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international librarian of mystery

Friday, November 05, 2004

bounce. bounce. bounce...

Yesterday was my first day working with the web-team. I had the usual first-time-on-the-job jitters, absolutely sure I was going to be given a task I was completely unable to handle, and that my ongoing bluff - where I pretend to know even the first thing about actual IT architecture - is about to to be called. As it turned out, I was given the most basic of data entry chores as a way to familiarise myself with the (pretty clunky) content-management system they have running their back-end. I was chugging away quite merrily when the e-mail ping went off, and I instinctively ALT-TABbed across to check what was up.

Wanna Ro1ex?

Ugh. Damn spam. But then another email popped into the pane.

from: my-library-listserv
subject: A4-paper-holders-or-something

Another innocuous request for some library-specific bit of information. I returned to my task. Five minutes later, another email ping, so I go to check...

from: hotmail auto-responder
subject: re: A4-paper-holders-or-something

Uh-oh. I've seen this before. It's robot v. robot. And yes, without fail, five minutes later. ping...

from: hotmail auto-responder
subject: re: re: A4-paper-holders-or-something

...and five minutes after that...

from: hotmail auto-responder
subject: re: re: re: A4-paper-holders-or-something

...and then, of course...

from: unthinking-librarian #1
subject: re: re: re: A4-paper-holders-or-something PLEASE STOP
Please stop sending this email.

...which, naturally, has the five minute echo applied with equal measure...

from: hotmail auto-responder
subject: re: re: re: re: A4-paper-holders-or-something PLEASE STOP

...and on it went. All afternoon. Another couple of people fell into the 'please stop this' pitfall: adding to the mail-server ping-pong that was taking place between Victoria University here in Wellington (where the listserv is administered) and wherever in the world the Hotmail server lives. After a while someone had the sense to post a "How to Filter Email" message into the loop, and it was maybe a couple of hours before someone at the root sorted the actual problem, so it was only a few hundred errant emails in the end, but, still, it makes me laugh that this sort of information chaos can happen on a list for information and IT professionals.

Beyond a couple of revelations on how I could do what I was doing an easier way, I had no such e-mail ping-pong 'highlights' until the end of the shift. I wrapped up what was required of me with about an hour to go, so, on a whim, I had a go at downloading Google Desktop and installing it on the machine I was working on. I was logged in on some generic profile, so I'd normally expect the permissions to be set so I couldn't install software, but, in this case, no worries, and it ran fine. After half an hour or so it had built up a pretty decent index of the machine's files, and I ran a few keyword queries on it. And, I must say, there was some interesting stuff on this hard-drive. Not rude, mind, just interesting.

Information technology. Fun for work and play, eh fellow librarians?