Friday Updates: Data Retention Progress, Better Call Saul, Doomscrolling

Photo by the Creative Exchange on Unsplash

What I’m working on at Preceden

I’ve been thinking a lot about data retention at Preceden. After people are done using the service, unless they manually delete their timelines and account, that data stays around forever. And since Preceden has been around 11 years now, that means a lot of accounts and a lot of timeline data that’s sitting there that’s serving no purpose. By figuring out a way to clean it up, the database will perform better, there’s less impact in the event of a data breach, it serves as a way to retain paying customers (“we’re not just going to hold onto your data forever if you stop paying”) and in general it feels like the responsible thing to do.

Easier said than done though.

For a v1, I’m attempting to automate a solution to delete accounts that have no timeline data and haven’t been active in at least 2 years. There’s actually a lot of accounts that fit this criteria: about 25% of users that sign up never create a single event. Spread out over 11 years, and the number is pretty high.

Preceden isn’t set up to handle this type of thing well. Users have timelines, timelines have layers, layers have events. And some timelines have collaborators, some users have teams, and some users are set up as teachers with student sub-accounts. Iterating over each user and performing the necessary queries puts a ton of strain on the database, causing performance issues for people actively using it. And I haven’t tracked last active date in the past, adding further complication.

And for v2, I want to handle situations where users have timeline data, and that’s going to require notifying them, giving them some time to log in and indicate they want to keep using it, or to export their data if interested, etc. Lots of and lots of complexity here and it all has to be done super carefully: don’t want to ever delete any accounts accidentally.

This is all solvable, just taking some time to work through it one issue at a time.

What I’m watching

Better Call Saul on Netflix:

I loved Breaking Bad back in the day, but never got into this spinoff. Finally started watching it and am really enjoying it.

What I’m (not) doomscrolling

Twitter.

I got into a bad habit the last few years of keeping Tweetbot open during the day and scrolling through tweets every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. It was largely driven by following politics on Twitter, ugh.

I recently got a new Macbook and decided not to install Tweetbot. It’s a hard habit to break, but I’ve definitely noticed my anxiety level decrease recently and I think not having Twitter open all day has contributed to that. It definitely helps that Biden won the presidency and Twitter politics is a lot more boring now.

Thank goodness.

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