Friday, April 22, 2011

Amazon Weather Forecast: Not Cloud-y, Community Suffers

According to Reuters, Amazon's "Elastic Compute Cloud" service has experienced serious problems, starting early Thursday and continuing into today. This has affected me principally in the absence of login and comment facilities on Talking Points Memo; those services just returned to me within the past hour.

Yes, I know, some of you don't like TPM... or FDL, or Kos, or one side or the other of occasional blog wars between smaller blogs. Nothing wrong with that. But many of us find our blogging experience considerably enhanced by the presence of a community associated with a large blog.

For example, I learn more than a little bit by reading the comments on FDL; many of their commenters (yes, I am one, though only occasionally, under the name "SBtheYDD") are themselves bloggers in the manner of journalists, who do serious research and post at least some of it in comments or personal blogs on that site.

I am not as much a member of the TPM community (though I do post an occasional comment under the name "doggerelist"), but I lurk on their threads. It is not difficult to filter the good stuff from the crap, and sometimes the good stuff represents quality work by people not as well-known as the named authors.

So the commenting facility on a blog is a community-building tool, for progressives and liberals as surely as for wing-nuts. I am glad TPM seems to be back "on the air" with its full community visible from here once again.


  1. Oh, yes, let's trust Google and Amazon and Microsoft and Apple to actually maintain their data centers and make all of the mirrors and back-ups so we don't lose any critical information.

    They are the "professionals" and "know what they're doing"... and when they fail to meet expectations you are screwed and don't have the resources to even sue them for compensation because their terms of service always protect them and not you.

    NFS may not be a big player, but they don't imply that there will never be problems, and they haven't lost anything yet, even when the electricity was turned off on their servers without warning.

    I back up my own data and have it on my own equipment if there is a problem.

    Oh, I have a feeling that the New York Times was also involved as Krugman mentioned that his commenting system went South, and stuff may have been lost.

    OT: I didn't change anything, but now it works. Blogger fixed something that they won't admit was broken.

  2. Bryan, in all fairness, a small private commenting service that I learned to trust... HaloScan... sold to another small company, JS-Kit, of Echo infamy... who not only put a metaphorical gun to my head, saying "your money or a decade's worth of your comments," but also forced me to spend one entire Christmas season (they gave me TWO WEEKS' NOTICE) coming up with something... anything... that would enable me to continue blogging. I am hardly proud of the resulting blog; it's clumsy and ugly... but under the circumstances, it was what was possible, vs. impossible. I cannot apologize for doing what was necessary for me to continue blogging.

    And FTR, I am NOT the one who depended on cloud services or backups; that was TPM that did that. Once, years ago, in the early days of TPM, I volunteered some advice to Josh and was rebuffed; it's his problem now. I have great reservations about cloud computing, and would not recommend to a client that they bet the farm on it.

    I back up my blog template regularly (most recently about 2 weeks ago, i.e., essentially, the very same template you see before you now), and I do not consider my blog post history of particularly great value, compared to the ability to continue blogging.

    I keep the old blog on my own domain mainly for the 2009 photos on it, which are the only things I lost in the virus-induced crash. Other than those photos, there's nothing in my blog history that I really care about.

    OT, I'm glad they fixed it. Blogger is full of annoying quirks, including the bloody post editor, which rarely loses anything (I'll give it that) but frequently wreaks havoc with formatting, leaving me to find workaround tricks and test them on Firefox/Linux and IE8/Windows Vista (across the room on Stella's system). It's a pain, but in my current physical state, I don't take on any extra work...

  3. Steve, I must not have been clear in my intent.

    This is one of series of disasters that has occurred to the major boosters of cloud computing, all of which have affected thousands of individuals and businesses.

    The reference to NFS was purely to point out that hosts in the real world don't guarantee what can't be guaranteed - no problems, but they seem to have better strategies in place to deal with them, usually because they have competent technical people who are actually paying attention.

    The "big guys" seem to hiring their technical staff from day labor centers.

    You did what you had to do given the circumstances. What we would do if we have a lot of time, is not the same as what we have to do when there is no time.

    I spent a month finding the right host for my older brother because of his specific requirements. Then I had a cousin who needed a site thrown up in a week - so she's on NFS because it was the easiest and quickest way of doing it. She may need to migrate later, depending on which way her enterprise goes, but the site was up within the week.

    My problem is with the over-promising that all of the "big guys" do. The comment about Blogger was just more snark about the way they have always done things - not telling people about a problem until after they have figured out a solution. At least Blogger isn't charging you, like Amazon.

    Oh, add Sony's Playstation on-line network to the list of big players who can't keep their networks up. They "think" they spotted an intrusion, so they shut down the entire network. That will really boost sales.

  4. Bryan, I blame corporatism. Before the domination of corporations, there was no compulsion to pretend always, always to have been right about everything; now, if a corp doesn't pretend that, it's liable to be sued over the least thing... or the worst thing. Corporations and a litigious society have brought us to this point.

    I'd write more, but I'm especially fatigued tonight, and I have a long day tomorrow. I'll be back when I'm able.



• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes