December 13 – 17: Unexpected interruption of service

There was a long and unexpected interruption of service this past week. The interruption was caused by a total system crash of the machine that runs the website www.scubbly.com, and it occurred at a very unfortunate time, when no person was available to reboot the server for several days. The machine that serves www.scubbly.com was merely off, and the automated processes that are supposed to turn it back on didn’t do it properly.

Scubbly service was unavailable for approximately 3 days, 11 hours; from Saturday, December 13, 2014 19:43:30 (UTC) until it was manually rebooted at Wednesday, December 17, 2014 7:20:00 (UTC).

During this time, anyone who might have visited the scubbly.com website for any reason would have received either: 1) a timeout attempting to contact the Scubbly server, or possibly 2) a “service unavailable” error.

To sellers and customers, I apologize for the service interruption. We are investigating the reason for the crash, and for the failure to restart the service immediately following the crash. At this time we have no reason to suspect any foul play, and there was no damage to any historical data. All systems are working fine now.

Obviously, 3 days of service interruption is terrible. We want Scubbly to be working as close to 100% of the time as possible. Once we have identified why the crash happened, we will be using that knowledge to design a more fault-tolerant system, or to put processes in place to mitigate or manage “disaster recovery” situations more expediently; this could involve changes to Scubbly in ways that we can’t currently predict; any changes that will affect sellers or customers will be communicated here in the Scubbly blog.

With sincere apologies,
Ian Ring
Administrator
Scubbly.com

 

Scubbly on POODLE: all is well

For those of you who keep up on security news.

Within a day of the security alert being publicized, we disabled SSL v3 on all our servers. Scubbly is not vulnerable to the POODLE hack. All is well.

Cheers ~

Design changes

We’re doing a little cosmetic tweaking back here… please forgive the dust.

That light blue and gray background wasn’t doing it anymore. We’ve bleached the entire site to a pure white background, in preparation for some nicer treatments of the navigation icons.

Incidentally, we’re also tinkering with a new logo design. Why not shake things up a little, right? There are a whack of new features coming down the pike, so it’s as good a time as any to do a little rebranding and aesthetic touchups on the UI.

 

Site is back up, after some brief downtime

Scubbly.com was down for a while this morning, from a little after midnight until 9:15am (Eastern Time Zone), a downtime of about 9 hours.

The hosting company that serves Scubbly has not yet produced an incident report explaining the outage, which reportedly affected many other customers, not just Scubbly. I can attest that the entire service was off.

During the outage, everything related to Scubbly was off – including new sales, widgets, and downloading.

So far as I can tell, everything’s back and I’ve restarted all the web services, and everything’s OK. Here’s hoping it stays up. I’ll comment here to update this story with news as it becomes available upstream.

Cheers

 

Announcing the Scubbly API – and New Widgets

Wow! Hard to believe that after over a year of work, the Scubbly API is finally being released. This has been a HUGE project, which started in the summer of 2013, continued over the winter and spring, involved a giant release of a totally revamped technical architecture in the spring of 2014, enabled major UI improvements throughout the summer of 2014, and now the underlying API is ready with a public-facing endpoint for autumn of 2014.

This API is the engine that makes Scubbly work. This isn’t just a limited toy box of little utilities that we grudgingly allow you to fiddle with. This API is the back-end software that does the heavy lifting for the actual www.scubbly.com website. With only a few exceptions, everything you can do on the public website can also be done via the API. With this API, you could indeed build your own fully-featured app. Not surprisingly, now that the API exists, building more Scubbly apps is something we want to do — On top of this powerful architecture we want to build new web applications, mobile apps, plugins, and integrations. Now, Scubbly isn’t just a website where you can sell downloads; it’s a platform.

Now, bear in mind that this is a BETA release of a product that is still under quite heavy development. It is possible that the endpoints, actions, parameters and syntax might change without notice. We’ll almost certainly be adding new actions, and refining the existing ones to make the entire API as consistent and coherent as possible. If you want to start using the API, please contact us first! Let us know what you’re planning to build, so we can open a channel of communication and collaborate to make sure those parts of the API interface you’ll be using are coherent, perfect, and stable.

You can find the API at Account > Integrations > API.

On top of the new API, there’s also an experimental set of new widgets! The widgets are actually a set of custom HTML5 markup tags that let you embed dynamic, functional Scubbly assets on your own website. Now, on your own third-party site, you can embed Scubbly’s product details, cart, and checkout functionality, for seamless integration between your marketing materials and your Scubbly store. The technical voodoo that makes them work is pretty impressive, too. Now these widgets are VERY experimental, some of them are a little buggy (for instance when you specify different languages or currencies) — so use them with caution. Try ‘em first.

Go admire the new widgets at Account > Integrations > Widgets

There’s a lot of activity going on & the platform is growing, and getting better all the time. We haven’t yet finished some of the stuff we started in the summer, like the changes to the storage fees. No worries – we’ll keep the fees as they are for a while longer. There are some wicked new features coming soon that will knock your socks off…

Cheers!

 

Impending policy change, regarding file storage fee.

Hi all!

I’m writing today to tell you about a change that’s coming soon, regarding the fees we charge for file storage. Today, these fees only apply to you if you have very large files in our storage (over 60 Mb), charged monthly. How this works now is, if you have a product whose file is over 60MB, that product receives a monthly storage fee of a few pennies – the current fee is $0.03 per 100MB or part thereof per month or part thereof.

Since we’ve changed the way products and files are coupled together, this fee doesn’t make sense any more. It’s possible to have files that belong to more than one product. But it’s not fair to charge more than once for the same file storage. Similarly, you can have files that aren’t part of an active product, but that file still takes up space in Scubbly’s secure distrbution cloud, and there is a cost for that.

So, Scubbly is going to implement a new fee structure for oversized storage. Instead of being a total per product, it will be a charge for *all files combined* in your store, regardless of how they’re bundled into products. This new fee will replace the old one. There will still be a minimum level, below which storage is free.

The details of this change will be decided upon in the next few days, and I’ll post here again when that comes about. The new policy will definitely be decided before the next monthly payout on June 1.

** UPDATE June 21 **

The change to the file storage policy is being delayed. There are no sellers who will be negatively impacted by the delay. We’re amid discussions about how to implement the new policy, and then we’ll need to integrate that decision into the software. When the changes come into effect, it will be announced here on the Scubbly blog. Thanks ~

 

Major upgrade! Check out the new features.

So exciting!

Scubbly just launched a huge suite of upgrades to the live website. Here’s what is different:

  • the “sell” pages are gone, replaced with just one section named “account”
  • files and products are decoupled, so you may have more than one file per product, and a file may appear in more than one product.
  • uploading tools upgraded and improved
  • fixed a whole bunch of problems with balance calcuation
  • the “stats” section contains better, faster report rendering
  • a new affiliate report shows profit earned as an affiliate, but also commissions paid on sales of your products
  • a radically improved seller & store management interface

That’s just the stuff you can see on the website interface. Under the hood, there have been huge changes that will ultimately make Scubbly more stable, scalable, and capable of adding new features with less hassle. You can expect the new features will be rolling out more often in the future.

For sellers, most of the tools you’re used to using are still there, but they might be in a different place, or have an updated appearance. If you have any questions about the new Scubbly, contact me!

Cheers,
Ian Ring
Administrator
Scubbly.com

New Feature: Use your PayPal Transaction ID to retrieve products

This is an idea that we’re hoping will alleviate a lot of the customer frustration when – for whatever reason – their email with the token isn’t received.

On the download retrieval page, now there is a form where you may paste in your PayPal Transaction ID, and it works just like your Scubbly Token as proof of purchase.

Retrieval of downloads using this method is still subject to the 30-day expiry on the tokens. Entering a PayPal Transaction ID that corresponds to an expired token will return the same error as if you had entered the token itself.

There are lots of little features almost ready to ship out – watch this blog in the coming days & weeks for more news!

 

New policy! Download window is increased tenfold!

Hi all sellers!

After some consultation with a focus group of sellers and much internal deliberation, Scubbly has decided to increase the “download window” – the number of days that a token is valid – from 3 days to 30 days. From now on, when someone buys a product, their token expiry will be set to 30 days from the moment of purchase.

The impetus behind this change was a gradual but unmanageable increase in the quantity of buyers who delay downloading their product, for a variety of reasons, who then find that the token has expired.

I believe this change is going to be good. Please let us know what you think in the comments section. Cheers!

 

 

Excuse our dust – big changes are coming!

Hi folks,

It’s been quite a while since the last blog post here. But that doesn’t mean we’ve been idle! For the past 6 months, Scubbly has been undergoing a complete software overhaul, to support some of the new features scheduled for 2014. Some of these changes have already been implemented on the live site, and you can see them today; other changes will be ready later in 2014 and will be announced here as they’re launched.

The changes have been *mostly* invisible and trouble-free. There have been software bugs released a few times that were caught fairly quickly & fixed immediately. I apologize if you encountered any of them… and thanks to those of you who did – and reported them quickly!

Some things coming down the pike:

  • A new UI design – with flatter buttons, larger form elements, more responsive elements optimized for mobile devices,
  • A fully-featured API, capable of enabling Scubbly e-commerce for 3rd party apps,
  • A WordPress plugin, which will allow you to quickly integrate Scubbly sales into a WordPress-driven website,
  • A faster search and indexing engine,
  • Better widgets,
  • Web hooks
  • Buyer feedback

Goodbye, Categories

Most notably – and already noticed by some of you – is the disappearance of “categories” from the site. We looked at our traffic analytics and discovered that no one was browsing categories anyways, and choosing a category for each product was an annoyance for sellers, not a useful feature. So we scrapped it. That means sellers no longer have to pigeonhole their products into one of our arbitrarily-chosen categories, and the entire “browse” section of the site is gone.

One product = Multiple files

The biggest change that’s happening is a fundamental shift of our product structure. Soon, we will be breaking the one-to-one relationship between products and files. You will be able to attach multiple files to a single product, and a file can belong to more than one product. This allows easy “product bundling”, whereby things you are selling individually can be bundled into a new product, perhaps with a discounted price or value-added extras. For example, you might bundle songs into an album, documents into a book, books into a collection, podcasts into a playlist, etc.

2013 was a slow year for feature releases, mostly because so much effort was going into invisible behind-the-scenes preparation work. 2014 is already shaping up to be a big year with many improvements to make Scubbly even better!

Cheers
Ian Ring
Administrator