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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.
How to Choose Writing Software and a Few Suggestions (writing software) There are many choices available to today?s writers. From the cheapest to the most expensive the choice is entirely yours. Writing software can make you life easier and more organized. Whether you are an established writer or just starting out there is writing software available for you. First, you need to figure out what features you are looking for in the writing software. You do this by first accessing your needs as a writer. What kind of writing do you do? Do you write screenplays, novels, technical writings, or a collaboration of things? By knowing what you are going to expect from the writing software will make it much easier to pick out. From writing poems, to advertisements, to novels there is writing software out there for you. Here are a few that you can consider: Write That Down is software that is geared towards agents, publishers, freelancers, and screen writers. The application has tabs for contests, publications, submissions, accounts, and many more. It offers features from both sides of the writing world, for the writers and publishers. This may be a little too much for some. The Wizard of Words is pretty much a one size fits all as far as writing software goes. It has formatting for novels, articles, short stories, term papers, and so much more. For book writers is has a repair editing wizard that reformats just about any aspect you need it to. It even has tools for creating book proposals and query letters and mass mailing them. It requires Microsoft word 97 and higher. Style Writer is a style and grammar checking. It checks your writing against over 35,000 common language problems. You can change the type of writing it is checking and it adapts to the document type. It has 15 specialized features that will help you in your writing ventures. You can add and delete the grammar and style advice. It will track your progress and show you as you learn to stop making these mistakes on your own. When you install the software it merges itself with your own word processor. Writers Block is a replacement for Microsoft word. This software is a word processor and spread sheet rolled into one. It allows you to write in blocks and then arrange them how you want. It has a power panel in which you enter the writing for the current block. It floats above other programs so you can easily read from one page and type into the power panel. Rough Draft is a free download program. Well they would like donations but that is your choice. It is similar to Microsoft word but is more user friendly. It has special modes for plays and screenwriting. And it has an instant back up feature. Unfortunately, it does not have a grammar checker, tables, pictures, or footnotes. A popular choice for written media publishing is Adobe Page Maker. You can type your text right into the formatted layout and has a new data merge feature that you can merge previously saved spreadsheets or other databases to create new projects. That is just a brief overview of a few of the writing software products out there that looked interesting to me. During your writing journey, search for writing software that have multiple purposes, such as those software titles that create congressional letter, name generators, poetry, and jokes. Whether you are an inspiring new writer, an accomplished novelist that has been writing for years, or maybe a publisher or editor there is software out there for you.
Networking Know-How: How to Get Through to the Busiest of People When you are job hunting, sometimes the most frustrating part is just getting your foot through the door to let the right people know that you are out there and available for work. Companies can be like members-only clubs; they tend to be a little distrustful of cold callers and most executives advise their assistants to run interference for them on the phone so they do not get stuck having a protracted conversation with someone they just aren?t interested in doing business with. The thing is that to get an interview, these people can be the very same people you need to talk to. How do you get these busy people to clear some time off in their busy schedule to speak to you? First things first ? you have to get the right attitude. If you want busy people to make time to talk to you, you have to present yourself in a way that makes them feel like you are worth the time investment. The trick here is that you have to do this by phone, and often, you have to first convince an operator or personal assistant that your call is one worth putting through to the boss. Your phone etiquette and vocal confidence will be the key here. Consider you basic phone manners first. Instead of launching right into what you want, respond to the greeting of the person who answers the phone with a hello of your own. Animate your voice and always remember that simply saying ?please? and ?thank you? can go a long way. Be the kind of caller that you would want to talk to if your job was answering the phone all day. People will respond to your positive attitude with a positive attitude of their own. Next, consider your confidence level on the phone. Do you tend to get tongue-tied and stumble over your words? That kind of delivery from you will set all the warning bells ringing on the other end of the phone, and you will find the person with whom you wish to speak always ?out of the office.? Instead, work on sounding like you are confident that it is a forgone conclusion that you will get to speak that busy person you want to talk to. Be confident that what you have to say is something that is worth hearing. It may help to write out a framework of what you will say and practice a few times so you sound relaxed and composed when you make that call. Once your attitude is right to make the call, you can then employ a few tricks of the trade for getting through to those busy people. Instead of giving away too much up front, start your call by asking if the person with whom you need to speak is in. If the answer is yes, then you can remove on potential ?excuse? for not putting your call through. If your call can?t be taken at that time, skip the message. Let the PA or operator know that you will call back again. That way you have a legitimate reason to keep calling. Of course, you might have to keep calling and calling, and that assistant might start knowing the sound of your voice. If you keep speaking to the same person, it?s time to open up with some person details. Let them know your name, why you?re calling, and if someone referred you, who that person is. Developing that personal relationship can help you get your call through to the boss. Last but not least, don?t give up. Busy people are, well, busy, and not necessarily avoiding your call. Persistence pays off, so keep on calling until you get through.