On Monday __Edit: July 5th, at 8:00pm Pacific Time__, the BookFinder.com site will go down for scheduled maintenance and hardware upgrades. The site should be down for no more than 2 hours.
I've found a really good IT consulting company and we'll be working together to upgrade and maintain the server room. Our first batch of new parts and upgrades just came in, and I'm excited about getting them installed, and doing even more cleanup of the server room.
__Edit: New downtime hours__
[Now reading: The Japanese Discovery of Europe by Donald Keene]
Posted by Charlie
BookFinder.com was down from early this morning until late this afternoon. I really apologize about the situation.
I've learned a lot about running a server farm for an Internet business; most of it has been on the job. I've learned about redundancy, hot spares, fault-tolerance -- all the things that keep a site running even if some components fail. Over the years I've tried to make BookFinder.com as fault-tolerant as possible, but today it hasn't been enough.
It took me the better part of a day to track down the problem. It turns out that two shorts, one in a computer's power supply, and another in a power strip, caused the whole circuit to go down, and our backup power supplies did not handle the load. While I had the servers down, I used the opportunity to do some maintenance, and upgrade some hardware (jobs I had been putting off since they involve shutting down the site). BookFinder.com should be back up now and the infrastructure (which nobody notices until it goes down) should be better than before.
The site has grown a lot, and it's been getting harder and harder for one person to manage the hardware. I'm in the process of getting a person to help me with the server room, someone whose task it is to think about, maintain, and be proactive about managing our hardware. BookFinder.com will be much more stable with this support in place.
Once again, I'm really sorry.
[Now reading: A Modern History of Japan by James L. McClain]
Posted by Charlie
Today Anirvan and I had the great pleasure of meeting Anne Fadiman. She gave a reading at Mrs. Dalloway's, the bookstore where Anirvan and I met, many years ago, when the store was called something else, I was a bookseller, and Anirvan was a frequent customer.
Anne Fadiman's name and her book Ex Libris are evoked on a nearly daily basis in the BookFinder.com office, often multiple times in a single day. We all find ourselves running frequent test searches, and rather than pause a few seconds each time to come up with an author and title (this becomes tedious surprisingly quickly), we each have our own favorite fall-back search. Mine is Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman. I would guess that I have typed the name "Anne Fadiman" into the BookFinder.com search form about ten times a week for the past seven years. That's over 3500 searches. I wanted to meet this woman! And now I have. The next 3500 times I run the search, I'll be able to think back to this afternoon.
After reading from her new book At Large and At Small, Ms. Fadiman answered questions from the audience. The questions tended to be along the lines of "How do you do what you do?" The research involved in writing a book, we were told, is a lot like the process of making maple syrup: you need to start out with at least 40 gallons of sap in order to end up with a gallon of good syrup. I'm pretty sure I never start out with enough sap, and I know I never boil it down enough. If I keep reading Anne Fadiman, maybe I'll get better.
(Charlie met us after the reading, and treated Anirvan and me to lunch. That Charlie!)
[Now reading At Large and At Small by Anne Fadiman]
Posted by Wendy
All traditional 10-digit ISBNs can be represented in a 13-digit form, by prepending 978 and recalculating the last digit:
0007149824 -> 9780007149827
Conversely, You can work back from any 978-prefixed 13-digit ISBN back the the 10-digit ISBN, by removing the 978 and recalculating the last digit:
9780007149827 -> 0007149824
But 13-digit ISBNs that start with other numbers, like 979, can’t be converted back down to 10 digits:
9790007149827 -> ?
The first 13-digit ISBNs on the market have been 978s, easily convertible back to 10 digits. This made it easy for many businesses to get started dealing with 13-digit ISBNs; they could just rewrite them as 10-digit ISBNs and keep going.
But with the introduction of 979s, there are no shortcuts anymore. Publishers, booksellers, distributors, libraries, collectors — anyone at all who uses ISBN codes — will need to be able to accommodate the new 13-digit ISBN. The transition’s taken much longer than initially planned; it’ll be interesting to see if it’ll be pushed back even further as 2008 approaches, as it’s been before.