As mentioned two days ago, the Mozilla organization, creator of Firefox, has been trying to gin up a world-wide effort to get as many people as possible to download the official version of Firefox 3 on its release day, June 17. And if users around the world hit the servers all at once, they could set a Guinness World Record for most downloads in a 24-hour span. Great!
So of course when the fun began about 12 hours ago, as the release files went up and users everywhere logged in -- the Mozilla servers promptly froze and crashed.
Let's see. You're a leading internet company, and you're drumming up action from all around the world for what you hope will be a simultaneous assault on your servers, maybe you should be prepared for... a huge surge in traffic?? Just a thought.
And, hmmm, why does this make me think of the Olympics?
Anyone who has observed the countdown to the Games in Beijing will know the answer: Much-heralded launch of online ticket sales, followed by immediate crash of ticketing system. Discreet announcement last week that, ahem, the bank-card and foreign-exchange systems might not be ready in time. I'm sure that will cause no inconvenience at all. (That was in the Asian Wall Street Journal on June 11, in an item by J.R. Wu; no longer see it on line. Update: link here and additional story here. ) Other logistics measures I'll mention separately soon -- all of course in the context of my recently professed and actually sincere fondness for most people I encounter in China.
On the brighter side:
1) Mozilla servers now up and humming once again. As I write, there's still about 12 hours to go in the attempt to set a 24-hour download record.
2) Firefox 3 really is good. I've used the Release Candidate versions long enough not to be worried about instabilities. Main nerd advantage: how much faster it is and how much less memory it uses than FF2. Main consumer advantages well explained here and here and here, with links for extra info.
3) If the Olympic parallel holds, then items #1 and #2 may augur well for the Games. More on this theme soon.
4) A bonus geopolitical point. No wonder it's so hard to negotiate with the North Koreans! When I last checked the world map of people planning to download, by country, roughly 300 people in North Korea had "pledged" to do so. And when I checked the map just now, a grand total of zero had followed through. What good are such promises? (Note for non-native speakers: just a little joke.) And, as of this moment, 102 people had downloaded it in Iraq -- versus more than 136,000 in Iran. Make of that what you will.