Facebook, Is Anybody Listening?

If you weren’t actually using Facebook on Monday, you probably heard a coworker or friend complain it was down. Can you believe it?!?!

Also find Sean Hull’s ramblings on twitter @hullsean.

What Happened?

Facebook explained that they hit a DNS glitch. DNS the the internet’s phone book, but it’s all automated. It turns website URLs into numbers. Like phone numbers they route you to the right place. A mismatch here will send you to the wrong place, and hence no Facebook for you!

[quote]
Always on, 24×7 uptime has become de rigeur, almost a holy mantra that no one questions. But as we rely more heavily on web services for business, availability grows in importance. We need realistic expectations about uptime to plan accordingly.
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Achieving HA in the Amazon cloud is even harder. Look at the outage that took out Reddit & AirBNB.

Who should care?

Whether facebook is online or not may seem like fun & games until you start tying business processes to the site. And we’re not just talking fan pages here. Facebook logins on sites like Spotify, Disqus, Xobni, Vimeo, CNN The Forum & Digg to name a few.

As more businesses rely on your platform, outages quickly multiply with collateral dammage.

Read this: The Myth of Five Nines – Why High Availability is Overrated.

Expectations of Perfection

The power grid can’t stay up with only five minutes of downtime per year, why should we expect online businesses to live to this standard. I work with a lot of startups, and universally 24×7 is expected. Other clients I work with, some hedge fund, legal or news providers and they don’t always have this expectation. Even banks, it is only the very largest ones who are also global, that promise 24×7 services.

I would argue it is cultural. Look at this whitepaper Bellcore Standards – Myth versus Reality. The real world is messier than calculations and probabilities. It’s time we brought the bar down a notch, and give operations folks a pat on the back for the heroic effort they do, and the huge uptime they’re already providing!

What did we learn from Sandy? A lot about disaster recovery, that’s what.

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My blog traffic is growing – using 5 killer tactics

With a million websites & blogs offering endless advice on growing your blog, it took me awhile to get it right. But after months of experimentation I’m getting steady growth in traffic. Where once 10,000 visitors in a month seemed like a dream, now it’s regular.

Here’s what I do.

Also find Sean Hull’s ramblings on twitter @hullsean.

1. Think up a killer title or something controversial 

Trending topics are good. Even better is to tie in big events like the sandy storm that affected everyone. Follow these very clickable sites like businessinsider.com and use their model for writing titles. They are hard to resist, aren’t they? Beware actual link baiting though, this won’t win any friends at Google.

Also take a look at Why generalists are better at scaling the web.

2. Write content around that title

It may be counterintuitive to write the title first. But it really informs the content, and frame of your writing. Also pull out highlights and QUOTE them so they stand out. Also use nice solid bullet sections for easy scan reading. The internet is all about scanning through material, so make this easy for your audience.

A popular piece MySQL DBA Interview Guide.

Also, this is big, provide lots of INBOUND links to your popular content. This will give you a pile on affect, driving more pageviews and lowering bounce rate! That’s killing two birds with one stone.

[quote]Start with a great title, something that is irresistible, write content that is easy to scan & highlights your points, then let the world know about it by sharing creatively.[/quote]

3. Share the shit out of the content

Excuse my french, but if you don’t share it, people won’t like find it. And there’s a trick to this too.

Another popular one we wrote: Why the Android Ecosystem is Broken.

First I search twitter for related posts, then reply comment with your link. Say something relavent don’t just spam your links. Of course you’ll want to stumble, linkedin, news.ycombinator.com/submit post as well.

You might also look into blog carnivals, services like ping.fm, as well as tools that automate bookmarking across many sites.

4. Search news.google.com for blogs talking about the topic

Since you already chose a trending or in-the-news topic, you’ll be able to search and find other bloggers talking about it. Pick blogs with higher page ranks, 5, 6 or 7’s are nice. Read, then comment & share your link. Again don’t just spam your links here, but provide some reasoned commentary. This shows off your personality, and provides incentive for people to want to read more of your content. I find this very easy for disqus blogs, and really focus my efforts on those.

Why is it so hard to locate & hire The Mythical MySQL DBA?

5. Watch your analytics to see where you got traction.

This is the fun part, at least for me. Click on the content, then select secondary sort “traffic sources” to figure out where people are coming from. Tune your efforts to the sources and techniques that work for you. This will depend on your particular audience.

I also like to view Content-All pages in Google Analytics. Then find the horizontal graph bars button (rollover for Performance). Click that and you can see % pageviews by content title. Very handy.

6. Rinse & repeat

This is my favorite part. Once you see what you are doing right, you can do more of it!

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