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Connection issues 12th June 2015

This morning a number of customers were unable to connect to the Clockwork API. This was due to a major outage with an Internet backbone provider.

Background

The Internet is made up of lots of separate network providers such as BT, Virgin Media and AT&T. Due to the sheer number of providers out there, and the fact they’re spread out all over the world, it’s not practical for them to connect with each other so they tend to connect to a few neighbouring networks.

Given that each network only knows about its immediate neighbours a solution was found back in 1989 that solved how you learnt about networks on the other side of the world, this was called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). It essentially works by each network tells all their neighbouring networks about what other networks they can see, these messages are passed from neighbour to neighbour until eventually the whole world knows which way to send traffic for each network.

For people who know all about networking, I’m aware this isn’t quite correct but it’s near enough.

Unfortunately back in 1989 nobody was too worried about the internet being used maliciously or people making mistakes so these messages are just passed on with the assumption that they’re true.

Cause

A network provider in Malaysia started making announcements to its neighbours that it was the best route for traffic to everywhere in the world. One of the connected networks (Level 3) believed believed these announcements so sent traffic to this Malaysian network rather than where it was supposed to go. Unfortunately with Level 3 being a major backbone provider this affected a significant number of people.

Who was affected?

The UK seems to have been one of the most impacted countries, as a result customers with servers outside the UK were generally unable to connect to Clockwork. This is mostly down to us being an isolated island so all traffic has to go through a small number of backbone network providers. Customers based within the UK are unlikely to have been affected.

What wasn’t affected

For those customers who didn’t experience any connection issues your messages were not affected. We have a number of connections out to mobile networks and SMS suppliers and we re-routed traffic to avoid any troublesome links.

If you have any questions get in touch.

Network and data centre improvements

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working away behind the scenes in our data centres to make Clockwork even more reliable. The best thing is that as we run a complete copy of our systems in each site, we were able to do the work while keeping all our services running as normal.
Read More +

Clockwork’s getting quizzical!

We’re running a ‘Beat the January Blues’ Twitter quiz this Friday (23rd January) and we have some great prizes up for grabs.

Just follow us on Twitter (@ClockworkSMS) and keep an eye on our feed this Friday. We’ll be asking five questions throughout the day at approximately 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (GMT).

The first person to reply to each question with the correct answer and the hashtag #ClockworkQuiz will win a Mini Remote Control Quadcopter. There will be a mix of general knowledge and techy based questions.

There will also be a grand prize to be revealed on the day.

Good luck!

 

Competition winners:

Question 1: How big is the world’s biggest clock face?

Correct answer: 43 metres

Winner: @ChrisDawsonDev

Question 2: What is the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow?

Correct answer: 11 meters per second, or 24 miles an hour

Winner: @rlaval

Question 3: What is the hex value of the “h1 span” background class on clockworksms.com?

Correct answer: #C83030

Winner: @southcoastash

Question 4:  The year the first text message was sent, minus the day of month the iPhone was released, divided by GSM character code for £

Correct answer: 1963

Winner: @ahawke

Question 5: What is the nth prime, where n = the character length of a single SMS?

Correct answer: 941

Winner: @mallitt

GRAND PRIZE QUESTION: How much would it cost you to send a CD (700MB) via Clockwork?

Correct answer: £262,144.00

Winner: @mallitt

 

Terms & Conditions:

  • Tweets must be replies to @ClockworkSMS and must include the hashtag #ClockworkQuiz
  • Prizes are non-transferable
  • Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • For prize delivery outside of the UK, import taxes are the responsibility of the winner. We assume no responsibility and we are not liable for any costs, charges or expenses which winner(s) may be required to pay at any time in connection with a prize
  • We do not accept any responsibilty for late or lost entries due to Internet problems
  • We’ll publish all questions, correct answers and winner’s Twitter handles at the end of the competition
  • The winner(s) will be notified following the competition, firstly by a tweet and then by direct mail to the winner(s) Twitter account. In the event that the winner fails to respond to confirm its acceptance of the prize within a reasonable period of time, we have the right to select an alternative winner from the competition
  • We reserve the right to provide substitute prizes(s) of similar value in the event that the specified prize is unavailable for reasons beyond its control
  • This competition is governed by the law of England and is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England

2 Way SMS with Clockwork Mobile Numbers

Happy 2015! We’ve recently pushed some updates out to Clockwork and thought we’d go into a bit of detail about the new toys we’ve added.

Clockwork numbers

You can now buy a real mobile number to receive messages.  We’ll deliver all the messages to your number via simple HTTP GET or POST.

We’ve got UK and Australian numbers available at the moment and we’re working on adding more. If you’ve got a specific country you want a number for, Send us a tweet or get in touch and we’ll see what we can do.

To keep things as straightforward as the rest of Clockwork, paying for Clockwork mobile numbers is easy:

They’re £5 to set up and then £5 per month.  We take your Clockwork number payment from your balance and we’ll drop you an email if your balance gets low.

As usual, if you’ve got any queries, questions or suggestions, we’re all ears.

Christmas holiday cover

Manchester Christmas markets are up and the lights have been switched on which means that the holidays are nearly here!

Hopefully you’re having a little bit of a rest over the holidays and we’re going to be away from the office for a few days too.

Don’t worry! Clockwork will still be working as hard as ever and we’ll be contactable by email.  If you have any queries, just send an email as normal to hello@clockworksms.com and one of us will get back to you.

Clive the robot and everyone at Mediaburst wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas cover:

Monday 22nd December – 9.30am-5pm

Tuesday 23rd December – 9.30am-5pm

Wednesday 24th December – 9.30am-1pm (Email cover only)

Thursday 25th December – No cover

Friday 26th December – No cover

Monday 29th December – 9.30am-5pm (Email cover only)

Tuesday 30th December – 9.30am-5pm (Email cover only)

Wednesday 31st December – 9.30am-5pm (Email cover only)

Thursday 1st January – No cover

Friday 2nd January – 9.30am-5pm

 

Clockwork Ping Pong Party

We wanted an opportunity to meet fellow Developers and Designers based around Manchester as well as some of our local customers, so we put on a Ping Pong Tournament for you!

We held the night at a Ping Pong bar in the Northern Quarter of Manchester called TwentyTwentyTwo.

A lot of you came along to take part in the Ping Pong as well as the Beer Pong that we all regretted the next morning! We rewarded you with a fridge full of beers and a lot of Domino’s pizza. It was a great night. Thank you to all of you who made it, it was lovely to meet you all. To those who couldn’t, then hopefully we’ll see you next time!

Clockwork-RobotReady-Lets-Play

 

 

Hack Manchester 2014

Clockwork is a simple text message API. So simple it’s attracted over 20,000 users from all corners of the globe. Last year we sponsored Manchester’s premier hackathon and are pleased to announce we’ll be doing the same this year.

Anyway, blah blah blah marketing drivel, it’s hack time baby! 

THE CHALLENGE

Last year we sought the most ridiculous use of SMS, and who could forget our winner ‘cabbage baggage’ and their SMS recorder.

So let’s have some fun again:

This year we want to see the THE MOST POINTLESS USE OF CLOCKWORK.

So many times we see hack teams shoehorning SMS into their hacks where it doesn’t belong (we know you are just getting your hack into more award categories).

Well this year we’ll accept you, we want to see it, slot it in anywhere and everywhere. Let’s use SMS in every single hack, especially where it’s not needed!

Or, go big with an entire app needlessly based on SMS. Remember last years Service Bus,  we challenge you to create something more absurd.

It’s time to brush aside logic and reality, common sense and sound judgement don’t come into it, embrace the irrelevant and meaningless.

And bring on the Hack.

THE PRIZE FUND

We’re offering 4 x little bits cloud starter bundles

CloudBundle2_LR

http://littlebits.cc/bundles/cloud-starter-bundle

Maybe you can make something less pointless with them?

See you there :)

UPDATE:

We’ve got the Littlebits goodies in the office…

IMG_5698-01

Judging:

This year Our MD Gary Bury will be judging.

Gary has been involved in the text message market since 2006 and has seen some pretty pointless apps in his time, and not just from hacks.

“Unfortunately some of the most pointless ideas have come from within our own organisation, maybe even from myself. It’s something we’ve always tried to do though, embrace all ideas, sometimes the quirkiest inspiration can be the spark for a killer app”

But at Hack Manchester 2014 he’ll not be looking for a killer app, pointless will win the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No bleeding hearts here…

If you’re a developer and haven’t been hiding in a dark cave for the last few days I’m sure you’ll have heard about the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL. We’re happy to say Clockwork is not vulnerable.

Clockwork runs on Windows servers and Windows uses its own SSL libraries which are not vulnerable to this attack.

Just in case you haven’t heard about the Heartbleed attack here’s a very very brief overview: SSL incorporates a heartbeat feature that lets you keep the connection between your browser and a server alive. A coding flaw in this feature allows people to read the memory off a vulnerable server potentially giving away all sorts of secrets. For full details give the Heartbleed site a read.

Clockwork T&C’s Update

We need to tell you about an important update to our terms and conditions. The update is applicable to customers based in the UK who make use of our Shortcode and Keyword Services, particularly those who rent keywords on the shortcode 84433.

Here’s the new bit:

6. USE OF SHORTCODES AND KEYWORDS
6.1 Where you use shortcodes or keywords purchased through Clockworksms or another Mediaburst product, and you also use other text message providers, you must not use these shortcodes or keywords in the text messages sent through any other text message provider.

For clarity, what it means is: Only use these shortcodes and keywords in the text messages you send through us Clockwork/ Mediaburst.

Full T&C’s are available here.

Why We Have Inlcuded this?

The reason we have done this is twofold:

1. If you send a text message from a shortcode, or if you include instructions in your message content to text a shortcode, in the event of a complaint the UK network providers use this information to track down who sent the message.

Assuming it’s one of our shortcodes they ring us up, we try to trace the number, but if you’d sent through another provider we’d have no record of any message being sent to that number. It then gets confusing and people don’t know who to believe. It’s our shortcode, so it must be us right? But it’s not. The customer gets frustrated, time is wasted, reputations are damaged.

There are occasions where people have put our codes on text messages sent through other providers and caused some huge problems, here is one example.

2. Last week we made a significant improvement to the way we handle opt out messages, people who text “STOP”.

Previously anyone who rented a keyword on 84433 would have been sent every “STOP” texted to 84433. So if one client did a massive marketing send and received many STOP requests, these would be sent to our other clients too.

I know, it sounds like crazy data sharing, but it aligns with PhonepayPlus guidelines for premium rate SMS.

Fortunately we don’t do Premium SMS anymore so we can use a system far better than their guidelines.

Now, when someone texts “STOP” to 84433, by matching against clients who sent messages to given phone numbers we are able to work out which client should get the STOP, and send it to them, and only them.

The reason this affects our Terms and Conditions is that if you were to send a message through another SMS Provider with 84433 as the FROM field, and the recipient replied with STOP, it won’t get matched to you. So you won’t get the STOP, you won’t opt the person out, you will probably end up texting them again, and this could lead to all sorts of problems.

I hope this makes sense, and in all honesty I hope it doesn’t actually change anything for anyone. But if it causes any issues please get in touch with us.

Introducing our node.js code wrapper!

It’s a little late to the party, but we’ve finally got a Mediaburst supported node.js code wrapper for clockwork that you can use to send sms messages in your node.js apps.

There’s a little history behind this one. It originally appeared on github about 2 years ago from a guy called Wes Mason (thanks Wes!). We liked Wes’ design for the wrapper (a simple solution based on callbacks so that the code is non-blocking), so we’ve finally got round to forking it and bringing the wrapper into the Mediaburst family and bringing it up to date.

You can find it on github at https://github.com/mediaburst/node-clockwork, but being a node.js developer you probably just want to dive in there and send a message, right? Let’s take it for a spin..

You can install the wrapper though npm:
npm install clockwork

In your node.js app, you need to `require` clockwork, and tell it your API Key. Once you’ve done that, you’re good to go!

var clockwork = require('clockwork')(key:'Your API Key here');
clockwork.sendSms({ To: '447123456789', Content: 'Test!'}, 
function(error, resp) {
    console.log(resp.responses[0].id);
});

You can find out more about the wrapper on the github page.

Happy Node.JS-ing :-)