Posts Tagged ‘Tech Team’

CS Tech Release 5 – Eagle

Saturday, August 16th, 2008



The CS Tech team has put out the final release of the Alaska Collective.  Included in this release:

Features & Fixes


• Menu options on each page are now centered.
• Removed some old links from the footer of the website.
• Front page picture has changed.
• Gaps in the index page have been removed.
• Removed the character counter input field from references and show the characters left just as plain html text.

Changes in groups

• Added subscription settings button on navigation menu.
• Subscription page is under group tab.
• There are now different colors for different type of groups: normal groups are beige, cs organization groups are now green, teams are blue and communication channels are yellow.
• Tabs and submenu don’t disappear anymore when you go into a group.
• An organization group doesn’t highlight the info-tab anymore and stays under the group tab.
• Redundant buttons in groups have been removed and the group tab with navigation menu stays open (almost) everywhere.
• Added PAGING to the groups!
• Fix group digests not being sent out bug.
• Leave group button on group page.
• Fix bug in where square brackets couldn’t be used in group posts without causing problems with the text.


Volunteer Team Changes

Events Team

• Lets event approval team know the length of time between when the invite was created and when the meeting is scheduled to take place.
• Meetings list is now paginated instead of just showing a few of them.
• Page addded to list of deleted meetings that was created for events administrators.
• Corrected weird formatting with meeting invitation email that invitees receive.
• Fixed crucial error that was preventing meeting messages from being approved.
Verification Team
• The verification team can see a list of all members needing letters and edit their addresses from one page rather than from the sending page. This also marks an address as being edited and removes it from the list. Doing it this way helps divide up the growing tasks by the verification team between those who edit the addresses to ensure that they are correct and those who just send them out.
• Changed the word ‘project’ to ‘team’ in email going out when getting verified as per request from the verification team.
• Refined the way addresses can be edited before sending letters to help the verification team.
• Added checkboxes to edit address for verification letters/postcards going out page to mark multiple ones as being ready to print instead of just one at a time.

Contact Us Questions (CUQ) Team

• CUQ team can see what member’s privacy settings are at when diagnosing user problems.
• Removed accidental ‘localhost’ from link for CUQ team.
• CUQ team can undelete profiles again after mysteriously not being able to anymore since the last tech release.
• CUQ team can reset passwords with one click instead of previous confusing and unnecessary interface.
• CUQ team can validate emails without having to click on user profile pages.
• When a CUQ team member manually validates an email address, an email is now automatically sent to that person letting them know.
• MDST/CUQ team can see more information about member accounts (like if they have selected not to receive any emails at all from our system) in order to further diagnose member issues.

Member Disputes and Safety Team (MDST)

• MDST can change someone’s user_name without logging in as them anymore, if necessary.
• MDST can only edit information on other people’s profiles because they have the appropriate permissions. This saves us in case someone figures out the exact url needed yet doesn’t have the permission.
• The ‘mdst read messages’ tool has been significantly restructured in order for greater versatility/functionality, and more sophisticated logging to keep team members accountable.
• MDST can change some account information for members, if necessary. Every action is logged.

Profile & Edit Profile

• All buttons used for navigation are highlighted now when you are on the page it refers too!
• Instant messaging options are now only shown to friends. Skype & MSN are now on top in the list as they are more common than the other instant messaging account options.
• ‘Optional contact method’ under couch information has been removed.

Communication Channels

• Integrated the communication news channels into the groups functionality.
• Integrated tinyMCE WYSIWYG editor into the communication channels groups (can be available everywhere on the site).
• Made a Yahoo! pipe RSS feed that takes all feeds on the channels and integrates it into one.
• Created page to make it possible for users to send article proposals into the communication news channels.
• Added a functionality on communication channels posts to help volunteers manage the status updates on articles through the drafting process.

Temporary changes

• Disabled image processing to keep webservers alive! It is currently set at six image uploads per member per hour, but we are slowly increasing this limit and watching the web server load to see how much we can handle.
• The search database server has been overloaded recently. We have temporarily disabled the radius search functionality to keep search working.
• Added another database server to split the load search generates.
• Added three more web servers to help with the site load while we investigate longer term solutions.


• We’re testing out memcached on all web servers.
• We’ve setup our own, internal, software package distribution repository.
• Greatly enhanced our code approval and deployment tool.
• Rewrote radius search to use a distance table.
• Rewrote some security checks in edit pages.

Bug Fixes

• bug 1807: internal comments on CUQs are now available on a history page that they were missing from.
• bug 1425: previous CUQ history is always shown when answering a question whereas before it was dependent on them replying in a very specific/non-uniform way in order for it to happen. Now it always shows previous history if the email address is the same.
• bug 1427: now makes really long URLs in CUQs behave like they do in group posts and trim them down.
• bug 1679: takes care of poorly worded information about how to change your address based on what level of verification you’re at, corrects link to right place to change it.
• bug 1797: fixed bug concerning date issue on past meeting messages that were approved.
• bug 1759: rearranging notice boxes for both internal CUQ team and ‘current known issues’ boxes are larger, in better positions, and have more basic functionality like who updated it last and at what time. This also lets people who view this information on contact.html to see when the last time we updated our ‘current known issues’.
• bug 1770: TBM icon was showing up on every profile in couchsearch/greeting page because of missing brackets.
• bug 1776: removing duplicate words in an error message.
• bug 1772: if in ‘people’ or other sub-folder clicking on site logo goes correctly to root directory.
• bug 1784: while our current policy prohibits members from searching out accounts by email it wasn’t clear until now how to find your friends that you’re trying to refer when they are already in the system.
• bug 1802: made ‘you are currently logged in as…’ information clearer.
• bug 1765: Tweaked email validation message to allow for 15 minutes to receive validation email rather than 5 minutes.
• bug 1808: removes duplicate ‘persian’ entry from list of languages, allows us to remove options that aren’t needed.
• bug 1121: people were able to add bogus friends where the id didn’t actually exist. Now it checks to see if the id brings back a valid profile before proceeding. Friend connection info only counts if both the ‘to’ and ‘from’ friends are valid


• Changed ‘CouchSurfing’ is a service mark of CouchSurfing International, Inc.’ to ‘CouchSurfing’ and ‘CouchSurfer’ are registered and unregistered service marks of CouchSurfing International.’ as per request from our lawyer.

CS Tech Release 4 – Denali

Friday, August 1st, 2008



For the fourth release, these are the changes that have gone live on the site today!

New features:
A new chat system has been created! Check it out at

Volunteer team tools:

Verification team can see links to all regions of outgoing letters at the top of the screen instead of clicking to another page.

CUQs now have direct links to contribution/verification logs on member questions instead of having to click through so many links

The verification team can see a list of all members needing letters and edit their addresses from one page rather than by doing it from the sending page. This also marks an address as being edited and removes it from the list. Doing it this way helps divide up the growing tasks by the verification team between those who edit the addresses to ensure that they are correct and those who just send them out.


The event invitation approval team can now organize lists of meeting invitations to be approved by order that the events are happening so they can get to the ones that will happen the soonest first.

Now meetings that have already passed before the meeting invitation was sent out can’t be approved, only rejected.

mission_stats.html – this is now fully translatable by the translation team.

Made the link in the verification log viewable by members to the Contact Us team, rather than the volunteer’s profile who performed the action. This will ensure that members will contact the Contact Us team to inquire about their verification, rather than the volunteer directly.

Improvements to back-end and performance:

Aggregated all web server error logs
Improved logging in access logs for debugging
Separated php.ini files for web servers and smtp servers
Enhanced some folder access permissions
Merged the new header class into the main development trunk

The Tech Team focused on squashing bugs this past week in Alaska. Check it out!

Bug fixes:
– General —
0001730: First argument should be an array in /var/www/html/lib/access.lib on line 513
0001728: stays blank
0001466: Error in the exposed procedure for printing CS business cards at Vista Print
0001045: Vista Print information out of date
0000742: Clicking "logged in as x" link adds user’s own "profile views" count
0000248: Main page testimonial snippet cannot be expanded
0001050: Wrong link in policy_faq page
0001202: Turkish Currency
0001641: Strange symbol on The Phoenix Story page
0001719: Need to tweak the text here:
0001221: Help make CouchSurfing more secure! Broken link
0000595: Print view is not working any more
0001070: Broken link to contact Tech Team
– Email —
0000890: Emails with wrong user name as sender
0000701: Showing mail sorted by sender works only for the latest 15
0001638: Wrong link in friend update emails
0001539: Couchsurf messages no longer forwarded to my yahoo account
0001581: All Emails Sent, Greetings and Couch Requests from 01/24/0 to 05/20/08 Disappear or not listed.
0001592: emails_replied_to.html page is not displaying message subjects
– CouchSearch —
0001661: Cities not listed alphabetically
0001724: Option to search for Couch Availability does not work
0001686: New City Ambassadors not listed in CouchSearch
0001697: Missing alt text for profile icons
– Images —
0000557: Deleted folders for pictures still in pull-down menus
0001097: Moving images doesn’t work
0000881: Images randomly ‘deleted’
– Greetings —
0001590: Sent greetings are not accessible
0001583: Greeting: Priority selected "Remember?" No Greeting Templates
– User Profile —
0001645: ICQ, Skype and Yahoo user names appear twice in the list
0001033: Birthday miscalculation
0001102: CS request to yourself not counted for reply-rate
0001756: "Quick link" to edit couch information missing when no couch is available
0001716: Print profile shows incorrect logo
0001749: Profile map
0001748: Ambassador home link not appearing on my profile
0001434: Male default preferred gender
0001733: Suggestion to change text on the page for editing the Contact Method field
0000946: Age does not update automatically after the birthday
– Meetings —
0001758: Meeting Message Approval
0001600: page for sending out meeting invitations doesn’t work
0001698: Send notification when a meeting is deleted
0001753: No access for any event approvers to approvers menu, some earlier events – invitation system not fully functional
– Groups —
0001742: Clicking "Make Private" on a group fails
0001014: Cannot leave archived group
0001067: Group moderators of private group cannot add new member
0001100: Deleted group still visible
0000368: Group post link does not link to that post, but to the top of the thread
0001364: Archived groups must get posting function disabled
0001516: Deleted users still getting some posts from groups
0001707: "Create a new group" from the page "Edit Communication Settings of Groups" doesn’t work
0001506: A post doesn’t appear on the Buenos Aires group
0001496: Formatting missing in the Mumbai group
0000889: New user joined group emails not sending reason
0001652: Deleting group posts – post count not updated
0001071: The page "Delete cities" invoked from admin_geofix can’t load
0001582: "Promote to moderator" link doesn’t always work
0000582: No error message is displayed when user attempts to join private group with no password
0001006: Private group shown to people that are not members
0001258: Cannot edit groups
0001543: Each time I try to create a group, I get a SQL error
0000733: URL group redirection not working correctly
– Admin —
0000849: News items deletion handling
0000836: Need log of when verification system is down and working properly
0001739: Meeting message approval past history does not properly paginate
0000801: Needed: Verification Upgrade Button
– Ambassadors —
0000469: Additional field on /amb_where_hear.html needed to be displayed
0000832: Greetings: Greeted members still show with greetings count 1 or higher + show_more not working for city/country
0000740: Greetings: after sending a greeting, more options for return
0001219: 2 bugs.
0001686: Fixed a bug where some ambassadors aren’t found because they live in a different town than the town they are listed as a city ambassador for. Now shows ambassador managers a list of people that are city ambassadors in different cities than their profile locations.

– Contact Us Questions —
0001744: CUQ stats page says ‘commented by’ not available before July 17 even after July 17
0001700: Link to member profile disappears when answering a CUQ and in the stats page
0001649: The Mantis new issues feed no longer updates on the CUQ page
0001754: Clarifying language for CUQ team on a CUQ team tool
0001743: Internal comments don’t get automatically put in the blank when answering CUQs and therefore don’t transfer over to the stats.  Now they do. Updated a CUQ team link to the correct one
0001738: Added more categories for CUQs

Other CUQ changes:

Fixed a bug that changed the id of the team member that answered a question as well as the date it was answered when commenting on previously answered CUQs.

Updated name of CUQ team function to more accurately express what it does to avoid confusion.

Updated the correct time when leaving a comment on a previously answered CUQ.

Created system that shows who the last one to leave a comment on a CUQ is on both past and current CUQs.

Made it so the message about missing new functionality only appears on statistics that came before the functionality existed.

Changed another link to the correct one for the CUQ team FAQ.

Updated internal comments information asking them to please preserve previous comments as per the CUQ team leader’s request.

– Other —
0001309: Contact disappears
0001391: Too many connections on bug tracker mysql
0000128: Last logged in location not always shown
0001732: Reference labels missing in "my friends"
0001667: Email verification feature doesn’t work
0001611: Users with deleted profiles able to enter chat
0001745: Primary navigation active "folder tab" is pushed up and looks broken
0001050: Fixed wrong link
0001466: Fixed business cards ordering page with updated info
0001732: Fixing weird reference display behavior on connections.html page
0001737: Confirmed email addresses when signing up like we do with passwords
0001733: Reminds people to use the optional ‘contact info’ in the couch info part of edit profile responsibly and to encourage the use of our established communication channels rather than external ones that our MDST can’t help with
0000701: Messages sorted by sender will now paginate properly
0000849: Admin news items can’t be completely deleted anymore

0000441: enabled the entire friend connection page to be translated

0000248: Fixed testimonials

0000742: Clicking on your own profile no longer increases your "profile views" count

0001700: Link to member profile is now available when answering a CUQ and in the stats page when the user writes without being logged in by their email address is in the system (and linked to a profile)

0001697: Shows the alt text for profile icons on both the profile and the mapsurf pages.

0001638: No more ‘/profile.html?id=0′ broken links in reference update messages

0001679: Message is clearer to verified members about why they can’t automatically change their address and how to do it properly

Let the Swatting Begin

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008


Bug week has begun. The CS Tech Team is working hard this week to eliminate as many bugs as possible from the system. They started yesterday, and have fixed an impressive number of bugs already.

List of bugs fixes as of this post after the jump.

CS2 - 2008 Alaska Bug Week
- 0000540: [groups] When a new user join a group, a message is forwarded to moderator, sometimes user name is not written (GrandVizier) - resolved.
- 0001434: [user profile] Male default preferred gender (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001733: [user profile] Suggestion to change text on the page for editing the Contact Method field (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001732: [friend connections] reference labels missing in "my friends" (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001466: [general] Error in the exposed procedure for printing CS business cards at Vista Print (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001045: [general] VistaPrint information out of date (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001638: [email] wrong link in friend update emails (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001724: [couchsearch] Option to search for Couch Availability does not work (cyrilg) - resolved.
- 0001707: [groups] "Create a new group" from the page "Edit Communication Settings of Groups" doesn’t work. (GrandVizier) - resolved.
- 0001730: [general] Warning: array_push() [function.array-push]: First argument should be an array in [] on line 513 (cyrilg) - resolved.
- 0000557: [images] Deleted Folders for pics still in pulldown menus (cyrilg) - resolved.
- 0001097: [images] Moving images doesn’t work (cyrilg) - resolved.
- 0001641: [general] Strange symbol on The Phoenix Story page ( [^] (walterheck) - resolved.
- 0001686: [couchsearch] New City Ambassadors not listed in Couchsurch (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001697: [couchsearch] Missing alt text for profile icons (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001700: [contact us questions] Link to member profile disappears when answering a CUQ and in the stats page (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001719: [general] Need to tweak the text here: [^] (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001728: [general] [^] stays blank (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0000742: [general] clicking "logged in as x" link adds user’s own "profile views" count (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0000248: [general] Main Page Testimonial Snippet Cannot Be Expanded (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001202: [general] Turkish Currency (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001050: [general] Wrong link in policy_faq page (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0000801: [admin] Needed: Verification Upgrade Button (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0000836: [admin] Need log of when verification system is down and working properly (redcouchguy) - resolved.
- 0001506: [groups] A post doesn’t appear on the Buenos Aires Group (GrandVizier) - resolved.
- 0001496: [groups] Formatting gone AWOL in the Mumbai group (GrandVizier) - resolved.
- 0000889: [groups] New user joined group emails not sending reason (GrandVizier) - resolved.
- 0001611: [chat] Users with deleted profiles able to enter chat - resolved.
- 0001652: [groups] deleting group posts - post count not updated (GrandVizier) - resolved.

Caribou Tech Release

Thursday, July 17th, 2008


The CouchSurfing tech team has just released their third update of the Alaska Collective. Dubbed “Caribou” after the animal and the Alaskan town, this release adds functionality across the site.

Some of the most noticeable changes have been made to the reference system.

Here are the changes you’ll see:

  • Simply Positive, Neutral or Negative!

We know, we know… that time you surfed with those kids in the Philippines during Chinese New Year and ate tarantulas with the village grandmother or when you met your best friend three years ago when you hosted her last minute in Portland qualify as EXTREMELY positive experiences. However, it seems to be the trend that less members distinguish between truly “extreme” and “positive” experiences. Now members will just choose to rate the experience as "positive", "neutral" or "negative". You can pay homage to the extremity of your experience in the body of your reference. All current references will be automatically changed, so "extremely positive" and "extremely negative" references will be changed to "positive" or "negative", respectively.

  • Bringing them together

To help you get a clear picture of both sides of the CouchSurfing experience, you will be able to see the references that two members have left one another, grouped together. Yes, that’s right – you won’t need to scroll through the entire reference list to see the corresponding references a member has left! References you have left others, that don’t correspond to a reference left for you, will still appear at the bottom of your reference list.

  • Stationary updates

Updated references will stay put. They won’t move to the top of the reference list, but the member will receive an email with the reference changes. Now you can keep track of all the changes in your references, but others won’t be able abuse the system by constantly updating references in order to keep them at the top.

  • Identifiable icons

To make it clear under what situations members have met each other, each reference will include icons that show whether a member hosted, surfed or traveled with the other member.

  • How close are they?

When looking at references, there will be a dot to show you how close the members are to each other. Just as in the "How do I know?" section on profiles, you can easily see by the darkness of the dot, the strength of the friendship link. The darker the dot, the closer the friendship.

  • KISS: Keep it short and simple!

We don’t want you to have to read an essay to understand the message a member is trying to get across in a reference. There will be a capped limit to how much you can write in each reference, but don’t worry – it’s capped at 1000 characters so you will still have plenty of typing space!

  • Keeping things private for members

On publicly viewable profiles, references left for others will not be displayed unless you’re logged in. This is to respect the privacy of members whose profiles are not publicly viewable.

Some of the other visible changes include the addition of a safety page under the home tab and the addition of city and country of origin for every meeting member.

For full details, check out the release notes.

Tech Team Alaska Collective – Release #2

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

The Tech Team has released their second tech brief of the collective. This is a culmination of the work of many people, both here at the collective and in remote teams around the world.

View Tech Release #2

Thanks much to everyone involved for making this possible!

Collective Week(s) in Review

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

It is the beginning of my fourth week, and a lot has happened since I arrived. We rolled out a tech release package, launched group RSS feeds,  witnessed several great presentations, started several of our large projects, and welcomed several new members to the house.

We have been joined by Miri, who is heading up the CouchSurfing CARES program, and Wendy, a member of the User Research and Design team. Miri is with us for a month, and Wendy leaves tomorrow. Susy has returned from Holland and got an incredible visa! Ten years, with intervals of  six months, multiple entry!

We also welcomed our new cook, Nick, who will be taking care of our appetites for the rest of the collective. He cooked a fantastic pasta dinner with garlic / tomatoe / cheese bread and salad on Sunday night.

We have also enjoyed getting to know the local population. From weekly soccer and Frisbee matches to weekend barbeques, we have been integrating ourselves into the community. If we tell a group of people in Homer that we are volunteering with CouchSurfing,  someone inevitably says “Oh, you’re the new guys up on the hill right?”

The weekend before last we went on an excursion across the bay to hike around some glaciers, and then this weekend a group of us went to the Solstice Folk Music festival in Seldovia. Laura will write about that soon as I wasn’t there! Walter and I hitchhiked up to Hope, AK for some remote camping.

From a project standpoint, things are starting to move smoothly. The first few weeks were all about getting things set up, and now that everyone has tasks to accomplish and goals to achieve, productivity has continued to rise. We are using a new online project management system, thanks to Camtastic, and Jeff is working on a project matrix.

We also had  presentation from Shonali, Casey and Mattthew that will begin to help us discover CouchSurfing’s identity. With an organization as spread out as we are, this is a challenge we look forward too!

The tech team has been hard at work as usual, and has recently added three new remote members. We will also be adding eight new servers in the near future, and phasing out five old ones. This will help the performance and stability of the site.

More updates from the Great Northwest in the near future!

Tech Team Alaska Collective First Release

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

As part of this Collective, we have changed the way we release tech updates to the site. For the first time ever, we are rolling updates into release packages. This makes it easy for everyone to see what has been updated, and it allows us to notify everyone before the rollout occurs.

Click here for the Tech Team Alaska Collective First Release

Some of the updates are visible to the public, some are useful to volunteers and Ambassadors, and others are behind the scenes. It is worth to note that some only make sense if you are fluent in tech speak!

One of the most visible updates is the addition of RSS feeds for groups. RSS means Really Simple Syndication, and it is a useful tool for the automatic dissemination of information. See the little RSS icon in the top of the sidebar to the right on this blog? We now have the same deal for CouchSurfing groups. We expect this is going to make it much easier for members to keep updated on posts in their groups, by giving them access to group posts without flooding their email inbox.

I will be posting a training video on some ways to use RSS to enhance the CouchSurfing experience. I will be able to do this once it is live on the system. We will also be posting a general news item to let all members know about this new functionality for groups tomorrow.

Thanks to the tech team, who worked around the clock (literally) to get these things accomplished!

Down Time, Groups, and New Members

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

You may have noticed that CouchSurfing was having some problems over the past few days. If you got the "Site Temporarily Down" message every other time you tried to visit the site, you weren’t alone.

The start of the Northern Hemisphere Summer (traditionally a high travel time) combined with the new member load (we are at 8000-9000 new members a week!) put some sudden unexpected stress on the system. To fix the problem, we shut down group postings for a while, taking a large load off of our main database system while we handled some issues. Casey stayed up until 4:30 am making sure that everything went smoothly, and he was replaced by Walter who took on the rest of the night.

Things are running smoothly now, and we are still working steadily on more ways to speed up the site.

Below is a graph of weekly signups for the past four years… We are growing at an exponential rate! Keep passing on the word and enjoy the Surfing Season!


More detailed statistics and cool information can be found at:

Introduction and first impressions

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Hello everyone,

My name is Walter Heck and I’m one of the tech team members that will be working their asses off for you this summer. I just arrived in Alaska last Saturday and wanted to introduce myself and give you my first impressions. Read more after the jump…

The house is getting more and more full, currently 17 or 18 participants are here (I don’t know the exact number, but we cooked food for 17 last night :) ). It is big and crowded, but a lot of fun. People are working all the time. Last night at 3 in the morning was actually the first time I walked into the living room when it was empty.

One of the things we all have a hard time getting used to is the daylight. The sun currently sets at 23:30 or so, and it rises at 4:00. My whole biorhythm is disturbed. This will probably be fixed in the next couple of weeks though.

On Saturday night we had a party for Cyril’s birthday. It was very good to have an informal party to get to know everyone.

Now on to the professional/tech stuff (which is why i’m writing this post in the first place :) ). Today we have an introduction day to find out who does what and things like that. Until then, I have been keeping busy with setting up the development environment and debugging some small things. I expect to have a specific project by the end of the day.

More later!