthly newsletter. I'd particularly like to encourage people to comment and subscribe to comments on the main OTW site - unlike LJ, there's no limit to the number of posts you can track. The next org-wide meeting is this Saturday - details have been emailed out to all volunteers, so contact Volcom if you haven't heard about it.

Secondly, accessibility. We're revamping our Javascript on the AO3, which is going to enable more accessiblity improvements in the future, but currently means we're reminding ourselves quite how much of the site doesn't work if you turn JS off (answer: too much). Of course, in between that, we're trying to handle servers falling over, error 502 and everything else. I've also been doing a bit of recent investigation into both screenreaders (learning to use NVDA) and voice recognition software (mainly the built-in Windows one, not Dragon). We have a couple of people within the OTW who use voice recognition, and we have worked hard to make the Archive accessible, but there are still areas we could improve, notably the tag wrangling pages. If you spot a problem, please do report it to us so we can fix it - detailed bug reports are a huge help. Our internal tools are also an issue - Campfire is okay to use with Dragon or Windows Voice Recognition, if you can manage a few mouse clicks in between, but it's totally impossible with a screenreader. I raised this to Campfire support, and they said they'd never tested with a screenreader, and didn't have any plans to change it. At least they agreed to suggest to their developers to consider fixing things, and someone in their support team has now tried it with NVDA, but it's a little frustrating.

In other news, the Fanlore project to revamp their CSS is going well - there's a recent post about it on their comm. The AO3 project to revamp all our CSS and change the way skins work is also in progress, and the first draft is being tested at the moment, before review by AD&T for design and accessibility.
jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
(originally inspired by [staff profile] denise's Dreamwidth bug counts)

All issues needing work: 518 (up from 515)
Needs Attention On Beta (needing testing): 10 (down from 15)
Needing coding: 476 (down from 500)
Closed bugs: 1988 (up from 1943)

Support requests open: 176, down from 211

Bug bingo: We started on 14.07.2011 with 461 issues that are new/accepted/assigned/started. Now we have 437 issues.





24 / 461

That's a lot of coding in a short time, and a load of new coders getting involved. Support and testers are doing well, but both always need more people.

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