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Joel on Software

06

by Joel Spolsky
Thursday, November 06, 2003

Two questions and a font

Question one, for you telecom mavens out there. If you buy DSL service in New York from Covad, aren't they just going to get Verizon to install the actual DSL circuit? If so... why is it cheaper to get it from Covad?

Yes, we seem to be in the market for a new DSL provider. And I'm tired of playing the blame game where your DSL provider blames everything on Verizon and Verizon blames everything on the DSL provider, so I'd be willing to pay the monopoly tax if it meant when our DSL went down there was nobody left to blame. If you know whether Covad uses Verizon, post an answer here.

Question two, for you reliable SQL Server mavens out there. Suppose I wanted to build a Win2K-based web service using SQL Server to store the data. But I'm a reliability nut. So obviously I'll use industrial strength servers with RAID, two power supplies and network cards, etc, and they'll live in secure colocation facilities.

To further minimize failure points, I'll have a hot backup. But the twist is that I figured as long as I'm paying for a hot backup, it would be more reliable if it was somewhere else, say, on the other coast.

So here's the plan I'm working on. Server A in New York, with IIS and SQL Server. Server B in Vancouver, with IIS and SQL Server. Server A is somehow "writing through" any database changes to server B. I know I can do this with transaction log shipping; is this a good way to do it? Is there a better way?

Then if Server A blows up, I simply ask my ISP to route the packets intended for Server A to Server B. (I assume they can do this if it's their backbone).

What do you think of this scheme?

Might I please kindly request in advance that you do not suggest using Linux instead of Windows 2003. Yes, I concede that Linux is "more secure," but not when I'm the one pushing the buttons. Last time a flaw was discovered in Windows, it took me two clicks to patch it. Last time a flaw was discovered in SSH, it took me four hours of compiling and messing around to patch it. I apologize but I don't have the skilz to keep a Linux box secure, so please, let's talk about how to make this particular configuration reliable, not about whether Linux is a better OS than Windows. Or, actually, if you do want to talk about whether Linux is more secure than Windows, do so here.

And a font

Back in the days when I did Mac development (System 6) the biggest monitors available for the Mac were maybe 9", and the only way to see a reasonable amount of code on screen was to use a tiny font. Now that I have two 18" LCD panels, the only way to see a reasonable amount of code on screen is to use a tiny font. The world is awash in lovely TrueType fonts but none of them are monospaced, which is a nuisance for programming because things which should line up won't.

Fortunately, I have found ProFont, and all is well again. For best results use the FON version, not the TTF version.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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