Home > Z Old Posts > [News] Wolfram|Alpha scheduled to debut tonight, but will the server be able to handle the traffic?

[News] Wolfram|Alpha scheduled to debut tonight, but will the server be able to handle the traffic?


Wolfram|Alpha, a first of its kind “computational knowledge engine” that gives users answers to questions like, “What is the life expectancy for a male at age 45?” is scheduled to go live to the world at 5:00 PM Pacific Coast Time (8:00 PM Eastern Time). However, when running a simulation to see if the servers could handle a large amount of traffic, the selected part of the server reportedly failed. By the time you’re reading this article, Wolfram|Alpha will have probably already been launched (or not).

To watch what’s happening live, starting at 8PM Eastern Time, click here to go to the live webcast.

I’ll post updates here as they happen (in Eastern U.S. time)

UPDATE 1 – 7:50 PM – 10 minutes to the scheduled launch, and the Wolfram|Alpha website is loading normally, a sign that so far the servers are handling the traffic. The real bandwidth will come when the tools go live.

UPDATE 2 – 8:01 PM – I’m on the webcast, site, and as of now the webcast hasn’t appeared. Server overload?

UPDATE 3 – 8:04 PM – Wolfram announced that they were running slightly behind on Twitter. A live webcam is available here on Justin.tv.

UPDATE 4 – 8:09 PM – The live webcam above on Justin.tv has stopped streaming, and members of the chatroom next to the video are wondering if the Wolfram server is having difficulties.

UPDATE 5 – 8:13 PM – Members of the Justin.tv chatroom are getting frustrated, leaving comments expressing it.

UPDATE 6 – 8:16 PM – Wolfram announced on Twitter that they are running behind because the uplink on Justin.tv is not working.

UPDATE 7 – 8:20 PM – The Justin.tv stream is now embedded on the Wolfram website, but still is not working.

UPDATE 8 – 8:24 PM – The Justin.tv chatroom is buzzing with frustrated comments from users, blaming Justin.tv for the error. The error could actually be on Wolfram’s part or Justin.tv’s part.

UPDATE 9 – 8:31 PM – The uplink has started working! Available on the Justin.tv website here.

UPDATE 10 – 8:35 PM – Wolfram announced on the stream that the server problems in simulations were because the routers and switching mechanisms were being confused.

UPDATE 11 – 8:38 PM – One of the reasons for the technical difficulties is that the data center is currently in a not only a thunderstorm, but a tornado warning.

UPDATE 12 – 8:41 PM – They told viewers that, if the power went out to the area, which isn’t unlikely, the battery system would continue to run the center.

UPDATE 13 – 8:44 PM – The stream is currently showing a pre-recorded video of how they are protected against power outages: A battery will power the system for a few seconds, and then a diesel generator will power the data centers.

UPDATE 14 – 8:49 PM – The stream showed another pre-recorded video showing the servers in Wolfram|Alpha.

UPDATE 15 – 8:54 PM – Some users of the chatroom are reporting Wolfram|Alpha is up, while others are saying it’s not. I currently can’t use it.

UPDATE 16 – 8:58 PM – It’s up! Click here to use it. The data centers are reporting a few queries a second.

UPDATE 17 – 9:04 – They announced on the stream that they don’t want too many people to start using Wolfram|Alpha. That’s probably why the homepage isn’t allowing you to enter queries yet.

UPDATE 18 – 9:16 PM – Sometimes when I enter a query, I’m redirected to the homepage. Probably to keep the number of incoming queries from going too high.

UPDATE 19 – 9:30 PM – The people at Wolfram are now reading feedback from users.

UPDATE 20 – 9:38 PM – Sign off. Coverage continues tomorrow morning.

UPDATE 21 – 7:15 AM (May 16) – The Wolfram|Alpha homepage is currently loading, but sometimes gives you an error message saying that the incoming traffic is above the test amount.

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