RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Jul 24, 2010

Update: 07/30/2010: Google Gadgets for Spreadsheets are now working on HTML pages after being down for ten days. Today, the fix works for newly published gadgets, but legacy gadgets are still broken. I have a manageable number of pages that I maintain, so I’m satisfied with this workaround, but there are some folks on the forum who are less accommodating.


As a small business owner, I use technology for competitive advantage. I’ve bought-into the concept of cloud computing, and as such, I’ve built parts of my business around cloud-based tools. It’s also no secret that some of my favorite tools come from Google.

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Google Docs to help illustrate how Social Media activities can be measured, tracked, and analyzed. By combining Google Spreadsheets, Google Gadgets, and a little HTML, my Social Media Dashboard offers an at-a-glance view of my client’s social media efforts. Here’ s a screen-shot of what my dashboard should look like:

Unfortunately, it hasn’t looked that way since last Tuesday morning, when I noticed that Google Gadgets stopped working. Today, my dashboard now looks like this:

I first noticed the problem while calling it up live in front of a business prospect. Having just talked-up the use of these great tools, I felt a bit red-faced, but shrugged it off as a minor hiccup in technology. Software breaks and I figured that Google would have my dashboard back up and running within a few hours. Unfortunately, 96 hours 120 hours six-days one-week ten-days later and the problem still persists.

I’m not the only person affected by outage. The following thread on the Google Docs Help Forum shows four examples–just from last Tuesday:

“I was going to do a training which included motion charts tomorrow morning.”
(newbopke)

A part form the disruptions this problem is creating to my website, what I find amazing is that after 24 hours Google doesn’t come out with a solution, and none even says “well, we will find a solution in 48 hours, and we will do this and that” or so.
(Jorge from Burgos)

I’ve been using “Gantt Chart” to follow projects progress of an ONG I’m working with. Gadget stopped working yesterday! Please! Jules: Help me, Help US!
(sosa.0991)

Is google working on this? I too have a presentation tomorrow using motion gadgets. Very stressed! Any alternative motion chart options out there for the computer illiterate?
(wmkay87)

I believe in cloud computing. I also understand the risks involved with new technologies. But if cloud computing is going to be a viable option for companies, downtime will need to be measured in hours not days.

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Filed under: Measurement

Comments

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July 24, 2010

Hi Ron,

You bring up a good point regarding cloud computing. When you use SaaS, you put your faith in someone you can hopefully trust. At the same time, we've all had similar frustrations waiting for our IT depts. to correct issues, so it cuts both ways.

IMHO, part of the issue is Google, which treats so many of its services as “beta” and where you can't ever reach a person to talk to. This was the key reason that selling the Nexus One online also failed … people, and moreso small businesses like yours, want to know that there is someone they can reach and get a response from for support.I think that's a separate issue from cloud computing, but one which cloud computing magnifies.

harrytheASICguy
July 24, 2010

Thanks for the link to the discussion. My local crime dashboards are dead and all my attempts at reviving them didn't work. Glad I stumbled across your post here letting me know there's nothing I can do.

Boo Google.

Bill Roehl
July 26, 2010

As you know Ron, I also have grappled with the gadget breakdown for a week now. It is obtuse that the issue cannot seemingly be reproduced by Google employees and more people report the same problem with the insertion/generation of the gadgets. One of the more compelling reasons to use Google Docs is those gadgets that can make better distributed and more powerful visualisations of data compared to the mainstream majority office deployed software. This loss of service of Google Docs, totally damages the ability of evangelists like ourselves to convince small and medium business owners to move to the cloud. As you say, if it werea few hours, I could live with it, like the fabled 99.99% uptime claims which equates to about 8 hours downtime a year – however at 7 days plus, this is no longer a normal outage and it will take a great deal of evidence for me to regain trust again in Google non search products.

Paul Gailey
July 26, 2010

If you know of a tech utopia, pls tell me where it is as I still haven´t found what I´m looking for and it´s like I´m losing my religion. In their defense, Google employees do reach out within their Groups and yes even on Twitter to counter the impression they are a monolith with no humans, and work to resolve issues. I´ve been told by some that I shouldn´t place too many eggs in the cloud basket so to speak, but as you say it cuts both ways with internal IT, installed software.

Paul Gailey
July 26, 2010

Ron,
You're right about one thing. Cloud computing is all about trust. It's hard to keep the faith when things stop unexpectedly and don't come back up. However, the problem you're also experiencing is that there's not much choice when the gadgets you're using are also bound to the single provider. Although they say that things are less sticky in the cloud, your experience is showing the flaw in that argument. Hope things start working and keep working again for you.

Jim Molini
July 29, 2010

And to add insult to injury, I tried logging into Twitter to tweet about your post and found that “Twitter is Over Capacity.” Isn't technology wonderful?

Jim Molini
July 29, 2010

Assuming it is functioning, what are the advantages of using “cloud” computing over having specific applications installed on your computer?

I have no idea of what you are representing on your dashboard & how that information is helpful to you. “Cloud computing for Dummies” anywhere?

Mike Natelson
August 5, 2010

Mike,

Apps in the cloud allow portability. You can login from anywhere to get them.

As for the measurements that I track on my dashboard, they are all explained in my book:-)

ronploof
August 5, 2010

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