No Internet makes Flip something-something


(Reference: The Simpsons: “Treehouse of Horror V” )

The UK is always a little bit behind the US in terms of technology and such. Television shows used to (but no longer) be aired here a season late, movies made their Hollywood debut long before hitting London, and little Japanese and American boys and girls master their Playstation and Xbox videogames before their English counterparts ever lay a finger on a controller.

However, I was seriously shaken today when the entire Cambridge network was shut down from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dormitory network downtime was exceedingly rare at Stanford and lasted no more than 30 minutes. Scheduled maintenance of individual systems (e.g. e-mail, Axess, coursework) were perhaps from 3-5 a.m. on Sunday morning, and university-wide downtime was absolutely unheard of.

Today, the entire network was down during the hours that people might actually use it! This wasn’t just one service or my building; there was no way to access anything from anywhere in town! Granted, we had an e-mail announcement earlier this week… but it was a little tough to dig through it since webmail was down.

Exactly what century does Cambridge live in? Yeah, yeah… the buildings here are 2-3 times older than my country… but there’s no excuse for a university that gets generous support from Bill Gates to ever have its entire network shut down for the better part of the day.

(The Gates Building, I think, on West Campus. Dear Mr. Gates… along with buildings, billions of dollars, and fellowships with stipends much bigger than that of the Marshall, please donate to Cambridge a robust network.)

Earlier in the term there was a unexpected network outage that supposedly was due to an electrician drilling into the servers’ power source. Ironically the electrician was drilling holes to make room for a new redundant system.

I admit, however, that at the end of the day I really shouldn’t complain. The network outage led to very nice conversations over cups of tea in my staircase and a chunk of time to review notes design a new web page.

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