I was just formatting an old hard disk over xmas, clearing out old junk, and found some files from when I was working at Mind Candy on Perplex City – probably a backup of my USB key when I was re-formatting it while still working there (we tried a couple of different keys for doing passwordless auth which we were thinking of rolling out to all staff to make life easier and in some areas more secure).
There was this one, that was a quick-n-dirty tasklist of some day during launch week, I’ve no idea which day, but by the looks of things pretty close to the day we went live.
Things of interest:
- We weren’t really doing unit testing (we wanted to, but didn’t manage it), but we were doing some OK system testing and stress testing (everything with “ST” in the name) which we would run and re-run very often – for instance, automated tests to login, change some stuff, create new accounts, and check everything worked OK.
- For launch, we didn’t do customer support. At all. There was no-one hired to do it, and no-one with spare time to do it, so we ended up just routing it all into its own mailbox, and hoped something better would happen later. “Hope is not a strategy”, of course, but there were budget issues that those of us doing the development and design work couldn’t affect
- We were using LDAP *and* MySQL. Together. In one system. Mea culpa. There were reasons that “seemed good at the time” to do this when the decision was made almost a year earlier right at the start, but there were some pretty obvious reasons not to do it too, and we didn’t latch onto them until much later. I even resisted changing this for a while after launch because it would affect all of our critical code and critical systems, which was a big risk since we were having a lot of trouble keeping the codebase stable already, but we did eventually manage to cut out LDAP. That was a relief.
- Only one card never got tested manually to see if it was solvable before going live. This has something to do with the $1 million prize from the Clay Institute that would go to anyone in the world who *could* solve it, and so – obviously – we had no idea ourselves what the answer was.
- …that same puzzle card caused quite a few headaches in the long run, making us realise that it was probably – with hindsight – a really dumb idea to include an unsolvable puzzle in your carefully numbered set of puzzles for which you were specifically telling people to solve the entire set. Oops.
- Dan Hon was (still is – always has been, in fact, as long as I’ve known him ;)) an excellent tester if you need someone to break things. He was especially good at breaking the user-profiles – in this case, by putting some particularly odd characters in critical fields, which worked fine except for when you tried to use the change-password button, the code for which barfed on the bad chars.
…and then there’s this, a reference to a Mind Candy in-joke on Fiona Silk, possibly the only person never to have seen the film Spartacus (which of course we were all far too mature to take advantage of by repeatedly denying each other’s identities and declaring ourselves the One, True, Spartacus, while refusing to explain to her what the hell we were all going on about. Oh no. We would never do a thing like that). Seen in Soho, I think, with a particularly appropriate URL in the shop window…