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  • https://sa2.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofonlinehelp.jsp
    (Section: Availability of "Where's My Refund")

    I would have expected that nowadays most people understood the reason to have a website rather than staff and a phone number. 

    I guess I shouldn't be so optimistic.



  •  I could see a reason for this if their systems, for whatever reason, must be inactive for backup.  And I would imagine the database for every US taxpayer is quite large, though 5 hours for a Government funded agency's hardware seems a bit long.



  • @Master Chief said:

    I could see a reason for this if their systems ... must be inactive for backup.
     

    I presumed that was the reason for the 12:00-3:00am downtime on Monday. However, if backups require certain services to be down upwards of 4-7 hours every single day then they're doing something wrong. And that's presuming that 7pm time on Sunday is supposed to be 7am. Otherwise they're down almost a whole day every week on top of their other regularly scheduled outages.



  • @mann_jess said:

    I presumed that was the reason for the 12:00-3:00am downtime on Monday. However, if backups require certain services to be down upwards of 4-7 hours every single day then they're doing something wrong. And that's presuming that 7pm time on Sunday is supposed to be 7am. Otherwise they're down almost a whole day every week on top of their other regularly scheduled outages.

     

    It's the Government, innefeciency is what they do best.



  • I've seen this before, but never on a government funded website.

    The two reasons I've been given so far (in the last couple of years, for small to medium sized companies): "We'd prefer it if our website was only available when there are IT staff in the building, just in case it gets hacked, then they can be immediately on the job.". I don't really understand this one as you don't always know when someone is hacking your server unless your sole job is watching server logs (damn thats gotta be boring). 

     and "We hardly get any hits during midnight and 6am, so the servers should be shut down during that time frame to save costs.".  I always thought servers preferred to be left running rather than shutting down and starting them back up again each day to reduce stress on components. My PC at home has to be shut down each night because of the missus moaning, and I've had to replace 3 seized fans and 2 motherboards with bulged capacitors that I'm sure would have lived longer should I have just left the PC on. 



  • You shouldn't have to replace three fans and two motherboards because you shut down your computer. What did you ACTUALLY do to it to make break?



  •  Turn it on when it's required, and turn it off when the wife moans. For some reason, the fans stop working, so I'd replace them. Then the machine starts crashing on bootup and I find bulged capacitors. Maybe it's just poor motherboad design, but I'm thinking more along the lines of startup stress. 



  • @Mole said:

    ... but I'm thinking more along the lines of startup stress. 

     

     

    no such thing



  •  I have two computers, both from the AMD Athlon XP era. One is left on all the time, one is turned on and off as required (probably 2-3 time a week). Guess which one died recently... (yes, the one that was turned on and off, and it was the motherboard that died, though I haven't checked the capacitors)



  • @Mole said:

    I've seen this before, but never on a government funded website.

    The two reasons I've been given so far (in the last couple of years, for small to medium sized companies): "We'd prefer it if our website was only available when there are IT staff in the building, just in case it gets hacked, then they can be immediately on the job.". I don't really understand this one as you don't always know when someone is hacking your server even if your sole job is watching server logs (damn thats gotta be boring). 

    FTFY.  If your web site is idle enough you can actually read the web logs as they come in, you're doing something very, very wrong.  Otherwise, watching the logs constantly is only going to do as much good as your ability to create patterns that find malicious behavior.  If you can do that, you can almost certainly wrap a little program around it, and have it running in the background.  It's only a minor bit of additional code beyond that to have it sever1 the network if it notices a problem while you're not around.

    @Mole said:

    "We hardly get any hits during midnight and 6am, so the servers should be shut down during that time frame to save costs.".  I always thought servers preferred to be left running rather than shutting down and starting them back up again each day to reduce stress on components. My PC at home has to be shut down each night because of the missus moaning, and I've had to replace 3 seized fans and 2 motherboards with bulged capacitors that I'm sure would have lived longer should I have just left the PC on. 

    Yes, but most power conscious companies go for electronically powering down the harddrives when they're idle, and using variable-rate fans so they only blow as much as needed, and both of those will kill your durability on those components just as much as powering the stuff down.  If you plug it straight into house power, instead of having a proper surge suppressor, your power supply's life's shot already, too.  At that point, totally powering the system down when it's not busy isn't going to hurt any more - and the power supply might even last a little longer, as the spikes don't hurt *quite* as much while it's offline.

    Of course, one could probably get about as much power savings by just using low power consumption computers these days.  It *will* take more of them to do the job, but the power per MHz2 is a lot less.  Most of them should be able to use solid-state drives, for more power savings.

    1 utilizing a software method like adding a 'block everything' firewall rule or unloading the driver for the network card is preferred, but this is the DWTF, so if you want to have a driver for an electronically controlled knife that physically cuts the cable, that's fine too.  If you take that option, don't forget to post it here!

    2 Yes, that's how many I mean when I say a lot.  While there are some low power processors as fast as 1.6GHz, most of the ones I've seen are < 1 GHz.



  • @Helix said:

    @Mole said:

    ... but I'm thinking more along the lines of startup stress. 

     

    no such thing

    There indeed is such a thing.  It's most prominent in hard disk, whose motors have to accelerate the platters to considerable speeds in just a few seconds.  Fans also experience similar stress.  I think capacitors are not really subject to it though, but the large electrolytic ones have their own failure modes.  At one point manufacturers used cheap capacitors which weren't rated for high enough temperatures, and consequently failed after enough hours of operation.



  • @Helix said:

    @Mole said:

    ... but I'm thinking more along the lines of startup stress. 

     

     

    no such thing

    Next thing you know, you'll be claiming that incandescent light bulbs don't burn out quicker if you turn them on and off repeatedly.  That one has been very well demonstrated, many times over.

    For solid-state parts, I believe the physics explanation is the difference in resistance over the wires between when it's cold and hot, plus the expansion/contraction which happens when it heats up and cools down (same as incandescent light bulbs).  This does take a long time to show its effect, but it does have one.  It's especially noticeable on power supplies, as they're subject to the most dramatic changes in current flow.

    For hard drives and fans, there is additional spin up/spin down stress.  As I understand it, that is the cause of the vast majority of fan death, and a significant portion of hard drive death.



  • @tgape said:

    For solid-state parts, I believe the physics explanation is the difference in resistance over the wires between when it's cold and hot, plus the expansion/contraction which happens when it heats up and cools down (same as incandescent light bulbs). 

    With light bulbs you also have the fact that once the filament has evaporated to some extent, it can't take the higher current from the lower resistance when it's cold. This is why almost 100% of the time (barring mechanical shock breaking the filament), a light bulb will go out immediately after turning it on, rather than after having been on for some time. This evaporation isn't an issue with wires inside your computer since they aren't exposed to vacuum, nor do they get nearly as hot.



  • @Random832 said:

    This evaporation isn't an issue with wires inside your computer since they aren't exposed to vacuum...

    lolwut?  First, incandescent bulbs are generally filled with low-pressure inert gas, not a vacuum.  Second, the whole point of the inert gas or vacuum is to reduce evaporization of the filament.  Exposure to vacuum wouldn't make wires in a computer more likely to evaporate.  Your second point is the reason: filaments in light bulbs get so hot that exposure to various elements will cause unfavorable reactions, the most common of which is rapid oxidation.  If the wires in your computer were heated to 2000 K, they would vaporize as well.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @Random832 said:

    This evaporation isn't an issue with wires inside your computer since they aren't exposed to vacuum...

    lolwut?  First, incandescent bulbs are generally filled with low-pressure inert gas, not a vacuum.  Second, the whole point of the inert gas or vacuum is to reduce evaporization of the filament.  Exposure to vacuum wouldn't make wires in a computer more likely to evaporate.  Your second point is the reason: filaments in light bulbs get so hot that exposure to various elements will cause unfavorable reactions, the most common of which is rapid oxidation.  If the wires in your computer were heated to 2000 K, they would vaporize as well.

    You seem to be somewhat clued in to this stuff, so you should be aware that the inert gas does not contain any oxygen.  Thus oxygenation is not a factor.  The gas is indeed there to reduce evaporation, but it can't completely stop it - eventually the filament will "burn" through.  This will happen even if the bulb is never power cycled, but the rapid heating when turned on causes mechanical stress, which may cause an already weakened point to snap.



  • @tdb said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @Random832 said:

    This evaporation isn't an issue with wires inside your computer since they aren't exposed to vacuum...

    lolwut?  First, incandescent bulbs are generally filled with low-pressure inert gas, not a vacuum.  Second, the whole point of the inert gas or vacuum is to reduce evaporization of the filament.  Exposure to vacuum wouldn't make wires in a computer more likely to evaporate.  Your second point is the reason: filaments in light bulbs get so hot that exposure to various elements will cause unfavorable reactions, the most common of which is rapid oxidation.  If the wires in your computer were heated to 2000 K, they would vaporize as well.

    You seem to be somewhat clued in to this stuff, so you should be aware that the inert gas does not contain any oxygen.  Thus oxygenation is not a factor.  The gas is indeed there to reduce evaporation, but it can't completely stop it - eventually the filament will "burn" through.  This will happen even if the bulb is never power cycled, but the rapid heating when turned on causes mechanical stress, which may cause an already weakened point to snap.

    What are you disagreeing with here?  I simply pointed out the 2 errors in Random's post.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @tdb said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    @Random832 said:

    This evaporation isn't an issue with wires inside your computer since they aren't exposed to vacuum...

    lolwut?  First, incandescent bulbs are generally filled with low-pressure inert gas, not a vacuum.  Second, the whole point of the inert gas or vacuum is to reduce evaporization of the filament.  Exposure to vacuum wouldn't make wires in a computer more likely to evaporate.  Your second point is the reason: filaments in light bulbs get so hot that exposure to various elements will cause unfavorable reactions, the most common of which is rapid oxidation.  If the wires in your computer were heated to 2000 K, they would vaporize as well.

    You seem to be somewhat clued in to this stuff, so you should be aware that the inert gas does not contain any oxygen.  Thus oxygenation is not a factor.  The gas is indeed there to reduce evaporation, but it can't completely stop it - eventually the filament will "burn" through.  This will happen even if the bulb is never power cycled, but the rapid heating when turned on causes mechanical stress, which may cause an already weakened point to snap.

    What are you disagreeing with here?  I simply pointed out the 2 errors in Random's post.

    I think I misread your previous post.  It seemed like you were saying that the bulb is filled with an inert gas, but the filament still breaks due to oxygenation.  Upon rereading, I realized that it can also mean that it would oxygenate and break quickly without the inert gas.



  • @tdb said:

    I think I misread your previous post.  It seemed like you were saying that the bulb is filled with an inert gas, but the filament still breaks due to oxygenation.  Upon rereading, I realized that it can also mean that it would oxygenate and break quickly without the inert gas.

    Ah, I see.  Yeah, I meant the latter.  There are other forces outside of oxidization that will break-down and "evaporate" the filament over time.  The point is that inert gasses (or rarely, vacuums) are used to significantly reduce the reactions one would see due to the extreme temperature of the filament.  The copper in your computer doesn't oxidize because it never reaches temperatures as high as 2000 K.  Of course, placing the electronics in inert gasses (or a vacuum) would prevent oxidization if the metals were to reach high temperatures, but the point is moot.


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