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Anti-spam measures can, if improperly implemented, completely destroy an online community, in slow ways that are hard to detect at first. Keeping the paizo.com messageboards a safe, fun place for everybody is super important, so we're naturally cautious.
I've been working on some new anti-spam tools while everyone's away at Gen Con. We'll probably start testing them later this week. It'll take some time to fine tune them so they'll be operating in an "advisory mode" until we're sure the spamhammer can be made fully operational. But rest assured, those knuckleheads are in our sights.
Your selections for each day affect only your schedule for that day.
For details on how the lottery works, here it is straight from the javadoc:
How the Lottery Works
The source of randomness will be a java.security.SecureRandom using the SHA1PRNG algorithm, seeded by rolling 3d8, eight times. (Yes, physical dice.)*
The lottery will be in multiple rounds, at least one for each day of the convention. For each round,
1. Select a dictator. The list of attendees is shuffled, then the first person in the shuffled list is selected as dictator and removed from the list. If the dictator has a buddy, that person is noted and also removed from the list. (That is, if your buddy gets selected, you and the dictator are both considered to have had your chance in this round.)
2. Let the dictator dictate. We'll collect the list of events for the specified day that the dictator (and buddy) has marked as ranked highest, and shuffle that list.
The first event in the list will be examined: if there's space available for the person selected (and buddy), then that person (and buddy) is assigned to the event. If there isn't space available, then another event is selected, repeating until all highest-ranked events have been exhausted.
Once we've tried the dictator's highest ranked events, we move on to the next-highest ranked list, and so on, until we've assigned the dictator to an event, or the dictator's list of desired events is exhausted.
The shuffle list—select dictator—shuffle events—select event process repeats until we've exhausted either the entire list of attendees, or all the events for the day.
If we've exhausted the list of attendees but not the available events, we start another round for all attendees for the remaining events for that day. If no assignment gets made in a round, we stop doing rounds for that day and move on to the next day.
*Overheard this morning:
cs erik: Gary at some point today can you run the lottery on paizo.test?
pmg: i lack the equipment
pmg: MY KINGDOM FOR 3D8!
20 seconds later, Cort places dice on my desk
cort: Ask and you shall receive.
We had some near-downtime earlier this morning, where the site was overloaded enough that it was serving pages too slowly to do any good. I don't think that was triggered by too much traffic but it might have been.
We also just had a few minutes of downtime just now, and that was upstream of our servers. We're investigating but at least we're back on the air now.
Overall yes we do have more traffic than normal right now, but our servers at least seem to be doing OK. The personalizer server is probably taking the biggest hit right now.
If your backyard is 200 square paces, and has 25 small pine cones per square pace embedded in the lawn and under the turf, which take 10 to 20 minutes per square pace to locate and remove, do you clear the pine cones before mowing? Clearing just the pine cones which might catch in the mower blades takes five minutes per square pace.
Because reasons, the following are apparently Not Open for Further Discussion as possible solutions: Establishing a tiger preserve; the use of fire, poison, heavy construction equipment including backhoes and excavator-diggers, any sort of laser or other coherent collimating radiation, radiation in basically any useful or glowing form, any lawnmower bot based on internal combustion powered chainsaws; any solution based on technologies provided by the people who come through the forest on the other side of the fence; any solution that involves strapping anything good (technically "dangerous") to the boy; the importation or use of livestock which require any food except pine cones; the creation of livestock which find pine cones irresistible; establishing a leopard preserve.
Right now stickers are the best. toy. evar. We got the boy a book that's built like a calendar full of peel-and-stick trucks and boats and planes and everything else. ("Colorforms" for those of us of a certain age.)
If he sees the sticker book anywhere in the room, he's on it like Pooh on a honey tree. Wonder what it'll be next week….
It turns out, if something bugs me personally (like, say, finding a download on a giant list, because I have every single Paizo PDF ever produced), it may in fact prompt more attention than it might otherwise warrant. (May all the things that bug you match mine!)
More improvements for downloads are in the works.
Today we're rolling out a new version of the website. If everything is going right, you're using it right now. If not, we hope to have the new version up very soon. What's new? Lots of stuff, and not much, and very much faster.
What's new: Lots of stuff
Goblin Squad Store
Order Checkout Wizardry
My point is, the checkout wizard was a really good idea and we've brought it back. I'm especially pleased with the final confirmation step -- read on for why.
Order Confirmation Emails
What's new: Not much
Well, not much visible beyond what I've described above. But this is the most significant revamp in Paizo's history, and we've done a LOT of revamps. Over the years our order processing system has grown in complexity as we've added features. Along the way the codebase has grown brittle and increasingly resistant to change without putting up a really effective and quite vicious fight. To get an idea, check out Auntie Lisa's Story Hour; each pivot Paizo takes requires new code, and those pivots come quickly. So there's about a decade of changes, some hasty and poorly conceived, some from the excellent-idea-at-the-time-if-we-were-in-that-business-anymore department, and a healthy mix of "we just messed up a few thousand orders, what do we have to do to fix this before anybody notices" in there.
Well, good fracking riddance, that's what I say. This codebase is cleaner, way easier to understand, and now comprises a foundation on which we can start building new things rapidly, instead of continually bailing water and trying to figure out why the thing we built a year ago just broke today. No promises. But I think things are about to get interesting around here.
What's new: Very much faster
Oh yeah, the site should be faster now. And we've made some big changes to our customer service tools that should help us fulfill your orders faster, too.
What's currently broken
Right now, gift options are unavailable during order checkout, as is redeeming promotional codes or gift certificates. (You can still redeem gift certificates from the gift certificates page.) Some displays may be a bit wonky, we've switched stylesheets and are in the process of revamping that a bit more.
We're still figuring out exactly what's happened and what we're going to do to make this not happen again. The power went out. The UPS that's supposed to bridge the few seconds until the generator kicks in decided to take a nap. The database cluster had to be restarted from cold, which is a tricky time for a cluster. (They generally prefer partial failures or rolling restarts.) When the cluster finally did come back up, something got misconfigured. A scheduled backup fires off and takes down one mode which apparently the others dislike and they all start squabbling about who has the most recent copy of this table or that, and so damage control, cleanup and restarting the site gets more complicated.
Yeah sorry, that's probably a usage that's idiomatic to my own background more than Paizo. Way back in the long ago, I worked for newspapers, and there was "editorial" (reporters, copyeditors etc) and "production" (design, typesetting, layout/pasteup etc). So when I say production I mean "taking materials and turning into finished product" (in this case bits rather than camera-ready art).