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Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover
Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad.
Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily.
Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams.
A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'.
A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path.
Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy.
That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place.
And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later.
One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem.
Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine.
The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.
Turning your Eye to Government, Nonprofit or Small Business for you Next Job The type of business you work for can effect your job satisfaction. Your personality type may also work out better at certain types of businesses. Research different business types before going on your job search. Working for a small business or a non-profit definitely has its pros and cons. First of all, getting hired at a small business can be much easier than landing a position than at a corporation. Typically you will only have to go through one person to get the job. Usually the small business owner conducts the interview. This can be a good thing because the business owner may be willing to overlook a lack of experience or extenuating circumstances concerning your work history. Nonprofit jobs are often easier to get if you are passionate about the cause. The person that is doing the hiring is generally passionate about the cause that the nonprofit is working to assist. If they pick up on passion about the cause from you, typically you will get the job. However, that passion is necessary because they pay may not be very much. Working for a smaller company also opens up more opportunities for promotions. With fewer employees and contact with the owner, you may be able to move up in the company faster. You will be able to pick up on skills in less time than at large corporations, which often have many hoops for one to jump through before training for a new position. There may be a smaller window of time to pick up on new skills because of the limited amount of time that can be put towards training. Nonprofits may not have as many opportunities for promotions and job stability may be questionable. If the donations stop coming in or whoever funds the nonprofit decides not to fund it anymore, you could be out of a job. This is a very real concern with a nonprofit job. There are some drawbacks to working at smaller businesses. Sometimes, the staff at smaller businesses have been in place for years. New, younger employees may not be viewed favorably. This could affect working relationships with co-workers. Smaller companies also mean smaller paychecks. Independent businesses are not able to generate large paychecks. This could make staying at a small business undesirable. However, the personal interaction between you and your boss could be encouragement to stick it out with a small business. Or the opposite could be true. Government jobs can be beneficial to have for a number of reasons. First of all, government jobs offer good salaries and great benefits. You will have all government holidays off and you will be working in a position that is necessary to the maintenance of the government. That means that you probably won?t have to worry about being displaced. Although, remember that if the government runs into tough times, layoffs are possible. Government jobs are usually normal business hours but not always. There are some positions that will have hours that extend a little bit beyond regular business hours but for the most part, you will be able to enjoy your life by taking advantage of vacation time. Sick days will also be available at government jobs. Some of the drawbacks of government jobs are that you may have to deal with a large amount of on the job stress. You may be responsible for processing hundreds, maybe even thousands of cases and one mistake could be very tragic for an individual. Depending on what your position is, you may be instrumental in handling paper work from a huge amount of people.
Web Hosting - DNS, How The Internet Keeps Track of Names The way computers communicate is, in a way, very similar to something very familiar: the postal system that delivers letters and packages. Here's how... The Internet is just what the name suggests, a large inter-connected set of networks. But those networks are pointless without the one part that forms what is called their 'end-nodes', otherwise known as computers. Those computers often need to share information because the people who use them want to share information. But, in a system where there are millions of separate computers, how can you enable them all to communicate? One very important feature of that solution is performed by something called DNS, the Domain Name System. Every part of a network that is going to send or receive information is assigned an IP address. That's a numeric identifier that uniquely specifies a particular 'node', such as a computer, a router that directs traffic or other component. They look like this: 184.108.40.206 But those numbers are more difficult for people to remember and work with. They also aren't very attractive from a marketing perspective. So, a naming system was layered on top of some of them, mostly the computers involved, though routers have names, too. But once you have a system that associates a unique IP address to a given name, you need some way of keeping track of all of them. That's carried out by several different pieces of the system: Name Registrars, DNS Servers and other components. The Name Registrars, overseen by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and other international bodies, provide and keep track of domain names. When you register with GoDaddy or any of a hundred other intermediate companies, ultimately that information makes its way into a number of specialized databases stored inside DNS Servers. A DNS Server is the hardware and/or software that tracks and forwards the IP Address/Domain Name pair from one place to the next. In many cases, there are a number of them between your browser and the remote computer you want to share information with. Suppose you request information from, say, Yahoo's site by clicking on a link on their site. DNS resolves (translates) the name of WHO IS making the request and OF WHOM, to addresses, then passes the request through the network to the requested IP address. The requested data is then passed back through the mesh of network components to your computer and displayed in your browser. Whether the communication is between a desktop computer and a server somewhere, or between one server and another, the process is essentially the same. DNS servers translate names into IP addresses and the requests for data are forwarded on. In some cases those DNS servers are part of a specialized network computer whose sole job is to do the translation and forwarding. In other cases the DNS software may reside on a server that also houses a database of general data, or stores email, or performs other functions. But however complicated the chain or the parts, the basic process is simple. Translate the name to an address, just as the postal system does. Whether international or local, your name is associated with an address, and the deliveries are made to the address, then forwarded to a particular name.