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Ask HN: I really need your help (resolved)
194 points by teej on Dec 20, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 36 comments
Hacker News -

I'm working on a mobile application called MinoMonsters. We are using a Ruby EventMachine backend to track behavior, persist user objects, and handle virtual good transactions.

I'm in a very sticky situation. Our user numbers are exploding off the charts and our backend is failing. It's silently crashing without leaving a trace. It's getting into some hard to reproduce states. The situation is not looking good.

And I need to get it fixed -tonight-.

I am looking for an experienced Ruby dev on a short term contract basis ASAP. I've set aside a budget to make this happen truly ASAP. Deep EventMachine experience is highly preferred, as that's the core source of my issues. San Francisco would be nice, but I'm willing to talk to anyone with the chops to help me fix this.

If you know someone who can help, please reach out. If you don't, you can help by sharing this post with someone who might.

I can be contacted at teej.murphy@gmail.com or by phone (410) 236 - 2894

EDIT: This is now resolved! Thanks for your help, HN. You guys are the best.

Hey guys, thanks a TON for reaching out and helping me get this fixed. Through the efforts of Aman Gupta and my friend Ryan Stout, we were able to track down the source of the problem.

I really appreciate your help!

I promise to write up a blog post talking about my unique setup and how I fucked it up to lead to this problem.

I would just like to say how proud I am of this community, that a fellow hacker gets the help they need, when they most need it. Looking forward to that blog post.

Awesome, I saw Aman give an EventMachine talk at MountainWest RubyConf and Ryan Stout is a local that is always willing to help out.

What a community indeed!

Can you tell us what the problem was?

Is there a blog link I can bookmark and check later?

You might want to edit and remove your phone number.

Emailed you, hoping to help out in any way possible!

people like you make me love HackerNews even more

Hah Thanks! I'm always looking to help! (:

If by 'silent crashes' you mean the process dies leaving no trace in Rubyland you might want deep OS/C++ expertise moreso than Ruby...

His saying that the backend is crashing.

So, what was it? I am very-very curious.

Aman Gupta.

To the person who fixed the problem: are you putting this on your resumé and if so how are you describing it?

I imagine something like this might be VERY attractive to certain employers.

Also, idea for a startup: Fix My Crisis. Advertise jobs like this when your ops go fubar and you need a deep expert to come in and save your ass ASAP. Reward them with cash and/or resumé glory.

I could also see this being abused. "Plz hlp!!1 my website stop working don't know why, my teacher need this ASAP". Maybe if you deal with the payment issues up front you could get around this (no one's gonna shell down real money up front unless they have a real problem), but it's something to be figured out.

I like it. Maybe even beyond or in addition something like "Code Concierge" -- for a variety of reasons it might be nice to have an ongoing relationship with individual/team/org for problems, advice, etc, that is not a typical consulting agreement, but is more than ad hoc posts to HN or Stack Exchange.

it's great to see people come together and help each other out in such short timeframe.

However, one thing i noticed is that the user posting this "teej" is a popular user on HN with a high karma and post count. Do you guys believe that's one of the reason this post got lots of up votes to make it to the front to get the help needed? I'm just thinking, what if someone new had posted this link? would it have gotten buried within the first hour? I sure hope not.

I don't know how often HN get trawled, but you might want to think about removing or obfiscating your details, now that your issue is solved.

Francis Cianfrocca

Bad title: I thought you were dying of starvation and needed urgent donations.

Not sure why your comment was downvoted. Indeed, it would have been better if the title was more concrete, such as: "Need the help from an experienced Ruby dev".

Nevertheless, I'm glad he got some helping hands despite the bad title.

Me too, its a beauty of HN that folks always get helped.

I'm not a ruby person, and this post by Joe Damato made me want to stay as far away as possible from Ruby -- but perhaps it would be helpful in your case


Would someone who downvoted me (or who understands the downvotes even if they did not downvote) explain the downvote?

I give reference to a site that describes a class of problems that might include the one described by the op. And it is both scary, and inherent to the existing Ruby implementations. And I also mention that this description keeps me even farther away from Ruby than I was.

And I get 5 downvotes (and counting?), and no comment. I'm not new here, and I do find this puzzling.

Although I didn't downvote you, you might have got your downvotes because your comment is irrelevant and not helpful.

Imagine someone struggling with tuning MySQL and someone else hijacking the thread with "MySQL is slow as molasses in January, use MongoDB/Cassandra/Distributed MapReduce in Erlang!". How does it help? If you want to discuss fundamental ruby issues like this one, submit your link separately.

> "MySQL is slow as molasses in January, use MongoDB/Cassandra/Distributed MapReduce in Erlang!". How does it help?

But that's entirely unlike what I wrote (although apparently that's how many people going through the thread read it). I was not advocating a different language/system whatever. I was pointing to an article saying "Existing Ruby implementations tend to randomly crash because of a very specific design flaw -- here's why that happens, and a possible, though not easy, way to determine if your crashes are a result of this design flaw". Given the info originally provided, it's hard to provide a more relevant link.

Personally, I don't care about Ruby, which is why I have no intention of submitting that link; and even if I did, based on the responses here, I suspect it would be downvoted as "badmouthing Ruby", rather than actually discussed. But I don't really care either way.

I was just surprised because while I have been downvoted before, it was never so harshly and without any discussion, especially since (if anyone actually followed the link they would have realized) it's possibly extremely relevant.

Honestly, It seems to me like it's probably for bad mouthing Ruby without obviously have having used it yourself. Ruby's pretty popular here, I assume that your comment didn't sit well with the Ruby groups here. While my own feelings toward the language are ambiguous, if you flippantly insulted one of my babies (Haskell, Scheme) my knee-jerk reaction might be to downvote you. Hopefully I'd curb it. Despite the fact that you've given some concrete reasons for staying away from Ruby vis-a-vis a link, I think you might have run into a bit of a tl;dr there. You should enumerate your problems with the language in your comments, or risk being downvoted.

More to the point the topic wasn't really about obscure bugs in ruby. The backend was failing due to getting slammed which admittedly could make some nasty bugs surface.

What I think the main problem was is that you answered someone in an emergency with a probably unrelated blog link.

> The backend was failing due to getting slammed

The original description was "server is crashing without leaving a trace", which sounds like an obscure bug to me -- certainly of the kind described in the article I linked to. It's as related as it can be given the info they gave when they originally posted their query.


I'm guessing the link looks like spam (broken promises of Mr blah blah blah???)

It's actually a detailed analysis of a general class of cases of why Ruby crashes. Yes, it is critical of existing Ruby implementations, but it also shows how to solve the problem.

I've learned my lesson, though - if I don't have praise for Ruby, I'll just shut up.

Er, a comment here praising Ruby would have been equally useless to the OPs problem, and downvoted accordingly.

Maybe you might learn some kind of lesson about how to view your own comment as someone else will read it?

I.e., you seemed to first disqualify yourself as someone with expert knowledge, then offer a useless criticism of the basic technology the OP is using, then offer an article that supported your negative opinion. So after that, do you expect someone seeking expert help to click that link?

Wow. I mean, just wow.

> you seemed to first disqualify yourself as someone with expert knowledge,


> then offer a useless criticism of the basic technology the OP is using,

Where did I do that? The only thing I did (other than disqualifying myself as an expert), is:

> then offer an article that supported your negative opinion.

If you actually read the article I pointed to, you might have learned something about crashing Ruby processes that leave no trace, which -- the humanity -- is what the original problem description was.

> So after that, do you expect someone seeking expert help to click that link?

Why would you (or anyone) expect the article to be "supporting my negative opinion" when the accompanying text was "perhaps this is relevant to your case?". I am not, but Joe Damato _is_ an expert in debugging undebuggable situations. Read it, you might learn something about your favorite language that you are likely to learn nowhere else.

This article helped form my negative opinion of existing Ruby implementations. Your post, among others, helped me form my opinion of the Ruby community. I totally ignored the Zedshaw bashing of it, but I'm starting to think he had it spot on.

Downvote away folks.

Well then you've obviously not learned your lesson.

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