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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.
Online Writing Labs: You have One Available for You (online writing labs) There are numerous colleges and universities around the United States and the world that offer online writing labs. The labs are designed to offer help and instruction for any writing matter. Most Online writing labs are only available to the students of the offering college or university, but there are a few that are open to the general public. Virginia Tech has an online self help section and email help available for questions you have about grammar. The online writing labs are beneficial to both the writer in need of the help and the person helping them. The helper or tutors are usually graduate students working for their degree they benefit from the additional teaching practice. The students are getting proofreading, critiquing, and feedback along with any help they may need. The online writing labs were created by the schools to offer extra help to their students in their writing. They offer support in most areas of writing including choosing a topic, grammar help, revising a draft, and editing. They provide tutored help in these areas to students and faculty. Many online writing labs are set up to help you in three ways; online self help, email support, and one on one personal support. The online self help applications are available 24 hours a day. For the email support you email in your paper or project and you will receive a response with in 24 hours. The one on one personal support is a great way for students to learn how to do their own proofreading and editing. The tutors will help show the students what to look for and how to find their own mistakes. This is a great opportunity for help with someone other than a teacher. Even though the online help is available student are encouraged to use the writing lab tutors on a regular basis to improve their writing skills. Purdue University has an online writing lab they call OWL. It offers a wealth of information that virtually anyone can use. They offer a highly detailed step by step instruct of the writing process and huge section on professional, technical, and scientific writing. A section in job search writing that walks you through everything, from your academic coversheet to writing a personal statement, step by step. General Academic writing and research and citation help. This is the best site for offering its advice absolutely free. This site definitely deserves to be bookmarked on your computer if you are a serious writer, a student, a teacher, it really doesn?t matter. The University of Richmond has a program they call Writing Center. Although not as complex as Perdue?s they offer online self help topics for writers. Starting with the writing process to grammar and punctuation, it is another option for you. The University of Wisconsin has the Writing Center that offers some help with the basics. One thing to keep in mind that many of the universities and colleges that offer these many take them offline in between semesters and on breaks. If you are a student, many of you have an online writing lab available at your school or one that reciprocates with your school. Though the general public have self help online help available to them, chances are your school will offer some sort of one on one help to guide you through your work. Check it out it could be very beneficial to you. If you don?t have one available, it is highly recommend checking out OWL at Perdue or search the Internet. There are a lot of self-help online writing labs available to you.
Preparing Questions to Ask in your Upcoming Job Interview When you get ready for a job interview, chances are you have spent a lot of time trying to guess the questions you will be asked and prepare your answers to them. How will you explain that gap in your work history? What will you say when they ask you why you left your last job? In the rush to make sure that you have all of your answers perfectly prepared and ready, don?t forget to prepare a few questions of your own to ask the person who is interviewing you. Asking questions is an important part of your interview. When you get asked the old ?do you have any questions for us? one, it pays to actually be able to come back with a few questions instead of a, ?no, I don?t think so.? Asking questions will show that you are engaged in the interview and have done some thinking about the position, plus, the questions you ask will help you elicit valuable information you need when you have to decide whether or not to actually take the job, should it be offered to you. The first thing you should want to find out is why the job is open in the first place. Is the job you are applying for a new position? That means you can expect to have a lot of transitional bumps along the way as you are integrated into the company. If the job is not new, and the person before you was fired, then you can expect things to be in a state of disarray when you take over and that you will have to spend a lot of time up front cleaning up spilled milk. If the job is open because the person who had it before you moved up in the company, then you will know that this is a job with a lot of future potential. Next, find out a little bit about the person who will actually be your boss if you get the job. Sometimes, this person will be involved in the interview, but often they will not. Finding out how high up in the company chain you will be reporting will help you gauge how important the position for which you are applying is to the company. Also, it helps to know a little bit about the personality type of the boss to be. If you like to keep your head down and do your work, and your potential new boss is one of those ?wacky? types, then you may want to look elsewhere. From there, ask about the kinds of responsibilities you will need to take on board right out of the gate. When companies are hiring for a new position, they usually have a few ideas about what that person will need to start working on right away. Getting a clue about your first project will help you decide if this job is right for you. This is also a good time to ask the interviewer about their job and why they like working the company. You may find out that this really could be your dream job, or you may end up sensing from your interviewer that you should run away, fast. Last but not least, ask your interview when you should follow-up on your interview. Don?t open the door for a ?don?t call us, we?ll call you? kind of interview closing. Let the interviewer know to their face that will be making the effort to contact them again. You may get the vibe from your interviewer that the job probably will be going to someone else, so you can move on quickly, or you may end up being offered the job on the spot. Either way, you will have opened the lines of communication to take the next step.