Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 5 June 2008

Website outages and 'The Planet' fire in Houston

(Please see UPDATES at end)

Internet users may have noticed that since last Saturday a wide variety of websites and facilities have been unavailable, the result of a fire at 'The Planet' data server centre in Houston, Texas.

So far as this blog is concerned this affected 'StatCounter', as its name suggests a service I use to track visitors to this site; 'StatCounter' seems now (since Monday or Tuesday) to be back to normal. Also affected, however is WeatherPixie - Wikipedia article here. This is a very clever utility that allows quite comprehensive weather data in a very attractive graphical form to be embedded into websites and blogs.

'The Planet' is itself providing updates on progress to restore fully their services here (message from the CEO here - this is a .wav sound file). The CEO advises that full restoration of all services is not expected to occur until the weekend of 13/14 June, by which time they hope to have received all the replacement equipment they require and to have made significant progress on restoring their data centre. Hopefully the WeatherPixie utility will be restored by then; I had been considering removing the code from the blog page until this happen, but as it does not seem to be resulting in slower page-loads than usual I am not going to bother doing this, but will reassess the situation in a couple of week's time if the service is not restored by then.

UPDATE: (Thursday 5JUN08 18.25 BST) My little blog had a visit from someone at StatCounter after I wrote the post above - see the comments, where a link was provided to a page on the StatCounter website where a pretty full report is given on how that comapny dealt with the outage at 'The Planet'; I must say it makes interesting reading. As an aside I have often wondered how organisations such as StatCounter (and for that matter Bloglines) can provide what is generally a pretty exemplary service and do it for free - in any case it is very pleasant to see such responsiveness from an organisation like StatCounter to which I have never paid a bean - thanks!

2nd UPDATE: (Thursday 5JUN08 21.43 BST) Hurrah! 'WeatherPixie' has come back to life.

3rd UPDATE: (Saturday 5JUL08 12.17 BST) After about 10 or so days of successful functioning, 'WeatherPixie' went dead again and remains so now; cause unknown. About a week ago, therefore, I decided to replace this utility in all my blogs and websites where weather information appears. On this blog and certain other sites I'm now using 'widgets' from myweather2 and on my Spanish blog I'm using in addition a widget from (used also on my Spanish website). If 'WeatherPixie' ever does come back to life again, I'll probably re-install it instead, as I like it - it gave quite a lot of useful information in a very compact and visually-pleasing format. Ah well, life must move on meantime.

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