Whew… what a day

Thursday was quite the day of triumphs and tribulations.

It all started out with a successful swap-out of my home Linux server. It had been running on an old, trusty-but-tired Dell P2-300mhz, and I upgraded it to a slightly-less-old Dell P3-450mhz (Linux is far from perfect, but it truly shines at getting new life out of old, scavenged hardware). The upgrade was as easy as: build a new kernel, shut the old box down, pull out all the boards and peripherals, put the stuff in the new box, and boot the new box up. The result was a home server with a 50% faster processor and an extra 256mb RAM (640mb total vs 384mb). Not earth shattering, but a noticeable improvement, and it was easy to do. The trick to doing is this to transplant as much of the “guts” from the old box to the new box as possible, so the hardware configuration stays mostly the same.

Next up was the launch of our new myUMBC portal, which so far has been very smooth, other than the usual little niggling problems that always pop up with these things. We had already been running uPortal in production for six months, and that experience definitely helped ease the transition. The centerpiece of this launch was a complete redesign of the UI, but behind the scenes we also upgraded the framework and layout manager. This gave us an opportunity to start out “clean” with a fresh set of database tables, and to redo a few things which were done sloppily with the initial launch (such as our PAGS group and channel hierarchies). It positions us very well for future releases and gives us a clean platform on which to build future improvements.

Of course, by Murphy’s Law, the air conditioning in ECS picked yesterday to go on the fritz. So the launch was a little sweaty, but it happened anyhow. When I left the office, the A/C was finally getting back to normal, and then I get home and our power goes out. It ended up being out for around 4 hours, from 7:30pm till 11:30pm. Not all that long, but it always seems like forever when it’s actually out, and it made for a pretty sweaty (and surly) day. And of course, BGE’s automated system never gave us an estimate of when the power would be restored, so Cathy packed up the kids to go sleep at her sister’s, and pulled out 2 minutes before the power came back on. Fortunately I was eventually able to get a decent night’s sleep. I must say I’m more than ready for this summer to end. This is the first truly miserable summer we’ve had since 2002, and I had forgotten just how bad 2002 was. Oh well… t-minus 7 weeks till the Outer Banks.