Monthly Archives: March 2009

Bugs, Outages and a new shop.

It’s been a long night – the generally excellent Slicehost apparently had a network outage tonight, taking Booko down with them. They kept their blog, forums and twitter up-to-date which was appreciated. The outage, not so appreciated.  When Booko came back up, naturally Fishpond was down, leading to some errors on Booko’s side.  I’ve updated Booko to be more resiliant to 3rd party outages likke this and things are definitely improving.

In addition, I’ve added Melbourne University’s Bookstore to Booko – they sell both books and DVDs so it’s a great addition to have. This brings us to 32 stores searched for books and 7 for DVDs.

BookDepository fix

BookDepository added a clever feature recently to display the appropriate currency depending on your location. Unfortunately for Booko we’re hosted in the US and we started getting US pricing. Naturally the price was incorrect when Booko the converts USD into AUD assuming the original price is GBP. Fixed as of around 07:45 this morning.

New Booko beta feature released – DVD pricing

It’s been a busy week with a bunch of updates for Booko. Check it:

DVD pricing

Major new feature for Booko released tonight as a beta feature – we now search Fishpond, & for DVDs and grab pricing from 6 stores. This will be expanded as things settle down.  You can search by Title or by EAN/UPC (like ISBN for books).  There’s plenty of work to be done to make this better, but the basics are now in place. If you find any errors or weird behaviour, have some questions or just want to say hi, send me some email ( or leave a comment below.

More Caching

Booko is caching more agressively with Memcached.  It now remembers your search query between clicks and keeps the search field populated.  Search results are cached for 5 minutes currently – this means if you search for the same query, for the same type of item (Books or DVDs) the resutls will be available instantly.  Additionally, currency conversion rate information is now cached for an hour. I had assumed my conversion library did this already but apparently not – this has sped Booko up significantly, and the cart especially is much snappier.

Another Store + Updates

I’ve added another store to Booko – bringing us to a total of 31 stores for books, and 6 for DVDs. Finally I can say “Searches more than 30 online stores!” 😉  In addition, query timeout are now set on all stores.  During the last few weeks there have been a couple of online stores go offline – this would leave Booko waiting for far too long for responses, slowing the site down significantly.

Bug fixes for the Fishpond parser.

Booko’s Fishpond parser was creating links to books on Fishpond which went into a never ending cycle of redirects, stop only when the browser was sick of it.  Hopefully this should all be fixed now. A quick glance through the referrer section of Fishpond shows that this has been happening for at least a week.  Sorry about that!

New search URL

Dan requested I make it possible to link directly to search results for passing around to friends.  Making functionality more easily accessible seemed like a good thing to do, so the controller now responds correctly to ajax and regular browser requests. Naturally had to add a work around for IE – life would be easier if nobody used it. But, needs must as the devil drives.  The result of all this is you can now access perform searches like this:

Bug fixes for bug fixes and a new shop – Text Books Oz

Recently I set up email notification for errors with help from this blog post.  Since then I’ve been getting the occasional email from Booko telling me when things go wrong.  It includes the URL accessed and a bunch of useful information for tracking down bugs.  Highly recommended for anyone running a RoR site. Helps you catch all sorts of errors which you can then, naturally, write tests for.  So as a result, I’ve fixed several bugs recently, introduced one that slowed search down by a factor, then removed it. 

In addition, I’ve added shop number 30 – Text Books Oz who specialise, (this won’t be a surprise) in text books.