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Software reVisions

In pursuit of reliable, fault-tolerant, fail-safe software and systems

The Humane Society of the United States

Google App Engine Support

Why Google's $500 a month Enterprise Support for App Engine mysteriously takes a 6 hour break from 6pm to midnight (PST) might be explained by looking at a world timezone map compared to a map of Google offices around the world.

Do Google's office locations have any relation to the concentration of App Engine users? If so, this may be the least disruptive period since most of the 6 business hours affected are over the Pacific. Are there many (any?) App Engine users in Japan, New Zealand, Australia or surrounding areas?

On the other hand, it could be to provide an exclusive window for third-party support from companies like Cloud Sherpas.

But then again, maybe running an around-the-clock technical support help-desk operation is just not what Google does best.

Google is, after all, an innovator.

Google creates leading-edge software systems. Their culture is one where everyone is thought of as a superstar... or an aspiring one. Google hires and promotes self-motivated, creative, impatient, out-of-the-box personalities.

While the best help desk people are compassionate, patient, methodical, thorough personalities that enjoy the satisfaction and confidence that comes from knowing the answers (Most of the the time. If they could just get the caller to ask the right question.)

It would make sense to outsource the help desk... but the logistics can never work.

How can a third-party keep its staff up-to-date with almost daily changes?

We are rapidly coming to expect software problems, particularly online software problems, to be fixed in a matter of days (or hours). Though many fixes to application software are internal and require no help desk procedure changes, most fixes in APIs like those for App Engine will at least alter the "best" way to do things if not the "only" way.

No, the only way Google can best its rivals for support is to automate it.

Google is just going to have to do what programming language designers have been trying to do since Grace Hopper developed COBOL... They're going to have to create a truly self-documenting language.

Be it Go, Dart, or something to come that barely resembles a "language", Google needs a system that communicates how to use it automatically from the code itself.

We already have IDEs that provide syntax and other documentation to the programmer. Maybe there could be deeper levels (in a wiki?) that are automatically generated from the code itself and accessible from outside the IDE. These would then be enhanced with feedback from developers, help desk personnel and users.

I expect such self-documenting systems exist... somewhere.

If anyone can bring them to world... Google can!


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