the joys of crisis mode
Thursday, February 3 2000
The main file server for the company website bit the dust today and everything on it (and there was a lot) had to be moved to a new machine. The file server has been the underground data-storage solution of choice for developers not wanting to jump through the hoops necessary to get databases approved. Consequently, nobody was aware of how much of our site depended on it. That all changed today.
I spent a good part of the morning changing hard-coded path names and seeing to it that all the right files were copied to the new file servers.
My fellow developers (new guys, mostly) and I were pretty tired by the time lunch rolled around, so we took a leisurely repast in the open-air food area of Horton Plaza. Then we went to a toy store to check out all the cool new robotic and radio-controlled stuff, none of which existed when I was a kid.
A few bookstores later, and we were back in the office. The place was in pandemonium; the main menu was in disarray and the Grand Pooh Bah was on the horn wanting to know why. The Schoolmarmish VP of IT was beside herself with frantic unfocused anxiety, not knowing which orders to give to whom. By contrast, I knew exactly what to do and had few orders to give. In about fifteen minutes I had all the right files in all the right places. I actually found the tension and anxiety swirling around me to be an exciting, positive thing, especially in the face of my rapid, coolheaded matter-of-factness. My advantage was that I knew in detail exactly how all the breaking things fit together. I knew their strengths, weaknesses, how they would respond to various circumstances, and in what order things needed to be done. It's about as empowering as my workplace can be for me these days.
Later in the day the erstwhile VP of Architecture (who was working remotely and communicating via ICQ) determined that something in my code was causing the web servers to bog down with queued HTTP requests. This development (which, in typical company form, was not immediately brought to my attention) threw the Director of Engineering and the Schoolmarmish VP of IT into another frenzy, one that didn't reach me until late in the day. When it did, the Schoolmarmish VP of IT wanted to know which of my applications use the file system object, telling me matter-of-factly that they might all have to be rebuilt. This was typical company chicken-with-its-head-cut-off machine-gun-fly-swatting. When a manager doesn't understand something that isn't working correctly, it's automatically bad and must be killed.
But the moment I learned of this problem, I could think of a solution. One of the new message board "improvements" included a provision to spam everyone who posts to a board with all subsequent posts, a process that I was foolishly doing synchronously. The way I'd written this feature, all the spam mail (possible 1000 emails in some cases) was sent in the time between page reloads. What's more, the longer this feature existed, the more spam it would send, and the more stress it would place on the servers. Evidently it had reached a critical mass and was now causing real problems. It was a very easy feature to remove, and I did just that before heading home for the day. [Low and behold, my trick worked, but I didn't learn that until the next day.]
The big news on the domestic front is Kim's new hair. She spent all day at a hair salon in La Jolla getting extensions installed. To match Kim's hair texture, the new hair had to come from an Italian. Woven into three horizontal corn rows in the back of Kim's head [REDACTED], the hair looked just like natural hair to me. Kim says she's never had hair this long in her entire life. Surprisingly, though, she didn't look different to me at all.
Kim's new hair.
Later on, Kim and I rented Polyester by John Waters and did a dinner of lobster tails at Rancho's in Ocean Beach. Kim made the mistake of ordering wine, something one normally shouldn't do at a Mexican restaurant. While I was content to drink mine, Kim traded hers in for a beer.
My favorite character of Polyester was the young glue-sniffing son with the penchant for stomping the feet of random people on the streets of Baltimore.
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