We're really pleased to welcome a new member to our team - Joe Paleafei is joining us effective today. He'll be taking over the USS Missouri account for us. If you see Joe out and about please give him a hearty welcome.
Roland Schorr & Tower is pleased to welcome Estin Ma to our Honolulu-based team. Estin brings energy and creativity to the challenge of supporting our clients and we're glad to have him aboard.
Estin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The unrest in Egypt and resultant Internet brownout (roughly 10% of Egypt's connectivity is still up, so it's not quite a blackout) serves not only as a point of political and human rights concern, but also as a reminder that Internet connectivity can be subject to disruption; even on a national scale.
This is just another reason why, if you're hosting, or considering hosting, mission-critical data or applications in the Cloud, that you need to understand WHERE those servers are located. If your data is outsourced to a data center in Egypt right now, you may be having some issues. There are a lot of countries around the world that are politically unfriendly or unstable and many of them are in a position to offer very cheap data hosting. Unfortunately some cloud providers, in the interests of keeping their costs down, may be willing to overlook the risk of government action, and outsource their own data storage to those countries.
Just another reason, before you sign a hosting agreement, to ask your prospective provider WHERE on the planet they will be hosting your data. And yes, backups too. Get it in writing.
These days our firms are so dependant upon Internet connectivity - especially if you're moving any of your systems to the Cloud - that having fast and reliable Internet access is a necessity. And despite the claims of certain pundits and evangelists high-speed, always-on, Internet access is NOT yet ubiquitous. I don't get through a week without getting calls or messages from people telling me their Internet service is down for some period of time.
Fortunately small-scale Internet service (Cable modems, DSL and such) have come down substantially in price even as their performance has increased. And there are a lot of firewalls on the market now that support multiple WAN (Wide-Area Network; AKA "Internet") connections - NetGear's FVS336 is available from Amazon.com for just $234.99 - it'll let you connect two Internet connections (cable modem and DSL perhaps?) at the same time, and configure them for load-balancing and fail-over.
What Does That Mean?
Load-balancing means that when one Internet connection is busy or slow, the router will automatically re-route your traffic down the other connection. Whenever possible the router will use the faster connection in order to balance the traffic across both lines.
Fail-over means that if either connection goes down completely the router will seamlessly route ALL of your traffic over the other connection until the failed connection comes back. You might notice a bit of a slowdown, but otherwise you'll still be fully operational. That's important.
Selecting Your Connections
One important thing to keep in mind if you're thinking about getting multiple WAN connections; you shouldn't get them all from the same provider if you can avoid that. Having two DSL lines is o.k., but if they're both from the same vendor and that vendor has an outage...then both of your lines are down and your fail-over is worthless. Better to get one line from provider A and the other line from provider B. It's less likely both providers will go down at the same time.
Protect the Power
One other simple step I see too many firms miss...plug your firewall/router, cable or DSL modems and all key networking gear into an uninterruptible power supply (UPS; Battery Backup) so that if you have a power outage, or even just a brownout, at your office your connection will stay up. American Power Conversion makes some very good units and you can even get one like this for well under $100. The peace of mind is worth it.
For more information on this or any other topic covered in this blog, contact Ben Schorr at (928) 377-5630 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Wikipedia is potentially one of the greatest and most powerful tech developments of the last couple of decades. Really - I rank it up there with the proliferation of mobile phones, the amazing advances in medical technology and the latest version of Angry Birds. (o.k., maybe not that last one)
Seriously, though, Wikipedia holds the promise of being the greatest accumulation of human knowledge in the world and it is entirely free, available from any device that has an Internet connection and a browser (as long as your government isn't censoring it) and available in an awful lot of languages (278 languages, as of this writing, have at least one article available).
What makes it so powerful is that ANYBODY can create or edit an article, in any language. If you speak Uzbek and want to create an article in your native language all about the history of Penicillin you can! For free. If you're passionate about the Australian Wood Duck you can share your knowledge and enthusiasm by editing or contributing to the Wikipedia page about that particular critter. You may even be able to add value to related pages - about their habitat, preferred foods, related species...
Wikipedia's greatest strength is also it's greatest weakness however. Any fool can edit Wikipedia...and a lot of fools do. Not only the pranksters and hoaxes but the just plain wrong. While there are people who post incorrect information to Wikipedia because they have an agenda, there are also people who post incorrect information to Wikipedia because they just don't know any better.
So what's the answer to that? Like any crowd-sourced project the solution is the strength of numbers. The way to make sure that only accurate information is posted about the Australian Wood Duck is for there to be a vibrant community of knowlegable people on the subject who monitor, update and police the relevent articles about their favorite fowl and make sure that if and when incorrect information gets posted...that they step in and quickly fix it.
That's great for popular articles. The articles on Twilight, Starbucks or Justin Bieber are probably rigorously reviewed. For articles that are more esoteric or technically complex it gets a bit more difficult. While most people can quickly identify that Jay Leno is not an African-American woman, it's not quite as obvious to a layman that the atomic weight of Hassium is 270 (or is it 265?).
Wikipedia, like most things, requires constant vigilience and attention to keep it accurate and on track. And it requires knowledgable and diligent people to do that work. When they stop doing that work, the vandals, the miscreants and the fools will gradually begin to take over. And that will be the end of Wikipedia.
Got a subject you're passionate about? Check out Wikipedia's article(s) on that subject and see if there's anything you can contribute. It's free and your knowledge can benefit a lot of people, world-wide. If you speak a language other than English, maybe you could consider helping to translate some of the English content (more than 3.5 million articles at present) into that other language for the benefit of those who speak that language.
Ben Schorr occasionally contributes to articles about the USS Missouri (BB-63), Columbo and a wide variety of articles about technology. You can reach him for more info at (808) 782-6306 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org