Mailchimp Makes Project Omnivore Public

Pretty impressive blog post at MailChimp today, in which they make public the details of their Project Omnivore: http://www.mailchimp.com/blog/project-omnivore-declassified.

In short:

Omnivore is a program that runs in the background and analyzes email campaign and user account data. Non-stop.

When it finds anything suspicious about a MailChimp user or his campaigns, it’ll do one of two things:

  1. Send the user a warning for something that looks problematic.
  2. Suspend a user’s account for something bad, send them a warning, and alert our abuse team to investigate the account.

The long version is at the link and the impressive part is how much data and prediction they are incorporating into the tool to help them avoid sending campaigns that will damage their sending reputation in the long run. It’s not just about filtering the mail stream to make sure it’s not going to trip filters, but watching the list management practices of their customers.

This is the kind of thing that all ESPs are going to have to start doing moving toward, using internal systems to ensure that the right message is being sent to the right people, then combined with tools like Adaptive Delivery and real-time bounce and feedback loop processing to make sure that the messages are being sent in the right way.

Some days I’d just like to see what a company like MailChimp would do with our toolset, give them a messaging server with internal scripting that can hook into their datasources and I’d wager some very cool things would come out.

Resolving PHP-MySQL Connection Issues

I ran into an interesting issue when installing WordPress on my re-installed server, I could not get a database connection during installation. I added some debugging and discovered that I had a “Can’t connect to MySQL server on” error returned after the call to mysql_connect() in PHP.

To check the source of the issue I then tried to connect on the command-line using the mysql client, which occurred successfully, confirming that I was using the correct credentials and host address (this was a remote MySQL server).

I next created a test PHP script with a simple mysql_connect() call, and executed it with “php test.php” from the command-line, which was also successful.

Finally I accessed test.php through a browser, where again the connection failed.

So I was dealing with a situation where it was Apache in particular that was unable to connect to the remote MySQL server. Thanks to Wez Furlong‘s ideas I was able to narrow this down to SELinux blocking outgoing communications by Apache.

So, if you’re having issues with Apache and specifically connecting out, you may want to disable SELinux for Apache.

Cinematic Titanic – East Meets Watts

East Meets Watts is the latest installment from Cinematic Titanic and the first live DVD made available since Cinematic Titanic started performing live, and it’s a blast! The DVD starts out with a camera covering the entire stage and then cuts to a composite image that places the performers at the sides of the movie so that the movie image is nice and sharp. This approach takes full advantage of the DVD aspect ratio and unlike a shadowrama performance ensures that the movie is never obscured (for better or worse).

With East Meets Watts (AKA Dynamite Brothers) we have a performance that’s been honed over a number of live performances and the performers seem to be really settled into their groove. The riffs are as fast and furious, more so than the on-screen action and while the episode lacks some of the skit segments of its predecessors it’s nice to actually see the performers for one (a synchronized spit-take partway through is better with a live camera).

Instead of a shorter trailer, Cinematic Titanic instead published a five minute segment to YouTube, so you can see for yourself how the live version works:

I’d suggest picking it up, either on DVD or instant download.