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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.
Ten Top Things That Make for a Great Employee If there is one thing that everyone can agree upon in the job market it is that great employees are hard to come by. Whether you are an employee yourself and you feel like you are always pulling the weight of the other people in the office or if you are a boss who is wondering how you can actually get some people on board who can do the job, you know that great employees are at a premium. But what exactly makes an employee great? These ten top things are guides to bosses looking for greatness in a new hire and for employees trying to get noticed in the workplace and be the kind of employee who has the potential to move up in the company chain. The first thing that makes an employee great is that they are always dependable. Great employees do the job they are supposed to do every time, and no one has to worry that they don?t deliver the goods. A great employee can be counted to always have their work done right, when it is supposed to be done ? it is a forgone conclusion that they will, and no one else has to spend any time worrying about it. The second thing to look for in a great employee is that they are a team player. A great employee isn?t one who is constantly looking for attention or hogs the spotlight. Instead, a great employee works with everyone else to make sure that the things that need to get done do get done, for the good of the company. The third mark of employee greatness is that they know how to take direction. Great employees know how to take criticism, direction and advice gracefully and make it work for them when doing their job. Fourthly, a great employee can be trusted. They don?t spread office gossip and they don?t dish company dirt. Likewise, they always tell the truth to their employer, even if it lands them in hot water. The fifth sign of greatness in employees is linked to the fourth ? a great employee always guards the confidential nature of their business dealings and protects everyone?s privacy. The sixth thing that makes an employee great is that they participate in the day to day life of the office. They don?t bow out of meetings or skip the office birthday celebrations. These things may not be a fun part of working life, and everyone involved knows that everyone else has some place they would rather be ? but a great employee wouldn?t be any place else. In seventh place comes the fact that a great employee gets along with other employees. Every office has one person that is in everyone else?s business and talks to loud on the phone and generally stirs things up and gets under everyone?s skin. This kind of employee zaps office morale ? a great employee is a good co-worker to everyone. The eighth thing a great employee has is good working skills. It may sound obvious, but a great employee has the abilities needed to do their job, and they constantly seek ways to improve, like going to training seminars or seeking further education. Great workers have great skills. The ninth thing that leads to employee greatness is tact and decorum. If there is a problem in the office, a great employee doesn?t make a scene in front of everyone else. A great employee will deal with such issues with privacy and diplomacy. Further, a great employee doesn?t tell tasteless, political or religious jokes, nor do they send emails that tell these kinds of jokes. Last but not least, a great employee has a great attitude. Bad attitudes bring everyone down. A great employee helps make work great for everyone else by having a good spirit about their job.
Writers Block: What Causes it and How to Overcome it (writers block) If you are a writer then you know what I am talking about. You have everything ready, a drink, a snack, the topic, and even reference material. You sit down ready to start typing or writing, which ever you prefer, and it happens. You are stuck, your mind is blank and you have no idea how to fill that blank canvas in front of you. It is a writer?s worse nightmare come true. You have writers block. First you need to figure out what is causing it. There are a multitude of things that can be causing it. Stress is one of the biggest factors that cause writers block. Whether it is stress caused by personal matters, deadline dates, or fearing your article won?t be good enough it can block the words from flowing as easily as the should. Sleep deprivation doesn?t let your mind function to its full potential. Getting a good night?s sleep is imperative to having a clear mind and being able to focus. The project itself could be causing the writers block. A topic you are not interested in can easily turn your normally resourceful mind into jelly. The research on that topic turns into a grueling task. Then trying to put the words on paper that make sense and will peak someone?s interest seem impossible. If a topic has personal meaning to you it can be hard to write objectively about it. A simple informative topic can easily become a personal rant session. Writing because you have to, not because you want to makes it hard to concentrate and focus. Now that the basic causes have been covered, you need to know how to fix it. Writers block is not permanent. Identifying the reason is the hard part. Relax. The world is not going to end if the article isn?t as perfect as you feel it should be. Just because you don?t think it is perfect doesn?t mean someone else won?t. Go and read some of your previous writings. Even if what you read has nothing to do with your current topic, it can be inspirational to you. Don?t burn yourself out on a topic. Try to split up the writing process. Research and brainstorm one day and write the next. This will give you time to think about your topic and figure out the angle you want to write. Talk your way through it. Call a friend or colleague and chat. Tell them the topic you are working on and get their opinions or ideas. They may be able to offer fresh insight and ideas. Work on multiple projects at one time if you can. Bouncing back and forth between a few topics can keep your mind hopping and will keep boredom at bay. Take a break from you current project and write about something that motivates you. Chances are once you get those creative juices flowing they will continue into your next project. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. If your schedule says 500 words by noon, write your 500 words and stop. Even if you don?t have a project going, by writing daily you will stick to your schedule and keeps your imagination going. If you write from home, which most of freelance writers do, make a quiet time and treat it like a real job. If you have young children at home, write while they nap. Let your answering machine be your secretary. If it is important they will leave a message. Most importantly remember why you started writing in the first place. Even the best of the best have gotten writers block at one time or another.
A Writer?s Best Friend: The Job of an Editor (editing) Are you irritated by typos and spelling errors in professional documents? Are you able to help your friends make their writing error free? You may be a good candidate for editing. The world is incredibly dependent on writers and the craft of writing. It is how people communicate with each other most often. As the internet writing forms do not require people to hold to correct grammar, spelling or professional style, most writers are losing their capabilities to complete a professional document or book without help. Writers have always needed the help of editors. Even when there was strict attention to correct writing, editors could come and catch missed errors as well as mistakes in content. Editors are still needed today. Read on to find out more about what can be involved in a life of editing. Who are the Editors? Editors are those people with the ability to read a document and guide a writer to make it the best piece of writing that it can be. Editors work in newspapers, and magazines. They also work for publishing companies and in student resource centers. Editors generally have some education that leads them to the ability to help writers. They probably have a degree in language as well as training with style manuals. What is the Job? An editing job involves taking a piece of writing and conforming it to some particular set of standards. Style manuals are often the standard used. Different publications will choose a style and then ask the editors to make all of the writing that comes out to be consistent to that style. Editing is not only concerned with objective corrections like spelling and grammar though. An editor must also read for clarity, consistency and voice. If a writer claims one thing in one point of their piece and seems to contradict that point in another part, it is the editor?s job to catch the mistake and work with the writer to fix the inconsistency. If the writer is speaking authoritatively in the beginning of a piece and then becomes apologetic later, it is the editor?s job to make the tone match. Editors help with sentence construction, word choice and content order. How to Find Editing Jobs If any of the above job description sounds interesting and even exciting to you, you just may have found your ideal job calling. Before you start looking for editing jobs, you should test your skills. There are editing tests online. Feel free to use a style manual as well as your intuition as you correct the sentences and word choice in the different test questions. If you do not pass the test, you should probably spend a little more time reading a style manual and a basic grammar guide. Once you can ace an editing test, it?s time to look for a job. Be sure to include any experience you may have had. Include any editing of any kind you have ever done. Peer editing in school is appropriate experience to mention. Also be sure to list any style you are able to edit to. Examples are AP, Chicago, MLA, and so on. If you get an interview, be prepared to take another editing test, with the help of your manual. The test will likely be timed. Editing is a rewarding career. It involves helping writers to do their very best writing geared to their particular audience. While it can be stressful because of deadlines and workload, at the end of the day you will know that you have made the world of the written word a little cleaner and much more effective. Editors are an essential part of making the written word what it is today.