Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

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Yay! Then Ooops!

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Back on October 6th I mentioned how I volunteered at work to fix up a bunch of nasty web pages that everyone on campus has to use if they want to reset passwords, set mail forwarding, etc., etc. This group of pages had been put together, as I understand it, by someone (now retired) who was really set in her simple HTML ways (and not that knowledgeable in the first place) and by a bunch of coders who didn't have much care how pages looked or how they progressed from one to another, so long as they worked (if you could figure them out).

Right. So after about six weeks (!!!) of waiting to get my technical permissions to work on the web pages, they came through Friday afternoon. Thus, for the past couple of days I've been super busy at work (yay!) and made and tested numerous interface changes to the page set.

Much better now.

Much, much better.

They look better. They work better. They make more sense. And perhaps most important, they're consistent. And they use CSS, which at least one of the guys there thought meant I did a HUGE amount of work to convert them. Maybe it was, but I just copied and pasted stuff from out of about 40 web pages into a database, then used the database to generate new HTML that relied on the CSS and voila!

And I only crashed the campus portal pages and web server twice doing this work today. OOPS.

This happened because I got tired and careless and accidentally issued a kill command to the process initiator (i.e., the web server) rather then just the process (i.e., the individual script serving these pages). That caused some grief, apparently, but also resulted a resolution that someone's going to create a shell script for me to ensure it does not happen again. Heh. That will save me typing cryptic commands too.

But the overall goodness increase on these pages was worth crashing the server (briefly). I sent off a list of all the things changed to a bunch of people on campus for review and testing. We'll see what they say.

One item of note: When we originally met to work out how I'd make these changes, they talked about how I'd have to learn Fast CGI, WDialog, OCaml (Objective Caml) and RMWD (remote middleware daemon, a home-grown system). Well that just wasn't true. All I did was edit some HTML templates and a tiny bit of Perl code. I don't know why they brought up all that other stuff. I'm glad I didn't have to learn it all before making the changes.

[Shakes head wonderingly.]

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