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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.
Web Hosting - Domain Name Changes and How They Affect You New domain names are registered all the time, and ones previously registered expired. Sometimes that's the result of simple neglect. The owner of the name chose not to renew his or her ownership, so the name became available for someone else to use. In rare cases, a highly original mind managed to think of a new one. In the other common scenarios, someone chose to just let it go or sell it. When you choose to change your domain name, there are actually two separate steps involved: releasing the old name, and adopting the new one. But, just as the postal system can have difficulty forwarding your letters when you change your personal name, changing your domain name brings certain difficulties. One of the most prominent is the fact that any name change requires a change to thousands of DNS Servers around the globe. DNS (Domain Name System) is the set of software/hardware components that allows domain names to map to IP addresses. IP addresses are what are actually used 'under the covers' when one computer communicates with another. Note that there isn't always a 1:1 correspondence between a name and an IP address. One IP address can serve multiple domain names and one domain name can have multiple IP addresses. For the sake of simplicity, we'll stick to the common case here. DNS servers around the world maintain internal databases that match the name to an IP address. Not all servers have all pairs of names/addresses. A series of complex routines allows a request to be forwarded when the particular DNS server doesn't have a needed record. When you acquire a domain name that used to be associated with a given IP address, the odds of you acquiring the same IP address are extremely low. In the unlikely case, for example, that you acquired the domain name yahoo.com, you would almost certainly not get the IP address that was matched with it (unless you bought the Yahoo! company). So, as a result of the change, the name/IP address pair is no longer what it was. A similar circumstance exists when you retain your IP address, but want to change the domain name associated with it. In either case, the pairing has changed. The catch is this: when the change takes place, those DNS databases are not all updated instantaneously around the world. Even apart from the limited speed with which computers and networks operate, (and neglecting the human factor if/when the change is made manually to more than one server) the reason is something called caching. In order to communicate efficiently, DNS servers are designed to assume that changes will be relatively rare. Just as with the postal system, you don't move your address or change your name every minute. Since that's true, in general, the name/IP address pair is cached. A cache is a set of stored information that is reused so that fresh information doesn't have to be communicated with every request for a web page or data. A chain of DNS servers pass requests to the last known address. There is usually more than one system between your computer and the server you want to communicate with. Most of the time, that's your current name/address. When you change the name, that pair is no longer valid. In order to propagate the new name/address pair (so the terminology goes), that cache has to be refreshed. Something similar happens when you establish an entirely new name. That name is first associated with an IP address and that pair has to be communicated to DNS servers around the world in order for you to be able to reach any one of them at random. But DNS servers don't do that until they are requested to do so by your action of asking for information from a remote server. Because of that, but chiefly because of caching, it can take quite a while for the new pair to become known around the Internet. Caches can expire and get refreshed in a few minutes or a few hours. It varies. That time can be as short as an hour or less, if the path between your computer and the web server is very simple and only one DNS server needs to be updated. Or, it can take up to 48 hours or more. Though the 'official' range is often given by registrars as 24-48 hours, the average is closer to about six hours. But that's an average. The actual time in any given case can (and does) vary widely. In the meantime, a number of effects can occur. The most obvious is that, since the name/IP address pair can't be resolved properly, you don't reach the server you want. Your browser points to the old one (in the rare case it's still accessible by that name and address), or it simply reports there's no such name at that address. So, when registering a new name or buying an old one, you should establish the site, but not advertise it for at least a couple of days. Better to wait to get visitors than to turn them off by being 'not at home' when they call.
Conducting a Self-Evaluation After Getting Fired Sometimes life is hard and when you get fired, it gets even harder. In a country where employee turnover is high and there are no laws to protect you at your work place, potentially anybody is at risk to be fired. In general, that is true, but companies usually only fire a person that has done his or her job improperly, or is not qualified for his or her job any more. Therefore after you get fired, it is time that you conduct a self-evaluation. First of all, you need to make sure you know the reason why you have been fired. Do not just assume, you know why you have been fired. Make sure that your employer tells you the exact reasons why he has fired you. A self-evaluation as to whether the employer is right and whether you might have to work on yourself can only be done after you know why the company has told you to leave. If it was tardiness and absence of work that has gotten you fired, you need to be self critical enough to see that you need to be on time and be at work every day that you are not taking a vacation day. Keeping a job means playing by the rules and these rules do include times that you have to be a t work if you want to keep the job. When your boss told you, that you are not accomplishing your work or you are not qualified for the position, think back and try to find out why he might have said that. Did you deliver your work on time? Was it correct, mostly without any problems and errors? If that is not the case, then perhaps your boss was right and maybe you were not qualified enough to do the job. It might be that you need some more training or some more classes at the university to be able to do your job right. Or maybe you have just chosen a job that is not for you. When you are conducting that self-evaluation, make sure you are not too hypercritical. If it clearly was your fault that you got fired, you need to improve yourself and the personality traits that have led to the firing. Sometimes even though your boss gave you an explanation why you have been fired, you might not agree with the reason you have gotten fired from your company. Yes, sometimes these reasons might not be right. Since this is a society where anybody can get fired, maybe you have been fired because your boss did not like you and he made up some dubious reason for firing you. This is why you have to conduct a self-evaluation to make sure if what you were told is the truth. A self-evaluation might also lead you to the conclusion that you need to choose a different profession than the one you have been in. Maybe it took to get you fired to ser you in the right direction and at some point in your future you might actually thank that boss of yours that he had fired you. Otherwise you might have never found the job that you were destined for and would have been miserable doing the job you were doing. Unhappy employees are not good for a company and some bosses are good enough to realize that. Whatever the reason is that you got fired, make sure you find the reason and check with yourself how much truth lies within that reason and do you have to change to be a better employee and be able to keep your next job.
Prayers, Ploys and Passions: The Poetry that Gets Published (published poetry) Some people may tell you that poetry doesn?t get published. Published poetry is only that written by people who have already died. That is not true however. Poetry is not as frequently found as other kinds of writing, but it is a genre that is still alive and well in today?s publishing world. If you are a poetry writer, you are also probably a poetry reader. You of all people know that poetry publishers are still out there. There are specific types of poetry that tend to get published though. There are special interest outlets for other types, but in general, what gets published gets repeatedly published as time goes on. There are three main categories that currently published poetry falls into. Those categories encompass the most important interests of people today. Prayers and Matters of Faith The first category of published poetry involves faith. There are people that subscribe to all different kinds of faith and it is that belief that is at the core of many people?s lives. Atheists are a minority in the world. Since faith is such an important part of so many people?s understandings of the world, it is no surprise that it draws poetic words from those who believe. It started long ago. The Bible, for example, is full of poetry. Those people who first knew God were inclined to speak of him through the illustrative voice of poetry. Today people are the same way. Such is their deep experience with God that they must express their emotions with an emotional type of writing. Since so many people have personal experiences with God, those who do not write are interested in reading the writings of others. For that reason, matters of faith, and especially expressive prayers placed in poetry get published. Ploys and Plans for the Nation National interest is also of major interest to most people. As a group of people head through their lives, united with others of the same nationality, they must want to know where the group as a whole is headed. Much of the published poetry in this category contains hopes and dreams for a country?s future and expected path through history. More of the poetry in this category though is in protest of how a nation has forged its path as it has grown. Frustration with events beyond one?s control elicits words that can only have their full meaning in poetry. Since those of a nation are united with each other, poetic commentaries about that nation are of interest to everyone. They help each person express their feelings and frustrations and hopes for their home country. Passion and the Human Condition of Love People are obviously not only connected to each other as citizens of the same country. People need each other in a much more personal sense than that. A third major category of published poetry is that which contains expressions of love between people. Love poems are a genre that dates back, again, to biblical times. Romantic love has always been a popular theme within poetry because of the passion that can be displayed with poetic devices. Other kinds of love are also well expressed in verse. The love of a mother for her child or that of a friend for another friend is a common topic in poetry. Humans thrive on love. That is why poetry about love gets published. Published poetry does fall into three major categories. It appears in books and anthologies, but also in magazines and even greeting cards. As long as a poem is effective in describing a common human reaction to life, it will probably be passed along from person to person. Poetry is a beloved form of writing that connects people to one another. As long as humanity feels, poetry will continue to be published.