My body returned from London a few days ago and happily my soul finally caught up with it over the weekend. As expected, I was faced with over 5,000 new email messages and 2.75 feet (from top to bottom) of snail mail. Email is such a broken medium.
In addition to catching up on the most urgent email over the weekend (and reminding my cats that I was still their servant), I took the time to finally upgrade the operating system on my home server (from the Mac OS Server 10.2 to 10.3.3). I run an Apple Xserve (although it's an Apple machine, remember that IBM makes the 58 million+ transistor processor at their Fishkill facility). Migration was fairly painless, except that my outgoing email was broken for a few hours until I tracked down one obscure setting that hadn't quite made the transfer. One great new feature is the ability to apply a dynamic real time black list to the SMTP pipe. Migrating my web site was a bit more problematic, as all my Java server pages were broken at first. With the help of a remote pair programmer, I tracked my problem down to a known issue in the latest Tomcat release which required me to fiddle with the packages in which my beans live. Testing the site revealed one other bug that affected my Wiki-like facility for in place editing; turns out that the root of my sites changed subtly in the transfer, and I had to adjust some classpaths. After about two hours of digging and testing and then 10 minutes of actually recoding (I had to change one line in one bean), my primary site popped up all fresh and shiny. Although this site is a modest venture, it does point out the reality that a lot of interesting systems are continuously evolving, meaning that you can never turn them off although they consist of (for systems of scale) hundreds of thousands of moving parts each of which may be changed nearly independently of the other.