Parchment Post curates the work of diverse designers and illustrators to deliver high-end greeting cards and stationery to subscribers’ mailboxes. We constructed their beautifully simple site based on Darling Studio‘s elegant layouts, and provided basic training to the Parchment Pressers on operating, editing, and updating it.
Well-known commercial illustrator/designer Von Glitschka is a longtime client and occasional collaborator of Utopian.net. Von and freelancing friends Dickie Adams and Kristen Fischer gather every couple of weeks to record a new edition of The Freelance Radio Show, a podcast “dedicated to helping self-employed professionals and contractors navigate the ups and downs of being in business for themselves.”
We helped the show with a light theme customization and hosting, opening the new digs for business in February, 2011. Tune in for wisdom, tips, and advice of, by, and for seasoned freelance creatives twice every month.
Yorkshire’s Beth Nicholls is a creative adventurer, and in her e-courses she delivers “tools and inspiration to help you do what you love, for life.” Utopian.net built the architecture and code to implement another Darling visual design for Beth’s Do What You Love for Life e-courses, including the surrounding site, social features, and simple authentication for enrollees.
Character modeler Chad Colebank launched a new site for his Tweeterhead sales & news in late 2010. Utopian.net built the content framework based on a design by Darling Studio, incorporating newsletter subscriptions and other social features. Tweeterhead offers character models from the sexy to the stunning to the scary.
The visual concept presented to us by Christine Mason Miller and Darling Design for Christine’s renovated personal site was a fun challenge to work into a WordPress base that lets Christine keep us all up to date on her creative life and passionate pursuits. Utopian.net delivered this project and launched Christine’s new site in the second half of 2010.
Magazine, event, and wedding photographers Iris Photography sought a look-and-feel rebuild for their portfolio site as well as a streamlined content management backend so they could update more easily. We constructed a custom theme based on the crisp template provided by collaborator Darling Design, integrated plugins and software to add features and functions to the new site, and delivered the finished product early in September 2010.
Chosen as the picture-snappers for TIME Magazine’s Most Influential 100 Gala and official portraits for the 2010 New York Mets, Iris has plenty to show off, and a site built to do just that.
The Late Troubles
Today one of the data centers where Utopian.net server hardware resides (or is “colocated”) was plagued by a cascade of upstream network failures, causing several of the sites we host to be unavailable in turn. It is cold comfort that this wasn’t exactly server downtime: Servers were effectively disconnected from the Internet, but continued to function normally, albeit uselessly.
The colocation provider is connected over multiple redundant links, but in a twist today a deranged router at one access point morally corrupted alternate links as well. This caused far too many of the web sites we host to be sporadically gone fishin’ between roughly 10 AM and 3 PM, PDT. Today’s localized network failure disconnected 70 or 100 of our clients’ web sites, along with hampering several rather larger providers along the West coast. It did not deter email delivery or other network services for any client domains.
The direct cause has been remedied, and service across our network is mostly normal at the time of this writing (which, viz.), as it has been since at least late afternoon. Minor issues, expected to have a duration of only a few seconds, may yet occur during the next 24 hours.
We apologize for today’s interruption, and pass along the assurance that the colocation host is working with backbone access providers to investigate this scenario and ensure it does not happen again.
The Old Troubles
I will also take this unwelcome opportunity to apologize for and report on unrelated trouble with a hosting server early this month, roughly between March 8th and 10th. An overly optimistic software configuration confronted a series of traffic spikes, and failed. Once or twice spectacularly, and then with some subtlety once or twice more, for good measure. We have, so far, returned service to normal at the server most affected, and continue to closely monitor its performance.
In like a lion, out like a… well, lion. March begins and ends with unacceptable outages, but we’re working constantly on our own services and systems, as well as with our upstream providers, to return to the high availability that has always characterized these facilities.
We’ll be writing about better news in this spot soon (at least by April!), catching up on highlight projects from 2010′s end and filling you in on the new stuff we’re up to now. Stay tuned.