Tue, 06 Mar 2007
Notify in Advance
For a long time we have planned to migrate our Faculty web server to Apache 2, getting rid of the aging Apache 1.3 + charset conversion module (do you still remember the time when browsers could handle just one character set - the one native on the system they ran under - and the web server had to recode the documents (and CGI script outputs and many other things) to match the expected charset of the client?).
Because of the new Apache, some configuration directives have changed
(including the ones users use in their
So we first made the Apache 2 running in parallel with 1.3 (on
a different port), so that users can test whether their pages would work
even under the new Apache. Three weeks or so before the upgrade we
have sent the in-advance notification to users, where we have pointed
out the most common directives which are no longer valid in Apache 2,
told the users that they can test their pages on the different port,
and stated the expected date of a switchover.
Few days before the upgrade we have sent the similar notification again, and put an announce to the electronic noticeboard in our Information system. Last Thursday we have finally switched the webserver to Apache 2 as expected.
Guess what happened:
even today, 6 days after the upgrade, users keep calling or mailing: "my web
pages do not work, did you do something to the web server by chance?".
When I point out that they got two e-mails from us, they are simply not aware
of it (in one case I even grepped the user's mailbox for the
Message-Id, and of course, the announcement message
was still sitting in this user's mailbox). What should I do with users who
do not even bother to read an e-mail from us and then complain? One would expect
that users at Faculty of Informatics should not display the same levels
of lameness as ordinary users...
3 replies for this story:
Milan Zamazal wrote:
My experience with Emacs updates suggests: 1. don't worry about students, they can handle it; 2. you can't avoid complaints from the faculty staff, many people ignore all warnings until the problem actually arises; 3. offer making the necessary conversion yourself for those who complain, it's cheaper than having discussions and then doing it anyway; 4. if possible, keep running the old Apache version elsewhere until it dies and redirect pages of the users who don't want ever change anything there (it may be easier than solving 2.+3.; BTW when I did this with Emacs, I had to walk around offices of those users and make one-line changes in their profiles accordingly because they were unable to do that themselves).
I don't read the IS noticeboard regularly but i remember reading about that - i just wasn't caring since there was time. I noticed my web isn't working yesterday. OK, maybe i'm just another lame, but i haven't received any mail. I have my fi.muni.cz mail forwarded to mail.muni.cz (i've just double checked that i have .forward file in my home dir with the right adress - all made by fadmin and then manually checked). The mail is neither in IS mailbox nor on aisa. The only info i've found about this was on your page. (and yes - i know how to google :}) I wish you less complaining lame users...
Maybe you are not a member of FI staff or PhD student (our notifies has been sent to fi@fi, which includes only the above two categories. Anyway, my rant has not been directed to senior FI professors (provided that they do no try to accuse us of breaking the web server) neither to the students (we did not sent them mail personally, and we hope they know how to handle this problem). The main target of my rant were _some_ PhD students, who neither read our announcements, nor they even try to be polite when reporting the apparent problem (unlike, interestingly enough, _some_ professors).