The site is back, no significant data loss, but I have a few things to tidy up after a good night’s sleep (I’ve been occupied with this for 17 hours). I’ll also enable new reviews and comments again tomorrow.
More disk problems on the Carsurvey.org web server. It’s currently being rebuilt. Not sure if any data has been lost (last guaranteed backup was Monday). Updates when I know more.
Carsurvey.org is back in the land of the living, and appears to have suffered little to no data loss, despite a failure of the RAID controller card. As well as visually inspecting the site and database, I’ve run some comparison scripts against current and backup copies of the database, and the only differences I could spot are ones I’d expect from the passage of time, rather than missing or corrupt data.
Full marks to SoftLayer for dealing with this issue much better than The Planet did when I had a similar issue a few years back.
Apologies to everyone for the outage, and if anyone has lost any reviews or comments, I’m very sorry about that.
The server the site is hosted on is having filesystem problems, and someone is looking at right now. I’ve got a good full backup (I know it restores OK) from Monday, and managed to save some of the newer reviews first thing this morning, but I’m not hopeful about some of the very recent reviews and comments. I think I’m going to spending the rest of the day rebuilding things once whatever hardware failed is replaced.
Hopefully all will be back to normal later (probably much later) today.
Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Since it was created back in 1997, Carsurvey.org has organised reviews by the year of manufacture of the cars. This made sense for European cars, but not for North American cars, where model year is what matters. The site eventually started collecting model year information, but the site structure did not change, as it was difficult to come up with a consistent structure that would make sense on both sides of the Atlantic.
I’ve been aware for years that North American visitors were confused by the site structure, and I eventually came to the conclusion that it was better for the meaning of a year on Carsurvey.org to be inconsistent, depending on the region of the review.
For a North American review, the model year (where available) is used in preference to the year of manufacture. This isn’t the case for the rest of the world.
So a list of 2006 BMW 3 Series reviews will contain 2006 model year reviews from North America, and 2006 manufacture year reviews from elsewhere. Not quite the same thing, but for reviews from their own region, it should fit visitor’s assumptions, rather than trying to make them fit the site’s data model.
MotorcycleSurvey.com has also had similar changes made, but in that case, model year always takes priority over year of manufacture, regardless of region, as that reflects the way motorcycles are marketed.
A couple of days ago, Google announced they’d be releasing a lightweight operating system called Chrome OS in 2010. The Blogosphere has spent the last few days speculating on how Chrome OS will compare to Windows in a head to head fight, and whether it will take significant market share from Microsoft Windows in laptops and desktops. I think that’s missing a lot of the point. For what it’s worth, here’s my uninformed speculation.
- A small percentage of marketshare in either browsers or operating systems is still a big number of people. If Chrome OS gets 5% of the operating system market, and Google has say 200 people working on it, I bet that looks like a good investment.
- I’m often faced with casual computer users with old PC hardware. Windows is running like a dog on their system, and often they don’t have Windows restore media for a clean install. Many of these people just about accessing their email, Facebook and some online shopping, not video editing or photo editing. A web browser is enough for them. Currently their best option is Ubuntu (which is still quite heavyweight for old hardware), or some mini Linux distribution. These do work, but there are always some silly issues that spoil the experience. No doubt Chrome OS will have a cleaner interface, will be faster on old hardware, will be kept up-to-date without the user intervening (like the Chrome browser), and will be very secure. If old hardware is supported, it will be by far the best option for basic web users with old hardware.
- More and more people have secondary machines in their homes and offices, and while a web browser isn’t the only application they need on their main system, in many cases it’s more than enough on a secondary device, as long as the price reflects the limitations. Michael Arrington’s Crunchpad is a great example of a device that embraces this.
- In response to Linux netbooks, Microsoft have been selling Windows XP at a big discount to PC manufacturers, and have been quite liberal about the hardware specifications of this hardware. With Windows 7, it appeared that Microsoft wanted to tighten up the restrictions on netbooks, and sell the operating system at less of a discount. Chrome OS gives PC manufacturers a club to beat Microsoft with, and may well force Microsoft to discount Windows 7 for netbooks to a greater extent than they planned. I can’t see Google losing any sleep over this.
- The ARM compatibility of Chrome OS is a very big deal. ARM SoC (System on a Chip) are very efficient in terms of power, and are also very cheap. Sub £100 ($150) smartbooks (like netbooks, but not Intel based processors) suddenly look realistic. 1Gb of RAM, 4Gb of flash storage, combined with an ARM chip, is already a very cheap platform, and is only going to get cheaper over time.
- If you can have a modern fast web browser on very cheap and efficient ARM processor, why not embed them in lots more devices, many of which already contain processors and RAM. Manufacturers could very cheaply add Chrome OS to a TV, a PVR, a games console, or a monitor. Spend an extra £20 ($30) on a monitor or TV and get Google Chrome OS builtin. The Nintendo Wii has an optional Opera browser, which is passable, but hardly a great experience, and it presumably wasn’t cheap to develop. Instead, just add a couple of cheap chips and you get a good web experience from Google, with the added bonus that Google look after all the updates and security.
In summary, I think Google aren’t going for Windows or Mac OS X head on, but just want more machines out there running Google friendly modern browsers at a low cost. In many ways, Chrome OS reminds me of Microsoft’s plans for Windows CE a decade ago. CE never really made much progress beyond Windows Mobile devices, but in this new world where the web browser is king, perhaps Chrome OS will have more success.
Upgraded from an iPhone 3G (OS 3.0) a few days ago, which I’d been very pleased with for the whole year I had it. Paid for the 3G S in full, as I wasn’t due an upgrade from O2.
Like many other reviewers, I’m simultaneously impressed and underwhelmed. In the end it looks and feels like an iPhone 3G, but it also comes with some very useful improvements.
The video and camera auto focus are very nice additions. The video is roughly the same quality as a Flip Ultra, although I don’t think the microphone has quite the same range as a Flip (haven’t done a side by side test though). It’s going to do a good job of capturing social or family events, where a proper camcorder would be overkill.
The photos are a big improvement over the 3G (I did a side by side test for comparison purposes); much sharper, and the touch controls for focus/exposure are brilliant.
The speed isn’t a big deal on simple apps, but it’s night and day on 3D or data heavy apps apps. Google Earth, Evernote, and Spotlight are completely transformed. Safari is noticeably faster too.
Often with the 3G, the phone would stutter occasionally as it was presumably running some background task while dealing with your input, and that’s much less frequent on the 3G S.
App load times are much better too – 1/2 to 1/3 of the old time. Obviously you notice this more on the bigger apps. 3D games also run significantly better.
The compass is nice, but so far it’s just a novelty. Hopefully some 3rd party apps will start to make good use of it soon.
Basically, it’s an upgrade for power users, but probably a waste of time for most 3G users (at least at £200-300 for the upgrade). The harder you push the phone, the bigger the difference in performance. Hopefully this will bode well for future apps.
For new contracts, the choice is easy; the 3GS (16Gb or 32Gb) is a much better deal than the 8Gb 3G, despite the 3G’s lower price.
As Google now supports microformats, I’ve added hReview support to all the CSDO Media sites, including Carsurvey.org and the airline review pages. Whilst visitors with normal web browsers won’t notice any changes, the reviews are now much easier for computers and search engines to understand and manipulate.
In case anyone else is looking to do something similar, I found the Optimus microformats transformer to be very useful for checking that my hReview markup was valid.
Questions, complaints about Carsurvey.org? Ask away in the comments.
Following a recent experiment with FeedbackArmy, I’ve removed the tabs on Carsurvey.org. They seemed like a good idea when I introduced them, but ultimately they were just confusing and a waste of space.
As a consequence, the links to the other CSDO Media sites have been moved into the page footer, and the search box has moved from the top left of the page to the top right.
I’ve also added the IE8 meta tag, to make sure Carsurvey.org behaves nicely when Microsoft release their latest browser in a few months time.