Email is down, but here's a fully working login form anyway!



  • So my college decided Christmas would be a good time for some server maintenance:

    WTF1: They claim email is unavailable, then provide a login form which works fine (email is provided by MS Live, so not affected by their "maintenance").

    WTF2: Everything else they mentioned IS unavailable, so now I can't order my books for next semester.



  • @scgtrp said:

    blah blah blah blah Blackboard blah blah blah blah



  • Yes, that too, but I already started one thread full of horrible memories of Blackboard. I was trying to be nice and let people continue to suppress those memories.



  • @scgtrp said:

    So my college decided Christmas

    Are you disagreeing with them?  As I recall, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Yule/etc is an *excellent* time for most universities to do maintenance, as students are gone for at least a week, and most of them are gone for about two weeks (exactly *which* days the students are gone depends, of course, on when their finals were, and how dorm life compares with home life.  For example, I tended to be gone one week, as we didn't have home Internet.)  Of course, these days, everyone has home Internet, so the fact that students aren't on campus doesn't mean quite as much.  Still, there's no classes, so there's no professors arguing that the servers need to be up so their students can work on their projects.  (There are, however, always PIs who make those claims, and many PIs are also professors.  But that's another issue entirely, and those students should probably be on dedicated hardware for those projects.)

    @scgtrp said:

    WTF1: They claim email is unavailable, then provide a login form which works fine (email is provided by MS Live, so not affected by their "maintenance").

    Translation for the comprehension impaired: "We're taking down our network, so if you need to do anything on our network, it won't work.  If you're not on campus, then we're not thinking about you right now."  Apparently, either the authentication server is close enough to the network perimeter to be unafflicted by the outage, or the authentication data is replicated to where MS Live can get to it.  Alternatively, if they really are into WTFs, it could be they've just disabled real authentication, and anyone can log into any account so long as they know the email address.

    @scgtrp said:

    WTF2: Everything else they mentioned IS unavailable, so now I can't order my books for next semester.

    You feel it's a WTF for services in scheduled downtime to not be working?



  • @tgape said:

    Are you disagreeing with them?

    Not necessarily, but I'd prefer that they not take down the entire thing at once. What I was pointing out here (I thought the bright red arrows would give it away) is that they claim that email is unavailable despite it being completely available.

    Alternatively, if they really are into WTFs, it could be they've just disabled real authentication, and anyone can log into any account so long as they know the email address.

    They're Blackboard users. Don't expect too much.

    You feel it's a WTF for services in scheduled downtime to not be working?

    It's a WTF for me to not be able to order books for next semester during the time which I would usually order books for the next semester. And why not selectively take down parts of it as they're working on it, or just provide a "some things may not work" disclaimer and leave everything up?



  • @scgtrp said:

    It's a WTF for me to not be able to order books for next semester during the time which I would usually order books for the next semester.

    Yes, it is.  It's more of a WTF for your textbook ordering to be hosted by your school, IMHO.  I would find having to get books from the university itself to be an ethical concern I'd prefer to avoid if feasible.  (Of course, if it's just that the university bookstore is the preferred place from which to order your books, owing to discounts, convenience of order pickups, and/or store knowledge of the latest whims of your professors, that's another matter.)

    @scgtrp said:

    They're Blackboard users. Don't expect too much.

    Yes, that was the part of the post that had me lower my expectations regarding their security, and had me suggest that it's possible anyone can now read your email.  I hadn't noticed that initially, because I've learned if you don't see the fnord, it won't hurt you.

    @scgtrp said:

    And why not selectively take down parts of it as they're working on it, or just provide a "some things may not work" disclaimer and leave everything up?

    If, as I suggested, they're doing maintenance on the network itself, they may be doing exactly that - it's just that nearly everything else is behind the network.

    Of course, if you're on campus, we're talking a whole 'nother ballgame, as that would indicate that they're probably not working on the network - unless the servers for most of that stuff are on a separate subnet, and they're working on that part of the network.

    It's also possible that the 'email' inclusion could date back to a time when they were hosting their own email system, as people sometimes reuse downtime messages, just subbing in the new dates/times.  It's also possible that email logins work thanks to an LDAP (or similar) replica that they weren't thinking about when they wrote the message - I hadn't originally thought of this possibility, as competent organizations don't forget about LDAP replicas.  But, then, you mentioned your other reports...

    (Yes, it's possible to design a redundant network such that these things can be done without downtime.  We have one where I work.  Normally, schools don't have the budget for that.  Rockefeller comes to mind as a possible exception; there's probably others that could afford it also.  Not that I'm saying Rockefeller has such a setup - I doubt they'd want it enough to pay for it; I'm only stating that I suspect they could afford it.)



  • @tgape said:

    It's more of a WTF for your textbook ordering to be hosted by your school, IMHO.  I would find having to get books from the university itself to be an ethical concern I'd prefer to avoid if feasible.  (Of course, if it's just that the university bookstore is the preferred place from which to order your books, owing to discounts, convenience of order pickups, and/or store knowledge of the latest whims of your professors, that's another matter.)

    More that everything is being paid for by scholarships and grants, so it's one of:

    • Order them from the college and have the costs deducted from the grant money and get them by the start of the semester (the textbook ordering is actually hosted elsewhere but I need the
      course reference numbers which can only be found somewhere in the
      unavailable site)
    • Order them from Amazon/eBay on my own money and get them for half the price (but still need to look on the college's preferred ordering site to get the list of books I need, so same problem as before). I did this last semester but can't now due to financial (and now technical) reasons.
    • Wait for them to send me a check with my leftover grant money and wind up getting them several weeks after the class starts. I saw a few people have to do this last semester, they didn't appear to be having fun with it.
    @tgape said:
    It's also possible that the 'email' inclusion could date back to a time when they were hosting their own email system

    Before Live they used Gmail, I'm not sure for how long. Certainly possible, but reusing messages that old (especially over a complete rewrite of the affected system) when you could type an accurate one up in under 30 seconds is still a bit WTFfy.



  •  The most likely explanation is that during the maintenance, the internet connection to the school is unavailable, and as such these services will not be available on campus.  Inclusion of "Email" in the list is likely due to the fact that most users think internet = web sites rather than internet = not on the local network.

    As for getting the books you need, are you not able to actually go to the school and either get the books you need or at least get the course reference numbers?



  • @tgape said:

    It's more of a WTF for your textbook ordering to be hosted by your school, IMHO.  I would find having to get books from the university itself to be an ethical concern I'd prefer to avoid if feasible.  (Of course, if it's just that the university bookstore is the preferred place from which to order your books, owing to discounts, convenience of order pickups, and/or store knowledge of the latest whims of your professors, that's another matter.)
     

    I think it's more likely that the list of books is unavailable, making so that you can't order from anywhere merely because you don't know which books to order.

    My school was more devious; they only show you your book list for the new semester starting one week before the first day of the new semester, so you wouldn't be able to get them online in time for classes without paying far too much for shipping (you'd spend less just buying books from the school bookstore).  The school doesn't prohibit buying books elsewhere, they've just made it very inconvenient to do so...



  • @Heron said:

    I think it's more likely that the list of books is unavailable, making so that you can't order from anywhere merely because you don't know which books to order.

    Exactly. (Actually the course reference numbers are passed from Connections (the system that's down now) to the external online bookstore to generate a shopping cart there, but in the end that is your book list.)

    My school was more devious; they only show you your book list for the new semester starting one week before the first day of the new semester, so you wouldn't be able to get them online in time for classes without paying far too much for shipping (you'd spend less just buying books from the school bookstore).  The school doesn't prohibit buying books elsewhere, they've just made it very inconvenient to do so...

    That's just mean 😕

     

    Edit: I just called them to see if I could come in and get the list. Their phones are out now too.



  • @Heron said:

    My school was more devious; they only show you your book list for the new semester starting one week before the first day of the new semester, so you wouldn't be able to get them online in time for classes without paying far too much for shipping (you'd spend less just buying books from the school bookstore).  The school doesn't prohibit buying books elsewhere, they've just made it very inconvenient to do so...

     

    That's BS, why make it so difficult? I went to one school that owned the books and simply checked them out to the students every semester. They got a lot better use because the school didn't bother to buy every new edition. Also, the students seem to take better care of the books when the system is convenient, rather than when they feel ripped off.



  • @monkeypants said:

    Also, the students seem to take better care of the books when the system is convenient, rather than when they feel ripped off.

    You know, you may have something there.  While my school did the traditional 'students buy their own books' thing, the library did have copies of all of the books.  A few semesters, I skipped buying books for some classes to save on money (generally, classes that I felt I'd be able to breeze through already), and all but one of the library books were in very good shape - especially considering they were in high enough demand they didn't let us check them out; we had to use them in the library and put them back.



  •  TRWTF is not registering for classes 4 months in advance like normal people.

    Actually, I'm in the same boat, as I go to the same school.  Either that, or multiple colleges use the same service.

     Don't you love having to change your password every 90 days only for it to be sent in plaintext to Blackboard?



  • F[CS]CJ?

     

    And yes, forced password changes are retarded and serve only to confuse me for weeks after. Especially when they involve the password being sent around in plaintext.



  • @joeyadams said:

     TRWTF is not registering for classes 4 months in advance like normal people.

    Registering for a class rarely helps you know what books you'll need for that class, at least in my experience.



  • @scgtrp said:

    F[CS]CJ?

     

    And yes, forced password changes are retarded and serve only to confuse me for weeks after. Especially when they involve the password being sent around in plaintext.

     

     Yuppers.



  • @scgtrp said:

    Everything else they mentioned IS unavailable, so now I can't order my books for next semester.

    Ah post secondary education. I remember my first semester I ordered every single book. Then, after using just one of them once, ever, I decided to not order any books and wait and see if the teachers ever actually referenced the texts. They didn't.

    Naturally, I was in an arts program (Multimedia Design, graphic design mixed with video and programming) so the only courses you'd even remotely need textbooks were for programming. However, "Introduction to PHP" and "Introduction to Javascript" weren't exactly full of information that I didn't know already.

    So, in closing, who cares. Order your antiquated books later.


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