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Site Down Service

The CurrCon Java Applet displays prices on this web page converted with today’s exchange rates into your local international currency, e.g. Euros, US dollars, Canadian dollars, British Pounds, Indian Rupees… CurrCon requires an up-to-date browser and Java version 1.8, preferably 1.8.0_131. If you can’t see the prices in your local currency, Troubleshoot. Use Firefox for best results.


This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

If you have a website, it will go down every so often. To your visitors, it will look as if you have been dragged off to Gitmo. They have no idea when you will be back up, if ever. They have no idea what the problem is. They have no idea where to look for mirrored sites.

The point of this project is to set up a backup website service, not that serves data, but that simply provides status information to tell visitors what has happened and the status of your efforts to get back on the air. Otherwise they may think you have died permanently and start removing links to you site.

How Does It Work

In the same way Montastic does, your program monitors the client’s site to see if it up. If it is not, it emails the webmaster (using an email address on a different server) asking what to do. The webmaster can then send a digitally signed message giving the ok to switch the website over to your server.

You then do the appropriate DNS (Domain Name Service) magic to have that domain directed to your server. Your server then responds to all page requests to that site with a standard web page (provided by the webmaster) that explains the problem and gives the latest ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) etc. It does not try to serve the same pages that the real server would. The webmaster can send more digitally signed emails to update the ETA and other status information on the web page. It might have a logo, links etc, whatever the customer wants.

When the site comes back up, hand the domain back to the proper server.

Ideally all this happens without any human intervention on your part. By Murphy’s law, outages happen at the most inconvenient time. You can also probably optionally arrange the process to be fully automated from the webmaster’s point of view too, controlled by rules.

Another service you might offer is remote reboot. If a site goes down, or some service on the site goes down, you detect it and restart, reboot, or tell the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to power down/restart that server. You would perhaps resell UPS units that your software worked with.

You might charge a nominal fee of $5.00 USD a month, or offer the service free, but charge $20.00 USD each time you had to activate it more than once a month. That might tempt large numbers of clients to sign up, since from their point of view it should be free. It costs you almost nothing to support a client. They fill in a form. You do nothing but send out a probe once an hour — a trivial load. Your clients all own their own domains, so are presumbly fairly technically competent. Those that can’t figure it out from your docs, you simply don’t take on.

For this to work, the webmaster must entrust you with important passwords. You need to work very hard not to betray that trust and to build your reputation. You can create variants where the webmaster does more work, but does not divulge private data. You give him software to make the job easy. Even then, he needs to trust you the program is not tattling.

Later you might get into related businesses — hot backup server, offsite backups, reliability planning.

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