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countdown to Jupiter September 16, 2009

Posted by That Guy in A Stunning Example of Synergy, Technology Trouble.
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You probably know that it’s best to reboot your computer every few days, just to clean out your virtual memory and get everything refreshed. Here at CorporateSpeak we have one server that, if you don’t reboot it every week (or more frequently than that), it crashes, usually at a very inopportune moment. And no, it can’t be updated or replaced because we can’t afford the software upgrades that would come along with it. It’s also a very heavily-used server — there’s years worth of data on it, much of which isn’t backed up (because, again, to back it up would cost money we don’t have). Nearly everyone on this half of the building uses it. It’s almost always full, and temporary files are never cleaned out by the people who create them.

So we reboot it the minimum number of times, which is once per week. I know, surprising that they even do it that often.

It's 2:00. Log off. Or else.

It's 2:00. Log off. Or else.

Anyway, every Monday or so, we get an e-mail from IT saying “The Jupiter server will be rebooted at 2 p.m. Tuesday”.

Then on Tuesday morning: “The Jupiter server will be rebooted at 2 p.m. today.”

Tuesday at noon: “The Jupiter server will be rebooted in two hours — at 2 p.m.”

Tuesday at 1:00: “The Jupiter server will be rebooted in one hour — at 2 p.m.”

Tuesday at 1:30: “The Jupiter server will be rebooted in 30 minutes — at 2 p.m.”

Tuesday at 1:45: “The Jupiter server will be rebooted in 15 minutes — at 2 p.m.”

Tuesday at 1:55, the IT guy will go on the intercom and say, quite clearly, and twice, “The Jupiter server will be rebooted in five minutes. Please save your work and log off. Thank you.”

Then, at 2:00, all hell breaks loose. They make another announcement on the intercom. Someone comes into the room where I work and yells loudly that Jupiter is being shut down, so everyone has to log off. Three IT techs go through the room and manually log off every computer that employees didn’t bother to correctly shut down when they finished working. And, invariably, someone says “I just need five minutes!”

They’re given that five minutes every time.

It takes about an hour to reboot Jupiter and run it through the startup procedure so the rest of the computers reconnect to it properly. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., people always ask “is Jupiter up?” “Is Jupiter back up?” “How long will Jupiter be down?” “Can I use CServer yet?” (CServer is the internal content management system that runs on the Jupiter computer.) “Who’s rebooting Jupiter?” “Are you done rebooting Jupiter?” “Can we log back on yet?”

You get the idea.

At 3 p.m., the IT guy will go on the intercom to announce that Jupiter’s back up. An e-mail will be sent. Someone will shout it through the various rooms where people use Jupiter-connected computers. And still my colleagues will ask frantically if Jupiter is back yet.

You’d think they’d plan for this; they are, after all, informed a full day in advance exactly when Jupiter will be down. It’s always down for one hour; they could plan for that, too. But they don’t. They just whine and complain and extend the time Jupiter is down by not logging off when IT tells them to. They’re not just screwing themselves; they’re screwing everyone.

The best option, of course, would be to upgrade Jupiter to the latest version, called Saturn. Then we could buy licenses to Saturn, upgrade all the crappy computers Jupiter software runs on (they’re so old that installing IE6 would actually break them — that’s right: they’re still running IE5.5 as their web browsers, under Windows 2000 professional), and expedite the process by which everyone gets their work done. If only we had an extra million dollars laying around to do it with.

The countdown is the next best thing, and that, my friends, is quite sad to contemplate.

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