I'm convinced that IT gremlins, like cockroaches, wait for the lights to be turned out and the workday (or month) to end before they come out and do their mischief. As soon as I settled into my working vacation (lots of different non-NJIT projects, all developed on remote servers), I opened Serendipity35's main page to catch up on Brother Ken's insights.
Bang! There it was: Unable to Connect to Database Server.
I could see the cockroaches scattering --all with pieces of my code in their hungry little jaws.
One of the basic rules of IT management is essential service distribution. In English, keep not all of thy information eggs in one hardware basket, and, because of that basic rule, I had designed the Serendipity35 web presence to run on one machine (devel2.njit.edu/serendipity), but have all of its stored data retrieved from another server --the db server that went down. That design allowed me to put up a Technical Difficulties page while I hunted for a happy solution to the database server's blues.
I'm about 60 miles away from that unhappy database server, but I managed to get some help from my friends at NJIT's UIS division who were able to reboot the server and allow me to regain remote access and Black Flag all of the scattering bugs. Props to NJIT's Kevin Byron for his help with the server. July and August in Collegetown, U.S.A, are not good times to have problems with anything. Everyone seems to be on vacation. While on the Higher Education Fishing Trip (HEFT) last Friday, I talked to Kevin (an avid fisherman), described the problem, and was able to get some quick action on the uncommunicative machine. It's not who you know, sometimes, but where you get a chance to meet them.
Sometime with the next 2 months, I'll be moving all of Serendipity 35 to a new, faster hardware platform. If all goes well, there shouldn't be any gaps in Serendipity 35's online presence, but if there is, I'll have my bug-stomping boots laced up and ready.