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Lightening strike

The perils of hosting in the Cloud

Dear readers

We’ve had a bit of a horrendous week so far. Our eCommerce engine, the software gubbins that runs our online shop lives in the “Cloud”. This bit of “Cloud” is owned by Amazon and is their European Data Centre, based in Dublin Ireland. Apparently it is huge (we’ve never seen it, bit think it is a big shed of some sort). Anyway on Sunday a nearby transformer (not from the movie) got hit by lightening and exploded and caught fire cutting the power supply to both Microsoft’s and Amazon’s Data Centres.

Amazon Web Services

For some reason that is too complicated for me to be even interested in Amazon’s generators didn’t work so all the hundreds of thousands of servers living in the shed switched themselves off in a huff. Apparently servers switching themselves off in a huff makes techie people have sharp intakes of breath.

So it took clever electricity people and Amazon people a 4 to 5 hours to restore power to the Datecentre. Then they started switching on the servers so customers could restart their applications. However some of the servers that switched themselves off in a huff were grumpy and did not want to play (including hours). (The technical term for this is “corrupt”). Amazon told our eCommerce partner (a different company) to leave it with them and they’d try to jolly the servers along.

Over 24 hours later Amazon contacted our eCommerce partner and told them the servers couldn’t be jollied along and needed the equivalent of a visit to The Priory for a full detox and series of spa sessions to restore them to full vigor. (I’m paraphrasing madly here because the techie explanation is just too exciting).

Upon arrival at the Spa all the servers were booked in and ready for their treatments. It then transpired that the all the treatment lotions were rancid. They were rancid because the spa had mistakenly started adding extra ingredients to the lotions and so they couldn’t be used. Now these lotions are uniquely formulated for each customer (server) and absolutely essential for the successful treatment of general dishevelment and grumpiness in servers.

There was only one thing to be done. New batches of lotion would have to be made by hand from a fiddly set of ingredients. This process takes a very long time. Days in fact. It nearly 2 days to make the batches of lotion and treat the grumpy servers, before they could be pressed back into service.

The effect on us has been traumatic. We’ve consumed quantities of cake, tea and alcohol, even a bottle of Grandmothers Sherry has come under threat of consumption.

So what’s the lesson? Well for us it is still that the Cloud is good, it is the inevitable future for provision of technical services. When it’s on song it is excellent. However the caveat is that support systems and emergency plans need to be so much better because the consequences of a failure on this scale are enormous and correspondingly very difficult and time consuming to recover from.

Ironically Amazon experienced a similar failure in the US in April, clearly they didn’t learn anything from it. So come on Mr Jeff Bezos, take your head out of your kindle ebook thingy, get your DataCentre emergency systems sorted out because businesses like ours that depend on the service you provide and need it to work reliably, plain and simple. You are no longer just selling books, you are playing with the economy and peoples’ livelihoods.

This does not take away from the efforts of the people on the ground at Amazon and at our eCommerce partner who worked tirelessly over the last 3 days to restore service. They kept us informed and while that is important and useful it does hide the fact that 3 days of “no existence” for any business is not good business.

Our site providing designer fashion for plus size ladies is live once again don’t forget our 50% off summer sale is still running so come along and have a browse!

Thanks for your patience and we are really sorry our store has not been available to you over the last 3 days.

Joanna Davis

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Help us Save the boobies of the world!

This is the engaging tag line of a friend of Vida Moda’s who is organising a charity event tomorrow night July 15th, 7.30pm in Huntingdon to raise money for the fight against Breast Cancer. Hazel Cotterll has been working tirelessly with colleagues from Huntingdons Rotaract Club to organise the event, sell tickets and find sponsorship, no mean task to fit in with her normally busy day! Hazell is hoping to raise £2,000 for the BreakThrough BreastCancer Charity

Breast Cancer as we all know is devastating illness for individuals and their families and is indiscriminate in the age ranges it affects. So if you are in Huntingdonshire or a neighbouring county, village or town and feel like a good night out then get in touch with Hazell and buy a ticket. Tickets are only £10 and she has a fun evening lined up. You can contact Hazel on twitter @HazelLCottrell to talk to her about purchasing tickets or you can look at the facebook page for the event for more details.

At the beginning of July we were in Cambridge shopping and it was Race for Life day in Cambridge. The number of ladies participating in the event was amazing, all generations were represented, often in family groups, grandmothers through to Granddaughters. The were all in pink and there were thousands in the race. It was very inspiring and made us marvel at the power of a collective of people to change something. So while we have our erstwhile politicians grubbing around in the dirt with the powers that be in the media over goulish phone hacking we’ve got real people on the ground taking action and working together to effect change to benefit millions.

Which is more important and more worthwhile?

In our mind the answer is the ordinary person in the street working to do something positive to benefit others. So full marks to Hazel and her colleagues at Hunts Rotaract for organising tomorrows event. We are pleased to be able to sponsor Hazel’s event in a small way with some prizes for the raffle. If you can go tomorrow night then please contact Hazel and support her efforts.

Joanna & Philip (Vida Moda)

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Write a guest post for us

Calling Bloggers – guest post slots available on our blog

Our blog is about women, their empowerment, their achievements and successes, their lives and of course plus size fashion and related issues. That’s quite a range of topics and we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to write a guest post on our blog. For your post to be considered it must be related to one of the above topics. We’ll publish one post per week and feature it on Twitter and Facebook. We want to hear from you. Tell us your story of success in business, life or helping others. Perhaps there is something that is special about your business or activity that promotes or empowers women and celebrates their achievements, we’d love to hear about it. In return we may wish to be allowed to write a guest post for you blog.

We are focused on finding the best designer clothes for larger women who deserve to look and feel good. So we’ll give give special consideration to posts related to this area. We know there are lots of talented and successful ladies out there running their own business and supporting families as well, we don’t know how some of you cope with demands of both, because neither is easy!

There is an enviable positive spirit amongst the women we listen to on Twitter each day and it’s very inspiring. We wrote a blog post a few days ago about inspiration in general and we’d really love to share more examples of women doing well.

So leave a comment if you’d like to participate or contact us now on Twitter or on Facebook to let us know what you’d like to say.

If you want to see what we are offering our customers please browse our online shop or read some of our other blog posts to understand more about us.Write a guest post for us

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The joy of thanks and the benefits it brings

Today was an interesting day for me. It culminated in four people recommending me on twitter for providing them with a small amount of knowledge in relation to something they had a problem with or were working on. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise particularly as they all recommended me at almost the same time simply because I helped them out in a small way.

It really brought home to me what a wonderful thing social media can be. It is instantaneous and reactions flow freely, sometimes they are positive and sometimes negative. People who use social media in a positive way stand to benefit massively, and I think the benefit works in different ways. Obviously the recipient of a recommendation or thanks feels appreciated and you do get a glow from helping someone. Equally the person providing the recommendation feels good about making a positive recommendation about someone who has added value to their day. Both parties end up with a small enhancement to their online reputation because one is recognised as a contributor and the other is seen to publish a genuine recommendation. When that happens it’s very powerful.

For example it goes beyond the realms of #FollowFriday recommendations. It is not enough just to list people as #ff you need to give a reason for doing so, to add value both to the individual you are recommending and to yourself. I rarely do #FollowFridays but when I do them I do one per tweet and I give a clear reason why I’m recommending the individual, that’s what we do in real conversation isn’t it?

Consider how a #FollowFriday or #ff could play out in the physical world. The two physical equivalents of the myriad of #ff that we see could be

A: To go and stand in the middle of the road, like a town crier and yell “Follow Friday” at the top of your voice and then proceed to list the names of your top 20 twitter friends. Will anyone notice? perhaps not, other than to think you are a little odd. Will they whip a notebook and write down the names you’ve called out? I doubt it :-)


B: You you could be at some social gathering or networking event in conversation with different people, at some point you are guaranteed to recommend someone you know who is good at something that might benefit one of the people you are talking to. Will they take listen and take note? I think so.

Which of the two approaches is more valuable?

I think B is more valuable, its personal, its well qualified and it is genuinely delivered. The beauty of it is that if you apply this approach properly it in the Twitter world lots of people will see it and possibly benefit from it as you may unwittingly provide them with some help. In turn both of your online reputations will certainly benefit from this as described above. In the physical world the people immediately impacted by the recommendation will benefit and word might spread some way but there is a time lag and the reach of the recommendation is short. Online it’s a different story, the spread of a good recommendation is instant and that potentially has more impact, it might not last as long but it will be visible to more people in a short time.

So readers perhaps you can think about how you recommend someone and give a clear reason, after all you want them to benefit, don’t you? If so it’s worth doing well and you will also be seen in a positive light.

So thanks to @hr_katherine @AnnHawkins @Lindsay_Abbott and @arillustrate for their kind words today and as a result being the inspiration for this post :-)

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