Two features from ComputerWorld about Google news and how to avoid blogging-related lawsuits, relevant to my recent article about the web and the law.
Are you a Law Abiding Web-Citizen? An photo of police handcuffsDo you know the legal contraints of the web? If not, you better find out before someone else's lawyers do! Read more about the law as it applies to the internet in this new website article. This feature includes a list of relevant legislation and a commentary on how they could affect the activities of website management.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? What four people living or dead would you invite to dinner? Find out my answer to this conumdrum in an interview I did recently for the ESB staff newspaper, Electric Mail.
Publisher Changes Online Price I am sorry to report the publisher of The Website Manager's Handbook informed me yesterday that they are increasing the price of all their books: An image of the cover of The Website Manager's Handbook"Any title you have that is currently in retail distribution via Published by You or Published by Lulu will be temporarily removed from the Lulu Marketplace, and the price of that title will be set to match the retail price you've already set for distribution." Unfortunately, this means that the previous low price of $19.99 is no longer available. I am investigating how this can be reinstated. It may be that I need to create a new edition specific to online sales with a different ISBN number. I will let you know. In the meantime, it is probably cheaper to buy from Amazon, as they offer free shipping.

CAO Performance: 'Could Try Harder!'

Last week, the organisation that co-ordinates student placement into Irish universities (the CAO) experienced a major cock-up.

It seems it seriously underestimated how busy its website would be during the last week of college applications. As a result, many applicants were unable to access the site, causing significant anxiety and distress.

As website managers know, the most important aspects of website infrastructure performance are:
  • Availability. This means the percentage of time that the website is up and running.
  • Reliability. This means the number of unplanned outages that occur on the website.
  • Responsiveness. This means the efficacy with which the website responds to traffic.
To have a website that scores well on each of these, you need to build an infrastructure that is appropiate to the scale of the website that you operate. For example, a site that expects to attract significant traffic needs to have:
  • Many high specification servers
  • Lost of storage space and memory
  • Robust hosting software
  • A very fast link to the internet backbone
  • Good back-up and maintenance procedures
  • Etc.
The trouble is that some sites (like those of the CAO) experience huge spikes in traffic at particular times. How to cope with such non-linear demand?

Well, it is not easy but there are answers. 

Besides investing in a lot of hardware/software that will remain underused for long periods, the best approach is to rent spare capacity from other organisations, e.g. related government departments. Indeed, this type of capacity can now be bought online, for example at, who now offer surplus production power off its own servers.

Let's hope the CAO get's its act together for its next big test. 

That occurs in August this year when the first college offers are made. At that time tens-of-thousands of students will all try to log-on again to see how well they have fared in the great 'race for a place' in university.

(More about the basics of designing an appropriate Website Infrastructure are explored in my book, "The Website Manager's Handbook")
Grianghraf Mhancháin Magan. Coipchéart ag Manchán MaganAréir chonaic mé an clar déireanach de chuid 'No Béarla' le Manchán Magan. Ag tús a thurais dúirt sé gur shíl sé fein nach bhfuil moran áma fágtha don Ghaeilge mar teanga labhartha. Le linn a chámcuirte is léir nár tháinig sé ar aon rud chun an dearcadh diultach sin a athrú. Caithfidh mé a rá go n-aontaim leis. Is cuma le cuid mhór muintir na tire seo leis an teanga. Cé go bhfuil an-dúil ag corr-duine intí, is trua nach mairfidh sí go ceann glúine eile.