All posts by Philip O'Toole

Loggly Generation 2 Released!

logglyAfter 14 months of hard work, the next generation of Loggly has been released. It’s been a great time to be part of the Software Infrastructure team at Loggly and we have put together a superb log aggregation & real-time analytics platform.

We used a combination of custom log Collectors, Apache Kafka, Twitter StormElasticSearch, and lots of secret sauce. You can find more details about the technology stack from my Loggly blog post.

Technical Leadership through Testing

As technical lead at Loggly, responsibility for a well-engineered infrastructure ends with me. And one way to ensure the system is designed and implemented well is to stay as close as possible to the code, ensuring that the team and I write quality software.

But it can be difficult to complete the design and implementation of the features I am responsible for, ensure that what the team produces is well-implemented, and understand every line of code — there is only so much time in the day.

Continue reading Technical Leadership through Testing

Monitoring Storm Kafka Spouts using Python

kafka-logo-tallWhen running a large real-time processing system, monitoring is critical. But it does more than allow you to keep an eye on your system. During development it allows you test hypotheses about how it works, how it performs when certain parameters are changed, and takes the guessing out of working with dynamic systems.

Storm, a real-time computational framework open-sourced by Twitter, is such a system and comes with a Spout, allowing messages to be streamed from a Kafka Broker.

Continue reading Monitoring Storm Kafka Spouts using Python

mutt and Google Mail

Gmail-LogoI finally moved to mutt for my Loggly e-mail (which runs on Google Mail). After moving from e-mail client to e-mail client, I was keen to give it a try — the minimalist design and speed really appealed.

It took a little while to get it just right, but it’s up and running now. I’m pretty happy with it so far, and might consider using it for my personal Yahoo! Mail.

You can find my .muttrc file here.

New Challenges

logglyAfter almost 5 years at Riverbed Technology, it’s time for new challenges. I’ve started a new development position at Loggly in San Francisco, helping to build their Cloud-based Logging-as-a-Service platform.

I spent significant time at building systems that needed comprehensive logging support. But it’s something that developers don’t need to worry about — let others do it for you.

Why not check out Loggly for your logging and monitoring needs? And if you like building scalable, distributed, software systems, why not join us?

Eating your own dogfood

riverbed-logoDogfood testing is an effective way to increase testing, and get valuable feedback, on one’s products. It can be especially effective in the earlier stages of a product’s development, when the user base can be small. Having a forgiving — and sometimes captive — audience provides very useful feedback.

I just wrote a post for the Riverbed Blog about Dogfood testing during development of the Riverbed Cloud Portal. You can check it out here.

A simple host system for a 6502 emulator

2000px-CBM_Logo.svgCPU emulation, particularly of older processors, is an interesting topic.

While emulation source code for various CPU cores is easily available, I wanted to better understand how to interface the emulated CPU with my host machine. Therefore I decided to write a simple example of a host system for an emulated MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor.

The goal would be to have the emulated 6502 write “Hello, world” to the console of my linux desktop machine.

Continue reading A simple host system for a 6502 emulator

Gaining Development Perspective from Field Trials

riverbed-logoAnother post, written by me, for the Riverbed Technology blog — this time about the value of Alpha and Beta testing.

Software developers, such as myself, can get very involved with a single part of the new software on which we are working, sometimes losing perspective. Helping customers deploy and test pre-release software helps us to design better products when we are reminded we need to create a solution, not just a box running some clever software.

You can read my latest post here.

My guidelines for reusable Django applications

djangoI came to Django development from much lower-level development — embedded software, device drivers, and system software. What has impressed me most about Django (and python in general) is the manner in which it guides you to do the right thing in terms of code construction. The framework and language naturally make you think about better ways to express your designs.

Continue reading My guidelines for reusable Django applications

gdb, inline source, and stepping through your code

I really like having inline source when using gdb. Code Complete, by Steve Mcconnell has an entire chapter explaining how you should proactively step through all code you write — and not just when you’re actively debugging an issue. Having followed this practice for a few years now, I can testify that it increases your productivity enormously. I simply can’t imagine not doing so before committing any code.

Continue reading gdb, inline source, and stepping through your code