Web sites – they can make your day, or drive you nuts.

It's truly amazing how much the Web enables us to do. Think of how much time it saves you - searching for flights, paying bills, defining terms, entertaining you, getting a map. Can you remember a time when you didn't use the Web for some of these things? I love the Internet and I couldn't imagine not having its conveniences.

But today, I had my share of bad experiences (don't worry, I am getting to a technical reference, if somewhat oblique):

11:15am. A friend of mine sent me a Friendster request so I had to log in and confirm he was indeed a friend of mine. Friendster is a pretty cool concept and has gained an early mover market advantage in the “social network” space, but their success amazes me because their Web back-end is TERRIBLE. It obviously doesn't scale. There is seldom a time I visit their site that I don't have a server timeout or some other error occur.

2:35pm. I try to book a flight to Sacramento. I start with Delta.com since I have a good frequent flier status. But instead, my visit is plagued with page errors, timeouts, etc. They lost my business when I got frustrated with all the errors, and this definitely isn't the first time I've had problems there.

2:55pm. Still trying to book my flight. I try United.com. Same issue. Their pages time out, searches bomb with bogus errors, etc. Once again, I didn't book a flight here because of problems. I finally used Expedia to buy a ticket on United and it worked great (of course I probably paid a premium for going through Expedia, but United.com didn't work so what could I do?).

5:30pm. It's the middle of the month, so it's time to login to Fleet Bank to pay my credit card. The entire freakin' credit card Web site area is down!

12:30am. Tried the fleet site again. No dice. What gives?

2:00am. I'm frustrated. Time to blog my troubles away...

So I started to wonder what could be causing all of this grief? Some Web sites work great, all of the time, but these 4 always give me trouble from time to time, and ALL of them were giving me troubles today. Well, I think I found the connection with a few quick Web searches...


Find the common thread? Hint: It starts with a “J” and ends with an “SP”. When are people going to learn? I guess when they start losing business they'll get a clue.

<update 2:21am fixed an incorrect link>

Comments (7)
  1. Simon says:

    I too have noticed that Java sites seem an awful lot slower and buggier than others.

    How often do you see PHP errors on a site? You really don’t – the odd mysql database being down from load maybe, but that’s it.

    I occasionally see asp errors. Usually the database being down or poor validation.

    I am yet to see an asp.net error when visiting public sites that didn’t relate to the database server being down. Channel9 on tuesday comes to mind.

    Is it the type of developer? The technology? Do jsp sites usually use a particular back end database server that goes down lots compared to mysql/mssql?

  2. Nick says:

    I am particularly impressed by your thorough and objective analysis. Now that there is such a preponderance of conclusive evidence, I’ll be sure to never consider using JSP for any project in the future.


    A single zealot may commence prosecutor, and better men be his victims

    Thomas Jefferson

    3rd US president, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, 1743-1826.

  3. Jeff says:

    Come on guys… crappy code is crappy code regardless of the platform. You know this is true because it’s exactly what you say when someone points you to a crappy ASP.NET site.

  4. Scott says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah go try to fill out your New Mexico state income taxes through their ASP application and stare in wonder and the pretty little network error that pops up at random times as you step through their wizards. Jeff hit the nail on the head.

  5. Someone who is not a Zealot says:

    Holy Frickin Cow!

    Dude, get a grip. I’m no big fan of JSP on the best of days, but declaring the reasoning behind those sites failure to be the result of JSP is downright pathetic.

    Upon reading your blog entry, I came across two other possible things that link those sites:

    1. YOU — is it possible there is a transparent proxy in the way? Often, a TP can smoke some webapps, regardless of their technology platform. I’ve seen several aspx sites fail to a TP in the way, that was not playing completely nice.

    2. YOU — Is it possible that you are a yutz?

    feh. Get Bent

  6. Brian Keller says:

    Yep, it’s entirely possible that I am a yutz. 😉

    But seriously – I totally agree with some of the flames so far: 1) Bad code is bad code. 2) Even ASP / ASP.NET can have problems if you don’t build the site properly.

    Re: a proxy – I have experienced problems both at home and at work, so I don’t think that’s it.

    But regardless – there is _no_ excuse for sites like Delta, United, Friendster and major banks to have Web sites that don’t scale and perform well under pressure. JSP, ASP, ASP.NET, etc. – I would be upset regardless of the technology they use, it just so happens that ALL of the sites giving me trouble yesterday were based on JSP.

  7. Of course it’s not about technology, it’s about people behind it. It just happened so, that all these big guys can’t handle their web sites. We all know how it works – they hired some COOL consulting company which successfully spent all project money and then dissapeared. Then company found themself in a sitation when they got nothing stable, no money and no internal IT staff to fix it. The irony is that i saw such situations mostly when people were convinced to use JSP/Websphere/BEA (you know all those buzzwords)

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