Monday, 8 March 2010

Premonitions of Ardencote

In my secret life as a racing driver I spend quite a lot of time in hotel rooms. I book the room over the Internet, turn up on the Friday and then leave on the Sunday. I never think anything of it. So it struck me as odd when I booked a weekend away with my girlfriend at possibly one of the poshest hotels I've ever stayed at (in England at least) and had a dream about not being allowed in because they didn't have space for us.

Not being the paranoid type, I nevertheless had a strong feeling that I should double-check my booking on the morning of our arrival. My instincts proved correct as it turned out the booking agent had never notified them of my reservation and, had I not phone up to check, we would've had to sleep in the car.

The lovely lady at the hotel was very apologetic, extremely friendly and took my details direct. She even honoured my request to give me email confirmation of our telephone exchange in case I turned up and they still hadn't booked us in. In return I was very accepting of her apology, told her that it wasn't a problem and I was looking forward to staying at their hotel and thanked her for her help.

You see although they were ultimately responsible for our failed booking, it was by no means their fault. If they didn't get a notification from a third party agent, how were they supposed to know? It would have been pretty harsh if I'd blamed them for their incompetence, which is why I was so polite and understanding in return. This brings me neatly onto the subject of our web servers.

You see sometimes computers crash. I hate it when that happens and when web servers go down it is doubly horrible because we have hundreds of people's businesses at stake – including our own! The problem is that we have no direct control over them because we have to keep them at a third party server farm where they are all kept in cryogenic freezers in high security buildings where all employees have to have palm-print scans and anal probes to access them.

When I'm at home or in the office I can access the server remotely and restart it. Sadly, when I'm sitting in the Ardencote hotel Jacuzzi sipping champagne enjoying a well deserved break, I don't have this luxury. Even when I'm in the office I'm limited in what I can do because sometimes the geniuses at the server farm have "power failures" which I'm pretty sure means one of the clumsy twerps has tripped over the cables and pulled the plug out of the back. Again, there is little we can do about this other than phone them up and pray that the technician didn't electrocute himself during the tumble and can put the plug back in.

So it's important to get the message across that we are always aware when the server goes down but there will be occasions when our response time might be slower due to circumstances beyond our control. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our nice customers who were patient when two of our servers went down on Saturday and ruined what was an otherwise good break for me. To those who are less understanding, you will be pleased to know that it appears I've started having premonitions so rest assured I'll be working on this new found ability in order to anticipate when the server is going to crash in future. Hopefully this will speed up response time and allow me to spend more time in the Jacuzzi.

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