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October 16, 2003, by Léon Krijnen

Shit happens in spades   

When shit happens, i get it in spades. Maybe i've been just a little bit too lucky the last months, with only the normal daily computer peeves. We're changing the operating systems on our machines on the newspaper from Windows 98 to XP.

Part of a process that takes months, during which a couple of systems, some of them almost twenty years old, are replaced by brandnew systems and tools. Inevitable part of that process is that a lot of things go wrong, every day. It makes some people crazy, but I like it. I've always liked changes, and i've always liked to solve computer problems. Until one hour ago, when, stupid me, i clicked on a link in Outlook, while my browser was showing the result of a building process on a server. Argh!

Not entirely my fault, but the the result of the fact that imageFolio, the application that holds, indexes and shows the pictures on this site, is not very elegant programmed regarding the building process. I mean it's a process that completely runs on the server, so there is no reason at all to follow it in the browser. What's more: if the browser fails, the index file is corrupt or empty. I'm not talking about my own instance of imageFolio now, but about one from the nine we're running on a heavy dual processor Dell with 2 gigabytes (!) of memory, running Apace 2.0.40 on Red Hat Linux. The imageFolio that went berserk holds almost 5000 pictures. A lot of them wre connected to keywords, all gone. Which means i've lost all e-mail adresses, adresses and telephone numbers of the participants of our summer holiday picture contest. Together they have send in more than 600 pictures so far, so in two weeks the jury will probably choose a winner and we don't know where he or she lives. The last two weeks i've been building the bloody album, resizing pics and thumbnails, enhancing most photographs, and collecting all data of the contestants in the index file. I've deleted all mails after that, because i had all relevant data, and because the mailboxes were full. Some people have professionel cameras, but don't know yet how to resize, and keep sending seven bitmaps of 12 megabytes each!
Shit happens in spades: until the beginning of this month i was root on the server, but under new security rules from the new host - and with good reason, i say - i only have (SSH) access to data files, and not to lower levels and backups anymore.
We're trying to reach someone now in the hope that there is a nightly backup, and that i can retrieve a reasonable fresh index file from that back up. As i have FTP and SSH-access to the file in question this has been the last time that i will forget to download the index, before or after building. Stupid me: this thing happened to me two years ago, after i've been saving the bloody file every day for a while, but after that i became sloppy again.
Having said that: yet another mail to Biz Design, maker of imageFolio. Let the program show, after having pushed the build button, a message that says something like: 'when i'm ready you will receive a mail, and in the meantime the file is locked for all users'. Why not?

Posted: October 16, 2003 11:58 PM (561 words).   

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