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CommunityWalk Blog

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Evidence of a Denial of Service Attack

We've found evidence that we've been under a denial of service attack for the last day. We've isolated a few of the problems and have put in place some preventitive measures. We'll do our best to keep the system stable while we fight this off.

I Think We've Found the Culprit

I think we've found the culprit of the system instability. It looks like the performance enhancement we put in place last week was preventing Internet Explorer from caching images properly, causing significantly more (like 100x) images to be requested from the server. This was totally weighing down the server and led to much of the instability we have been seeing.

We've pulled out the performance enhancement and we are going to look at it some further to see if we can't get it back in there with Internet Explorer caching properly.

My apologies to everyone who has been having trouble on the site for the last week or so. We should have caught this earlier.

Reprioritizing - Focusing on Stability

We've decided to drop everything and work on the current stability issues CommunityWalk is seeing. We've seen steadily increasing traffic for some time now and we've been able to handle it very well up until the last few days. Now it seems we've reached a threashold and we need to figure out a more scalable infrastructure.

We believe we have the answers and we are going to drop everything else to focus on making sure the site is stable and fast.

This will affect a few other enhancements that we have been promising to people. It shouldn't delay them too long (another week or so), but they will be pushed back a bit. If we don't have a stable and fast system then the best enhancement in the world won't make any difference.

Server Issues

Over the last week we've been having a number of server issues. As far as we can tell this simply seems to be due to the steadily growing traffic, so it's not a terrible thing. Still we need to address it and we are going to right away. I've included our current thinking below, but it is a bit technical in nature. Still I want people to know that we are actively addressing these issues.

[Technical Answer]
Right now it appears that the biggest problem is that our Apache server is spawning too many threads to handle the many requests coming through. We are going to look into potentially moving all images to S3, to reduce the load on our Apache server or potentially purchasing another dedicated application server for CommunityWalk. Right now we are leaning towards the S3 solution, but we are still not 100% sure that it would solve our problems.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Little Bit Faster

We've just released an enhancement after much experimentation aroung speeding up the maps. You should ideally see your maps load considerably faster now.

If anyone experiences any problems with this please let us know.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Custom Urls

We've just released an enhancement that will allow you to create a custom url for your map, so the Pivotal Lunch Spots map is now:

instead of

although the old url still works.

To give your map a custom url just click "Edit Settings" and fill in the custom url field, making sure to check for availability.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Help Us Get The Word Out

Ok, we need some help.

We're trying to build a profitable company so that we can continue to offer high quality products like CommunityWalk and Wedding Mapper at great prices (or for free). We're not going to be able to achieve this goal unless we get the word out more, so we need your help.

In particular we are looking for help getting the word out about Wedding Mapper. The product is getting some rave reviews from those who use it, but we are struggling to get the word out to the larger audience of engaged couples out there.

All we ask is that you send an email to anyone you know that is getting married. More than likely they will be enormously appreciative becuase you just saved them from the hassle of figuring out to let all their guests know where to go for their wedding.

So let everyone you can know about Wedding Mapper (!

We've got many other great products in mind that we'll be offering for free or at equally great prices, so please help us get this going!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Going for the "WOW" price

I've been debating this for a long time and I am finally going to pull the trigger. When I originally priced CommunityWalk's maps I asked a lot of people and found a very fair price of $9.95.

Well I've decided to forget about "fair" and go for "WOW"!

You only live once 'eh?

So I am dropping the price on CommunityWalk maps to just $2.95 a month.

This may very well back fire on me, so I'm only promising it will stay at this price for the next two months. If it doesn't lead to considerably more sales I may bring the price back up. If you purchase a subscription to a map now, though, then it will stay at $2.95 a month.

I will be reducing the price for all existing customers immediately. Your accounts should reflect the new price starting tomorrow.

Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Experimenting with Image Ads

We've decided to do a little experimenting with the ad formats we use to see if we can not get a better click-through rate then we already have. So you should now see images in the bottom left corner of your map on occasion. I'd be interested in hearing feedback from anyone if they have any to offer about this.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Server Issues

CommunityWalk is having some server issues right now. I am working with our hosting company to resolve the problem and get the site back up. I don't have too much information yet, but will update this post as soon as I have more information as to the site's availability.

Sorry about any inconvenience this is causing anyone.

And We're Back...

We are working on diagnosing the issues that caused this outage. We'll do everything we can to ensure it does not happen again. If it does happen again we may have to move our servers to a new hosting company but we are hoping it will not come down to that.

Sorry again if this caused anyone any inconvenience.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Experimenting with Speeding Up the Site

We're experimenting with a few changes to CommunityWalk that are intended to speed up page loads. It's a little difficult for us to tell whether or not the changes are positive under all circumstances on all browsers, though.

So if you are experiencing longer load times please let us know. If you are experiencing faster load times please let us know as well. If the changes end up being less than great we'll likely change them back.

Note: While releasing these changes on Saturday afternoon we experienced a few hiccups, so if you the site seemed very slow or was behaving strangely this was likely the cause. Sorry if this caused anyone any inconvenience.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A New Year, A New Site. Introducing Wedding Mapper!

It's a new year and I've just released a new website built off of CommunityWalk. The new site, Wedding Mapper (, has been designed to specifically handle mapping out your wedding. You can easily map out where the ceremony is, where the reception is, where hotels and airports are, etc.

I built Wedding Mapper on top of the existing CommunityWalk technology, giving me a chance to try out a new user interface. It also represents the beginning of a few major enhancements to CommunityWalk, including custom icons.

So if you're getting married check out Wedding Mapper ( and start mapping out your wedding!

You can see an example map here:

also check out the list view of the same map: