AVC Reliability Issues
For a number of years, AVC has been plagued by nagging reliability issues. There are times when the page won’t load. Regular readers are familiar with this issue. William sent me a screenshot this morning of one typical issue:
Here is another typical error message:
I have come to believe this issue is related to my web host, Bluehost, and CloudFlare which provides a host of services for AVC.
My goal in posting about this is not to try to fix it although I know the comments will be filled with suggestions and that I will get a ton of email suggestions too. Thank you in advance for that.
The truth is I am not particularly compelled to fix this issue. If it was magically fixed, I would be thrilled. But I’ve come to view it like some of the annoying things about me that the Gotham Gal puts up with on a regular basis. It’s all part of the relationship I have (and you have) with AVC and I’m OK with it.
I have the same issues. I use Bluehost and WordPress as well. Guess I could go away from Bluehost….
What?? “my host is unreliable and that’s ok”?Fred, you’ve been too rich for too longJeff Yablon Answerguy.com
Time poor – likely too busy for too long so as a priority it gets a big fat middle finger 🙂
Rich? If this was about money I’d fix it. It’s about time which is more valuable than money
time and money are the same thing, sir. offload the issue.
Frustrated into submission?
Not much that any publisher who has admin control but not access to server code can do about the speed of server updates, “data hanging/ cacheing” and content propagation.Other than, obviously, switching out hosting providers and adjusting load balances (things which services like CloudFlare are supposed to be designed for anyway).
The internet is nothing if not predictable in it’s unpredictability. #known_truth #accepted
Long-term Bluehost user. They are better than they used to be but basically suck.When something breaks I tweet their customer support and they email me back in minutes usually.The rub is that 95% of the time waiting is all there is to do.Can’t imagine putting myself through the issues to change unless I had an ecommerce site where I counted transactions per moment as my KPI.All this is more tolerable than a movie buffering during download and making me wait for the story to continue.
Who is better? Like telcoms, I don’t hear anyone crowing about their hosting service, only complaints
i don’t have a good answer but I’m sure there is one if you want to pay for it.
First thing I learned in this business (circa ’96 and I can even tell you who said it)  was “the good provider of today is the shit provider tomorrow”. And ironically his personal site http://www.avi.net/ is down right now.The reason for this is simple. As a company doing this type of work grows in scale it inevitably gets away from the artisan higher quality way it had done things in the past with more knowledgeable front line people who actually understand (and importantly) care about the business. Or, they grow to a point in complexity where there are many points of failure because the model they have requires things that a smaller operation just doesn’t need. Private aviation vs. scheduled airlines let’s say.You’d be surprised at the reasons that you don’t ever hear about why things fail. I had a case where equipment in typically reliable colocation went down because a squirrel outside chewed through a power line and the backup batteries weren’t charged enough to support the data center before the generator kicked in.  Another time an electrician at the colo simply overloaded some circuits post backup batteries and equipment went down.I actually had more reliability (except for below) when we had our own connection and I built from scratch the battery backup system (from industrial batteries) that could keep the equipment up for 24 hours w/o any backup generator at all (outside equipment wasn’t allowed at the facility at that time).I a rare case electric strikes took out a circuit board in the fiber optic equipment. Bell Atlantic (BA) had to scramble a replacement from another region and that was after the rep came out to diagnose the problem. When I got my first fractional t1 line (1996) BA (became Verizon) wanted to string the cable through the attics of other tenants in the same building without any protection to the cable (was like a phone wire literally). This would mean any squirrel or bug or animal could bring the connection down (with no way to even access the attics on a emergency basis). So I researched, paid for, and installed at our expense orange conduit to protect the wire. Why? Because it seemed like common sense but wasn’t to BA tech (and this was a union guy) and also it wasn’t BA’s problem it was our problem if that happened.And I could go on an on about this. There are cases where someone installs new software right before going on vacation. Common sense says not to do that but you’d be surprised at how often it happens. https://twitter.com/avifree…https://www.kentik.com/who-… And I have to mention that I choose this data center because it was next to an airport and on a high availability power grid because of that. For that I simply bought at our own expense extra cards so if it happened again we would be able to replace (even though it was covered). They were about $250 each back then. After that first strike it didn’t happen again in 10 years. Took a bit of work and research to even buy these off the manufacturer who only dealt with phone companies.
What makes the artisan higher quality way of doing things not scalable in your opinion? The knowledgeable frontline business people I know, which may be a very small and local sample, are usually obsessed with KPIs and standard methodology that looks very inline with business, but if you look closer has quite a bit of oversights and bs included.
I guess it’s not that artisan is not scalable (in theory you could hire more artisans, right) but that the market doesn’t bear that higher pricing at a larger size would be the way that I would put it. The market requires a lower price to sell en masse and will allow a higher price to sell to a more limited niche market.In business school, one of the few things I remember was a builder who said “serve the masses eat with the classes”.The old saw “price quality speed” pick any two typically applies.There are variations of that. In a past business that I was in the quality was “so so” the price was “high” however we were very good at customer service and making the customer feel important and loved and most importantly making things easy for them so they had no reason to go for door number two. Having the quality be higher wouldn’t have done much and having the price be lower would have simply meant less money. At scale of course that would have never worked so the model would probably have to shift to lower prices to make up for the reduction in quality.
This is gold: Long-term Bluehost user. They are better than they used to be but basically suck.Should be a testimonial on their site.
so why are you still with them?
cause its good enough and the alternatives are not obvious.
I spent the past year or so fighting with random Internet and WiFi drops in my apartment. They were persistently annoying but not show stoppers because I could just reset my WiFi and it’d work. Eventually it reached the point that besides consulting the Internet I worked with Apple support who escalated me to their engineering department. They helped me determine that it was the cable modem that Comcast gave me (weirdly my roommates weren’t experiencing the issues but maybe they just didn’t notice or care). I bought a new modem and my problem was fixed, but the old router I had to switch in (an older Airport Express) couldn’t handle all our streaming video, so I upgraded to a Netgear R6400. $200 later the Internet works amazingly better in my apartment, and I’ve had no issues. Some of the best money I’ve spent.
This is a golden metaphor for life, Fred.It also points to a weird disconnect in the human condition: we replicate the customer/vendor mindset in situations where there is in fact no customer and no vendor.Your blog is your blog, and it’s free and it’s here and if people want to be part of it, they can.But you’re not transacting in the commercial sense.Yes, attention is precious, and sharing it creates value. But I think we all come out ahead if we think more about the “us” that engage with ideas and not the “we are the customers, you better up your tech game or we’ll be angry at you” mindset that we’ve been trained to have by cable companies…[This gets blurry with search engines and social networks, where we’re not even the customer, we’re the product!][Aside: RSS is the answer, as it usually is to most blog questions if you’re a reader].
But you’re not transacting in the commercial sense.It sends a message to people who ‘use’ this blog (in one way or another) that ‘I don’t care about you and your experience’.I can fully understand not wanting to get upset and aggravated (or have anxiety) about it of course. Also that the degree to which it happens is acceptable. Or that people might just return later. But it does matter in the sense that either you are delivering a quality product (even if it’s free) or you are just throwing things out there with no regard to whether it’s done right or not. It’s kind of a courtesy thing in a way. Same reason if you are a decision maker you try to show up for meetings on time and not jerk people around if at all possible. Might not matter if done occasionally but you wouldn’t say “listen I am late for meetings and I am ok with that (implying) ‘to bad if it’s a problem for you'”.  And I say that where I normally totally revolt against anything that is done for PC purposes.
Yes, sometimes at AVC, my computer does things I can’t explain.Is it still paranoia if others really are colluding, conspiring, and plotting?But I’ve come to view it like some of the annoying things about me that the Gotham Gal puts up with on a regular basis.Ah, good to hear that Gotham Gal agrees that they are merely “annoying”!Gee, now if my startup goes down for 10 minutes at 2 AM on Sundays, it willl be merely an “annoying thing”! GOOD!Yes, sometimes also not at AVC, my computer does things I can’t explain!
scrub my first comment.”reliability” – or is ‘consistency’ a better key word for all things AVC?what about a blockchain blogging platform?p.s. i haven’t been getting the connection issues you write about. perhaps it’s a traffic flow issue. being in Europe perhaps i avoid any bottlenecks.
If it isn’t fixed magically then you should not be OK with it. You are the customer and it MATTERS that what you purchase isn’t sub-standard for your payment.Either we all have value or no one has value. It can’t be distributed unevenly.You pay for a service and you should expect a good value. This is a basic social contract and if your vendor isn’t providing then professionally try to correct it or move to a better vendor.Every shrug at bad service is an invitation to support mediocrity or worse.
Every shrug at bad service is an invitation to support mediocrity or worse.This is really the key to all of this. The end customers are just to use to or willing to “BOGU” (bend over grease up) for bad service. As a group that is. Of course people complain but the collective group generally has learned to accept failure or bad results or problems.I am sure the contract probably says this type of thing will happen and makes the type of guarantee that is not likely to be challenged, except by class action which is probably also not allowed by the contract. Not like anyone is hiring an attorney for $5 per month website hosting.
I agree. Without proper maintenance or upgrading almost anything human will decay. Ignoring the cracks is not wise.
But aside from that, as @sethgodin:disqus says, we appreciate being your audience but it’s good to remember that we’re not your customers. Thanks for continuing to post.
+1 for static html!!!
Shocked!Have updated my address book from Fred (OCD) Wilson to Fred (LAISSEZ FAIRE) Wilson.Broken Window Theory in action folks – expect a future post – ‘My nose hair reaches my chin – and I’m OK with that’:-)
I think this is the most Fred of all AVC posts.
>I think this is the most Fred of all AVC posts.”most Fred”That should be an adjective. Since I’m learning German, I vote for “Fredlich” as the word to use :)As in, “most Fredlich”.Example for the grammar rule: childlike (EN) becomes kindlich (DE):(“kind” means “child” in German)https://translate.google.co…If it was Spanish, it might be “Fredamente”.And so on …
Add ‘UN’ and you getFreUNdlich — (friendly)remove R and add ‘IN’FeINdlich — (hostile)Are you suggesting some form of passive-aggressive attitude to service providers? :)))
Rather, it seems like you are 🙂 But good one …
Also, learned new words, so “gut und danke”.
LIAD:Be happy your post wasn’t addressed with the stern fist.
Yeah, I don’t know what the issue is, but I’ve been getting this error a lot recently.
Well, as one grows older (and often wiser), one tends to tolerate certain things. It’s all about priorities and what you have time to worry about or not worry about.
Focus on what matters is a good rule at any age.
yup, but not everyone appreciates that rule at an early age 🙂
Some things you can share sometimes you just walk away from those that are just to much work
LOL ‘Accept me for who i am’ #Blogstyle
To borrow from Popeye: I yam what I yam.
Fred, Have your guys install Varnish HTTP cache https://varnish-cache.org/If properly set up, a host 1/10 the size can handle 1000x the traffic. But, I supposed that is what Cloudflare is supposed to do commercially for you. They seem to use Nginx as well which is good.But, Cloudflare is only as good as your Origin server.On the Bluehost side, you should install memcached or Redis to alleviate 97% of the requests to MySQL. Some of your database tables may be missing indexes and take longer to complete queries. I find that a lot of plugins are functionally perfect, but not optimized in the least. For high traffic websites it is bad to assume if a plugin is open source, it is optimal. You should make sure you are using the latest versions of MySQL, it is much faster than previous versions.Richard
Doesn’t happen on WordPress.com.
You can’t use disqus on WordPress.com
(I’m not there any more, btw. But still a booster.)
Sounds like you have found peace. 🙂
I advise clients: you get the behavior and the results you tolerate. We can’t all calibrate to the same level, but I appreciate your openness about your level.
FWIW, I’m having the exact same issue with my site, and am also using Bluehost + WP.
Off Topic:1> I read this -“Confessions”- today and I wanted to say “Thanks.” I’m an INTJ also and I once got written up at a job as a health claims analyst for “not being social enough.” I found out later from a very nice person in HR that my boss used bad reviews to try and force EEs into relationships. 2>I think that you should try Pair.com or check out Chris “Mr. WordPress” Lema’s choice: Rainmaker.com. Rainmaker is a lot more expensive than Pair, but both are more for those who are media rather than ecommerce. He also had a great article about how almost all of the hosts are own by the same company. Hope this is helpful even if it is unsolicited. I have no financial interest in either one.
Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. And thanks for the suggestion, re: Rainmaker.
Another good option is Pressable (Automattic owns them now).
Apparently, it is Bluehost
I know you’re not looking for technical help, but it’s hard to resist …There is no issue with CloudFlare. CloudFlare is just reporting that they can’t reach Bluehost. I’d switch the host, they’re the main culprit here. Tons of reliable options like AWS.
AWS is not the answer for a busy person who has no time at all to figure out how to signup and use AWS or even what part of it is actually the service that solves their particular issue or pain point. That person needs a turnkey solution with easy signup and/or a person familiar with AWS to set things up for them.There are tons of companies (as you know) that make money (as middlemen) simply using AWS on the backend and creating and marketing a user friendly front end that doesn’t require customers to think to much.For someone like Fred he needs either wordpress.com or https://wpengine.com/ where if you visit the site you will get a popup chat box pretty quickly (wpengine).
AWS should be turnkey for wordpress, they advertise for this purpose
Can use a quick wordpress deploy with Heroku (backed by AWS). They use Heroku for usv.com as well. Digital Ocean also has pre-built wordpress images. I was assuming that Fred doesn’t want to manage this himself. He probably shouldn’t manage it himself.
I didn’t even know there was a problem, because every AVC post arrives in my email. Or does it? 🙂
CONTRIBUITORS:An open letter to Fred.Dear Fred:Your web hosting isn’t anything relatable to your Wife. The commitment you established with your wife created irreplaceable memories and benefits we don’t need to reiterate.Your web hosting is a service that you expect a certain level of basic terms of agreement that should be fulfilled. You fulfill your end by paying them. You have expressed your lack of concern on the technical issues being fixed even when your respected moderator notified you.That only highlights how you don’t care about what is being offered to your contributors. So everything presented is about image and controlling perception.Totally get it. (Overreaction? Likely, but still needed to be addressed)
This comment highlights how you don’t understand me or AVC
I have something for you about Twitter. May I FEDEX it?
FRED:you have extensively highlighted, defended, choreographied what you and AVC represent. Even the unrefined and uncultured can understand what you/AVC are about. Listing posts of our defense of what has been done (in our view) in the best interests of right you have done would be senseless. Your social contributions merit no affirmation. We couldn’t consciously become a posterior muzzler based upon those efforts. Addressing anything about those who control anything has drawbacks. Incompetent, illiterate isn’t attributes that can be attached to us. Fred we get you/AVC as much as you want people to get you. :-)LUKE 12:48
Despite the downtick in RSS use, your blog’s RSS feed has never been down for me.
Curious. What else is on the list of annoyances?Think my wife’s would be: rearranging the dishwasher after her, crazy eyebrow hair, using knives on hot peppers and then leaving them out to be used on other food.
Crazy eyebrow hair is absolutely on the list but not at the top
Glad to hear I’m not alone there.
You have an “Error 522” tattoo? The Gotham Gal puts up with a lot more than I realized! 😉
If it bugs you constantly, fix it or get someone to fix it. Or better, search for the root cause, devise a solution and share it with others that probably have the same problem for the same cause.Perfection as a goal maybe too idealistic and demanding, but constant improvement is possible and promotes good practices. As people in tech, we are the only responsible for the quality end users get from the products and services we design and build.
OR.. deal with it in an elegant way, as Twitter used to.
Never had it happen once.
I’ve been a power user since almost the beginning, across zillions of devices and places, and have never seen an issue.ok sure, maybe during the period when you had the rails saturated with all that PortCos’ bling.To quote Jules from Pulp Fiction: “Far as I know, the mutha f–ka’s tip top!”
+1 for movie quote that definitely didn’t jump to mind when I read this post. Love it!
This could be a good (startup or side project) opportunity for an AI bot that checks web sites and blogs and tries to diagnose and recommend solutions for problems found …Even a plain old expert system might be a good idea.
WOW! You mentioned a lot of what some colleagues and I tried for some years to do!So, right, have three steps:(1) Monitor for problems and get a detections.(2) Diagnose the problem.(3) Correct the problem.For (1)(1.1) Detect problems seen before, that is, where have some symptoms to look for.(1.2) Detect problems never seen before. Very broadly the approach is behavioral monitoring.Etc.So, assume at some computer installation, maybe a real server farm and/or network, are doing a lot of that. Then, too soon, want a model of the system can get data from and sent commands to. Then will want to handle conflicts. Right, can have deadlocks so want automatic deadlock detection and resolution.Then program the stuff that does the monitoring, etc. in rules. Etc.Yup, we did that. I was our lead on our work with GM Research, and we gave a paper at a Stanford AAAI IAAI conference.For (1.2), some progress was needed. So, I stirred up some and published it.A startup? I doubt it! For common deployment, will need a lot of infrastructure software, expensive to write and support. Will need a lot of customer hand holding. It’s a high end, slow, sale.Won’t get equity funding before have traction significant and growing rapidly.Net, there are ways to make money that are (A) much cheaper and easier to start and (B) that stand to yield much higher market capitalization.
It was just an off-the-cuff remark based on their being prior posts on A VC about AI and bots. Didn’t really mean it as a serious startup idea. Interesting you worked on something like that. But my guess is that some of the big Internet(-scale) companies like Google may actually have some stuff like that – part if not all of what I outlined. Simply coz they pretty much need it at their scale.
I think it is important to check your sites health since you don’t know if they are down because you have a basic technical issue or you were hacked.Well, the “error establishing a database connection” is pretty solvable, the other issue seen in CloudFlare should be simple. As a first metric I would use some of the services to check your sites uptime. There are some free ones…
for the record, I disagree with him on this relationship with the site’s infrastructure.. I’d love to get a copy of Kali Linux and attack the site to see the problems and fix them, I think reliability improvements mean usability improvementsThat, and also it would mean playing with Kali LINUX. Which seems like fun!!!
This issue can be resolved with medical marijuana.
Bluehost calls your plan unlimited but they limit the number of concurrent connections. Is where half my customers come from lol
CONTRIBUTORS:JPMorgan/Chase CEO/Chairman Jamie Dimon called for a raise in the interest rates twenty-one basic points (Banks make more money when they are able to charge higher interest rates-No new revelation). He also said Dodd/Frank and Consumer Protection Act is credited for restoring banks capital holdings and consumer confidence following the (forgotten) 2008 financial crisis. The banking system “is in unbelievable shape”. The system is recovered and Dodd/Frank is partially responsible.Also talked about inequality. (What? He just cashed in 23 million). Is Jamie posturing for a post if Clinton wins?Jamie Dimon also expressed concern about the quality of inner-city schools, the rising student loan debt and wage inequality. “We need more infrastructure investment,” he said, arguing that spending to improve schools, bridges and roads shouldn’t be a partisan issue. “Growth will fix wage inequality.”source: http://www.usatoday.com/sto…
This is a classic tech ops or devops failure. Operations. Performance tuning. Availability. Redundancy. You can live with it as you say. Or you can apply more compute to the problem, more monitoring & alerting. And some humans with pagers. :)All solvable.
Sometimes adequate is enough–I learned that building the community gardens.
Sometes adequate is enough–I learned that building the community gardens.
Well it is and that’s what we have and it shouldn’t be good enough. It’s the difference between being a craftsperson at what you do or phoning it in.
No way. The men and women working hard on the floor craftsmanship usually does matter. In my experience it’s middle management and execs making decisions in a vacuum and making the craftsmanship impossible. They set the priorities and all too often they are poorly set and poor leadership sets the tone.
Won’t get into how important it is or whether it matters (that’s Fred’s decision)  but changing from a commodity host such as bluehost (on almost certainly a shared server with others) isn’t major surgery.  But would require time and effort to do the migration.Maybe those two companies can come up with something given the high profile negative press, but if I were you’d I’d keep tolerating it.Fred’s not a “Schnorrer”  like that. As far as “high profile negative press” the amount of business they would loose from this is like if Fred complained about a bad experience on American Airlines. I happen to disagree with the attitude but then again I am not as laid back and in many cases that works against me for sure. This is really a classic case of someone on the outside (me) who doesn’t have to do the work (in this case) saying “what’s the big deal”. I know what is involved I’ve done this type of migration before over 20 years of operating servers which had to be moved, backed up, kept connected and so on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…
Well I can tell you that that over the 20 years that I have been in this business it’s typically the craftspeople that remain small and the “phone it in” types that have grown large. There are exceptions that I can think of but web hosting is a commodity business. The end users aren’t willing (on any large scale) to pay for quality to bring the experience up on any mass basis at least.Even https://wpengine.com/plans/ hosts on shared servers at 250.00 per month. For $250 per month you can almost get a dedicated server in a colo facility and a “tech guy” to oversee and make everything near perfect and to your liking.
Agree. Also noting that management is isolated from customers that complain by a front line of helpless customer support people. VP isn’t dealing with the angry person at the airline counter that missed their flight. Sure they hear about it and know about it but the experience is worth a 1000 words.They set the priorities and all too often they are poorly set and poor leadership sets the tone.This is just part of the competitive pressures of business. If others are offering your product at $9.95 per month then you have to cut to the point where you do that and can make some money.The root of all of this evil is actually the customer by the way. The customer will ‘cut your balls off’ if they discover a lower price and not ask any questions. They will believe the marketing of your competitor and take their chances. Not everyone of course I am not saying that. But enough that it makes an impact on a companies pricing decisions to keep up with the competition if you are in a larger scale business.
“But enough that it makes an impact on a companies pricing decisions to keep up with the competition if you are in a larger scale business.”Indeed it does and this is where the true winners are separated from the losers with the caveat that big dinosaurs suffer a long lingering death and sometimes a good doctor does surgery and they can live 😉