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Showing posts from October, 2006

Another record month - and checkout problems to boot

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We had a record Monday yesterday, and October has proven to be an overall record month online for us. Both of our sites had individual records, leaving no choice but to have a combined record month.

But the month wasn't without problems. In fact, both sites have been suffering from some serious problems, which leaves a record month as even more amazing to me.

I'll describe some of those in my next post... but this one is all about the celebration! Let's get this party started!

10 Terabytes of data

Talking about eBay:The ultrapopular auction/sales Web site continues its exponential growth and finds itself adding 10 terabytes of new storage every week. That's a lot of data.Holy cow! We've been running an ecommerce site for several years now, and we've got quite a bit of data, but nowhere near 10 terabytes. And that's just what they add per week? Wow.

Of course, I don't have an inside scoop at eBay. This was a quote from an eWeek article. But when I stop to think about 10 terabytes of data, then imagine 10 more the following week (yes, that's more than 1 terabyte per day), that makes me quickly realize we need a new word, because 3 years will top 1,000 terabyes of storage added. That's just incredible.

One other thing that seemed very interesting in that article and worth mentioning, was on the final page.
When it comes to handling all that traffic, Strong said the world's time zones provide a kind of natural "load-balancer." "When we&…

IE7 still lacks in encryption

For those of us that use FireFox on a regular basis, 256 bit encryption is something we don't think about. It's just there, as it should be. SSL certificate providers have been issuing 256 bit certificates for several years now, so it's a no-brainer that browsers should support this.

In defense of IE6, it came out long before 256 bit certs became the norm, and very few feature enhancements were ever incorporated. However, IE7 is a different story. FireFox has supported them for quite some time, and IE7 is brand spanking new, but it still doesn't support 256 bit encryption.

Now I'm not saying that breaking 128 bit is so common that this is a HUGE security problem. But when something to make communications over a public network more secure is available, why wouldn't a software company choose to support those features?

Well, the answer found on the MSDN blog is that the dll they use for cryptography is part of the OS, so Vista will have the fix. Of course, IE3 and IE…

Google Results Estimates (still) Broken

I was doing some searching to see how a blog we set up was doing. When you use the "And" operator in a Google search, it says that it isn't necessary because Google looks for all the words in the query string for each search every time, or something to that effect. So, the natural meaning to that is the longer the query, the fewer the results.

Google search for tool repair = 1.7M results.
Google search for tool repair success = 8.7M results.

What's wrong with this picture? Making the query more specific by adding another word shouldn't more than quadruple the number of results. That's just plain crazy. So much for the "More accurate counts" I have been hearing about.

Validating email addresses within forms

I'm starting to work on developing an AJAX-style checkout process and came across something pretty cool. It uses a combination of a server-side Perl script, a Perl module, some JavaScript and a simple HTML form.

The first thing I had to do was install the Mail::CheckUser module. The installation on all 5 servers I tried it on didn't want to work via normal methods, and 'make test' always came back saying it had errors, but doing a 'make install' let it install and it works just fine, even with all of the errors reported by the test step.

The next thing to do was create a real simple Perl script to check it out. I simply called it validate.pl (since it's part of a form validation routine) and loaded it to a web server with the correct permissions, then replicated it across the rest of our servers. The actual work is done by the following chunk of code.
#!/usr/bin/perl
print qq(Content-type: text/plain\n\n);
use CGI qw (:standard);
checkEmail();
exit;

sub checkEmail{

Sweet PC Cases & the problem with upgrades

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Today we came across some really cool PC cases while trying to find one to hold my 12"x13" motherboard. Not only do some of the new cases not look like PC's at all, they have some neat features. This got Matt and I talking about upgrading our home PC's again, and we came to an interesting conclusion.

In the past, it was easy enough to buy a new motherboard and processor and call it an upgrade. Now, the accessory technologies have changed so much that both of the PC's we have at home would basically need complete replacements. This has us both frustrated to the point of not wanting to upgrade.

Basically, we both have AGP video cards, so we'd want to change to SLI or PCI-Express as a minimum. We'd also want SATA Raid-Spec drives, and memory technology has changed enough to make our RAM need replacement if we get a new machine. But what really bugs us is that we would only be re-using the sound card, and those are sort of outdated as well. Oh, and we'd al…

Ultra Long Passwords

Matt was reading his weekly Woot email today and had to send me a link to this support article about an error that had surfaced.
Your password must be at least 18770 characters and cannot repeat any of your previous 30689 passwords. Please type a different password. Type a password that meets these requirements in both text boxes.Well, if I saw that error and had to choose a new password, I'd have to begin it with 1hat3m1cr0s0ft4mak1ngm3ch00s3th1sr3a11y10ngpa55w0rd (translates to "I hate Microsoft for making me choose this really long password" - for those that don't speak l33t). After that, it's anyone's guess.

Before someone starts calling me out, yes I know that this isn't supposed to be an interactive password, and that the encryption process makes them much longer than what you type in. But the error message doesn't exactly state that this is the case, so my password would have to start with that.

If enough people actually chose a password that long…

Inventory Management Systems

So we've decided to start looking at new inventory management systems. We're going to take a look at the advantages / disadvantages of custom as well as the good and bad of many existing software. We haven't decided if we're moving to something new or not, but it seems like if we're not seeing what's out there we could be missing some great opportunities.

Anyone with suggestions of software to look at, let me know. Comments are fine... just try to provide a URL so we can take a look at it. We're well beyond something like Quickbooks, and we realize that this probably isn't going to be cheap. But if we don't look, we won't know what we are or are not missing.

Working on foreign hosting platforms

I've never really had to work on a hosting platform I didn't have complete control over. Ok, so back in 1999 we were hosting ToolBarn on Earthlink (yes, many many moons ago), but since then we've always had root access to our servers, and it wasn't actually too long after that when we started using our own hardware. ISP's are fine for getting started (we used dedicated server options at a few ISP's before moving to our own hardware), but when you need to make a change nothing beats root level access.

As I'm doing some simple changes to a site hosted on Yahoo's hosting platform, it really feels foreign. It's almost as bad as trying to work on the first site I ever worked on... maybe worse than that. I'm so used to making changes via SSH or some other server side login that even the simple things seem to take me forever. Wow... how does the rest of the world get along this way?

The more I have to do on this project, the happier I am that we have our…

My first bit of PHP

I actually did a quick PHP 301 redirect the other day on a server that I couldn't create an htaccess file on. Rather cool that php does that so easily. It has me inspired to learn more php with as easily as it actually worked (once I remembered to begin with < ?, that is).

I guess maybe this ol' dawg can learn new trix.

Made it back... playing catch-up

I made it back from the races on Sunday. After catching up a bit on sleep, I spent most of Monday catching up with email. Yesterday was spent in meetings and loading images to Flickr for the most part, so today I got a blog entry done on my tool geek blog about Vise Grips and have been working on an Apache problem. Matt downloaded MSN Explorer so we can try to recreate a problem people have been reporting as well.

Wow... it's nice being gone for something fun, but returning sure means a lot of work. No wonder I don't ever use up all my vacation days - even if I'm taking a couple more this week. That's right... today is the last workday of the week for me. My boys are sure excited about that. I'm sure I'll be doing some work from home anyway... either for NeO or for ToolBarn. Either way, I won't be at the office, and that means my stress level is going to be abnormal. I won't tell you which way it'll go, though. You'll just have to guess.

Met up with a new old friend

Product training was amazing. I didn't realize just how much innovation you can put into small hand tools, but wow. I'll be posting a lot of that information on my other blog for the next few weeks. After hours, we went to Dave & Buster's for dinner and some socailization.

First off, the food was great. After some time eating some great mexican food, we went over and started bowling. It was about then that I met up with long-time friend Andy Sain who lives in the area. He wasn't there for training, but since we've been conversing online forever and hadn't ever actually met he came over and joined in for a few games of bowling. He was one of the first webmasters I met when I was just starting to get into the whole online deal, and he's helped me quite a bit over the years. He's got a great software site that I refer to quite often.

Andy and I talked for a while on how tough it is to come up with new ideas any more, then on some of the difficulties in …

I made it...

After 5 hours of sitting in Chicago, I'm happy to say I'm now in Huntersville, NC. Tomorrow starts product training at 8am Eastern. Wow that's early for web geeks. At least I'm here now and can start thinking about sleep... not that I'll get any, but I can think about trying to get some.

Stuck in Chicago...

This is my first blog from an airport. Exciting, isn't it? Well, due to all the stupidity going on today I'm stuck in Chicago. The flight was supposed to take off at 5:55 originally, and we're pushed back to at least 9pm now. Seems like every time I fly something odd happens. Last time it was the whole iPod bomb deal over in the UK that raised security, and before that it was the plane going off the runway at Midway and onto the car driving down the highway.

Well, with any luck I will get out of here and on to Charlotte yet today, but I'm not holding my breath. Scheduled arrival is already tomorrow. ;)

Here's to hoping I get up and back down with some time left to sleep before training starts in the morning.

Off to the races...

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Irwin is sending a few of us out to North Carolina to [unnamed] Motor Speedway (sorry, no mention of our competitors here). We get to tour Roush Racing and check out some neat new Irwin products before heading to the races both Friday and Saturday nights. Somewhere in there, we're even supposed to meet up with Jamie.

I'll be returning next week for those of you keeping tabs on me. Until then... Go Jamie Go!!!