Design

Downtime – Uptime

Some of you may have noticed that there was a hosting issue last week and sites were offline, clearly this is upsetting.

A Bit of History

When I first started working on websites in the mid 1990s I had a small server in a business centre in Batley, West Yorkshire. It was a ropey old desktop machine that sat with a few others in a server cupboard, most of the time it was fine but occasionally it crashed late on a Friday and was only re-booted on the following Monday morning. This meant that I was unable to access the sites or work on them over the weekend.

Sometimes though when in the centre I went into the server room just to look at it; sad but true. Since that era things have moved on greatly.

Our Hosts

We currently host with a UK based company, the choice was based on a number of considerations with reliability high on the list. DesignCredo don’t view hosting as a revenue earner, it is sold on pretty much at cost. We have previously been reassured by proactive internet security endeavours by the company and have found the ongoing service to be very good.

That said last week they had problems. Basically a power loss took the websites offline for a period of time. So, from the hosts themselves this is what happened last week:

Our UK-based data centre facility is one of the most efficient and resilient data centres in Europe. We carry out tests on a regular basis and test our generators every weekend to make sure that everything is in order. Additionally, we have expert technicians staffing our data centre 24/7, every day of the year. We have also have two UPS systems serving each data centre hall.

So, what happened?
On Wednesday, one of datacentre halls suffered a power loss which affected the facility for less than 9 minutes.
Each data centre hall has two UPS (uninterruptable power supplies) which feed into a LTM (load transfer module), which manages the feed of power from the UPS to the datacentre hall, where your servers are housed.
This piece of hardware automatically switches the power between the two external supplies, should one fail. This is part of our redundancy commitment to you.
The LTM showed a fault on the primary power supply and was running on its backup. Our teams followed the guidelines and contacted the manufacturer and an expert in this piece of hardware was sent to our facility to investigate and fix.
The fault code indicated that there was a problem with the voltage monitor. As a safety procedure, this automatically shuts down primary power, even though the power supply itself is likely fine.
The engineer on site assisted with the fitting of the replacement part. The procedure was then followed to turn off the already disabled switch and to change the part safely. Unfortunately, a safety mechanism in the device triggered incorrectly, which led to the data centre losing power.

The sites went offline mid-afternoon and were mostly returned by late afternoon the same day, we monitored the progress closely. Unfortunately just one of our sites, this one, remained offline for an extended period of time; it is hosted on one of four servers (out of several hundred) that would appear to have suffered physical damage as a result of the above.

Of course this was very frustrating. The hosts maintained good communications throughout the process but inevitably there is always going to be an element of unknown with issues such as this.

What About Other Provisions?

Last year a client who has their site hosted with a different company experienced a failure. Once we located the issue, something totally out of our control, and realised it wasn’t fixable on their host’s server we migrated the site to our own more flexible hosting provision as a temporary ‘home’ whilst a long term solution was found; the site has now been returned to their own host.

Had the site been on our host we would have been able to instigate a temporary fix immediately. However I wouldn’t use this as an excuse to say that the other host isn’t anything other than very good.

Why Didn’t We Do This For Our Own Site?

Last week once it was apparent that our Design Credo site was to endure an extended outage a backup of the site was indeed loaded to a different server (here) but we decided not to fully migrate it. Rest assured if this had been a client’s site we would have had it back and running very quickly. There were a number of reasons for not making the switch for us.

Unfortunately technology isn’t perfect, even Amazon was offline for an hour or so last week. Inevitably when issues such as this happen (ditto road works and Police investigating RTAs) Social Media Heroes have a good old rant, I guess it makes them feel good.

Of course there is a bit of me that feels annoyed, it’s something I can’t control. However through the years I have learned to be pragmatic, I have utter faith in the endeavours of the hosting company last week and I remind myself that whoever one hosts with we all pay a similar amount which roughly equates to the cost of a loaf of bread per week. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for improvement and perfection but I genuinely believe that we get a lot of communications for our money with web-hosting.

So, What Did We Do Whilst Our Site Was Down?

Friday morning we had a meeting with a client to discuss a website proposal. Friday afternoon we had purchased the domain and an hour later we had a basic website hosted on the servers that had now been restored to full service. Monday morning the client was presented with a fully operational site, I can’t show it to you yet, and that makes me really frustrated!

This was the feedback:

We both love it! ( as an aside I’m hoping to get ****** to go for a website too…)

Google+ Business page for Turner Locker Barnfield

Not a massive job in the scheme of things but it is surprising how many people have some sort of Google presence and don’t even fill their profile in. In truth this is something that can be done fairly easily but, having the various assets, files and brand elements to hand as we do here, makes it easier to do the job right and it won’t break the bank to get us to do it.

Through the years developing the Turner Locker Barnfield brand has been an gentle and ongoing process. The main visual presence is of course the sign boards and property flags that are seen all around Exeter. However it is important to present well online well as in the street.

Sometimes companies can dress down a little for social media, as in the TLB Facebook page, where there is a bit of fun added to the branded header.

The ‘social’ family has now grown a little with the new Google page. At the moment there is a bit of a focus on the upcoming Turner Locker Barnfield Revival and that in a way is the beauty of social, it communicates a wider story and has the ability to change from week to week.

Once set up the page is pretty easy to integrate with the other online avenues that TLB explore, in particular their WordPress based site posts can be shared quickly from the site.

It’s early days but the page will doubtless grow and develop.

Hazelwood Holiday Park – Signage

Exeter based Design Credo recently got to photograph some of the updates going on at Hazelwood Holiday Park and to be honest it was genuinely pleasing.

Some time ago we proposed an update to the general signage around the park and already a huge transformation can be seen. Instead of going the traditional route of fabric flags which weather poorly we proposed bespoke metal banners on stainless steel poles. Further to this the building mounted signage has been rationalised and simplified giving a stronger but more friendly brand appeal.

This is part of an ongoing programme including photography and an updated website.

The wider story to this project can be found here.

New Digital Property Brochure for Exeter’s Forum

Design Credo have designed a new brochure for Exeter’s Forum city centre offices. Working to Exeter commercial property agencies Turner Locker Barnfield and Stratton Creber on behalf of Palace Capital the new brochure celebrates the refurbished facilities as well as the proximity to Exeter’s vibrant city centre.

Supported by new photographs by Andrew Butler the PDF has integrated links to location maps, floor plans and EPCs as well as the agents’ websites.

Click here to view the document.

Christmas Card Time

It’s that time of the year. I said I wasn’t going to do it (forcefully too) and then I went and did it. Yep, Christmas cards, and made I them myself too, with a bit of help from Stormpress that is.

Well, the story was Mark asked me to pop in and take some photos of when the Velo Vinatge crew hit Barnfield Crescent couple of weeks back. The light had all but gone so unusually (for me) one of the Nikon SB 910s came to the rescue and then Emily, a visitor to these parts, ‘created the moment’. Once I saw the image I had to eat my words (well I’d already had a pie) and do the card.

The difficult part was finding out who the subject was, it seemed rude not to ask permission, but Emily seemed happy enough and even asked me to send her a few.

The process was all Creative Cloud based – Lightroom > Photoshop > InDesign > PDF and a quick email to Stormpress, I reckon it took Tristan 2 hours to have them printed, packed and supplied with envelopes too.

It turn’s out they would have printed the mailing labels as well but no, we love spending the weekend delving into the intricacies of Filemaker templates. Lifelong learning folks.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

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Greenwood Guitars and Violins – WordPress Website

Some time ago we were teased with a post about a guitar shoot by Andrew Butler. Well the images are now up and the site is in testing phase.

Working for Greenwood Guitars and Violins of Looe, Cornwall, Design Credo of Exeter have created a new WordPress website .

Design Credo of were approached to create the website following a glowing recommendation from Kevils the Paignton based BMW bike custom shop.

Really happy with the site and I also wanted to thank you for all the hard work and effort you put into it for me; it’s definitely put us on the world stage. Kev-Hill

 

The GGV guitars were shot with the Nikon D800e using a very simple lighting setup. The time frame to photograph the guitars was limited due to them being shown in a number of outlets in the south.

The guitars are all high quality finely crafted and totally hand-built in the UK using traditional techniques.