• We had an incident to do with emails not being sent out this week, and in the process of fixing that we noticed that email subscriptions weren’t being validated00For example, you could sign up to email alerts for the Ministry of Magic, despite no such organisation existing (I promise).

    , so there were a bunch of junk subscription filters. These were mostly created by bots (we think), so they hadn’t actually signed up - just hit the page which created the filter in the database. So I paired with an apprentice developer to write a rake task to clear out filters with no subscribers.

  • We ran a short A/B test for Elasticsearch 6, and it looked slightly worse than Elasticsearch 5 in terms of how many times people refined their search and which position result they clicked. So we switched it off, and then I switched it back on again on Friday with a lower proportion of traffic going to ES6. We’re going to leave it for a week this time and see what it looks like.

  • The search synonym for “Brexit” and “EU Exit” is going to be removed. Regular content is being updated to use “Brexit” (because that’s what everyone says), so “EU Exit” will only remain in places like official titles of publications and legislation. Those feel like distinct enough use-cases that the synonym will be dropped. Unfortunately changing synonyms requires reindexing all the content, which prevents updates from getting into search while that runs. So actually deploying the change has been delayed until next week, as there’s been a lot of publishing activity over the past week (for some reason).

  • I started thinking about how to load production data into govuk-docker, like we can with the development VM (which govuk-docker is supposed to be obsoleting). I’ve now got a script which works for Elasticsearch, but it requires some changes to govuk-docker I’ll need to put up for review.

    Developing this lead to me discovering an interesting problem where copying 15GB from the host (OSX) to the container would reliably hang after 6.4GB if I used docker cp. But when I instead mounted the host directory into the container as a volume, and used cp inside the container, it worked flawlessly. docker cp is definitely doing something weird.


  • I’ve been thinking of switching away from gmail to some other email provider, and ProtonMail seems a good candidate. I’ll probably write up a memo about how it went afterwards.

  • I’ve decided to start making offline copies of blog posts and other online content I like, due to my older bookmarks having a tendency to 404. My current approach is to copy all the text out of the page and add formatting back with Markdown. I’m also storing a small amount of metadata for each page: title, original URL, original publication date, modification date (if given), and archive date. I’m manually adding the Markdown in at the moment, which works well enough for very wordy articles without much formatting or linking, but wouldn’t really work for content where that’s not the case. I’ll need to think about how to handle that.