A Scale of Useful Things

Here is a useful thing: Get good web hosting for your site.  WiredTree hasn’t given me a single second of downtime (unfortunately, it’s another website, not this one).  ASmallOrange is down 3-4 times per day for 20-30 minutes each time.  Granted, I pay $45/month for WiredTree, and $5/month for ASO.  You get what you pay for.

Here would be a useful thing: A distributed co-op system of server uptime checks.  A cron job on your web server kicks off a local web page that performs 3 jobs:  1.  Asks some central server (or two, or three, or a distributed network of them) for 5 urls to check for uptime.  2.  Pings and tries to http-access these 5 urls.  3.  Sends the results of the checks back to the server it just talked to.  The 5 urls it checks are themselves other servers just like yours who’ve recently contributed uptime checks against yet other sites (maybe even yours).  Everybody scratches everybody else’s back.

The tricky part is managing the DOS attack this starts.  The central server would have to mete out the list of urls to check cautiously, globally distribute them, and preferably time them in accordance with the desired check frequency each site wants… and then would have to aggregate and notify each site owner of up/down events noticed by “the collective”.  Difficulty: you wouldn’t want the central server giving 1000 different web sites the same url to check at the same time — or the “service” of an uptime check could be come an attack in itself, threatening the very uptime it’s supposed to harmlessly monitor.

The idea of a co-op of free service & benefits seems to have merit to me, just needs some more development.  You get globally-distributed checks against your site, free, and provide a very small service yourself.  Like a single antbenefiting the colony in its individual capacity, and benefiting from the colony in its massive capacity.  Gotta work on that.

And here’s a completely useless thing.  Paypal lets websites collect funds from visitors.  But some visitors would rather call you and give their credit card number over the phone that type it on a computer.  So what does the site owner do?  Goes to paypal himself, places an order from his own website using the customer’s info.  Works fine.  Once.  Try and repeat an order and paypal requires you to establish a Paypal account.  Except you can’t do that, because you won’t get the email that will go to your customer.  Stupid stupid stupid.  Paypal is literally locking themselves out of my small, but growing business.

That’s why I’m looking into a more “mature” system for business transactions: PaySimple pre-sales support has been pretty good so far… Just still collecting facts & opinions on them.

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