That downtime thing


Like a bazillion other people out there, I was slightly miffed at Tumblr’s outage a few days ago. Unlike them, I’m not going to go on about uptimes and the insanity of having your entire business offline for what is (in Internet terms) something like a psychological month’s worth, largely because I’m just along for the ride.

But there are three things I don’t like about Tumblr that make me wonder exactly what is going on behind the scenes:

  • The lack of SSL authentication by default (it works, but I had to manually add the ‘s’ on my bookmark), which borders on the criminally careless as far as caring for your users’ credentials is concerned.
  • The repeated micro-downtimes over a day (I once subscribed to a bunch of monitoring alert services when I was running my site atop a VPS, and after years of silence, all of them have become regular presences in my inbox).
  • The fact that the iPhone app is (or rather, has pretty much always been) broken, with likes, mobile posting and reblogs failing repeatedly (now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to reblog anything with it).

You’d expect these to not happen, period. Someone ought to have noticed by now, right?

I personally don’t care if they’re using CouchDB, Redis (or any decent distributed NoSQL) or if they’ve propped up their data storage with toothpicks and a bunch of MySQL clusters. I may have a pretty well defined set of opinions of how Tumblr could be implemented (you can sketch out most of the core features in a sheet of paper and put trendy names on boxes over lunch), but I’m not running their infrastructure and made it a point of hosting my blog here because I don’t want to care, so I’ll leave it to them to worry about.

But it drives home the point that I like Tumblr because it frees me from having to fix things myself, and that I’ve grown to like the ease with which I can just jot down a few notes in an e-mail and get it online (regardless of formatting limitations), and even more so where it concerns the oodles of free time that I now have to, you know, actually do stuff instead of tinkering with my own Wiki engine.

Which is why, of course, I’ve started porting Yaki to Cyclone (actually, I’m starting with Tornado, since I don’t want to mess with Twisted right away). I had a mind to redo it atop node, but a bunch of my colleagues are already rolling their own and Python is getting faster and faster (a V8 back-end would be just the thing, but I digress), so I’ll stick to the devil I know.

Will I ever migrate away from Tumblr? Yeah, sure. But it took me a long time to get Yaki going, and I have a long backlog of pet projects to go through yet, not to mention around zero actual time, so I’ll stick around for a good while.