SABlogHeader_Feb13When you are running a website, one of the worst things that can happen is a crash. The site goes down, none of your members can access anything, it’s a total disaster! My worst nightmare. As a member of our small IT team, my colleagues and I work hard behind the scenes to ensure a smoothly running website. If we are doing our job properly, you won’t even realise we are around, and that’s a good thing. But every now and then we do get noticed. And not in a good way.

Last week I crashed the site.

There, I’ve said it. Last week I, personally, all by myself, crashed the site. Most of you won’t have even known, because it happened in the wee small hours (since I’m in Australia, it was civilised working hours for me), but it most definitely happened. It wasn’t a virus, we didn’t get hacked, it wasn’t a power failure or a server failure, it was me. I am sure I gained several grey hairs that night, and I’m not positive my pulse rate has returned to normal just yet.  It was my worst nightmare!!

Since you are reading this now, you’ll know that we managed to get everything up and running pretty quickly. With the benefit of hindsight I have to say that my worst nightmare was actually a very good thing. Not good that the site was down, but good because of what we learned about ourselves, our members and the technology. I discovered that one little bracket in the wrong place can cause an entire site to be completely unusable. I learned that keeping copies of everything as I go is not obsessive but essential. I learned how to get help and who to call. And if I make the same mistake again (which I hope I will not!) I learned how to fix it myself. I learned a better way of doing what I was attempting so I will not crash the site next time. I learned that if not for that rogue bracket I was completely on the right track.

Learning by your mistakes is a hard way to gain knowledge. But I can guarantee that experience will stay in my mind for a lot longer than if I had got it right first time. I was stretching myself way beyond my comfort zone, and having to admit to myself, my team mates and our members that I stuffed up was not my idea of fun. But if I don’t keep stretching, pushing the boundaries, trying and failing, then I might as well just give up now. I didn’t enjoy the experience, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!

In the words of a few smarter and more experienced people than I:

A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in the experience.  ~Elbert Hubbard

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

“Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” ― Jules Verne

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ― Henry Ford

and my personal favourite, from J K Rowling, who famously was rejected by no less than 12 publishers before someone agreed to produce the first Harry Potter book:



Content used – Header: Boo Crew Digital Kit, Font ‘Hurry Up’, Quote card – Tattered Skirts Digital Kit & Overlays, Fonts: 3rd man, Tattered Flannel Alphaset

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30 Responses to Blog: My worst nightmare

  1. Carolyn says:

    Now a little more than just two weeks past, this is all long forgotten. Most things are not as important as we think they are in the moment. It’s a pleasure being on the journey with you.

  2. Tameka says:

    YOU CRASHED THE SITE??????? No new content for you Mrs. Alexander! tee hee 😉

  3. Shelley, I have always loved this quote-“Failure is only the opportunity to do something again more intelligently.” (Henry Ford). I love your spirit of never giving up- Here’s another quote that I use to keep me in the game-“You’ve got only three choices in life- give up, give in or give it all you’ve got.”
    You and the pixies definitely give it all you’ve got.

  4. Sandy says:

    Shelley, I have always lived by the philosophy that there is no such thing as a mistake, just creative opportunities. You figured out what was wrong and took the opportunity to learn how to fix it. To me that is being creative with the new-found knowledge you gained from the experience. I was one of those trying to get on the site but took it as a sign from the Pixies that it was time to go to bed.

    Thanks for all you Pixies do for us!!

  5. Lori Bickford says:

    LOVE your honesty, your sense of humor about it, and your sharing it! I’m sure you were sweating it big time, darn that stray bracket. Now, you can put your feet up, sip a Marguerita, and relax – all is good!!!!

  6. Leslie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing what you learned! The hardest interview question I ever had was to share a recent mistake and what I learned from it. I shared, was frank (like you) and I got the job! You do a great job!

  7. junegauntley says:

    Shelley, I was completely oblivious that the site was down. But, what a hero you are to find out what the problem was and fix it so quickly! I, too, don’t want to know how it works — I just want it to work! You are definitely my hero! 🙂

  8. Liz Propst says:

    Shelley…and all those who work behind the scenes…YOU ARE APPRECIATED!!!

  9. Deanna Emmert says:

    Learning is sometimes considered to be the scaffolding between what we know and what we don’t know. As far as I can see you traversed this bit of scaffolding very well, even if it was unnervingly unstable in one “bracketed” spot. 😀 Well done, Shelley and IT team! You are all amazing.

  10. adakallen adakallen says:

    I am laughing my head off! Been there done that! I have done some IT work but it is not my favorite thing to do.

    I have made my share of mistakes in life. Sometimes I have had to make mistakes more than once before I learned my lesson…those are painful. I agree with the J K Rowling quote!

    You do such a great job that I can’t believe you made a mistake!

    Thanks for ALL you do!

  11. Noni says:

    Shelley, you all do such a wonderful job and really in the grand scheme of things crashing the site for a little while is no biggie. It was back working really quickly and it was just a handful of crazy folk like me who were playing about in the wee small hours – that’s when I do my best work – that would have know anything about it.

    We are all human – mistakes are made, lessons learned. At the end of the day, from the outside, it was just a little glitch, no cause for heartache, but I can understand that from the inside it must have seemed like hell.

    Had I not found the p2P team, I’d still have SBC on my pc and not know what to do with it. I’ve had SBC since it came out and dilligently kept upgrading, as required, but never actually managed to do a single page until just last January – I didn’t know how to make it do ‘stuff’ that has all changed because of what you all do and the amazing communities that you have created via the FB pages

    Thanks Pixies for all you do … you are amazing, each and every one of you <3

  12. Tina Bruderer says:

    no worries shelley we know you are great

  13. Glenna says:

    Shelley, I totally know what you mean. I have been in the IT business which included networking and website design, and have had several experiences like you spoke about. Someone told me that you learn from your mistakes and you should learn everyday and the day you stop learning is the day that you probably will be buried.

    When I started using Storybook Creator and Memory Manager there wasn’t a lot of training and had to learn by the seat of my pants with some failures and redoing (not as bad as crashing a website). I have even rearranged and reorganized my content in SB about 6 times now and each time have to re-create my groups, but I think I’m finally satisfied.

    Well done. I love your blog and your comments. You are doing such great work, not just you but all of the Pixies. I love the site and what I am continuing to learn from it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

  14. Jenny says:

    Knowledge is a wonderful thing and admitting to a mistake is every more wonderful. Everyone who has ever made it to the top, has made it because they made mistakes first, then learnt from it, made another mistake and learnt from it. Shelley, you’re on your way to the top…keep making mistakes 🙂 We can hold each others hand, so the lump in the throat and the sick feeling in the pit of the stomach, isn’t so painful!

  15. Janice says:

    Shelley – I am amazed at what our IT girls can do, it’s amazing that you have all learned so much on what makes a website work. For me – I just want to get in, use the program, and get results – I don’t want to know how or why it works, just that it does what I want to do by pressing a few buttons. The IT world is a whole other language that I don’t understand or can wrap my braini around – I’m just so glad that there are people like you and Jenny who go to that depth of understanding. As for crashing the site – well, it wasn’t down for very long because you fixed it so quickly, and I only found out after it had all happened. Thank you for all you do, each and every day, when it comes to working around in the background of our wonderful website!

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