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The Jeopardy Test And A Lesson In Scalability

I know they teach this in Computer Science classes, because I was there, but it still seems like no one pays attention…Waiting

Last night I sat down at my computer at 7:55pm to take the Jeopardy online screening test for the east coast, which was scheduled to begin at 8:03pm. I logged in, a window popped up, and I got a "loading" message. About a minute later, it shows that it's about 50% loaded, and I'm just getting ready to take the darn thing.

But then it stalls out.

Not the "crash and won't respond" stalls out, but the "just taking forever to load" stalls out. I'm waiting, and clearly there is nothing I can do to speed it up. It's not me and my cable modem that's the slow part, but it's their server.

And then, promptly at 8:04pm, it finishes loading and displays "Sorry, but you have misssed today's test…"

I guess I should expect this by now, because it seems that most programmers, especially web application programmers, slept through the the classes on Scalability and Stress Testing.

Sure, someone could point fingers at me when I signed on at 7:55pm instead of at the first minute I was allowed to (7:45pm), but eight minutes for a 50-question test to load up is rediculous. I'd venture to guess that I'm not the only one who had this happen to them either.

And don't even get me started on the design of the test availability. The entire concept was flawed to begin with from an application design perspective.

I guess I should have expected something like this, as many online companies who release a "hot" service often have to play catch-up when things catch on faster than expected. However, I expected more from the people at Jeopardy and Sony Pictures, knowing the kind of audience they had and even having people pre-registering for the test.

They do have two more shots at getting it right in the other time zones, but unfortunately I've missed my shot for this year.

Thanks for dropping the ball guys!

Published intechnologyTV

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