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Bits and Pieces - Qualified Perceptions
Bits and Pieces
Anonymous took out MIT's DNS service this afternoon, so all the people who put off backing up their email until the day before deactivation suddenly were SURE THAT THEY WOULD NOT BE DONE AND IT WAS NOT THEIR FAULT. So it's been a bit hectic here, on top of the general three day weekend of tickets for people suddenly thinking to be worried about deactivation.

Normally I'm pretty helpful, but deactivation kind of brings out the worst in me. I can't just help all the people who say "but could I keep my account for another year because please?". And I get frustrated with the people who essentially boil down to "I ignored the warnings until now so please give me more time." I kind of wilfully misunderstand people who say "Can you postpone deactivation" - no, it's a great big process, it involves nearly 10,000 users, we can't put the whole thing off a month because you need more time. Yes, I probably did know that wasn't what you meant. Most of the time, it's my job to be helpful, and it's only the really entitled cranky people who put my back up ("It's a disgrace that I'm still having to deal with someone about this. It shouldn't be so hard in a world-class institution like MIT to give me the exact thing that I want, regardless of any technical or logistical issues with my idea. I'm very busy, so stop wasting my time."). But deactivation is all about not being helpful, not giving people what they want. Oh well.

Things also got a little backed up because I was on vacation for a week (My family went to California for late-Christmas, and promptly all got sick. So we sat around like sleepy sick lumps on the couch. It was not the most exciting of vacations, but I guess if I'm going to be a lump on the couch, being a lump wiht adorable (if sick) nieces is better than not.) and then while I was out, Jacob got sick too. So poor Stuart had an extra-busy time of it.

It sounds like the Dragon run while I was gone went reasonably well - the method of "plan the first draft of the run a week in advance and then let mjperson mull it over for a whole week" definitely works. If we keep sticking to this "only run about half as often as usual" schedule we might even be able to do it again.

Oh, and when mjperson and ilhander came to get us from the airport, there were apparently Mysterious Hiding Elevators, sort of like when you go north in Comet out of sight of land and the Broken Lands aren't there any more. "Okay, we're going to walk from this elevator over to *that* one, and go down a level, and walk back to here, because this elevator just ISN'T THERE on the floor below this." Life is always a little bit more fictional with Mike and Eon. :)
7 comments or Leave a comment
chengesu From: chengesu Date: January 23rd, 2013 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Is deactivation still primarily about AFS lockers and email? Kerberos principals still stay around? Do you know if backups of the deactivated lockers are kept around for some period anyway, for technical or legal reasons?

I could imagine making the "please wait" crowd happy by putting up a read-only copy of their locker and exported email on an SFTP site, accessible by their kerberos credentials, for some period after deactivation. Though probably what I mean is that you'd provide a level of help which would make a reasonable person happy, which may not actually have any impact on the kind of people who annoy you. You're right that those people aren't your users anymore, so keeping them happy isn't your job anymore.

I could suggest you could give them an option to push a button and copy it all into their Dropbox, but then I'd just be being silly. :)
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: January 23rd, 2013 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
That just kicks the can down the road: when it's time to nuke them off the SFTP site, they'll scream about how a blah blah blah.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 23rd, 2013 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)
It's much more about the email than AFS at this point. The average user who knows what AFS is is competent to transfer the files out to somewhere else; the average user who knows how to read their mail via webmail is not as good at self-supporting to download all their email to somewhere else using an entirely different mail program. :-\

Providing a site (or a thumb drive, or whatever) with downloadable copies of everything you own would probably make them happier, but would be a ton of work to implement, and more work to support (and answer questions a year later about how to read the thumb drive) and yeah, they're not really our clients at the point at which we are trying to pry their fingers off of our infrastructure, so doing the ton of work for them is probably not going to be anyone's priority.

(AFS backups are in fact kept around for ages; kerberos principals are (this is new) unable to get tickets after deactivation, so it's harder to do much to get at the old AFS stuff even with a local account.)
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: January 23rd, 2013 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Bleagh with extra bleagh on top for dipshit users. Normally, I try to find a zen-like "Mhm. Well, there's nothing in here for me to respond to, so thanks for sharing your thoughts. *DELETE MESSAGE*", but nrgh, I am not good at that.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 23rd, 2013 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I actually think that dealing with really cranky users is one of the social skills I've leveled up a lot since starting this job - the trick is to be sincerely sympathetic to the parts that are frustrating them (because at the core of an angry user really always is *something* to make them angry: too much spam, not enough space, not enough people who are experts in the obscure fifteen-year-old program they use, etc etc) - and if you can feel that frustration with them, it makes all the difference.

But I still don't enjoy it. :)
ironrat From: ironrat Date: January 24th, 2013 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
As one being logged out for the last time tonight: so long, and thanks for all the fish. :)
hr_macgirl From: hr_macgirl Date: January 26th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
deactivation wasn't on my radar, but I was surprised how much the DNS takeover affected services (e.g. giving.mit.edu, that IS on my radar).

I still wonder when someone (important) will notice that this all started because a telecom closet was easily accessible. Upgrade the telecom closets (ensure for adequate HVAC), and this is much less likely to happen again.

Lastly, The Tech has done yeoman's work in terms of reporting on this, especially given the crickets from officials inside IS&T.

I plan to attend You Know Who's departure party on Thursday (I won't bring any fruit, rotten or otherwise). I can only hope our EVP does a better job of selecting You Know Who's replacement.
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