Amazon Discusses The S3 Downtime

amazon s3Amazon has posted an announcement regarding what happened last weekend with their S3 storage service and the downtime of nearly 8 hours. Our sister site CenterNetworks covered the outage extensively. Overall the downtime ran over 9 hours from 8:40am Pacific Time to 5:00pm Pacific Time. They call it an "availability event" – I need to add this to my list of synonyms for the words dead, down, outage and not working.

Here’s their final conclusion:

We’ve now determined that message corruption was the cause of the server-to-server communication problems. More specifically, we found that there were a handful of messages on Sunday morning that had a single bit corrupted such that the message was still intelligible, but the system state information was incorrect. We use MD5 checksums throughout the system, for example, to prevent, detect, and recover from corruption that can occur during receipt, storage, and retrieval of customers’ objects. However, we didn’t have the same protection in place to detect whether this particular internal state information had been corrupted. As a result, when the corruption occurred, we didn’t detect it and it spread throughout the system causing the symptoms described above. We hadn’t encountered server-to-server communication issues of this scale before and, as a result, it took some time during the event to diagnose and recover from it.

As cloud computing becomes more mainstream, will we see more downtime as more developers move to this type of hosting solution over more traditional options?

10 ways to orientate users on your site

Imagine you’re driving along and due to a road closure you have to follow those conspicuous yellow detour signs. You’re now on an unfamiliar road, but because of the signs you confidently proceed, comfortable in trusting the arrows to tell you where you need to go.

Then there’s a roundabout and no sign. Do you turn left? Right? You’re lost and have two choices; turn back and find an alternate road you know well or blindly drive around and hope for the best.

Websites are very similar, no matter what their ultimate goal is, your site visitors need to intuitively find their way around. Too often, general website navigation and orientation disappears or changes on internal pages.

In fact, with websites this point is even more pertinent as users can just ‘evaporate’ and leave your site, instead of being forced to drive around aimlessly!

Beyond Compare – A Nice File Comparison Utility

A while ago, I had the need for a file comparison utility to compare the difference between files on my Web server and those on my computer. After a bit of searching, I came across a utility called Beyond Compare.

From the beginning, I was impressed at just how easy it is to use Beyond Compare. All you do is open one file, then “compare” it to another file. Beyond Compare scans the files and identifies all of the differences. Then, you can click on the up and down arrows in the menu at the top of the utility, and it will automatically transport you to the highlighted differences in the files.

One of the biggest pros I’ve found in this software, besides its ease of use and its power, is the fact that the trial operates the way a trial really should. You can download a 30-day trial from the Web site, and, unlike other trial software packages, Beyond Compare actually lets you use the software for 30 days. Rather than expiring after 30 calendar days have passed, Beyond Compare (at least, the 2.5.2 version I have installed at work) doesn’t expire until you’ve actually used it over 30 days. Each time you use the utility, if it is a different day than the last time you used it, one day is subtracted from the trial period. Therefore, even if you keep the utility installed for six months, if you only use it twice, you still have 28 days left in your trial period.

Once you want to buy the software, though, it’s very reasonable. The price right now is $30 for a license.

Common CSS Issue Resolution

NetTuts has a good look into 5 common css issues and how to resolve them easily and quickly. The five css issues are:

  • Why are my styles not effective?
  • The difference between relative and absolute positioning
  • Internet Explorer 6 double margin issue
  • Specific selector issues
  • Testing your site in multiple browsers

As always, if you run into trouble, post your questions in our CSS help forum.

Is there no originality left in the world?

It seems that I am seeing more and more news and posts about plagiarized songs. You can’t go to the movie theaters and watch an original movie any more. With a few very rare exceptions (Metalocalypse, for one), television is a vast wasteland of unoriginal, uninspired ideas. Web sites (especially the news sites) all look the same nowadays.

With all this rehashing and regurgitating of ideas, why should logos be any exception? They’re not. Here are a few posts (anyone catch the irony in this post?) detailing some of the more aggregious logo copies (not all of them are actually ripoffs, but they still look strikingly similar):

How Are Your Servers Physically Protected?

PingdomPingdom is out with a new analysis piece looking at physical security over hacking. It’s easy for us to try to prevent hacker attempts, viruses and worms, but what about actual physical security? We just moved HTMLCenter to a new host a couple of weeks ago. Never once did I ask or think about what’s their actual physical security model.

The real issue isn’t the stolen servers, it’s the stolen data. The data is always worth more than the hardware itself.