Maintenance update

We know we’ve had a lot of radio silence lately, but it doesn’t mean we haven’t been as busy as ever. It just means we’ve been busy doing stuff that, if all done perfectly, means that absolutely nothing will look different. Such is life on sysadmin day.

We had several days of building repairs that made it all but impossible to work, and then we had the heat wave that made it too hot to work as much as we wanted. Then, surprisingly, some things we expected to do in October when equipment and software became available instead happened now: we massively upgraded our subscriptions database with an eye on allowing customers to access their own records in the future (before this past week, that wasn’t even an option).

We had to rearchitect several key parts to make it work in a network environment, as opposed to letting other machines enter data but only one machine processing it, an entirely different kettle of fish. That wasn’t as easy as expected, but I’m told they’ll have more on that in upcoming issues of MDJ.

We also got a lot of the static Web site updated today for the first time in years – believe it or not, we’d never been able to get Adobe GoLive CS2 to open our site. It crashed every time, even when trying to rebuild it from scratch. We finally found the troublesome old files today in a “.settings” folder, eliminated them, and got a good portion of the visible pages of the site validating and presenting correctly with HTML 4.01 Transitional. (Yeah, I know, welcome to 2001 – but it means that we can now update and add new pages without having to write all the HTML from scratch or just copy/paste from existing files, and that’s a big win for us.)

We actually got about three weeks’ worth of infrastructure changes done in the past six days, but we though the three weeks would be spread in September and October. There was no question about going for it now, though, because it will make remotes from WWDC 2006 easier and more supportable. More on that in print next week. Starting tomorrow, us sysadmin types vacate the studio for the editorial staff until called upon in an emergency. We could use the rest, though.