“go green”

October 31st, 2010

Dear provider: yes, I will ‘go green’ and sign up for email invoices the moment you stop sending me solicitations to get more stuff form you by the pound.

the right interface

October 29th, 2010

While holding the Home button, press and release the Lock Sleep/Wake button. Your screen will flash letting you know that the screen shot was taken.

I had no idea that it was that easy to take a screen shot on the iPhone. The way this works is just perfect. It is easy to remember since it references the ‘you push the button we do the rest’ habit of taking a picture. It works and gives proper feedback. Sometimes Apple gets it right. Sometimes they manage to get beyond the thinking of engineering and make things really work. Technology companies get often stuck on the technology level. Nice to see when it gets transcended occasionally.

what do you do after you invented gmail …

October 25th, 2010

… and a couple of other things? Whatever it is that Paul Buchheit is doing today, luckily blogging is among it. Specially since he seems to think about what he writes.

It’s the technology, stupid

October 21st, 2010

I like this graph. It is a wonderful example how a theory can be conveyed.

I have trouble following the underlying assumptions though. Plotting the potential output as a straight line going up is a nice illusion. Last time I checked things don’t automatically get better. Thanks to entropy the opposite is true. It takes a certain effort to maintain the status quo and even more energy is needed to improve matters. The past certainly saw advancements in GDP. Over and over again. But assuming that this will therefor continue is equally foolish as to predict the future reign of the Pharaohs in Egypt just because they did so in the last thousands of years.

The Dow is climbing, but unemployment does not decline. It might be that a conventional analysis is under estimating the impact of structural changes that happened in the last two decades. A tempting simplification of what is going on could look like this: Progress in computers and communication technology is creating huge values without creating the jobs as it was usual in previous eras. Facebook employs one engineer per 1.2 Million users.

Quantum leaps in efficiency ( workers vs output ) did happen before. But never as radical and rapid as seems now to be the case. Since this is unprecedented nobody has the faintest idea what this actually means.

For a couple of years the housing bubble masked the effects of this technological revolution on the job market. But eventually we will have to cope with the fact that nobody needs to file TPS reports any longer. That’s done by some computer somewhere.

Fourteen miles of empty shelves

October 15th, 2010

INTERDUBS crossed the 1.5 Million file mark yesterday. Big numbers are hard to imagine. Simplifying matters a bit one can assume that each file at least replaces one DVD. If one would put those 1.5 million DVDs side by side on a shelf then it would be 14 miles long. It was a while back that I walked that distance. But I still remember vividly that it took a while.

Not using those DVDs saved 500 metric tons of CO2 as well.

INTERDUBS file counter

DVD case dimensions

DVD and CO2 emissions

no longer 100%

October 7th, 2010

Until yesterday we had a perfect uptime history. 1,375 days online, and no interruptions. Today that changed: Starting from 9:16am PDT INTERDUBS.com was not reachable for 19 minutes.

Absolutely our fault. Of all possible scenarios it is actually our preferred one since we can fix it. We did and this problem will never occur again. Still sucks to having lost our outage virginity. All outages are avoidable, and so was this one. And -as usual- it was the lack of imagination that caused us to not see this coming.

What happened?

An upload with 550Mb/s triggered an automated protection system that took a network interface offline. It should have only impacted the one address using that amount of traffic. But it was doing it’s job wrong and shot in both directions: Rendering us unreachable.

This system is meant to guard INTERDUBS against malicious brute force attacks. Not a bad idea, if implemented right. 550Mb/s is of course still very very far away from the limit of our network capabilities. It was the volume and specific traffic pattern that caused the emergency shut off. We did neither envision nor test this specific condition. No two ways around this: Our fault. Embarrassing. Please accept our apologies (and money, if you like - see below for details).

We re-configured the system and are confident todays outage will never happen again.

Since we were unaware of the bug in the system configuration it took us a little while to identify the cause. Since the system is responsible for security we also had to spend a couple minutes testing the changes that then became the fix. 19 Minutes is a long time for an outage. Looking at what needed to get done to bring us back online we feel that we did OK. Not great, but OK. Of course there is also room for improvement, and we started to implement those changes today.

INTERDUBS overall uptime dropped now from 100% to 99.99904%.
For the month we are down to 99.95%. Well below the 99.999% we promise. None of our clients has to pay for INTERDUBS this month. If they choose so. A simple email is enough: we will discount the whole month.

Since counting nines of uptime is not really what most people want to think about, we decided that effective immediately we change our policy: we now guarantee 100% uptime. No longer ‘only’ 99.999%. If a client feels that INTERDUBS wasn’t there for them when they needed it, then they don’t pay. Simple as that.

This page documents all outages and service disruptions we ever experienced

paging don norman

October 3rd, 2010

Allot of work has probably gone into the creation of this comparison chart of Javascript UI libraries. Which is great and appreciated.

Tragically the author didn’t specify the meaning of the X axis. With benchmarks both can be the case. (Here it is apparently shorter is better). The comments on the post do point this out. Oddly the author did not fix the page. Would have taken 1 minute.

It might also be that not having a meaning on the axis’ caters to the biggest audience: People looking for this page might already have a favorite. So, let’s say you embrace YUI (shivers) then you come to this page, look at the long bars and click away just having confirmed that YUI is best. (Firmly ignoring what should have been a give away that protoype does even have longer bars).

People probably roam the Internet looking for ‘information’ that confirms what they were thinking all along. Since the Internet is pretty vast this works better than it ever did in history. There are 22,000 pages about unicorns and postage stamps.


October 2nd, 2010

There will always be West- and East-Germany. I was convinced of that. All political parties had ‘a unified Germany’ listed on their official agendas. But nobody took that serious.

It was nice to be wrong about this. It was nice to see something change 20 years ago.

The thought that many people were born the GDR and died before their countries ill fated system is a weird one: All these people knew was this version of the world.