Velocity Newsletter: January 19, 2012

Slow performance plagues a major newspaper's website. Old operations advice holds true.

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"Real men don’t use backups, they post their stuff on a public ftp server and let the rest of the world make copies."

—Linus Torvalds


Earlier this month, developer
Cosimo Streppone pulled his notes together to report on his time at Velocity Europe, held last fall in Berlin. Streppone captures a nice part of what makes the Velocity audience so unique. “One of the most frequent comments I heard was that people found my talk honest,” he says. “That is the single thing I appreciate the most, because that had been one of my goals since the start. To tell an honest and detailed story of how things went, without pretending to be the super awesome heroes that know everything and can fix anything in no time.”

That makes him a pretty super awesome hero in our book. Honestly.

The O’Reilly Media Velocity Team

Speed Reads

Fast Takes You Don’t Want to Miss

Built on Sand
O’Reilly online managing editor Mac Slocum recently grumbled: “The Washington Post doesn’t have an innovation problem. It’s got a web ops and performance problem.
I wasn’t expecting to see a Velocity connection in this interview with ombudsman Patrick Pexton, but that’s precisely what I found.”

Patrick Pexton

The WaPo is notorious for its slow downloads; readers in September wrote in comparing the relative speediness of porn site loads. Pexton naturally became vexed. He says, “I think No. 1 is the lack of progress at the Post in getting the Web site to download faster for readers. This has been, and is, such a technological challenge, that readers probably mistakenly blame the new innovations for that, when in fact it’s the technological infrastructure, and the tremendous addition of ad plug–ins, etc., that make the site slow to load.” What’s more, it’s been the subject of several news stories.

Google Corner

Do you keep up with the Google Code Blog? It’s not updated with fierce daily attention, but what is there when it’s there is worth a look. Also, Google’s quarterly online mag comes highly recommended, titled Speed—some even relevant to the Internet—and all of it is interesting.

We point you to a fascinating read from Velocity chair John Allspaw about cooperation and collaboration at Flickr. He writes: “While searching around for something else, I came across this note I sent in late 2009 to the executive leadership of Yahoo’s Engineering organization. This was when I was leaving Flickr to work at Etsy. My intent on sending it was to be open to the rest of Yahoo about how things worked at Flickr, and why.” Read on.

Etsy Etcetery


And speaking of high volume sales of homemade goods, the High Scalability Blog recently posted a talk by Ross Snyder, Senior Software Engineer at Etsy, titled The Etsy Saga: From Silos To Happy To Billions Of Pageviews A Month. High Scalability advises: “Ross gives a detailed and honest account of how Etsy went from a raw startup in 2005, to a startup struggling with their success in 2007, to the mean, handmade, super scaling, ops–driven machine they’ve become in 2011. 
There’s lots to learn from this illuminating story of transformation.”

Steve’s Speed

Have you seen, read, and memorized Steve Souders’ 14 Rules for Faster-Loading Web Sites? What are you waiting for!

Another helpful tip comes from Steve when browsing the Perfection Kills website. He points to a “great article about CSS performance optimizations,” titled Profiling CSS for fun and profit. Optimization notes in which kangax asks perhaps the ultimate question: “I could see by scrolling and animations that things are just not as quick as they should be. Was styling to blame?”


Brilliant Beijing

O’Reilly editor Mike Hendrickson reports
Mike Hendrickson

“Fast and reliable” can be elusive measurements for any web and enterprise developer. These concepts were the focus of the second Velocity China, held in Beijing Dec. 6–7. There was a noticeably different vibe this year. There seemed to be more questions being asked and more people looking for tips, tools, and ideas for speeding up Chinese networks.

There were developers from large Chinese companies and those representing more start-up types of companies. Regardless, the expectation was that this was the place for answers. During two days there were plenty of great talks that met the needs of the most demanding DevOps engineers in the world.

The Velocity wagon began rolling in Santa Clara early in 2011 and then moved to Berlin in November and Beijing in December. I think each event just got better and better as the talks delivered what each audience expected—and more.

Global Speed, Global Vision

Meet-ups and groups the world over

Meetup Groups

If you’re still looking for your perfect user group—or if you run a group and are looking for sponsors, resources, or help—drop a line to Marsee Henon, O’Reilly’s User Group Manager:

Guess the Color

End Zone

Dept. of Sneaking Stuff In

Pull My Finger
OK, it’s actually Guess the Color. Honey to the CSS/HTML obsessed.

Want More?

The Velocity website has a wealth of videos, photos, and speaker slides, while lively conversations continue via #velocityconf. As always, we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Please email us Don’t hesitate to speed this newsletter to friends who need to know about Velocity.

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In this Issue:

  • Linus Torvalds
  • Honest Talk
  • Speed Reads
  • Velocity–China
  • Global Speed, Global Vision
  • End Zone

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