Wednesday, 13 July 2011

got a hernia? - get a kindle

For those of you who don't have much time to read long articles - the message is in the title.

I had a hernia recently. The surgeon commented a few times - it was a big one and had appeared out of nowhere (that's my description - and not the approved medical lingo). While I had it I was restricted in terms of what I could lift and carry. As I said to people by way of explanation - my operational parameters had been reset to a new low level.

When cooking I could crash land a bag of flour (for breadmaking) onto the kitchen worktop -  but I couldn't lift it back up. Or if I wanted to roast potatoes I had to carry them one or two at a time from the larder - and get help lifting a roasting dish in and out of the oven. I could just about lift a bottle of wine - but couldn't carry it very far. Once I had adapted to my  limitations  my tidy new kitchen started to look a little less tidy - as I made sure that anything I might need during the days that my wife was away - was set up in easy reach.

Food shopping presented a problem. I've  got used to a high standard of locally grown produce - as the area around here (between Lewes and Ditchling in East Sussex) has lots of farm shops. And for exotic prepared foods like houmous and cheeses there are specialist shops in Lewes and the North Laines in Brighton. But having the hernia restricted my mobility - so there were a few weeks when I could barely make it to the car. On good days when I could walk around the city  - my shopping options were limited not just by my carrying weight limit - but also uncertainty about my mileage / range. Pre hernia I'd think nothing of walking miles - taking in lots of little shops - taking things back to the car and then restarting from where I'd left off.

But many good things came out of the experience too.

One day - on the way to visiting the doctor I noticed a new sign on the road leading into Newick saying "farm shop". As I had to drive right by on the way home I popped in to a newly decorated barn. I explained about the hernia and said that I liked eating fresh fruit and vegetables and hadn't booked a delivery slot with the online supermarket. Could they help?

They  said they had just opened for business not many days before - and they would be happy to help. All I had to do was go around the barn - point to whatever I wanted - and  the owner became my personal shopper - loading up bags of produce and carrying them to the car. I was having some wrok done on my porch - so I knew that when I got back home I could get a hand from the builder unloading from the car.

When I went back another time  - and knew I'd have to unpack little by little on my own - I made sure that I didn't buy the large squashes - which I couldn't handle - but  pointed at little ones instead. (It will be another few months before the squahes in my garden are ready.)

And where does the kindle come into all of this?

I was lucky that having the hernia didn't stop me working and earning a living - because my day job (and night job too) is thinking about, talking about and writing about the solid state storage market - the output of which  I publish on my site StorageSearch.com

But one of my favorite hobbies - apart from cooking, eating, walking etc - is reading books.

Due to the hernia strolling around bookshops had become a frustrating experience - because I had to leave most of what I wanted behind. And even in many cases where we had new books delivered to our door - a lot of them were too heavy for me to comfortably lift and read.

So my wife bought me a kindle 3g.

(I couldn't manage carrying around the protective cover with the built-in reading light - but I'm sure I'll use it later.)

The first thing I did with it - wasn't - as you might suppose - download and read a book. Because when I learned it had a built in web browser I was curious to see what my web pages looked like. Mostly they were unreadable - so I spent the next few days adjusting the most popular articles to fix that. In the long term -  the effect will be to make to make my content more accessible to readers on phones as wll. So that's a good impact  for my business.

Anyway it wasn't long before I was downloading and ordering books (8 in the past 3 weeks) - all ordered from  and downloaded directly to the kindle itself. I love that feature. In fact I've not yet connected it to any pc.

This isn't a review of the kindle - but I thought I should mention -  that although we don't get much sunshine here in the UK - as soon as we had a sunny day - I took the device out on the porch to test its readability. That's impressive.

If you're used to iPads and similar devices you may find it strange that you can't select stuff by wiping your fingers across the screen. But the kindle is affordable and weighs a hell of a lot less than an iPad. And it weighs less than many phones too.

In a short space of time I've learned to love my kindle. I probably would never have tried it if it hadn't been for the hernia.

The hernia is now in the past tense. Less than 48 hours ago it was fixed under a general anesthetic.

And that's the main reason I haven't been writing on my serious SSD site (since just before the op). It's not that I can't reach and operate a keyboard - but I was told that my system would be full of opiates - and I should wait until they cleared out of the system - otherwide my judgement would be impaired and my "editor's comments" about new products, new companies and market developments - would be under the influence.

The hospital gave me a good supply of ongoing strong painkillers with  opiates in - and they're making me feel quite whoozy - but they seem to be doing a good job of pain control - because I'm feeling much better than I was led to expect.

And I'll be pressing the "publish post" button in a few minutes  having just  taken my 4 hour prescription.

Now then - if you think this has been a long and rambling blog - which should have been much better planned and written - before posting - I absolutely agree with you.

And that's why I haven't been writing any serious market analysis stuff on StorageSearch.com for the past 48 hours. I will make a tentative dip back into that tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to it.

In the meantime - guess what? Back to the  kindle - and read for a few minutes till the pills knock me out again.

Monday, 14 February 2011

influential web articles that have never been been seen on the web

Something which may surprise you is that many of the articles I've written about the SSD and storage markets for my main publication StorageSearch.com have never made it to the web - even though I edit that publication (which means they would easily meet my  standards).

It's not that they weren't good enough to publish  - but if they  took too long to write  then short term daily pressures for fresh content  bumped them off my to-do list - and maybe a few days or weeks later they just got abandoned.

The strange thing is  that the  analysis and thought processes that went into constructing those unseen  articles  has had an  impact on rewiring the synapses and assumptions  in my brain. And very often when I'm writing about about a related subject I start the process of linking to an article which no one else has read but me.

I can still find them on my notebook - and because they're in the same directory as live www  files  (they just never got completed and uploaded)  there's  a  strange feeling of loss and panic  when I can't find them online.

Oh yeah - I remember now - it never got that far.

Many of these articles are 95% complete - and even years later seem to fill  much needed gaps  in the analysis of the market.

The curious thing for me is that I do have the benefit of having written them - even if no one else has yet seen them.

In the thousands of years of writing - before the online world - this must have been a much more common experience. And even though my educational background was electronics, physics and maths (and not literature and all that stuff) even as an ignorant  technocrat barbarian  I am aware that during the course of history there have been many writers who are popular today - but who never got published in their lifetimes.

I'm not saying that a blog about some ephemeral aspect of a transient market like solid state storage  (which no one will care too much  about in 50 years time) can be compared to a novel or collection of poetry. (Which reminds me -  I do have  some novels I've finished which aren't online too. And I reread them when I'm in the right mood and have run out of anything else to read. My wife and I have over 4,000 books in our house - and  I've read  most of them - except  I confees I have skipped several hundred marketing books - because  I'm not the one in our household who runs product management master classes.)

 I'm just saying that going through the process of writing  articles which analyze some aspect of a high tech market helps to improve the quality of thought in later  articles  even if the original articles were never published. I guess it's like winning a track event. No one sees you training. But you are more likely to do better in public  if you have trained.

Shame about the links though.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

what's the life of a web page?

Does a web page have a life?

What about after it's deleted?

What about return on investment?

Why would anyone even ask these questions?

Does Google calculate ROI on the cost of indexing different web pages?

Most people who create web pages don't think about any of the issues I've listed above - but if you're in the business or making money from publishing on the web then they are questions you should ask - even if you can't find any good answers.

When I started publishing on the web in 1996 - it wasn't my first job. I had previously worked in R&D  in the  electronics  market - so I was familiar with the concepts of  "life cycles" for software   development. I did think about the life cycle of a web page in simple terms which went something like this.

How much is it going to cost me to create a web version of my print publicatuion? Is what I get back going to pay me and make my efforts worthwile? Back then in 1996 the commercial web was little more than a year old. It would have been impossible for me to find any good answers to my questions - because web advertising itself was still a new concept - and we just made the rules up as we went along.

If we guessed wrong - we tried another approach with another customer. It was hard not to make money in those days on the web.

15 years later - I still make my living entirely from selling web ads in my own publications. So the few  things I did  right must have outweighed the many things I did wrong. And luck plays its part too.

Let's go back to the questions I asked at the start.

Does a web page have a life?

Yes. But the concept of an "average life" for a web page isn't very helpful.

Some web pages - which are created by software- may only last for a fraction of a second. Those Google searches for example which flash up just before you click on something.

Other web pages - which are  created by humans - may last for days, weeks, months or years.

What about after it's deleted?

It's comforting to think that after you've deleted a web page - that it's gone. Especially if you said something in that web page which is embarrassing now - or which expresses a business view which is the exact opposite of the view you now hold. For example in 1995 I couldn't understand how anyone could create a business model which made money from web content (rather than selling something via the web). As it happens - because of my strong belief (in 1995) that a print publisher like me  couldn't make money out of the web by putting my content online - you can't find a web page  designed by me at that time which makes that statement.  In retrospect - it was a prejudiced view based on fear of the unknown and the risk of getting things wrong. Within a few months I was kicking myself and wishing that I'd started sooner.

Anyway - your old deleted web pages can often be found in 3 different places for various lengths of time.

1 - on the internet archive - http://www.archive.org/  - upto 15 years later (and still counting)

2 - in cached versions of Google search - for a week or month or so (depending how often Google scans that page)

3 - on 3rd party blogger sites which comment on your content (or steal all of it)

So deletion is not a permanent cure. A better solution is to put a note on the old page saying something like "this was a subject which I used to be interested in - but now my interests have moved elsewhere - plesae click here to see what I'm doing now." I say that - knowing I've still got thousands of web pages which are showing exactly the same as they did 10 years ago. It doesn't really matter if your web stats say that no one is seeing those older obsolete pages.

When it does matter though - is when something you wrote  a long time ago  becomes a search spike. If you really care about your reputation as an industry guru or blogger you can monitor those random spikes and decide if it's worth redirecting  readers to your current projects. There are no hard and fast rules about this.

What about return on investment?

If you look at this from the philosophic point of view you could say - I don't care about the value of my web postings in  monetary  amounts. If I care about an issue I'm going to create web pages because they satisfy some other needs I have - such as communicating better with my friends and family, educating others to help them learn from my experience, lobbying for a special interest group which I want to support etc etc.

But back to the readers who wondered why I didn't just write ROI....

Here's something to think about. Which of these  is worth more?

A single human created web page?

10 software assisted social networking web pages? or

1,000 software created pages?

The numbers I used above are arbitrary - but you probably get my drift. The value of a web page in economic terms is not directly related to the cost of its creation - but rather to the difference between what money you can make from each page (on average) versus the cost.

For example:- if you can create 100 million web pages (using software)  for 1 cent each - but can earn 2 cents from each of those pages in a year - even if those pages only live for less than 1 second  (average) - you might earn more money than the guy who can earn maybe $3,000 a year from a single  hand crafted article - but only has the time to write a limited number of such articles in a year.

The first model - is the one the venture capitalists like - because it's scalable, got big  numbers in it and looks like a real business.

The second model is more difficult to assess. It's more like the book or  movie business. Everyone knows it's hard to make money as a living  author - and the Harry Potter books are the  business exceptions rather than the rules.

My answer to the web ROI question is that the founders of  Google  did think about the cost of a web page -  when they made the special effort to make their  search software scalable. (Because they were well aware of the costs and performance pitfalls of not doing so - which they could see in the examples of other search companies operating at the time.)

But you don't have to be on the scale of Google or Facebook to have an ROI which makes sense for you.

Maybe your website is  collecting money so your local library can buy new books or pay a contractor to mend the fence in your local church cemetary. The ROI is different for everyone.

If your web pages are your CEO's blog then it's probably a bad return on the investment of their time compared to the value of their time spent instead  on web advertising. But it could be a good investment if the blog is the main way that people in your company get to hear about the direction your organization is heading.

Why would anyone even ask these questions?

I think about questions related to the value of web pages a lot - because the answers dictate how I prioritize my time. I allocate scores to web pages on my site which have built into them value indicators - like who's going to see this web page today? this week? this year? or in 3 years time?

Getting the right answers to those questions is important for me - because the web pages do have a life - and often a web page I created several years ago earns  more money  now than a new web page I created yesterday. That's  because the old page has more links going to it - and because the topic in the old article has now moved into the mainstream instead of just being of interest to a advanced niche.

 Does Google calculate ROI on the cost of indexing different web pages?

I don't know this for a fact - but I would be surprised if they didn't - because the decison of whether it's worth indexing any particular new web page - and how often to go back to it - is at the heart of their cost models.

When making the decision to index a page - the search engine is making an investment in that page. How many times will knowing the contents of that page benefit the advertising model?

What are the risks of skipping a page this time - and maybe redeciding whether to have a look next week or next month instead?

Prebuilt into those value judgements (done by algorithms at the core of web search) are assumptions about the lifetime of a web page.

If it's a new page - a lot of people might be interested in it today. Maybe less tomorrow - maybe nobody at all in 6 months. When the historians   come to have a look 10 years later  - will the web versions of those news pages still be there?

What if  the page is   a blog about the life of a web page?

Why would anybody -  even a robot be interested in that?

If you are. Or if you were. Thanks for reading.

Monday, 17 January 2011

why would you be interested in past data storage news?

As the editor of StorageSearch.com there are many times in the day when I hop backwards and forwards in time like a speeded up and demented pilot of HG Wells's time machine.

You may not be surprised that articles which predict the future of the market are popular. Even though we all know that such predictions are educated guesses rather than reliable facts - it can be useful to get a view of someone else's vison of the future and compare it with your own. Maybe it will mention a factor which you have overlooked completely. No problem. As it's talking about the future - there's still plenty of time to research that subject if you think it might intersect with your own interests.

Why would anyone be interested in past data storage news?

That's a question which I asked myself in the 2nd week of January 2000 - as I was deciding whether I should simply delete old news stories when they rolled to a particular point past the bottom of the viewer's screen - or archive it for future reference. Deletion would have been much easier. And deletion had been what I did before with my vendor product listings. Archiving news stories implied adding to the collection of assets which had to be managed in my web page life-cycle.

Starting a news page in January 2000 was a big decision for me. Before then my news page was simply a list of suggested links to other news pages which were springing up all over the web. I mean - what value could I add? And would enough people be interested - when there were so many other news pages, aggregators, newsfeeds and email updates available? Although I'd been publishing online since 1996 - my thinking had been that news was always going to have a short life and that the effort expended in offering news wouldn't be a good use of time compared to compiling directories. And what did I know about managing a news page anyway? Nothing. But once it started - it seemed like a waste to throw the content way. That's how my news archives were born.

Looking back now - more than a decade later - I'm glad I did it.

News gives readers another reason to come to a web site. In the case of StorageSearch.com it's not the main reason - because my readers are more interested in articles which explain what's going on in the market - and lists of who does what and why. But having news content helps to calibrate the content in the time dimension.

News gives vendors and other stakeholders in the market more reasons to contact me. Although that did happen anyway before - because vendors are always interested in being listed in buyers guides - being featured on our news page is particularly good for new vendors. For startups emerging from stealth mode maybe the first time their new website becomes widely visible on the web is in the hours after Google picks up the links from my news page. That's also benefits me too. When I publish a new article - the first thing I do is mention it on my news page.Of course - when my ftp upload died for a handful of days in 2010 I couldn't do that. So the only way I could let readers know about my new blog - which chronicled those problems - was to use an external newswire. I also informed some vendors via email. But as I hate getting spam myself I've never compiled a bulk email list. And in fact most of my outgoing emails are replies to incoming queries.

Archived news gives me a powerful tool for analyzing and commenting on "new" news stories. That may sound incestuous but here's how it works. Let's say someone sends me a news story claiming they're the first company to offer a product which has a specific size, speed or some other feature. I can quickly look through my news archives and get a feeling for whether the claim is plausible. I can often make an otherwise clone-like story (which you'll see on 100 other sites) more interesting by adding a comment which says something like - another company did this 2 years before. Or if someone is launching a new company - I can use my archives to answer questions like... What did they do before? And does what they did before make it more or less likely that the new venture will succeed too?

For newcomers to the storage market and storage veterans people who are looking at a newsubject for the first time - the archived news pages can quickly give them a flavor for... Who are the main players in the market? What is the state of the art from the technical point of view? and How quickly is the market changing?

At some point in time archived news does become history. In the data storage market which I write about I sometimes find it useful to go back a long way to supply information in market growth articles which answer questions like... How much has the capacity of an SSD grown in the past 10 years? and Were the market predictions made by such and such market analyst wildly out of line with what happened - or about right? Answers to the latter type of question helps me filter new prononuncements from the same sources.

Remember, the web has no memory! is an article I wrote in November 2001 on my Marketing Views web site. Although the Internet Archive had been doing a good job of picking up and saving content from many of the sites I was interested in at the time the situation today in 2011 is that many gaps have started to appear in the data storage market narrative accessible via that route. I've noticed that when the domains of gone-away storage market companies are acquired - many of the new owners kill the old content in the external archive. That makes it hard to rediscover details which might be interesting to people like me who want to check particular facts about the market from years gone by. (I still have a readable email archive which has most of my relevant emails going back to about 1996 sitting on my pc - but the emails don't always contain the full text of press releases - and sometimes just tell me about a product link which was once on the web - but which has since disappeared.)


I think that delving daily into archived news has helped me become a better judge of what is newsworthy today. I ask myself the question - is anyone going to be interested in any of this stuff as a tracket to what happened in the market - next month? next year? or in 5 years time? If not then why mention it? Just as back in January 2000 - there are plenty of news aggregators operating in January 2011. Part of my added value to readers is to ignore what isn't really new and comment more on what is.

That's why I've stopped writing stories which start with "EMC has just spent N hundred million, or N billion dollars acquiring XYZ company" for example. Going back through history EMC has always acquired other storage companies. So that's not news. Unless you are a stakeholder in the acquired company or one of its competitors. But my reader stats show our readers don't expect EMC to do anything new or innovative in the storage market - so the acquisition story gets a low news score with this editor and rarely hits the news pages. Instead - what would rate a high news score would be if EMC announced it had decided to never again acquire another company and instead would be focusing its resources on organic growth and internally developed technologies. But I don't expect to see such a press release until April 1st.

I've never had any illusions about the transient and ephemeral nature of most of the things that have preoccupied my professional thoughts in the 34 years I've worked in the digital electronics market. The burning issues and hot products of one day are shunted into the mental trash pile to make way for the next new thing. Despite all that history sites can now be found all over the web - preserving the nostalgic appetites of generations of people - like me - for whom these past digital crazes were once a big part of their daily lives. Maybe there is a future in past news after all.

Friday, 3 December 2010

will Santa be able to land at London Gatwick airport this Christmas?

People who live outside England can't understand our fascination for the weather. (I count myself as English - and I get away with this trick until people ask me my name.)

Anyway WE English people can't get enough of this topic.

A sunny day in Summer, a rainy day in Autumn and a snowy week in December always come as a complete surprise.

A famous writer (famous in my house  in the 1960s anyway) called George Mikes - wrote about the English and weather (and other important matters) in his  brilliantly observed  book called "How to be an Alien."

Back to the present...

When snow hit the south east of England this week (as it did last winter too  - could it  just be a coincidence?) it caused more than the usual amount of chaos for those hoping to travel around in the non virtual way using planes, trains and buses.

The official capital of England  (which is London - unlike the unofficial capital county - which is Yorkshire) overnight became completely disconnected from the seaside city of Brighton - which over 200 years ago was connected by   reliable stage coach journeys which took about one or two days.

But in December 2010 - Southern Rail and National Express were unable to replicate these achievements - with no trains or coaches running yesterday on these routes.

Usually I don't care much about what happens in the outside world  - as long as it doesn't interfere with my main web site - and being able to update it (the subject of previous blogs).

But this week - my wife Janet - who was working in Amsterdam Wednesday discovered that the airport she was due to fly back to (which is close to us - and  called Gatwick) was close(d).

Using her Blackberry she was able to  get a  flight to another airport we sometimes use - Heathrow. What she didn't know as I was tracking her movements online - in the same way that you do a UPS parcel - is that due to the lateness of the flights it was touch and go whether she would get a train connection into London - and no chance whatsoever of getting back home - here in the once previously connected region near the ancient city of Lewes.

Apparently - before Brighton became famous - it was referred to as "Brighton near Lewes".

But  even if were near things - we seemingly couldn't get to them any more - due to 8 inches of snow - which later became more like a foot of snow in the rural area where I live.

Things turned out well. Janet got into a hotel in London just after midnight - and she was due to be working in London next day anyway.

So far so good.

But during the course of the next day (Thursday 2nd) all public transport between London and Brighton ceased. It never even got started.

During the course of the day more snow fell.

Janet carried on working - in London - while I looked at web sites which contained tantalizing information suggesting that services might be resumed any time soon. But they never did.

Meanwhile the tv news channels (BBC and Sky) were showing pictures of a closed snowed in Gatwick, travellers who had been stuck overnight in stranded trains, or in stranded lorries on the roadside.

The police in the area advised - "don't go on the roads unless it's an emergency".

Does getting home count?

In my web trawling I came across things I had heard about - but never seen before - the video feeds and traffic cameras from the main roads which linked Brighton and London. And they also showed average speeds.

There wasn't much traffic - but the speeds looked pretty good to me - in fact better than normal at busy times.

But as I know from experience with the A23 / M23 - it only takes a very small bad event for the whole road to be closed down and delayed - for hours. And hearing that some drivers had been stuck on the M25 for 8 hours - I didn't want to take that risk.

Now unlike the plane, rail and bus transport agencies - we had done some advanced planning - having spent about 6 weeks last winter skating on the frozen country lanes in this area - and on one occasion sliding backwards down a not very steep hill. It doesn't look steep in the summer. You only realize that a slope is involved wen you are trying to get your car up it when it's ground to a halt in deep snow.

So earlier this year we did our bit to boost the economy and bought a car with a "snow" button. It's a Landrover Freelander 2.

Because it's so comfortable inside (even though it just looks like a big ugly box outside) I had been doing more driving than usual this year. Driving down country lanes to reach the shops with my airconditioning on  to keep cool. (My previous car was a 2 door Renault Clio.) I hope that removes your stereotype image.

I don't know or care about cars - as long as they go.

Anyway this year I bought one with a snow button (technically it's the same setting for snow and gravel). The man in the car shop said it was the best one for snow.

We bought it after the snow at the beginning of the year had gone.

This was my first chance to test it.

Would it take me on a 30 mile cross country trip to meet up at the closed Gatwick airport - through ungritted roads with snow slush and ice - at night?

We chose Gatwick as the rendezvous - because I can find it. And Janet - on her part had to find a very nice London taxi driver who would risk going so far on the motorway. Because as far as I could see online - that should work OK.

And it did.

My car worked like a dream - and as long as I pretended I wasn't driving a 4x4 beast and stuck to my defensive  driving technique acquired from 9 years of driving my little Clio - I was OK.

There were plenty of spaces in the ground floor of Gatwick short term parking when I arrived at 7.30 pm. And it didn't take me much longer than usual  to get there - because I passed only 3 other cars moving on the way.

I forgot to look left and admire the Christmas tree lights as I drove past Wakehurst place. (I had been there the Friday before to see them switched on. They do very nice honey and nut cakes and hot chocolate in the cafe.) I was too busy looking ahead.

And Turners Hill has that name for a very good reason. It goes up and down. And it was covered in slushy ice. Would I make it? Yeah - I even stopped to let someone come the other way. (I haven't acquired the 4x4  persona yet - which pushes the other cars off the road. Inside my head I'm still a Clio driver in a very fat car  - which is surprisingly easy to park for some technical reason to do with the wheels.)

A few minutes later Janet arrived too. It took us a few minutes to find each other - because I had been chatting to a guy who was sweeping the snow off the road - and he had been there for nearly 2 days fighting a losing battle to keep the airport open.

I had a flask of hot tea in the car.

We got home safely and I cooked supper in my nearly completed kitchen (mentioned in a previous blog). Of couse getting out of the house in the first place meant I had to find some  temporary door handles - because they still need another coat of paint.

And what's the point of this story?

I learned a lot of stuff about the problems of travelling around - which make me very glad that I don't get out much.

I'll just stick to looking at web sites and typing into a little box on my blogger screen.

(I've just been waiting for one of my backup disks to warm up from its frozen state - before I use it.  Now it's ready for action I'll sign off.)

Friday, 26 November 2010

How 11 Predictions for the SSD Market in 2011 - became something else

One of the odd things about being an online publisher is that it's easier to stick to long range plans for content rather than plans which are short term.

Long range plans for content include quarterly and annual features - which are always very popular with readers. I know - for example - that whenever I update my Top 10 SSD companies list (a quarterly feature which has been running for about 4 years) it will get a surge in readers.

But the immediate always interferes with the short term.

On a busy day - my article priorities might change many times an hour - due to incoming emails or real-time stats indicating that I should drop what I'm doing and switch my attention to something else.

Today - the Friday after Thanksgiving - was going to be a quiet day on the email front and I thought I'd get started on a seasonal article called "11 predictions for the SSD market in 2011". Instead one of this morning's emails was from a reader whom I've exchanged a lot of emails with - and who is indeed writing his own article - on the theme of SSD Data Recovery.

We were talking about bad block management in flash SSDs. After I sent my email I realized it was very long - and was really an article in itself.

I hadn't planned to write an article about this subject. Not many people will be interested.

But that's how many of these articles start - with a reader asking me a good question which I thought I'd answered before - and then discover that I haven't. Or if I have  - it's in fragmentary statements in other articles.

And that's how another unplanned article was born today. Here it is - an introduction to the principles of bad block management in flash SSDs

That 2011 SSD predictions article is still on my to do list. Preferably sometime while we're still in 2010. I'll have another stab at it on Monday...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

good things which came from me not being able to update my websites

On Friday morning - the ftp on my main site - StorageSearch.com - came back to life.

Whoopee! My journal about the ftp clampdown   has a happy ending. Now I can get back to work as usual.

Except that it isn't... the same as it was before.

I thought it would be interesting to reflect on the positive things which have come out of this week's frenetic  events.

delayed interaction - see but don't immediately change

I have a better appreciation of the user experience of my website. In a way it's similar to coming back from a vacation and taking a fresh look. But in another subtle way it's different. Because if I can see my web site when I'm on vacation - I can change it.

For 5 days I could see my web site - and had the time allocated to change anything I wanted - and many good reasons for doing so.

But due to the ftp problem - I couldn't.

That made me think - what changes would I prioritize if I could only change one sentence? One page? Or just a small number of pages?

In a typical working day I update or create content on 50 to over 100 web pages. And many of those pages get updated every 5 minutes or so.

It's a work practise I developed over 20 years ago when there was always a risk that your computer might get shut down by a power disturbance (if it didn't have a UPS) or by a software freeze.  And I also worked in an environemt in which I encouraged the people I worked with - always to interrupt me if they needed my inputs on a project decision. I never wanted to be the person who delayed anything in my projects - by being hard to get. For that reason I always refused to have my own office - and get locked away.

That got me into the habit of work a bit - save - review - repeat - start the next piece of work.

Not being able to touch my content and instantly change it - may lead to me rethinking how I organize my online content.

did the readership go down?

Once I had my various coping strategies sorted out in my mind  - I had a sneaking suspicion that my website would finish the month with higher than anticipated readership - and not lower.

I am always paranoid about the subject of web stats - and when I go online - the first thing I do - long before I even think about email - is to check the status of my web stats.

My web stats give me a clue - am I doing OK - worse or better?

That and my advertiser renewal rates and the number of external stats that link to my site are far more important than any emails I get - which might say that someone likes the site - or thinks the layout is horrible.

Don't get me wrong. Reader emails are valuable - because all my advertisers start out as readers.

And readers give me insights into what new content areas I should do next - which go into the melting pot of new ideas - added to my own roadmap - themes analysis - and ideas which pop into my head at 3 am - which I can't shale off - until I write about them.

and now I'm blogging

 I've been blogging in some form or another on my own web sites for over a decade.

But the technical problems I had - which forced me out of my comfort zone - and introduced me to the raw cold feeling of writing in a little box in my browser - which  nobody would be  reading straight away.... Now that was a different experience.

OK - I know - I should be able to write these articles using any editor I like - and then cut and paste them in here. But that's not how I've been doing it.

I can see maybe 7 to 10 lines of text above this. I type fast so that I can get quicker to the end of this line quicker  - and   before you know it  -  another line has rolled out of view at the top of this little box.

Should I do lots of previews? Go back and edit? Add links? Make it sound - more authoritative maybe....

How about spell cehcking? (<= That was accidental - not deliberate.) But I rarely do spell checking - unless a lot of people have already seen an article.

And how about formatting?

I've never been accused by anyone of wasting too much time formatting my money making serious websites. So why would I do anything different now?

I went for the default format at the top left hand corner of the options offered. That was good enough for me.

That may change. But if it does - don't expect it get better. I'm more interested in concepts and words than visual representations.  When I was using early versions of web browsers back in 1995 - I was one of those people who was quite happy to switch the graphics off - that was an option in Netscape -  to get faster browsing with my 14kbps (or was it  2.4kbps) dial up modem.

There's a lot more web sites to see now.

And if you have been reading these words.... thanks for your time ... and  to make sure you don't waste to any more time - this  particular session of me  typing into the little box in my browser on blogger  stops here