Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mediamax v6

Someone has posted the following comment on a previous entry following communication with Steve Iverson, CEO of Mediamax:

---
As Iverson explained to me on the conference call, Version 5 is a lost cause. I don't expect much improvement in it. I think from what he showed me about version 6 those who cancelled are gonna be regretful. Steve Iverson is very honest about the lost files and the problems of version 5. I think Version 6 is gonna be a huge improvement.
---

If Steve can comment further, please do.
WillTRiker has seen a demo of Version 6 and posted the following comment. Great to know this blog has served a useful purpose for Mediamax.

Allright, a try at a somewhat more indepth view of the demo I attended yesterday.

First of all one has to realise that V6 is still in development and that design clearly wasn't yet implemented ... i.o.w. it looked reasonably crappy, but I wasn't paying attention to how it looked, but as to how it functioned. Also I have to take into account that was just a demo on a limited database that can't compare with the MediaMax community as a whole so whatever I say is based on this demo. Final judgement will hopefully reflect the same feelings, but will not be made until I have experienced the final product myself.

During the demo Steve and John Hood said that they had taken a look at the wish list on this blog and that basically everything that was on there was or will be build into V6. I didn't see every wish being implemented during the demonstration, but these are the ones I can confirm and I have no doubt the others are or will be there as well. From my own list I saw item 2, 6, 8, 15-17 and 19-21. Afaik, there are no more demo's but if there is another one I'd love for people that attend to see if the others are already there as well.

Now for some highlights / points of interests:

- FILE RECOVERY PROCESS: basically this is finished and according to Steve they nearly got everything back that was accidentely deleted. Now I know Martin here has different figures which may have something to do with the entire system being unstable as I've seen files coming and going. The problem of file availability should be clear when the next step is taken ...

- CONVERSION: in order to go from V5 to V6 were going to have to endure another conversion. This is inevitable since they rewrote the entire code and atm this is expected to last 2-4 weeks when they flip the switch. A special note of interest is that MM will NOT convert links to files that are corrupt or no longer there. What this means is that every file you have in your V6 account is actually there and that there will be no more dead links or unavailable files like we had previously. Now in relation to file recovery process this means that basically until we're in V6 mode there will be no sure way to tell which files have been lost and which have been restored. I can only hope that MM is right about the number of files they have lost. Time will tell.

- SENDING: MM has reworked their sending system which may not to be everyones liking, but my guess it's a question of getting acustomed to it. Whether or not it solves one of their problems I'm not really sure. One of the problems MM is having is that their database is spiraling out of control with the number of lines it has to index/maintain.

Basically atm it works like this. If person A sends a folder to person B, then the database creates a copy of the the database lines for every file in that folder of person A and puts that into the account of person B. The problem seems to lie in the fact that people often send eachother a massive amount of files while only a small number is needed. Still the database has to make duplicate entries for each and everyone of those files.

In order to try and cut back on the number of lines their database has to create / maintain the new system will work like this (I hope I remember this right as I had a lot to keep up with attending the demo so correct me if I'm wrong): Person A sends person B a folder containing several files while person B is only interested in one. Instead of receiving that folder in the inbox like we were accustomed to, this folder now will be put on a share page from person A. If person B really wants it then person B has to go to the share page of person A, select the file and save it to his own account. Only when that has been done the database will create a new line for person B for that one file only and ignore the rest. To be honest I have my doubts if it will really work like this as what is to prevent someone saving the entire folder and then still only download the single file from his account?

- STORAGE: I'm not sure exactly how much is plan/wish or just mere thought, but it might be that MM is going to take a look at the amount of stuff people have stored. From what Steve said paid users will get a certain amount of space to store stuff on. People that have the same files will have the file counted against their storage capacity as file size divided by numer of people having the file (so a 100MB file present in 2 MM accounts, will count for 50MB against both accounts).

This will turn out to be a problem for large account holders that serve as an archive as they usually retain everything while the rest of the community benefits from that. You can rest assured I have mentioned this to Steve already. He said they basically don't want to change the way people use MM, but he said that some people are using MM in a way it was not intended storing massive logs on it and they they were looking at a way to clear of the dead weight on their servers. While I can understand their motive one of the edges MM has was their unlimited storage so cutting into that is not exactly the way to do it imho not to mention the fact that I (and others in my position) will be hurt by this. I do forego the probable grandfathering of old accounts, but it will mean that potential customers that are looking for a storage company probably will be put off. Also with the total amount of revenue they get they should be able to afford expanding their server capacity faster then we can fill it.

- UPLOADING: I'm told by someone who attended another demo then I did that FTP is postponed for now until at least the new service is operational, but that the old SL uploader will be back in a revamped fashion and that it will replace MM XL which is to be disbanded. Also I'm not quite sure how I should interpret this, but it was said that the processing stage of files in V6 will no longer be present. If you upload something it will appear straight away in your account.

- SHARING: basically the same thing what we now call hosting only in a working fashion and with a lot more options like auto expire, only visible for other (designated) MM account holders and a couple of more things I can't recall right now.

- FRIENDS / GROUPS: there was only minimum 'footage' of the Friends part. The only thing I recall offhand is that your friends will be incorporated in a quick list so if you have to send stuff regularly to the same account(s) you have short cuts for sending to them.


I hope I at least provided some glimpse as what V6 aspires to be and what is or may be to come. As I said earlier, I realise that this is only a demo and the real test will first be when we're allowed to alpha/beta test it, and after that when the MM community as a whole will be switched. IF, and I repeat IF, they manage to make the new system run as was presented at the demo then I think most of you will be happy to see the MM system back into action as it should have been from the beginning of V5. I've also made it clear that they will not get a 2nd chance. Failure this time is not an option. When they release V6 to the public they better be absolutely sure that it is indeed stable and reliable.

17 comments:

Timmytour said...

Would any of the changes they have made account for the fact that my workplace no longer allows access to the site due to it being regarded as "malicious"!

And this, on the very first day following the lapse of my subscription that I finally would have been able to get into my account!!!!!

WillTRiker said...

V6 isn't operational yet so you're still working with good old V5. If your account has become unreachable from your work it seems like your work has blacklisted MM for some reason but this has nothing to do with MM itself(wow, now there is a change for you).

JD said...

i was invited also but had troubles finding a suitable time, if it works out i will let you know.
Nice summary tnx

Anonymous said...

How quickly some of you suckers forget. MM has been a nightmare for years and is the worst internet service I have ever encountered. A few scraps get thrown your way and you start talking like all is positive. Do you really believe they are getting close to launching anything that will work? 90% of what they have tell us is a lies! The only thing you can be sure of is that they will keep stealing your money til your credit card expires.

John Hood said...

thanks to all of you who have participated in the conference calls. your feedback is much appreciated almost universally being included in either v6 or v6.1

Thank again!

-jh

Colin said...

Wait...the file recovery process is complete?!

I'm still missing thousands of files! Are they basically saying that these are now officially lost?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

" How quickly some of you suckers forget. MM has been a nightmare for years and is the worst internet service I have ever encountered. A few scraps get thrown your way and you start talking like all is positive. Do you really believe they are getting close to launching anything that will work? 90% of what they have tell us is a lies! The only thing you can be sure of is that they will keep stealing your money til your credit card expires.
October 25, 2007 6:06 PM"


I think everything is said by this anonymous writer.
I had an account for years. But it never worked good (SL time), until it turned very bad (MM).
In the meantime, there are working alternate file hoster. Forget MediaMax!

Martin said...

WillTRiker, many thanks for the comprehensive and most informative summary of the demo of MediaMax V6.

We are in the lead-up to a Federal election in Australia right now, so everyone will have to forgive me if my cynicism and sarcasm response mechanism has been set to a low threshold by the barrage of political claptrap, obfuscation, blue-sky promises and outright lies that assail me daily. Some may spill over into my response.

The upgrade will fix it. Everyone in computer support knows the joke – The three great lies in life. The first two vary depending on the broad mindedness of the audience and the third great lie is ‘The upgrade will fix it.’ Whether it does or not (usually not) it buys you time while the hapless user waits in vain hoping for something better to happen.

Track record. The best way to predict the future is to examine the past. Will the migration to MediaMax v6 be smooth, run to schedule and trouble free? Have the last two migrations performed by MediaMax been smooth, run to schedule and trouble free? No.

File recovery. Steve Iverson says the process is finished and they got back ‘nearly everything that was accidentally deleted’. I’m not saying that Steve Iverson is lying about this although I have carefully measured that 36% (9,625 missing out of 27,107) of the files in my major collection are still showing as ‘inaccessible’ and other people are also reporting similar loss rates.

Steve is probably right they DID get back most of the files that were accidentally deleted on 15 June 2007 but they did NOT restore the several thousand files that have been affected by ‘collection rot’ over the previous years and almost certainly many of which were previously lost during the August 2006 migration from Streamload to MediaMax.

Dress it up in carefully worded half truths if you like Steve, but the net result is that MediaMax has LOST 36% of my files, and presumably affected other long term users to a similar extent. Perhaps most of these files are in fact still stored somewhere on your servers and it is just the directory links that are stuffed up. Whatever the explanation, around 250Gb of my files are gone. Actually, that probably pleases you as it is 250Gb less storage that you need to provide and goes some way to ‘clearing the dead weight on the servers’ (whether it is truly dead weight or not). Does it please me to have lost more than one third of the files painstakingly uploaded during the past four years while being continually assured that they were ‘safely and reliably’ stored by MediaMax? Well what do you think!

Discarding dead links. MediaMax is going to discard directory entries that are dead links in the conversion to v6. I guess that makes sense as there is no point in having a directory entry that does not work. I personally have a list of all the files that purport to be stored on MediaMax for my account as part of the file auditing process I have been carrying out, but most users will not. There are going to be some horrified MediaMax users after v6 discards all their dead links and they find out just how many files really have gone. I know what is going to happen to my collection. Most people don’t and when they find out there will be a further mass exodus of disgruntled subscribers in justified protest.

I strongly suggest that MediaMax perform some sampling to estimate just how big the discard rate will be and provide us with tools so all users can find out in advance how broad the swathe will be carved through their stored files. Forewarning just might stop quite so many departing in a fit of pique.

Sending Files. WillTRiker, you have it 100% right. The change to the strategy for sending files will make virtually no difference as the vast majority of people will just save all files sent to them anyway. The current demarcation between the ‘email’ In-box, Saved Files folder and the final destination folder generally means that I have THREE directory entries for every file sent to me. I rarely delete entries from the mail In-Box as all too often of late I have needed to copy the files again as MediaMax’s uncanny ability to randomly delete files and whole directories (a feature especially afflicting ‘large’ account holders) regularly decimates sections of my collection.

MediaMax would do far better concentrating on making the file storage 100% reliable and providing better tools to manage folders than introducing an extra level of complexity to the emailing process, particularly as it is unlikely to actually provide any benefit either to MediaMax or users.

Storage. MediaMax are now regretting their promotion of ‘unlimited storage’, however, storage continues to get cheaper with ‘domestic’ grade hard disk storage now well under 50c/Gb. ‘Professional’ grade hard disk storage is not nearly so cheap, say $2/Gb, but is still falling. At $2/Gb my 800Gb of MediaMax storage costs them $1600 and I pay $80 per year for this storage plus 300Gb of downloads, so superficially I look like a huge loss-making user. But consider that this 800Gb has been sent to some 200 other users (as it was when MediaMax actually worked reliably) and each of them is paying MediaMax $80 per year then the situation changes dramatically. The $1600 for storage is spread over 200 users and generates $16,000 of income per year.

The ‘offsetting’ for multiple ownership of a given file seems like a fair approach, provided it is applied with some form of accountability. At the very least, the number of other users sharing the ownership of a file needs to be reported. Other file sharing services also report the number of times a file has been downloaded. This is a more relevant measurement of whether a file is being actively accessed or just ‘dead wood’ since downloads = MediaMax income.

Download Credits. The way MediaMax makes money is through users paying a subscription fee to download files, hence the downloading of a file generates income for MediaMax. One of the fixed overheads that MediaMax incurs to enable users to download is the cost of storage. I have no problem with the concept of paying a fair price for storage if it is fairly applied as outlined and it is entirely appropriate that those users who store large files that do not generate download income should not have their storage subsidised by other users whose files do generate download income.

In the early Streamload days, files that were not being downloaded were said to be more eligible for automatic deletion. While the policy of deleting un-accessed files was never actively implemented, it would now be appropriate to turn this historical punitive threat of deletion into a positive encouragement by factoring in a ‘download credit’ into the costing equation. Each time a file is downloaded, this should also generate a credit against the cost of storing she file. Such a scheme would reward users with files that are actively generating income for MediaMax through downloads and ensure that users with storage that does not generate download income would pay the full cost for their static storage. Rather than these download credits being treated as real money, they could act to increase the storage quota available to a user.

FTP Uploading. Now I really cannot help but be cynical! The return of FTP uploads was first promised on 28 July 2007 in the MediaMax blog. Three months of promises later, and after suffering erratic, unreliable and generally slow uploading for most of that time, we are told that FTP uploads will not be happening until v6 which will not happen for at least another 2 months. ‘The upgrade will fix it…’. Oh sure and when?

MediaMax XL (Execrable) is to be pensioned off. Well at least that’s a sensible decision and one that should have been made a long time before now but there needs to be a viable alternative.

The Streamload Uploader will be returning in a revamped form. That too is good news provided the revamping does not turn it into a bloated and inefficient MediaMax XL mark 2.

MediaMax, you make money from your subscribers downloading files. You have to make it easy and fast for us to upload files and then store the files reliably so that you can make money from other subscribers downloading the files. While it continues to be a struggle to upload files and the assurances of ‘reliable’ storage are worth less than a politician’s election promise, you can expect to continue to loose subscribers and hence income. Your backers had better have deep pockets and more patience than most of your paying subscribers.

WillTriker, again you are totally correct. V6 had better be right first go or come 2 April 2008 when my subscription is next due for renewal, MediaMax will have 800Gb of storage to reclaim when I don’t renew my annual subscription.

Martin

(Actually, they won’t save any storage because hundreds of other users will still have directory entries pointing to these files. It will be lose – lose.)

WillTRiker said...

Thanks Martin, just trying to be of some help.

As you said the track record of MM hasn't been exactly stellar lately so that's why I said that my review was based on the demo only (did you read that also mr anonymous?). Presentations / Demo's in general I don't put much stock in until I've got hands-on experience during beta testing, but the real test will be when MM throws the switch and goes live.

As for the file recovery. I could only rehash what Steve told me and that was they recovered nearly everything. I know Streamload managed to loose files before their Oops in june, but I have also been under the impression that the number of files lost were very minor (still not hing to be impressed about as all files were supposed to be safe). What I'm afraid off is that a lot of files still missing atm may actually still be on MM, but that their database has corrupted the links leading to them. These will be ported over to V6, but that will be of no use unless you have the originals so you can recreate the links using the global file reckognition feature. Don't know about you, but I send the originals to MM so I wouldn't need to store them myself.

I think it might be an idea for MM to build a little tool that would allow you to create a plain text file of your account ... and more importantly an overview of it's files and folders. Perhaps they could do a dump like that just before they convert your account to V6 so you can compare what you had in V5 to what you have ... or should I say have left ... in V6.

As for their database. In principle I used to clear out my saved attachement folder, only since my account is suffering from the large account holder move bug I have stored what I got send in the saved attachement folder while I also kept the mail just in case. MM probably could clear out a tremendous amount of database lines if they cleared out the trashcan in the file manager and send items and trashcan in the mail area at regular intervals. The only thing I could come up with to lessen burden on MMs database is something a different approach in sending ... something that I have absolutely no clue if it would be possible to build allthough I don't see why not (then again, I'm not a coder so what do I know). Basically it would work like this:

As a new default method of sending sending shouldn't be the sending that we know now (i.o.w. a copy of the database entries of the sender which can be saved by the reciever), but instead of that it should be links only. These links should be organised in the exact same way the sender has them stored in his file manager, but you can't save these links to your own account. You can only select and download them ... against your own credits ofcourse. If you actually want to give people people a copy of the database entries then one has to specify this when sending.

I don't know how your community works Martin, but in principle something I described would work for us. After all, only the archive holders (moderators or whatever they are called) have a need for the database entries as in nearly all other cases people that get send stuff want to have it in order to download (part of) it. It would mean that probably around 97% of the traffic my community generates would no longer create database links as only the staff would trade database entries with eachother.

I still think MM has to be very carefull messing with their unlimited storage. As the level of service MM has offered us in the last year leaves worlds to be desired THIS is one of the features that MM has going for them against their competitors. I would think twice about touching this especially considering the unique way some communities work with centralized archives. It's also the reason why I don't exactly like the idea of multiple ownership and download credits. Multiple sharing only leads to people sending eachother ALL their files in order to share as much as possible and to keep under the storage limit that way which would create an avalance of database entries ... something that MM wants to decrease. As for the download credits ... in general I like it, but how long do these credits stay valid? New files usually can get a lot of traffic, but after a while they just sit in my account and what then? I keep all of it, because that was the idea behind the archive in the first place ... if I needed online storage for short term purposes I could use other servers as rapidshare or megaupload. It's in indefinite time and unlimited storage what makes me use MM.

Yawn, time to bed ... hope I made sense.

JD said...

I have done some testing also
and had similar results.
Stopped testing because of dl credits
that were charged for that.
I find the discussion interesting
but don't forget first prio must be
that they have a stable and reliable system. I agree on that mediamax has one chance left. They will figure out
something for big account holders (at least I hope)

Martin said...

Interesting observations from you both WillTRiker and jd.

Each of us has different priorities.

My own first priority is getting back the lost files because there are so many of them and it is too mammoth a task to upload them all again.

As I suspect this will not happen and nobody at MediaMax is willing to own up to the fact, my second priority is tools that will facilitate the rehabilitation of the lost files. As I've said before, it is just plain silly that file links that MediaMax has broken cannot be rehabilitated by uploading the file again, even sillier that when you do so the upload is just ignored, and absolutely ludicrous that the only way to upload a broken file is to modify it to make it different than the original! Get real!

Streamload had it right. If an identical file already existed on Streamload, it was not uploaded again by the Streamload Uploader. If the data of the file had been lost the file would be uploaded and the directory entry would be rehabilitated by the act of uploading.

MediaMax does neither. The single file shared between multiple users was a very clever and efficient design feature of Streamload. Did none of the programmers read the specifications for Streamload before writing MediaMax? Apart from all the other great features of Streamload that were discarded during the ill conceived and appallingly executed migration from Streamload to MediaMax, omitting these two fundamental design features was the biggest mistake of all.

It goes without saying that reliability, availability and good performance both uploading and downloading are essential.

Other people's priorities will be based on looking forward, but mine are centred around restoring the past.

WillTRiker said...

I'm interested in a trustworthy system as well and in that respect restoring old files is no small part in that.

I'm not sure how restoring old links works now as I have seen conflicting results. Iirc it's only files that were uploaded from a certain timeframe when their datacenter migrration occured. Other files should be able to be re-uploaded 'as is'. In V6 global file reckognision is back so near instant uploads to repair broken links should be possible again then. I do hope that in V6.0 though they also have the grouping of identical stuff back as it will make things a little easier in respect to checking for which re-upload replaces which link.

WillTRiker said...

Something that I initially totally missed, but what contradicts what I heard earlier from someone else ... FTP seems still to be development.

Yesterday on the MM BLog there was an entry (http://mediamaxblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/mediamax-ftp-gateway-beta-1.html) where you can download their portal program which enable you to use FTP again.

You might take note of their important notes .... their upload speed still leaves MUCH to be desired imho ... 12Kbyte isn't really worth it if you can upload at 200Kbyte using webupload.

Anonymous said...

I can understand MM being frustrated by the large number of files in my account. Also the large number of duplicated files. However, before penalising me for that, understand this, I would prefer to clear out the duplicates and reduce the files I do not want. However, everytime I try this, the process is so painfully slow & if I delete 3 copies out of 4 it generally wants to take the fourth as well and many other problems and I get frustrated and give up. Technical Support? What a joke. Are they hiding in some call centre in bombay or are our cries for help stored on MM and can't be accessed?

I was unaware of this blog and I thank Martin for bringing it to my attention. I have been with Streamload/MM many years and I no longer know why. They have made the process from Streamload to MM the worst client/provider experience I have ever had. The files are the only reason I stay, if they want to get rid of them or charge me for them, then I will have no reason to stay.

spook1958

Anonymous said...

Idecided to try again and move files and delete duplicates, I know, I am a sucker for punishment.

Deleting duplicates locks up IE and when I end the task after it doesn't respond, I then have to log back in and the files are gone, but it takes a very long time to do each batch.

Moving Files brings up a MM General Error 100001, didn't bother counting the zeros, but its enough to show me that MM still isn't what I would call useable.

Many of my missing files and directories are back and for that I am happy. I suspect that having a huge amount of files is creating most of my problems on MM, but without a stable environment I cannot correct that problem.

spook1958

Anonymous said...

As stated by steve If mediamax v5 is a lost cause then why are we being charged full wack for the service
I myself have put up with the sad service since the change to mediamax just because i didnt want to lose my files
my last 12 months payments have been a total waste of money ive not been able to use my downloads and on most occasions ive had trouble even getting into my account

Email support is non existant you just get ignored
Then they give you free downloads that you cant even use due to the fact that most files wont download or you cant get into the site

Seeing as these problems dont seem to go away wouldnt it be nice for them to at least make some kind gesture to those who have been loyal to them and stuck out the past year of such a poor service
A few suggestions are that they roll over our downloads and keep this for when V6 comes out.. Easynews does it as do most places after all you pay for your downloads so its only right they give you time to use them they are not losing out but gaining at present for a service which is totally unusable

i cant see me sticking it out much longer ive had enough

but it would be nice to find something official about what the new V6 would be and when it would be.. after all havent we wasted enough of our hard earned cash on such a useless service

Tinks

Anonymous said...

To make it short:
Since StreamLoad V2 each new version turned out to be even more worse than the version before.
I cancelled my membership in january 2007 after month of promises and lies from MediaMax. And that was a good choice.
There is no hope.

Xaviere