Archive for September 20, 2012

SpringyCamp – Registration Now Open!

SpringyCamp – Focusing on UX: Understanding & Meeting the Needs of the User

Program Information:

Date: November 8th, 2012
Time: Tentatively scheduled from 1:00pm-4:30pm EST (subject to change)
Cost: Completely, 100% free!
Program Outline: Currently calling for presenters! Submit your proposal now!
Program Level: Designed for All Audiences

Register & Learn How Libraries are Using Springshare Products to:

  • Meet users where they are;
  • Understand their needs;
  • Provide an outlet for user-driven content/services/resources;
  • Capture user experiences or assess library success;
  • Reduce the degrees of separation between the library and the user;
  • Ways to streamline work for library staff while still meeting users where they are;
  • …and more!

 How Do I Register?

  • Registration is as easy as 1,2,3
  • Our first SpringyCamp, April 2012, was so popular our registration ‘sold out’ in less than 24hours. In an effort to ensure that as many libraries can attend, we are limiting registration to one per institution.
  • Does your library have multiple branches / campuses / buildings? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
    • Please be sure to read our instructions regarding registration here!

Monday’s LibGuides Server Issues Post-Mortem

We waited until today to post the explanation behind yesterday’s LibGuides connectivity issue because we wanted to make sure that the fixes we deployed took care of the issue.

Here’s what happened: a couple of weeks ago our hosting facility had a big infrastructure upgrade – new routers, switches, the whole nine yards. But yesterday something went wrong with the shiny new stuff which caused one of our critical servers to be overloaded with access requests. Pings and connections were failing or being delayed, and  those delayed requests would then hit the servers all at once. We designed our servers to handle large loads and handle spikes in usage, but when you get a rare “super-spike” things slow down. A lot.

“Why don’t you just add more servers and hot-swap them?”, you may say. Well, adding more servers instantly in the case of LibGuides is not so simple: for some critical servers (like the one that we had problems with yesterday) any institution with the custom domain mapping option (most of our libraries have it) would have to update their local DNS records to point to new servers and it takes time (hours, sometimes even days) to propagate the changes to all DNS servers around the world.

In any case, we worked with our hosting provider to alleviate the networking issue and also made some changes to our server cluster so that it can handle way more traffic – about 10x more, to alleviate negative effects from any other potential super-spikes.

Here are a couple of important takeaways:

  • Server issues happen – internet connectivity is complex beast – and unfortunately there are no guarantees that our infrastructure won’t have other issues unrelated to this problem. You can be sure of this, though – we monitor our infrastructure round-the-clock so we are the first to know whenever there are any issues. And whenever there are issues we spring to action immediately to remedy the situation asap.
  • Whenever you have issues accessing LibGuides please check our Twitter webpage first to see if there’s a known issue (http://twitter.com/springshare). When we get thousands of support requests in a span of a couple of hours—literally, no joke—it is impossible to answer all of them quickly. If it’s a known issue our support team is already working on it and will fix it faster if they don’t also need to respond individually to thousands of emails.

    If you see an issue posted on Twitter, we are working on it and will post regular updates as well as “all clear”.

    If you are still having issues after things are back to normal (or no issues are mentioned on Twitter) you should send your support request and we will take a look at it asap – as we always do. 🙂

Again, we apologize for the problems accessing your trusty LibGuides yesterday. It was a networking black-swan type event (and just to reiterate—it was in no way connected to the attack on GoDaddy – please see this post). Remember, we are always doing everything we can to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.

It is worth noting that even counting yesterday’s issues, our uptime has been in the 99.99% range since we started LibGuides in 2007 – meaning it’s been down for only a handful of hours in the past 5 years.

Thank you, and onwards and upwards. Now we need to sign up 10x more libraries, because there’s a lot of room to grow in our infrastructure. 🙂

Best,
-Slaven & the Springshare team

Springshare does not support SOPA or PIPA

As we were wrapping up some fixes regarding the LibGuides connectivity issues today, we noticed some tweets alluding that we somehow support SOPA/PIPA because the attack on GoDaddy coincided with the LibGuides server connectivity issues. Let me be clear in no uncertain terms – we do not support SOPA or PIPA, and LibGuides issues  today were not due to the attack on GoDaddy. To wit, we have a couple of other domains registered with GoDaddy, like libanswers.com – and that service was fine today.

Let’s set the record straight:

  • When I started Springshare in 2006, before SOPA and PIPA existed even in theory, I registered bunch of domains with GoDaddy (including springshare.com & libguides.com – the two original domains) because GoDaddy was among the most affordable and most reliable registrars back in the day.
  • We have never used GoDaddy for anything other than a domain registrar (for about $12 per year) – i.e. we haven’t used them for DNS, hosting, or anything else. Our DNS is hosted by Amazon Web Services; server hosting is with multiple providers, but it was never with GoDaddy.
  • Springshare owns almost 100 domains, all of them related to libraries and library software – we have big plans for the future and will be releasing a slew of exciting new software and services for libraries, so we wanted to reserve these domains ahead of time. As soon as the SOPA/PIPA debacle happened and GoDaddy stood on the wrong side, we moved 95% of our domains to another registrar, EXCEPT these 4  domains: springshare.com, libguides.com, libanswers.com, libanalytics.com.

    We decided to move these by the end of 2012 because we wanted to plan this move very carefully, without causing any downtime to these services. When a service is used by millions of people every day, one can’t just move domains on a whim, regardless of politics. Our users are more important than politics. So any transfer of critically important domains must be planned and executed carefully.

    These are the only reasons we still have (less than 5%) of our domains registered with GoDaddy – legacy reasons (from 2006/2007) and because we want to plan the move carefully. The move will happen before end of this year.

  • Last but not least, I’ve spent my entire professional career in and around libraries, the majority of our company consists of librarians (yes it’s true – that’s why we’re so awesome ;), not to mention the little-known fact that my mother is a librarian in my native country of Bosnia. Hence, both personally and professionally our ties to libraries run deep and everybody at Springshare stands with libraries and librarians on the issue of SOPA and PIPA.

Thank you, and let me know if I can provide any further clarification regarding this, I can be reached at slaven@springshare.com. In the meantime, we’re continuing to take steps to diagnose and resolve any issues regarding the LibGuides connectivity some clients experienced today. We’ll post an update here to ensure everybody knows what went on.

Best,
-Slaven Zivkovic
Chief Springy
Not a supporter of SOPA/PIPA