TorQue Ltd is a rwandan software development company, incorporated in 2013, with a mission to create software solutions tailor made to the needs of wholesale distributors in Rwanda and Africa.
What a way to start your new year? I just passed 8 days in trouble! I would like to start with a joke: Did you know that if you steal 32 million Rwf and you are caught and put in prison, you become the most important person in there? Steal a bag of sweet potatoes and see what happens to you in there - Well, if you steal neither the millions nor the potatoes, until you are proved innocent, you are presumed guilty. You get it? I had the best days in there!!
Guess what I was accused of after reading the first chapter on how I ended up putting myself in trouble.
It all began the night of New Years, 2017! My friends asked me on phone why I was nowhere to be found hanging out on New Years eve as I was accustomed to and I kept replying that I needed to start my year in peace, and by doing what I love to do the most: writting codes. I had stayed in bed and with my computer on my side I created a new template for this website (torque.co.rw) and put it online. I also started fixing bugs in my other company codes and merging work from our various developers with the hope that in 2017 our company will look all new and refreshed. I heard fireworks... and I said to myself: 2016 was a good year, I thanked God for all the blessings and I went to bed.
2017 was here - I woke up to an alert at 5 in the morning, saying that the GCom system, one of the services that we(TorQue) put online had crashed [...]
The system is used by distributors in the service industry to sell lots of utility services including selling electricity meter tokens and for some reason, this system was going down constantly and that its users were not being able to sell any of the services. I woke up in a flash, kicked away all laziness and grabbed my laptop, logged in its servers and in no time, the services were up and running again. I noticed that the system's latency had gone way up. With no one to call for assistance at that early hour, I started diagnostics all by my self.
The situation continued getting worse that every minute I would leave my computer, I was notified that the services were down again. At that time, I did not have anyone to call for help. It was on New Years, but also, because the traffic to the system had gone way up, I said to myself: Maybe this is the best way that I will ever have for me to gain some insight about all behaviours of the system and to figure out its full potential... So I kept going and I enjoyed this work all that long! The reason why the services had gained such momentum, in terms of traffic, right in the biggining of 2017 was a mystery - But it really felt awesome to monitor it in such a crisis situation.
By the evening I had fixed the system to such an extent that it could keep accomodating the increasing traffic and then I had another question: Why? Who is using it at this rate? Where did all these new people come from? I started my next quest asking about what had made this sudden change in traffic. Because I had been too busy, I had continued ignoring messages from friends who were asking if I could help them buying electricity and this got me curious. With all this pressure from friends constantly asking if our services was working saying that they were not able to buy their electricity tokens from any agents out there and also after seeing in twitter feeds from the energy company in Rwanda, recommending ways that people could buy electricity through Mobile Money and Tigo Cash... having had pressure from some Tigo and some MTN partners requesting me to connect to our system's API to be able to redirect some of their traffic to us, then I logically concluded that all other services were out. Only the GCom system was selling electricity tokens and that was the reason for the pick in our traffic. Later, it was confirmed by one of our users that at a certain time during that day every other system went out one after another and the only remaining system was GCom.
My head went into an emergency mode, I stopped every other thing I was doing and I started designing all sorts of ways to keep the service running and accepting new requests from MTN and Tigo traffic. I would take my regular 20 minutes break, go out, look at the city light and then I would feel in my spirit as if the work I am doing at that moment was the reason to why those light burbs were still shinning. That feeling was so priceless that I passed the following 36 hours without any sleep. I felt a lot of pride in my head, but it was really all beautiful.
Thirty six hours in a row, with no sleep, my health was so threatened, my fingers were no longer controlled by my brains - I had taken in a huge amount of coffee for all those hours, my head wanted to continue, really!! Nonetheless the exhaustion that was spreading throughout the rest of my body was unbearable. Now I looked at my room, and dreams of sleeping started coming... I slowly left my work station, I collapsed into my bed and slept the same way you switch off your TV set.
I was out for 5 hours, I woke up, granced at my computer screen and the system was working in perfect harmony with no errors. I said to myself - Wow, what a good way to start my year!!