Camayak Blog

Camayak is a content production tool for newsrooms.
Empower editors. Improve communication. Create better content.

Service Updates

  1. How We Messed Up

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    Last night we let our users down.

    At around 10pm Central Time, the Editor-in-Chief of the Kansas State Collegian emailed our support address to tell us that his staff had been unable to log into Camayak for ten minutes. Usually he would have expected a reply from us within the next fifteen, telling him what was up and what we were doing to fix it.

    Minutes later, the student media adviser at Pepperdine University and Editor in Chief of UCLA’s Daily Bruin both asked for help, too: Camayak wasn’t responding normally and had now been periodically inaccessible for at least twenty minutes.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 2.06.15 PM.png

    As anyone who uses Camayak knows, the whole point is to have real-time access to your newsroom, 24/7, no matter where you are. We work to maintain that standard because it’s an essential part of our service and also because people rely on us to produce their work on deadline.

    But last night, after thirty minutes of intermittent service, we still hadn’t responded to the people letting us know that we had a job to do.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 2.07.40 PM.png

    Then, minutes-that-felt-like-hours later and still without any support response from us, Camayak seemed to return to normal and newsrooms from around the country reported that their staff were able to keep working.

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    But it didn’t last. Less than half an hour later, we received more alerts from other newsrooms of service interruptions that in some cases hadn’t let up since they’d first been reported.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 2.10.52 PM.png

    By this point it was abundantly clear that we’d let our users down on two counts. They’d been forced to deal with unplanned downtime and even more confusingly, were doing so without any guidance from us.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 2.11.57 PM.png

    Finally, at 11.45pm CST – a full two hours after the Kansas State Collegian had first reported difficulties accessing Camayak – we recovered full service.

    This morning, over an hour and half later, we sent our first responses to the people who’d reached out to us for help.

    Why we messed up

    First off, we’re profoundly sorry for letting our users down on two fronts last night. People use Camayak because it’s a more efficient way to work and we’ve always prided ourselves on our response times to any urgent difficulties our users are having.

    So what went wrong?

    Downtime

    Last night we experienced an outage, which we’re currently investigating. We’ll be updating our blog with our root cause analysis, later.

    Usually we’re in a position to react to such outages by monitoring our systems and adapt on-the-fly. Unusually, we didn’t respond like that last night. This is because we had a gap in our engineering and support coverage.

    Lack of support

    We’re used to ‘after hours’ questions from newsrooms, because that’s often when newsrooms get busy. We also work with newsrooms that are based in Pacific and other ‘later’ timezones. So the timing of last night’s issues was not outside of our predictable scope of activity.

    We’re a distributed company – which comes with timezone/support benefits – and decided three years ago that having a co-founder on the same timezone as many of our users was a sensible idea (we also have coverage for Central, Eastern and GMT/BST timezones). I’ve been living in Los Angeles ever since and am usually the first to respond to support questions from the Pacific timezones. We aim to get back to urgent requests within ten minutes.

    Last night however, I was not on the West Coast and our Central hub was off duty as our downtime began. As you’ll see from the time-stamps in this post, I’m currently in London, along with our GMT/BST hub that only came on duty at 6.30am local time (12.30am CST and 10.30pm PST).

    While these were highly unusual circumstances for our service and team, they shouldn’t have affected our service levels and we deeply regret that they did.

    What we’re going to do about it

    We’re going to publish the results of our root cause analysis for the outage Camayak experienced. Update: our analysis and remediations are listed here.

    Despite being spread across multiple timezones, we’re also taking steps to make sure our engineers and support team can be alerted to critical needs, even when they’re not on-call. The situation we ran into last night has never happened before but is a timely reminder for us to make sure we have a plan in place for urgent events that might occur when we’re all asleep or off duty.

    We’re hugely grateful for how responsive and patient our users are and won’t forget this as an example of how we can keep improving. We messed up and are determined not to let it happen again.

    If you’d like to follow-up with me, please reach out to roman@camayak.com.

  2. We Messed Up

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    This evening, we messed up. Over the last four hours you may have been affected by several periods of Camayak downtime that have prevented you from logging in and doing all the things you rely on us to help you do. Camayak has been back up for the last hour but we have more questions to answer, which we’re going to do in a separate blog post, shortly.

    Update: you can read our follow-up post here.

  3. Introducing: In-line Comments

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    In-line comments example.jpg

    One of the features that we’ve been really looking forward to adding to Camayak is a better way to give feedback on specificparts of assignments. After working closely with a number of editors and contributors, we’re excited to announce the release of our very own in-line comments.

    We made two key decisions in our implementation of in-line comments: that they should remain in the body of the assignment and that as a result, they should be collapse-able, to avoid them cluttering the reading/editing process. All in-line comments are saved as part of our revisions-tracking, so users can review in-line comments from previous versions. Best of all: when publishing directly to a CMS we automatically strip-out all in-line comments to prevent them from appearing in published copy.

    In-line comments, together with our recent API integration work with the Duke Chronicle, have also offered us the chance to move closer to our goal of allowing publishers to export their content from Camayak in whichever ways they require.

    Special thanks go to (among others) Danielle Muoio – Editor-in-Chief at the Duke Chronicle, Ashley Soley-Cerro – former EIC at Cal State Northridge’s Daily Sundial and Jillian Beck, EIC at UCLA’s Daily Bruin, all of whom were influential in guiding our implementation decisions.

  4. Scheduled Downtime: Thursday 9th May from 6-7 a.m. CDT

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    We will be upgrading our server infrastructure on Thursday 9th of May, the session will last approximately one hour, during which time anyone with a Camayak account will be unable to log in. If you have any questions on this or any other issue, please contact us at support@camayak.com.

    Update: This scheduled downtime has been cancelled – we apologize if this has caused any inconvenience, thank you for your understanding.

  5. Scheduled Downtime: Tuesday 16th April from 3-4 a.m. CDT

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    We’re going to be running a database maintenance session tomorrow morning at 8am UTC, 3am CDT. The session will last one hour, during which time anyone with a Camayak account will be unable to log in. If you have any questions on this or any other issue, please contact us at support@camayak.com.

  6. Alert: slow server responses

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    Our API is currently running at less-than-optimum speed. We’re working to improve it and will update you as soon as we have done so. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

  7. Introducing: Real-time Dashboard and Assignment Activity Feeds

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    New dashboard.jpg

    This week we’re excited to announce two new features that will dramatically improve how teams communicate within Camayak.

    Dashboard activity feed. Each staff member will now be able to see a constantly updated feed of all the important activity happening in the desks they belong to. This will include: comments on assignments, new pitches, photos that are being uploaded to assignments, first-draft submissions, approved assigmnents and more.

    Assignment activity feed. You’ll now be able to review the entire history of all the important activity that’s occurred on and around an assignment, including: editor participation, photo uploads, new connected assignments and more.

    We like to evolve our features by listening to what our newsroom partners and over the last few months we’ve specifically asked our customers for their thoughts on how we could improve our navigation and alerts. Here are some of the comments we received, which we’ve sought to address with the new activity feed features:

    Photo Editors
    “We’d like to know who has uploaded a photo, without them having to add their name to the caption”

    “We’d like alerts for when someone uploads a photo to their assignment, so we can proof it quickly”

    Senior Editors
    “We’d like to easily see when someone has submitted their first-draft”

    “For approved assignments that we need to copy/and paste into InDesign, it would be awesome to see the assignment slug and author name displayed more clearly”

    “Can you show us new pitches as they come in, so we don’t have to open the pitches tab each time, to check for new ideas?”

    “It would be great to know what’s happening across all the assignments in my desks, without having to view each assignment one-by-one”

    Admins & Advisers
    “We’d love a full track-record of everything that’s happened to an assignment”

    “If I could log in and see everything that’s recently happened in our newsroom at-a-glance, it would help me know who’s been the most active recently and who to chase-up”

    Note: you’ll notice that the activity feeds introduce a few changes to the way you may be used to interacting with Camayak.

    – Activity items on each assignment will be displayed in the same list as comments and will now be ordered newest –> oldest (comments used to be ordered oldest –> newest).

    – Recently published assignments that used to appear at the bottom of the dashboard will be replaced by all approved assignments, appearing in a list next to the new dashboard activity feed.

    As ever, if you have any questions or feedback on the new activity feed features, please drop us a line at support@camayak.com. Enjoy!

  8. Unscheduled Downtime: 2013-04-04

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    Our database provider, Postgresql, has released a security update which requires that we raise our maintenance page for a period of time.

    If you require any assistance during this time, please email us at support@camayak.com.

    Thank you for your patience.

    Update: Thursday, April 4th 14:50 PM GMT

    The security upgrade has been installed, happy writing!

  9. Scheduled Downtime: Saturday 16th March from 7-8 a.m. CDT

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    March 16th, 8:00 AM Central:
    Scheduled maintenance has been completed successfully. Our nginx webserver software has been upgraded to the latest version, and we are now supporting websocket connections between the Camayak app and the server. This provides better performance and uses less resources on the server.

    Thank you for your patience!

    March 12th:
    We’re going to be running a routine server maintenance session this Saturday (March 16th) at 7 a.m. CDT. The session will last one hour, during which time anyone with a Camayak account will be unable to log in. If you have any questions on this or any other issue, please contact us at support@camayak.com.