Our Technical Difficulties This Morning

By  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 11:55 pm

For the past few Apple product launches–and other events such as Google’s recent Nexus One phone rollout–I’ve been providing real-time coverage using a free service called CoverItLive. Folks often tell me that Technologizer’s live coverage is swifter than that of larger sites, and I’m quick to give CoverItLive full credit–it’s proven a really good way to post live updates (and photos) with as little delay as possible.

I’ve thought of the service as a secret weapon–but today, it wasn’t a secret at all. The Yerba Buena Center, where Apple held its event, was dense with journalists. A meaningful percentage were liveblogging the news. And a meaningful percentage of those were using CoverItLive, including some great big sites.

CoverItLive couldn’t keep up. A few minutes after Steve Jobs took the stage, I found that my updates were appearing on the site only after a lengthy, atypical delay. Then I couldn’t get into CoverItLive at all. It wasn’t clear at first what was going on–Verizon coverage was unusually iffy–but it eventually became clear that CoverItLive had croaked under the weight of multiple livebloggers and untold numbers of viewers. (We had thousands at Technologizer alone)

Part way into the morning’s proceedings, CoverItLive snapped back to life, and it worked well for the remainder of the event. My thanks to everyone who hung around until we were back in action, and I apologize to everyone who stopped by and found the liveblogging had stalled, or who weren’t able to get into CoverItLive at all. The service has proven remarkably robust in the past, but I’ll have a backup plan in place next time around.

Oh, and here’s a note I received this afternoon from Keith McSpurren, president of CoverItLive:


Needless to say, we failed you and our users today.  I take the early support you threw behind CiL very seriously and it’s a very personal issue for me when I let someone like you down.

We did everything we could to prepare for this and had monitoring set up at amazon and rackspace.  In the end, we screwed it up on a few servers as we started to double the capacity versus the last one of these.

Thanks for throwing one of the few positive tweets our way.


McSpurren also told me that the company’s working on strategies to prevent widespread problems in the future, such as walling off each user so that overload in one event doesn’t overflow into others. There’s so much that’s good about CoverItLive that I hope the service is indeed able to make today’s meltdown a one-time affair…



5 Comments For This Post

  1. Ben Ayers Says:

    Harry, we’ve been using Cover it Live for live chat and blogging around some of our big ITV shows. We’ve had tens of thousands on sometimes and have generally been impressed by CIL’s ability to cope. We’ve had the odd moment when the load has caused a drag but that’s usually when our events coincide with something big across the pond (I’m guessing). Considering that the tool is free, it’s pretty good. And I’m not surprised that Keith sent you a personal note – he’s really hands on and cares a lot about his ace product and those of us lucky enough to have discovered it.

  2. Thomas Traub Says:

    Since You had the links of some other live coverages no harm was done, in fact, You offered me the possibility to comfortably compare and choose (iLounge, in the end), which requires some guts, so next time You’re of course the first stop …

    Just a shame that I missed You’re report.

  3. Dale Larson Says:

    It sounds like their fail may have been worse than you realized: I tried several times, including after you twittered that you were back up, but I always got a message that the event was at capacity. So I wasn’t ever able to tune in to your coverage at all.

    Of course, even Engadget was having problems loading pages for their live coverage at time with the amount of traffic folks were seeing yesterday.

  4. heulenwolf Says:

    Ditto on the “at capacity” message. I got in at first but it stalled before the event started. I did notice the apparent lag in the posts showing up. After Harry’s tweet that the liveblog was running again, I couldn’t get back in. I guess, like the song says (or should), “scaling up is hard to do.”

  5. Dave Mackey Says:

    The difficulties you and others had with coveritlive.com only heightened my awareness of the product – it sounds like just the thing I’m going to be needing for two big events in February that I’m covering on my sites.

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