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Tekpub not up to snuff?

As described here and here, it looks like BFF Rob Conery is having problems with Tekpub because of the Amazon outage.

For the people who have paid money to use Tekpub, I hope that he’s able to get his house in order.

When you place your bets on someone who, by his own admittance, hasn’t done real world work for years, you get what you pay for.  Perhaps this outage, which any experienced person would have anticipated, will prompt Rob to reconsider his self-opinion as someone above criticism and spend a little less time blogging about whatever shiny bauble that has his attention and more time on making sure his business can support obvious contingencies.

Having experienced these sort of outages before, I know how much it sucks.  Hope he clears that up.

posted on Thursday, April 21, 2011 8:12 PM Print
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
Robin Clowers
4/22/2011 10:57 AM
I'd love to see where Rob admitted he hasn't done real work in years... Is the Tekpub site not real work? How about the contracts he was taking on the side before he was full time on Tekpub?

I agree he needs to do everything he reasonably can to make sure Tekpub does not go down.

Any experienced person would have anticipated this? So the Reddit guys are not experienced? The Quora engineers are a bunch of newbies?

Did you know that Amazon claimed that multiple availability zones should not go down at the same time, but that's exactly what happened?

www.networkworld.com/...

Maybe next time you should do your homework before criticizing...
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
jdn
4/22/2011 11:27 AM
@Robin

The "I haven't done any real work in years" crack is from something he posted on his blog towards the end of his time with Microsoft (I think, you can go find it if you like).

Since Amazon itself suffers outages, why would one think that any services they provide wouldn't? When you have a public facing, revenue generating web site, you should always have a plan for an outage. This is pretty basic stuff. Maybe someone can do a series on it for him.

I don't know why it would cost him that much money. Maybe for the time lost to a customer on a monthly subscription that he'll have to eat? Don't know his business model, but an outage should be planned into it. Maybe it's already in his subscription terms.

Back in the dot com days, I used to be asked what our DR strategy was if terrorists nuked Chicago (since we were based there), and my response was generally that if terrorists nuked Chicago, at that point I wasn't really going to give a fuck about eCommerce. There are outages you can plan for, and those that there really isn't a plan for.

Reddit at least had a cute little 'fail whale' style picture that explained to its customers they were down. You know how useful that is.

HTH. BTW, why do you think Rob is outside of criticism? He seems to think that as well, at least last I checked.
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
Robin Clowers
4/22/2011 1:37 PM
I'm not saying hes outside criticism, there are certainly things he could have done to prevent Tekpub from going down. At the same time, for a startup that size, I would not really expect him to be able to fail over to a completely different service provider or region. Amazon does not make it easy to move from say east to west region (Rob actually looked into doing this, and it sounded like it would have cost a significant amount of money).

So you admit, when your app was hosted in Chicago that if that datacenter went down completely, you would have been dead in the water? Because that's pretty much what happened with Amazon.

Anyway I guess my point is, this was a very unexpected event, and even people that thought they planned for contingency (by hosting in multiple availability zones) still went down.

To be fair, I heard that Netflix is hosted in EC2 and did have enough redundancy to avoid an outage. But they are a hugely successful company that can afford all the associated hosting costs.
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
jdn
4/22/2011 2:22 PM
@Robin:

Big Shot Rob does something successfully for a while and seems to think he's mastered all there is. ;)

Though it probably wasn't clear, it was the semi-panicky "I never even planned on it, I vow to get the site up before the day is nigh" I was tweaking.

#1: Really, you didn't plan for this? This is, as I said, really basic stuff.

#2: Who cares if you are down for a while? Obviously, it could impact his customers, but since people are used to Amazon going down (and though I don't personally use Twitter on purpose, it seems like their business model accepted being down half the time for a while), and even Google goes down occasionally (and 95% of coding activity across the world stops), I wouldn't be surprised if Reddit's contingency plan being "if it is good enough for Twitter, it's good enough for us. Someone come up with a cute image."

You can't always do that. One of our 3rd party vendors at a financial client had an 'outage' and no one could trade for a day.

But on this big InterWeb thing, planning for an outage is basic. You never know when someone with a backhoe in North Carolina will take it down.
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
Steve
4/22/2011 6:58 PM
Low blow - never cheer for another's bad fortune

'I told u so' is childish at best
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
jdn
4/22/2011 7:21 PM
@Steve

"Having experienced these sort of outages before, I know how much it sucks. Hope he clears that up."

Doesn't sound like cheering to me.

Not planning for an outage and potentially losing data as a result is borderline incompetent. Doesn't look like he lost much or any of that though, so other than the downtime, it probably didn't actually cost he or his customers anything.

It's a good reminder that cloud computing is hardly a panacea, and has its own risks.
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
msuarz
4/23/2011 9:44 AM
envy .... pure undistilled envy
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# re: Tekpub not up to snuff?
jdn
4/23/2011 12:09 PM
@msuarz

Absolutely. If one thing my west coast road trip drove home (pun intended) is that scenery-wise, Illinois doesn't cut it.

He was probably monitoring Amazon from a sunset-lit beach, lucky bastard.

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