As most of you know, we've been having a large amount of problems with the scanners over the last few days as a result of some changes that MS made to xbox.com.
The problem was this:
After a certain amount of time of the scanners running (normally around 30 mins or so), any attempt to access to a gamer's games list page would be redirected to the homepage of xbox live. This would happen at the same time for all scanners
That means they could see the fact your gamerscore had gone up (and record it here), but when they went through to see what games had changed, they'd be blocked. I originally flagged this up in the code as privacy settings being on, but in fact it looked as though MS were actually noticing a large amount of traffic from a single account and blocking it.
If I stopped the scanners for a couple of hours and then started them again, they would work correctly again for about 30 mins before it would all start failing again.
I've just started a new job so I have been seriously busy, and such a huge problem couldn't really have come at a worse time!
In fact, it wasn't until after my first night out with my new colleagues on thursday night that I had any time to look at it. So in a drunken stupour I came up with the following plan:
1) Change the code so that it doesn't say you've got privacy settings on when we get redirected.
2) Move everyone on to 2 scanners to try to see if it was related to the number of hits per minute we were making. This seemed to help somewhat, but the problem is the site needs at least 4 scanners to keep up with new registrations, so....
3) After some guess work, it looked as though MS could be blocking based on the number of requests from the logged in xbox live account. So I created 4 new accounts, and recoded the scanners to each use a different one for their access. I then spread everyone out accross the 4.
These fixes have now been running for almost 36 hours and they are working so far.
I'm not sure if MS were specifically targetting us when they made their changes (it's certainly possible). If they were, it's likely they don't like what we're doing and this new fix will only be temporary. I would imagine the next step would be to block based on our IP Address and then we'll be a bit shafted.
If that does happen, I have some ideas about how to get around it, by basically allowing anyone to run a scanner from their pc when it's turned on as a service. This would be a huge amount of recoding though. so I''m really hoping it doesn't come to that.
Today I will try to fix some outstanding bugs. I've already fixed the gamer stats graphs for those that weren't working. There's a lot of other small bugs that got introduced when I did some work to speed up the site, and I'll get cracking on those.
I also have Halo Wars and a copy of Mirrors Edge to play so hopefully I can get a couple of hours of that in as well
Anyway, I thought it would be good to give you all an idea of the problems we've been having, it's been a nightmare week for me (over 100 PMs and emails asking why people's accounts hadn't been updated!), and I'm hoping we are going to be ok for a while now.
I'm sorry for all the disruption, it was a very tricky thing to work around as it wasn't happening immediately the scanners were turned on, and I don't really have any spare time at the moment (until today).
Please also don't bitch about Microsoft, without them this site would be very little apart from a forum. They are only trying to keep the usage of xbox.com to a reasonable level (I'm guessing), and I don't think you can blame them for that.
Have a good weekend all!