Archive for October, 2010

Riding on the Metro

October 6th, 2010

Here’s my Kubrick-inspired short film of a ride on Muni Metro. The route is outbound from Van Ness to Church. It’s somewhat distorted thanks to the iPhone’s wacky image sensor.



(I hope you weren’t expecting a squeaky-synth soundtrack by Berlin.)

Site is back up… you jerk!

October 6th, 2010

Due to a mistake on my part, this site (and all my other sites) went dead today. Don’t worry, they’re all back up and chugging along nicely now. But this brings up a good question that I and many other webmasters have struggled with:

Why didn’t anyone tell that my sites were down?

Okay, there’s a few reasons you might think of off the top of your head:

  1. During that time, nobody tried to access your site(s).
    Okay, that’s possible. I mean if it was Google, maybe someone would have complained. But is only updated a couple times a week, so it’s possible (but statistically unlikely) that nobody tried to visit.

  2. The contact info is ON your site!
    Yes, but no. Plenty of people visit this site through Facebook, Twitter, and other sites where my contact info is easy to find. If you’re not a newbie, you can probably bring up my contact info in seconds. So while the average reader has this excuse, the more computer literate reader wouldn’t say this.
  3. Everyone thought “someone else will tell him.”
    Groupthink is actually a pretty good excuse. It’s like when the guy pulls over to the side of the freeway with smoke pouring out of his engine, and everyone goes driving by without stopping to help because we all assume that someone else will. There’s some merit to this line of reasoning.
  4. Nobody expects the internet to actually work.
    I think this is the number one reason. As our technology gets more complex, it develops more ways to fail. We aren’t surprised at all when a site like Twitter stops working, because hey, it stops working a few times a week. The problem is that unlike, there are actually a lot of critical systems out there that depends on the internet. The continued lowering of users’ expectations leads to shoddy work by engineers, and a vicious cycle of needlessly complex systems that fail often is created.

Now all this said, I don’t think that any of these are particularly good reasons. And that last one is downright scary. I’m not trying to pass the blame for my mistake. But when I see that something on the internet doesn’t work, I try to notify someone about it. Usually, they had no idea their site was broken.

As a webmaster I know from experience that fewer than 1 in 100 people will bother report problems; so as you can imagine, when someone bothers to send that e-mail, it’s very much appreciated.